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Home Care Aide: Job & Career Info

Home care aides work in their clients' homes to help them with daily activities. Read more about the skill requirements, salary and employment outlook, to see if this is an occupation for you.

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Career Definition of a Home Care Aide

Home care aides work in the homes of clients, such as the physically or mentally disabled, the elderly and those recovering from illness or injury, to assist them in their activities and keep their homes functional, clean and safe. Career duties often include helping clients with grooming, cleaning, cooking, shopping and possibly other errands outside of the home. Home aides are typically employed by government and private home health care agencies. They are supervised by nurses, therapists, social workers or social and health agency representatives.

Educational Requirements No formal requirements, but high school diploma generally acquired; specific formal training courses may be required in some states
Job Skills Compassionate and patient attitude, adequate physical fitness, respect for home environments, driver's license highly recommended
Median Salary (2015)* $21,920 (all home health aides)
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 38% (all home health aides)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

There are no formal education requirements for becoming a home aide. Many home care aides have high school diplomas, though some workers do not. The agencies that place home aides usually provide training and orientation for the job that includes emergency and safety preparedness, housekeeping, nutrition and customer service principles. Some states require the completion of specific training courses before home aides can work in the homes of clients. Workers who take positions in hospice agencies or work for certified home health will have formal training to complete and must also pass a standardized test.

Skills Required

Home care aides do not necessarily have formal college educations, and they receive their necessary training from their employers. Successful home care aides are compassionate and patient with their clients. Home care assistance requires adequate physical fitness, because aides are typically on their feet for most of their shifts. Working in the homes of others, home aides are trustworthy, tidy and courteous. The National Association for Home Care and Hospice notes that home care providers across the nation drive billions of miles each year, emphasizing the need for care aides to have driver's licenses and clean driving records.

Career and Economic Outlook

The trend for patients who might otherwise remain in hospitals and nursing homes to return home for care will cause an expected 38% growth in home care aide positions from 2014-2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). An increase in the elderly population will also fuel this spike in demand.

Though positions are projected to be plentiful, the wages for home care aides are generally low. In 2015, the median annual wage for home health aides, including home care aides, was $21,920, according to the BLS. Home care aides received the highest average incomes in North Dakota and Alaska, with an annual wage of $30,160 for both states in 2015, as per BLS figures.

Alternate Career Options

Similar career options in this field include:

Medical Assistants

A health-related position requiring just a high school diploma, medical assistants complete both clinical and administrative tasks in the offices of physicians and other health providers. In 2015, these assistants earned a median annual salary of $30,590, and a faster than average job growth of 23% was predicted by the BLS, from 2014-2024.

Licensed Practical or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LPN or LVN)

In about one year, aspiring LPNs or LVNs can complete a training program and pass an exam for licensing. These professionals give basic nursing care, provide comfort for patients, listen to patient concerns, keep records and report to registered nurses and physicians. A faster than average employment increase of 16% was projected by the BLS for the decade 2014-2024. LPNs and LVNs earned an annual median salary of $43,170 in 2015, according to the BLS.

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