Home health and personal care aides held about 3.6 million jobs in 2021. The largest employers of home health and personal care aides were as follows:
|Individual and family services||47%|
|Home healthcare services||24|
|Residential intellectual and developmental disability facilities||7|
|Continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for the elderly||7|
Many home health and personal care aides work in clients’ homes; others work in group homes or care communities. Some aides work with only one client, while others work with groups of clients. They sometimes stay with one client on a long-term basis or for a specific purpose, such as hospice care. They may work with other aides in shifts so that the client always has an aide.
Aides may travel as they help people with disabilities go to work and stay engaged in their communities.
Injuries and Illnesses
Work as a home health or personal care aide can be physically and emotionally demanding. Because they often move clients into and out of bed or help with standing or walking, aides must use proper lifting techniques to guard against back injury.
In addition, aides may 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.
Most aides work full time, although part-time work is common. They may work evening and weekend hours, depending on their clients’ needs. Work schedules may vary.
Home health and personal care aides typically need a high school diploma or equivalent, but some positions do not require it. Those working in certified home health or hospice agencies must complete formal training and pass a standardized test.
Home health and personal care aides typically need a high school diploma or equivalent, although some positions do not require a formal educational credential. Postsecondary nondegree award programs are available at community colleges and vocational schools.
Home health 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. If state certification is required, specific training may be needed.
Training may be completed on the job or through programs. Training typically includes learning about personal hygiene, reading and recording vital signs, infection control, and basic nutrition.
In addition, individual clients may have preferences that aides need time to learn.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Home health and personal care aides may need to meet requirements specific to the state in which they work. For example, some states require home health aides to have a license or certification, which may involve completing training and passing a background check and a competency exam. For more information, check with your state board of health.
Certified home health or hospice agencies that receive payments from federally funded programs, such as Medicare, must comply with regulations regarding aides’ employment. Private care agencies that do not receive federal funds may have other employment requirements that vary by state.
Aides also may be required to obtain certification in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
Personal care aides typically have an interest in the Building, Helping and Organizing interest areas, according to the Holland Code framework.The Building interest area indicates a focus on working with tools and machines, and making or fixing practical things. The Helping interest area indicates a focus on assisting, serving, counseling, or teaching other people. The Organizing interest area indicates a focus on working with information and processes to keep things arranged in orderly systems.
If you are not sure whether you have a Building or Helping or Organizing interest which might fit with a career as a personal care aide, you can take a career test to measure your interests.
Personal care aides should also possess the following specific qualities:
Detail oriented. Personal care aides must follow specific rules and protocols to help take care of clients.
Interpersonal skills. Personal care aides must work closely with their clients. Sometimes clients are in extreme pain or mental stress, and aides must be sensitive to their emotions. Aides must be cheerful, compassionate, and emotionally stable. They must enjoy helping people.
Physical stamina. Personal care aides should be comfortable performing physical tasks. They often need to lift or turn clients who have a disability.
Time-management skills. Clients and their families rely on personal care aides. It is important that aides follow agreed-upon schedules and arrive on time.
The median annual wage for home health and personal care aides was $29,430 in May 2021. 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 $22,290, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $37,010.
In May 2021, the median annual wages for home health and personal care aides in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
|Individual and family services||$29,670|
|Residential intellectual and developmental disability facilities||29,230|
|Continuing care retirement communities and assisted living facilities for the elderly||29,140|
|Home healthcare services||28,630|
Most aides work full-time, although part-time work is common. They may work evening and weekend hours, depending on their clients’ needs. Work schedules may vary.
Employment of home health and personal care aides is projected to grow 25 percent from 2021 to 2031, much faster than the average for all occupations.
About 711,700 openings for home health and personal care aides are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
The services that home health and personal care aides provide will be in high demand to care for the rising number of older people.
The locations in which care is offered are affected by both policy changes and lifestyle preferences of older adults and people with disabilities. Long-term care services are increasingly shifting from institutional settings, such as nursing homes, to home- and community-based settings. This shift is expected to create many new jobs for home health and personal care aides.