How to Become a Home Health Aide

Three Methods:Understanding the Physical Requirements and Working ConditionsBuilding Your QualificationsApplying for Jobs

Are you looking for a job that offers flexible, part-time hours, excellent employment prospects and a deep sense of personal accomplishment? If so, you might consider taking steps to become a home health aide (HHA). These trained health care providers work in private homes and residential facilities to care for individuals with disabilities and those recovering from illnesses. Some home health aides care for the elderly who can no longer live unassisted. Most states do not require formal education beyond high school; some states do not even require that you obtain a license.

Method 1
Understanding the Physical Requirements and Working Conditions

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    Decide whether you have the physical ability for the job. As much as you may enjoy helping others, you should be aware that the job duties require physical strength and good health. Indeed, the U.S. Department of Labor notes that home health aides suffer job related injuries and sickness more frequently than people in other occupations. [1]
    • Imagine lifting another person who has limited physical strength and the inability to assist you in moving them from place to place. A home health aide must be able to maneuver their patients in and out of wheelchairs, cars, and ambulances.
    • Taking a shower, using the toilet, sitting up to eat, and changing clothes are things we do every day without thinking about it. As a home health aide, you will have to help others do these tasks multiple times a day.
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    Determine if you have the mental capacity for the job. Home health aides work under the direction of a nurse who is not always available. Therefore, as a home health aide, you will be responsible for many of the basic medical needs of your patient. [2]
    • You must be competent in observing and recording any changes in your patients and report it immediately to your supervisor. Both sudden and gradual changes in a person’s daily routine and liveliness could signal a major health issue that needs immediate medical attention.
    • You should be knowledgeable in taking vital signs, blood pressure, administering medication, oxygen equipment, and other life-supporting duties such as CPR.
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    Coping with the working environment. A home health aide must have patience, interpersonal skills, dependability, and good time management skills. A good balance in these characteristics will help with the high levels of stress that can sometimes be a part of the job. [3]
    • Since home house aides enable the elderly, convalescent, and disabled persons to live in their own homes, responsibilities include maintaining the patient’s personal hygiene. Bathing, dressing, grooming, and assisting with toileting or cleaning bedpans is not a pleasant task. Therefore, you should be aware of how personal and private your responsibilities will be.
    • In some cases, the working environment can be stressful from the demanding nature of the job, so it is important to relax, eat properly, exercise, and get enough sleep.

Method 2
Building Your Qualifications

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    Determine your state’s requirements. Each state sets different requirements for the education and training for home health aides, but no formal education is required to apply for a home health aide position. Certificates and training courses are often offered in many online courses and college campuses. [4]
    • Call the Department of Health in the state where you plan to work. Ask if you need a high school diploma, and whether you need formal experience in a health care setting.
    • Ask whether you must get a certification or license and what kind of exams you must take.
    • Find out whether you must complete on the job training with a home health aide employer before you receive final certification or a license. In particular, ask if you must become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) before taking state exams.
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    Satisfy the educational and pre-employment training requirements. There is no national credentialing, training, or education requirements for home house aides. You can, however, take certain steps to not only demonstrate your professionalism and skill but also to climb the career ladder beyond work experience. [5]
    • Get your high school diploma or GED, even if your state does not require one. Having a diploma makes it easier if you want to advance to become a home health aide coordinator or supervisor.
    • Call a home health care employer and ask if you can observe for a day or two so you can experience first-hand what the work involves.
    • Attend community college or take an online class from the National Association for Home Health Care.
    • Complete the pre-employment training that many health care companies require. This usually requires you to work under a licensed aide for several months. It may also require you to attend workshops and lectures. At the end of the training, you must pass a competency examination.
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    Take the Direct Care Alliance (DCA) Personal Care and Support Credential Exam. It is difficult for employers or patients and their families to assess your ability and knowledge. A Personal Care and Support Credential, however, provides a way to demonstrate your professionalism and skills. [6]
    • In order to apply for this exam, you must have completed forty hours of coursework, six months of personal support services, or worked for two years in the profession.
    • Successful completion of this exam demonstrates your knowledge as a competent and professional home house aide, increases market value, and widens career opportunities.
    • For consumers, this exam assures that you have met national industry standards, you are qualified, and that you take your job seriously.
    • This credential looks good on a resume. It proves to potential employers that you are of higher quality, competent and professional, and better qualified.

Method 3
Applying for Jobs

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    Create a resume. A resume is the initial mode of communication to an employer that you are interested in an open position. Your resume should clearly reflect who you are and that you possess the skills and abilities that merit an interview.[7]
    • Resumes should summarize your education, work history, and any other experience, volunteer work, or responsibility that make an excellent candidate for the position.
    • There are plenty of websites dedicated to writing an excellent resume. Try to choose one from an academic or recently updated source since strategies change frequently on the job market.
    • The design of your resume should be clear, crisp, and without error. Refuse using colors other than white and unless you want an artsy position, keep your resume professional and aesthetically pleasing.
    • Proof read your resume several times and then have someone else do it once or twice. Employers will certainly find your errors.
    • Never lie or exaggerate anything on your resume. Even if an employer does not catch it before they hire you, they can still fire you if they catch it later.
    • Focus on skills and abilities that you possess if you have little or no work experience.
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    Network. Good networking starts with a plan. A good plan starts by realizing what talents, strengths, and skills you possess or could add value to the position you desire. Think about it deeply and write them down.[8]
    • One of the most important strategies in networking is to start early and make sure that you keep a balanced approach. Remember, you have to not only look for a job but be able to convey what you can do to help your potential employer.
    • Be sure to make your own business cards and, if possible, update your online profiles in case a potential employer wants to search for you at a later date.
    • Follow up on any leads and stay in touch with the people who you networked with. A position might open up at a later date and you don’t want people to forget who you are.
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    Prepare for the interview. An interview is an opportunity to convince a potential employer that you the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience for the position. Be prepared, dress well, be on time, and smile.[9]
    • Make sure you research the internet for all there is to know about your potential employer. This will demonstrate that you are interested in the business and make you stand out as an applicant.
    • Think about what questions they might ask you based on the profession and your research. Reread your resume, they will ask you several questions about it.
    • Dress appropriately. Don’t be too formal or too casual, wear neutral colors, and make sure you are not too wrinkly.
    • Prepare extra copies of your resume, buy a notepad and pen, a portfolio of your work, and any other information you might need to complete an application form. Try to prepare all of these items the night before so you are not scurrying around the house minutes before you have to leave.
    • Prepare a list of questions for the end of the interview. Employers will always ask if you have any questions. If you say “no” this could be seen as rude, not prepared, or uninterested.
    • Once you arrive, be mindful of your actions in the waiting room, sit up straight, be attentive, project confidence, and be respectful and courteous. Otherwise, you will have no chance.


  • Expect that you must become certified if you’re going to work for employers that received Medicare reimbursements. Federal law requires that these home health aides receive special training and pass written certification exams.

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