Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides

Career, Salary and Education Information

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Top 3 Home Health Aide Jobs

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Top 3 Personal Care Aide Jobs

  • Personal Care Aide - Law Offices of Thomas H. Burton - Buffalo, NY

    Employer will provide training. Applicant must be able to complete 2 person transfers and be passport eligible for summer trips to Maritime Canada

  • Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) - New Solutions Staffing - Long Beach, NY

    Required Qualifications: • Minimum of 6 months of CNA nursing home experience • Active New York State Certification • SigmaCare Experience

  • Private Duty CNA - Hearthside Home Care - Greensboro, NC

    Help clients with personal hygiene and care such as bathing, grooming, and dressing, and bowel and bladder care • Take and record client vital

See all Personal Care Aide jobs

What Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides Do[About this section] [To Top]

Home health aides and personal care aides help people with disabilities, chronic illness, or cognitive impairment by assisting in their daily living activities. They often help older adults who need assistance. Home health aides may be able to give a client medication or check the client's vital signs under the direction of a nurse or other healthcare practitioner.

Duties of Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides

Home health aides and personal care aides typically do the following:

  • Assist clients in their daily personal tasks, such as bathing or dressing
  • Housekeeping, such as laundry, washing dishes, and vacuuming
  • Help to organize a client's schedule and plan appointments
  • Arrange transportation to doctors' offices or other outings
  • Shop for groceries and prepare meals to meet a client's dietary specifications
  • Keep clients engaged in their social networks and communities

Home health aides may provide some basic health-related services (depending on the state they work in), such as checking a client's pulse, temperature, and respiration rate. They may also help with simple prescribed exercises and or with giving medications. Occasionally, they change bandages or dressings, give massages, care for skin, or help with braces and artificial limbs. With special training, experienced home health aides also may help with medical equipment such as ventilators, which help clients breathe.

Personal care aides—sometimes called caregivers or personal attendants—are generally limited to providing non-medical services, including companionship, cleaning, cooking, and driving.

Direct support professionals work with people who have developmental or intellectual disabilities. They may help create a behavior plan and teach self-care skills, such as doing laundry or cooking meals.

Certified home health or hospice agencies often receive payments from government programs and therefore must comply with regulations regarding aides' employment. Aides work under the direct supervision of medical professionals, usually nurses. These aides keep records of services performed and of clients' conditions and progress. They report changes in clients' conditions to supervisors or case managers, and work with therapists and other medical staff.

Work Environment for Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides[About this section] [To Top]

Home health aides hold about 911,500 jobs. The largest employers of home health aides are as follows:

Home healthcare services 45%
Services for the elderly and persons with disabilities 23
Continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for the elderly 10
Residential intellectual and developmental disability facilities 6
Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities) 3

Personal care aides hold about 2.0 million jobs. The largest employers of personal care aides are as follows:

Services for the elderly and persons with disabilities 46%
Home healthcare services 15
Residential intellectual and developmental disability facilities 9
Continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for the elderly 7
Private households 7

Most home health aides and personal care aides work in clients' homes; others work in small group homes or larger care communities. Some visit four or five clients in the same day, and others only work with one client all day—in some cases staying with one client on a long-term basis. They may work with other aides in shifts so that the client always has an aide. They help people in hospices and day services programs, and may travel as they also help people with disabilities go to work and stay engaged in their communities.

Injuries and Illnesses for Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides

Personal care aides have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. Home health aides have a higher rate of injuries and illnesses than the national average.

Work as a home health or personal care aide can be physically and emotionally demanding. Aides must guard against back injury because they often move clients into and out of bed or help them to stand or walk.

In addition, aides frequently work with clients who have cognitive impairments or mental health issues and who may display difficult or violent behaviors. Aides also face hazards from minor infections and exposure to communicable diseases, but can lessen their chance of infection by following proper procedures.

Home Health Aide and Personal Care Aide Work Schedules

Most aides work full-time, others work part-time. They may be required to work evening and weekend hours, depending on their clients' needs.

How to Become a Home Health Aide or Personal Care Aide[About this section] [To Top]

Get the education you need: Find schools for Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides near you!

