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Home Health Aide

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Overall Score
(6.1 out of 10)

Number of Jobs

424,200

Median Salary

$20,820

Unemployment Rate

8.4 percent

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This Job is Ranked in
Best Health Care Jobs #31
The 100 Best Jobs #68

Home health aides do more than sweep floors and wash clothes for patients unable to complete chores by themselves. In some instances, they meticulously administer care that can range from patching cuts and scrapes to bathing clients. These workers spend so much time with their patients that, in many instances, they become like family members. “Many of our patients will think of their [home care aide] as the nurse that really cured them because he or she helped them do the things they needed to do to get well,” says Andrea Devoti, chairman of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice. Personal care aides have some duties that overlap with home health aides, although the latter might also perform nursing functions like dressing wounds.

Baby boomers are expected to have an increasing need for help with household chores and companionship. Home care is typically less expensive than nursing home or hospital care, and many senior citizens prefer to remain in their home for as long as possible. As a result, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts rapid employment growth of about 48.5 percent between 2012 and 2022, which translates into more than 424,200 new home health care positions created over the next decade.

Salary

Home health aides earned a median salary of $20,820 in 2012, or approximately $10 per hour, according to the BLS. The highest-paid earned about $29,250, while the lowest-paid earned about $16,600. Areas of the industry that pay particularly well include physician’s offices and state government. Eau Claire, Wis., Leominster, Mass., and Tuscaloosa, Ala. are among the best-paying cities.

Salary Range

75th Percentile $23,950
Median $20,820
25th Percentile $18,140

Training

Most aides have a high school diploma, although this degree is not required for the position. Aides at agencies that receive funding from Medicare or Medicaid must get a minimum level of training and pass a competency evaluation or receive state certification. The requirements for certification vary by state and often include formal training at community colleges or vocational schools. Home health aides can also be certified by the National Association for Home Care & Hospice, which involves 75 hours of training and passing a written exam. Training tasks include housekeeping chores like cooking for clients who have special dietary needs, learning how to treat infections and basic safety techniques like emergency readiness.

Reviews & Advice

Employers often prefer to hire aides who are certified or have some formal training or experience. When interviewing for a job, emphasize your ability to communicate with and comfort people who may be coping with a chronic condition or disability. Sound interpersonal skills and respect for others are essential for anyone interested in caring for others, says Lisa Gurgone, executive director of the Home Care Aide Council in Massachusetts. Unflappability is a particularly pertinent skill. “You come into a lot of awkward situations,” she says. “You’re in the home by yourself, so you have to think on your feet and be comfortable meeting a lot of new people.”

Job Satisfaction

Upward Mobility fair Average
Stress Level poor Above Average
Flexibility poor Below Average
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Last updated by Emily Brandon.


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