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How to become a home health aide: 5 HHA training classes to get certified

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If you’re interested in becoming a caregiver but don’t want to work in a care facility or nursing home, then a job as a home health aid (HHA) might be right for you. 

Home health aides help the elderly and people with chronic illnesses, disabilities, or cognitive impairments live independently. They assist with daily tasks like bathing, preparing meals, and reminding clients to take their medication. 

Working as a home health aide can be rewarding, providing companionship to clients who feel isolated and lonely due to their limited mobility. 

Keep reading to learn what HHA certification entails — plus discover what a home health aide actually does and how much you can expect to earn:

How to become a certified home health aide in 4 steps

1. Understand the day-to-day responsibilities of a home health aide.

The job of a home health aide is quite varied and can look different depending on the day and on your client. 

In general, HHAs provide the following services:

  • Housekeeping duties like laundry, changing bed sheets, and washing dishes
  • Shopping for groceries as well as meal planning, preparing, and/or serving meals
  • Bathing, grooming, dressing, helping to use the toilet, and other personal activities
  • Driving clients to doctor’s appointments or arranging their transportation
  • Picking up prescriptions and reminding clients to take their medication
  • Monitoring and recording a client’s condition, which could include taking vital signs and documenting how much they ate during meals
  • Providing emotional comfort, support, and companionship

Watch this video to get a glimpse of a day in the life of a home health aide: 

2. Research certification requirements for your state.

Each state has a minimum requirement as set by federal law, which states that you need at least 75 hours of training, including at least 16 hours of supervised practical training, to work for a home health agency that receives Medicare reimbursement. Some states require more than the federal minimum for this. 

However, there are some private home health agencies that don’t accept Medicare. You may be able to work for a home health agency without holding a certification or license from your state, although these agencies will still have their own set of requirements for working there. 

You can find your state’s requirements by Googling “home health aide certification requirements for [insert state here].” Depending on where you live, you may also have to pass a state-issued exam and complete a criminal background check to receive your HHA certification.

3. Seek training that meets your state’s certification requirements.

Popular places to look for HHA training programs that meet your state’s certification requirements include universities, community colleges, vocational schools, nonprofit organizations, home health agencies, and nursing facilities. 

Not all training programs have a formal education requirement, but some will require you to have a high school degree or equivalent to enroll. 

4. Search for jobs on job boards like Care.com and ZipRecruiter.com.

Websites like Care.com and ZipRecruiter post openings for part-time and full-time home health aide gigs. Other popular job websites to check out include Indeed and Glassdoor. Most jobs in this industry will be from licensed agencies.  

Simply type “home health aide” into the search bar and put in your zip code to find openings in your area. You can even set email alerts on these websites to get new job listings sent straight to your inbox. 

If you’re looking for home health aide jobs in your area, check out Care.com today >>

Home health aide certifications

According to the American Caregiver Association, national caregiver certification is expected in the industry. 

You may seek this type of certification because your client’s insurance company requires it, you need to fulfill a continuing education requirement to maintain your certification, or you want to boost your resume, increase your chances of getting a job, or find higher-paying work. 

However, it’s important to note that national home health aide certifications won’t necessarily meet state-level requirements. You’ll need to check with your state, local government, or licensing board to confirm the requirements for getting certified in your state.  

PHI, an organization working to transform eldercare and disability services, has a list of training requirements in each state. Penn Foster, an online school that offers home health aide training, has a list of links to state and professional resources so you can search for your state’s certification requirements. 

A few organizations offering home health aide certifications at the national level include: 

American Caregiver Association (ACA) 

Cost: $99

The ACA is the national certifying organization for caregivers. It offers a self-guided certification course that can be completed in two days online. It’s ideal for new caregivers, experienced caregivers, self-employed caregivers, caregivers who want to start their own businesses, and more. 

Once you complete the course, you’ll receive your certification and be added to the ACA’s internal National Caregiver Registry (NCR). Potential employers may contact the ACA to verify you’re on the NCR and in good standing. 