Home health aides and personal care aides typically need a high school diploma or equivalent, though some positions do not require it. Those working in certified home health or hospice agencies must complete formal training and pass a standardized test.

Education for Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides

Home health aides and personal care aides typically need a high school diploma or equivalent, though some positions do not require it. There are also postsecondary nondegree award programs at community colleges and vocational schools.

Home Health Aide and Personal Care Aide Training

Home health aides and personal care aides may be trained in housekeeping tasks, such as cooking for clients who have special dietary needs. Aides may learn basic safety techniques, including how to respond in an emergency. Specific training may be needed for certification if state certification is required.

Training may be done on the job or through specialized programs. Training typically includes learning about personal hygiene, reading and recording vital signs, infection control, and basic nutrition.

In addition, clients have their own preferences, and aides may need time to become comfortable working with them.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations for Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides

Aides who work for agencies that receive reimbursement from Medicare or Medicaid must get a minimum level of training and pass a competency evaluation to be certified. Some states allow aides to take a competency exam in order to become certified without taking any training.

Additional requirements for certification vary by state. In some states, the only requirement for employment is on-the-job training, which employers generally provide. Other states require formal training, which is available from community colleges, vocational schools, elder care programs, and home healthcare agencies. In addition, states may conduct background checks on prospective aides. For specific state requirements, contact the state's health board.

Aides also may be required to obtain CPR certification.

Important Qualities for Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides

Detail oriented. Home health aides and personal care aides must adhere to specific rules and protocols and carefully follow instructions to help take care of clients. Aides must carefully follow instructions from healthcare professionals, such as how to care for wounds or how to identify changes in a client's condition.

Integrity. Home health aides and personal care aides should make clients feel comfortable when they tend to personal activities, such as helping a client bathe. In addition, aides must be dependable and trustworthy so that clients and their families can rely on them.

Interpersonal skills. Home health aides and personal care aides must work closely with clients. Sometimes, clients are in extreme pain or distress, and aides must be sensitive to their emotions. Aides must be compassionate, and they must enjoy helping people.

Physical stamina. Home health aides and personal care aides should be comfortable performing physical tasks. They might need to lift or turn clients.

Home Health Aide and Personal Care Aide Salaries[About this section] [More salary/earnings info] [To Top]

The median annual wage for home health aides is $22,600. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $17,990, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $30,610.

The median annual wage for personal care aides is $21,920. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $17,310, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $29,760.

The median annual wages for home health aides in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities) $23,570
Continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for the elderly 22,860
Residential intellectual and developmental disability facilities 22,510
Services for the elderly and persons with disabilities 22,410
Home healthcare services 22,390

The median annual wages for personal care aides in the top industries in which they work are as follows:

Residential intellectual and developmental disability facilities $22,820
Continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for the elderly 22,490
Services for the elderly and persons with disabilities 21,910
Home healthcare services 19,830

Most aides work full-time, others work part-time. They may be required to work evening and weekend hours in order to attend to clients' needs.

Job Outlook for Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides[About this section] [To Top]

Overall employment of home health aides and personal care aides is projected to grow 40 percent over the next ten years, much faster than the average for all occupations. As the baby-boom generation ages and the elderly population grows, the demand for the services of home health aides and personal care aides will continue to increase.

Elderly clients and people with disabilities are increasingly relying on home care as an alternative to nursing homes or hospitals. Families may prefer to keep aging family members in their homes rather than in nursing homes or hospitals. Clients who need help with everyday tasks and household chores, rather than medical care, may be able to reduce their medical expenses by staying in or returning to their homes.

Job Prospects for Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides

Job prospects for home health aides and personal care aides are excellent. These occupations are large and are projected to add many jobs. In addition, the low pay and high emotional demands may cause many workers to leave this occupation, and they will have to be replaced.

Employment projections data for Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides, 2016-26
Occupational Title Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26
Percent Numeric
Home health aides and personal care aides 2,927,600 4,107,100 40 1,179,500
  Home health aides 911,500 1,337,000 47 425,600
  Personal care aides 2,016,100 2,770,100 37 754,000


*Some content used by permission of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor.

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