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Home Health Aide Certification and Certificate Programs

Learn about the curriculum and prerequisites for a home health aide certificate program. Find out about job outlook, salary information, state certification requirements and continuing education to become a nurse.

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Essential Information

A home health aide works in the home of a disabled, convalescent or elderly person to provide services such as giving medication, checking vital signs, changing bandages, giving massages and helping with medical equipment. Home health aide work is considered entry level and most is done under the supervision of a registered nurse or other licensed healthcare professional.

Home health aide certificate programs are typically offered by community colleges and take a year or less to complete. Students learn basic patient care skills, including life support and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), in addition to medical terminology. Graduates will be able to assist nurses and other healthcare professionals and be qualified to obtain certification if required by their state.

Education Prerequisites

Admission requirements for a home health aide certificate program may include meeting immunization and health screening requirements, passing a criminal background check and having a high school diploma or equivalent. Some schools may require students to pass admissions testing to enter a program or complete a clinical evaluation to graduate.

Course Topics

Home health aide certificate programs generally consist of one or two courses that provide a comprehensive training in the knowledge and skills needed for patient care. Within a program, students are instructed in a classroom setting and in a clinical context. Topics covered may include:

  • Healthcare basic concepts
  • Life support
  • Medical terminology
  • First aid
  • CPR

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in 2008 that there were 921,700 jobs held by home health aides (www.bls.gov). The BLS projected a 50% growth in jobs for home health aides from 2008 to 2018. The large increase in employment was expected to be due to a growing elderly population and increases in the number of people with debilitating health problems.

As of May 2010, the BLS reported a mean annual wage of $21,760 for this field. The 10th percentile earned $16,300 annually and the 90th percentile earned $29,390 per year.

Continuing Education Information

Each state has its own requirements for home health aide certification. Some states only require that the employing agency be certified, while others require home health aides to pass a certification exam following completion of an educational program. Besides a skills assessment examination, certification may also require a state administered criminal background check. Some states maintain a registry database of certified home health aides that can be accessed by the public.

Career advancement for a home health aide is limited without further education. Some home health aides may wish to complete a degree program in nursing to become a licensed practical nurse or registered nurse.

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