National Board for Home Care and Hospice Certification (NBHHC) 

Cost: $99 application fee, $499 registration fee

The NBHHC was founded by the California Association for Health Services at Home, a trade association that represents home care providers. 

The NBHHC offers a few specialty certifications for home health aides: 

  • Certified Home Care Manager: This includes staff moving into a leadership position at a smaller HHA agency. You typically need at least one year of experience as a manager in a home care or hospice environment. 
  • Certified Home Care Administrator: This includes senior staff that has held an administrator position in an HHA or hospice agency for at least one year or held a manager position at an agency for at least five years. 
  • Certified Home Care Executive: This includes senior administrators who have a minimum of three years experience working at a medium- to large-size agency. 

The NBHHC’s certification process includes submitting a formal application, and if deemed eligible, taking and passing an exam. The exam can be taken onsite with paper and pencil or on a computer at a Pearson VUE testing center. Certification is valid for four years. 

National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) 

Cost: $50 application fee, $500 exam fee

The NAHC is a nonprofit organization representing the 33,000 home care and hospice organizations in the United States.

The NAHC offers a Certified Home Care and Executive (CHCE) certification for individuals who work in leadership positions at HHA agencies. This three-hour timed test is given online. Certification is valid for four years. 

Home health aide classes online

If you’re ready to become an HHA, there are plenty of home health aide classes you can take online to help prepare you for certification and licensure in your state. 

Just note: Not all online home health aide training programs will meet every state’s requirements. Always do your research and confirm requirements with your state, local government, and/or licensing board. 

Here are some legit online home health aide training programs to consider: 

Penn Foster

Cost: $799-$989

Penn Foster’s online programs are accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) and the Middle States Commission on Secondary Schools.

This comprehensive home health aide training program consists of 200 hours of online study and an externship worth 40 hours, which meets or exceeds the certification requirements for many states. 

However, Penn Foster notes this training program does not meet requirements for HHA certification or licensure in California, New Jersey, New York, Mississippi, or Washington, D.C. 

Ashworth College

Cost: $799-$989

Ashworth College’s online programs are accredited by the DEAC, Council for Higher Education Accreditation, and the Better Business Bureau (BBB), from which it also holds an A rating. 

This comprehensive home health aide training program consists of 18 self-paced online lessons available in eBook format, including lessons on elderly patient care, child care, and controlling infections. 

Ashworth College notes this training program does not meet requirements for HHA certification or licensure in California, New Jersey, New York, Mississippi, Indiana, or Washington, D.C.

This training program also does not include the federally mandated 16 hours minimum of supervised practical training to become a home health aide. You’ll have to pursue that portion of the requirements independently. 

Southern Technical Institute (STI)

Cost: $239

STI’s online programs are licensed by the Commission for Independent Education, Florida Department of Education. The institute also holds an A+ rating from the BBB.

This home health aide training program meets certification requirements for home health aides in Florida, where there’s no state exam to become a home health aide. 

You’re given two options to achieve certification from STI: a 40-hour certificate (which allows you to work for a licensed-only agency in Florida) or a 75-hour certificate (which allows you to work for a Medicare or Medicaid home health agency in Florida). 

Once you complete the online class, you’ll need to attend a two-hour, hands-on clinical session in person to meet the requirements for certification. 

Blackstone Career Institute (BCI)

Cost: $1,214-$1,442

BCI’s online programs are accredited by the DEAC and the Middle States Commission on Secondary Schools. 

This comprehensive home health aide training program consists of 17 self-guided online lessons that go through the basics of anatomy, nutrition, home health care, and how to find a job as a home health aide. It’s ideal for those looking for entry-level work in the field. 

BCI states its online program does not lead to certification since requirements vary by state. The institute recommends checking with your state licensure to see what the requirements are in your state. 

This program also does not include the federally mandated 16 hours minimum of supervised practical training to become a home health aide. You’ll have to pursue that portion of the requirements independently. 

Udemy

Cost: $84.99 Currently $18.99

Udemy is an online learning and teaching marketplace with more than 185,000 courses available. Its home health aide training program has a 4.5/5-star rating from students, based on more than 200 reviews. 

The self-paced, 10-hour course includes 20 lessons and is taught by a professional with a master’s degree in public health and more than 15 years of experience in clinical medical practice and home health care training. 

The goal of this class is to arm you with the basic knowledge and skills you need to pass a certification exam; it does not meet the minimum requirement (75 hours) for home health aide training. 

Get started with a Udemy home health aide course today >>

Home health aide classes in person

If you prefer to learn in a classroom setting, you can search for in-person home health aide classes “near me.”

How much are home health aide classes in person?

The cost of in-person home health aide classes varies depending on where you get training. Taking classes at a community college, for example, will be cheaper than signing up for a course at a larger university. In general, though, these classes range in price from $300 to $650. 

How long are HHA classes in person?

Federal guidelines mandate home health aides receive a minimum of 75 hours of classroom instruction. Most HHA classes meet for a few hours each day or each week, so it could take you anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to complete an in-person course. 

FAQs about home health aides

What do home health aides do?

Home health aides help older adults or people with chronic illnesses or disabilities live independently. HHAs assist with everyday tasks in the home and also provide companionship and emotional comfort to their clients. 

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What are the typical duties of a home health aide?

The typical duties of a home health aide include assisting with personal activities like bathing, dressing, and going to the bathroom. HHAs may also be responsible for shopping for groceries and preparing and serving meals. 

They may also be tasked with transporting clients to doctors’ appointments, picking up prescriptions, and reminding clients to take their medications. 

Oftentimes, HHAs offer valuable companionship and emotional comfort to clients who are lonely and limited in their activities outside the home. 

How much do home health aides make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average hourly wage for home health aides in 2021 was $14.07, or $29,260 per year. How much you’re able to earn, though, depends on where you live and your experience level. 

What is the highest pay for a home health aide?

Per the BLS, the highest pay for a home health aide in 2021 was $18.98 per hour, or $39,480 annually. You can typically command more money in large metropolitan areas, with more years of experience, or if you have additional credentials. 

What is the job outlook for a home health aide?

The job outlook for health home aides is very good. As the Baby Boomer generation continues to age, there will be many more seniors who need assistance in the home in the coming years. 

According to the BLS, the industry is expected to grow by 33% by 2030. This is considered much faster growth than other jobs, which average 8% growth overall by 2030. BLS estimates close to 600,000 job openings per year through the end of this decade. 

How much are home health aide classes online?

Online home health aide classes range in price from $100 to $1,000, depending on which organization you sign up with. Note that not all online classes satisfy state requirements, so you should verify that information before taking the class. 

How long are HHA classes online?

Online HHA classes are usually self-guided, so you can go at your own pace. Some can be completed in as little as two days, while others may take you up to a year or more to complete. Note that not all online classes satisfy state requirements, so you may need to complete additional work outside of an online class. 

Not sure if being a home health aide is right for you? Check out these related careers:

What do home health aides do?

Home health aides help older adults or people with chronic illnesses or disabilities live independently. HHAs assist with everyday tasks in the home and also provide companionship and emotional comfort to their clients.

What are the typical duties of a home health aide?

The typical duties of a home health aide include assisting with personal activities like bathing, dressing, and going to the bathroom. HHAs may also be responsible for shopping for groceries and preparing and serving meals.

How much do home health aides make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average hourly wage for home health aides in 2021 was $14.07, or $29,260 per year. How much you’re able to earn, though, depends on where you live and your experience level.

What is the job outlook for a home health aide?

According to the BLS, the industry is expected to grow by 33% by 2030. This is considered much faster growth than other jobs, which average 8% growth overall by 2030. BLS estimates close to 600,000 job openings per year through the end of this decade.

Christina Heiser is a New York City-based content marketer and freelance writer. She covers beauty, health, nutrition, fitness, and parenting for a variety of online and print publications. Her work regularly appears on websites including NBC News and A Sweat Life. Over her decade-long career, she's also held editorial positions at Everyday Health and Women's Health. When she's not working, you can find Christina checking out the latest boutique fitness classes, attempting to master gluten-free cooking, and watching reality TV.

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