Your Guide to Getting a Home Health Aide Certification

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Interested in becoming a home health aide? Here is a guide to whether you need a home health aide certification and how to get one.

[Featured Image]:  A female home care aide, wearing a green uniform and face covering, is taking care of a male patient at his home.

Home health aides (HHA) are highly valued in health care because they work in a patient’s home, helping them feel comfortable while receiving the care they need. An HHA can be a rewarding career for a compassionate individual who enjoys helping and caring for others.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), jobs in the health care industry are projected to grow 13 percent between 2021 and 2031 [1]. That rate is much faster than the average for all occupations. If you’re interested in switching or embarking on a new career, you’ll likely find job postings in health care.

Read on for our handy guide to getting a home health aide (HHA) certification.

What does a home health aide do?

Home health aides enter a patient’s home to assist with daily living, general housekeeping, and companionship. They might help with buying groceries, planning meals, picking up prescriptions, bathing, and grooming.

Home health aides can also work in group homes or adult day care facilities. While some HHAs care for the same client(s) for years, others might work with agencies to gain new clients every few weeks.

To better understand the challenges and innovations behind the home health care industry, watch this video from the University of Minnesota:

How to become a home health aide

To become a home health aide, you’ll want to receive some training before you start working, and an excellent way to do this is to enroll in a training program. Home health aides don’t have to be certified to work unless there are special requirements from the state or facility. However, earning a certification provides the credibility to land a job more easily and can lead to faster career advancement opportunities.

You can get certified through a training program, which typically requires 120 hours of classroom training and 40 to 60 hours of clinical work [2]. It is best to choose a program registered with the National Association for Home Care & Hospice. There are also community colleges, non-profit organizations, and home health agencies that provide HHA certification. Specific requirements vary by state, so do your research before enrolling in a training program.

Medicare/Medicaid training requirements

HHAs who want to work for organizations that receive funding from Medicare or Medicaid must complete formal training. Private companies, such as home health agencies, have fewer requirements. While less training might seem more desirable at first, getting Medicare/Medicaid formal training can give you a boost when applying for jobs


How to get a home health aide certification

Becoming certified as a home health aide is increasingly important for getting a job. Many states (and insurance-affiliated agencies) will require it because it tends to mean that you have received additional training. A certification allows HHAs to take on more responsibilities so that they can learn (and earn) more on the job.

Here’s how to get certified.

1. Enroll in a training program.

Do your research to find a training program that works for you. Most training programs require a high school diploma or GED. Consider whether a program fits your schedule, what their graduation rates are, whether it’s within your budget, and if it aligns with your state requirements. Then, enroll in the one that best suits your needs. 

Through your training program, you can expect to learn patient care skills such as:

  • Monitoring vital signs

  • Caring for wounds and infections

  • Administering medications

  • Maintaining bedside manner and offering emotional support

  • Communicating patient health with supervisors

  • Assisting with personal care, such as bathing, dressing, and feeding patients

  • Assisting with household chores, such as washing dishes, doing laundry, and light cleaning

2. Get certified.

After you receive your training, you’ll be eligible to take the certification exam, which comprises written and practical skills portions. 

For the written exam:

  • It consists of 60 to 70 questions about 13 topics.

  • You’ll have 90 minutes to complete the test.

  • You’ll need a score of 70 to 80 percent to pass, depending on the state.

For the practical skills exam:

  • It consists of three to six skills chosen by the exam moderators.

  • Each skill can take 25 to 30 minutes to complete.

  • You’ll need a score of 70 to 80 percent to pass, depending on the state. 

After passing the exam, HHAs can contact a registry to prove and record the certification with the US Department of Health and Human Services. Then, you’ll be able to use this certification on your resume and for job applications.

3. Advance your career.

You might be interested in the next steps for a home health aide. While there are many possible pathways, your skills and compassion can be easily transferable to other, higher-paying clinical roles.

You could pursue becoming a private duty health aide by building a client base. If this is something you’re interested in, you could discuss this with any of your current clients that you want to continue working with. You can pursue additional training and certifications while working for an HHA agency.

Becoming a certified nursing assistant (CNA) or a licensed practical nurse (LPN) can be in your future. You’ll need additional certifications for these roles. You could even enroll in nursing school to become a registered nurse (RN). Your experience as an HHA provides a solid foundation for any of these careers.

Salary and job outlook for home health aides

According to the BLS, home health aides in the US can earn a median annual salary of $29,430, and the job growth outlook is 25 percent, much faster than average [3].

There are several benefits to earning a home health aide certification, such as:

  • High demand for HHAs means you’ll most likely find a job

  • Flexible schedule to work around your personal needs

  • Ability to use a combination of in-person visits and remote monitoring technology (that can track weight, height, breathing, heart rate, diabetes, and more)

  • HHAs can help conduct safety assessments (of their home environment) and end-of-life wishes discussions Specialize in a field of health care

  • Make a much-needed difference in someone’s life

Read more: Is Health Care a Good Career Path? Outlook, Jobs, and More

Become a home health aide today

Ready for a career as a home health aide? Enroll in this self-study course Foundations for Assisting in Home Care from the State University of New York, designed for those exploring a career as a home health or personal care aide. In the University of Pennsylvania's Vital Signs: Understanding What the Body Is Telling Us, you'll explore the anatomy and physiology underlying the vital signs so that you will develop a systematic, integrated understanding of how the body functions.

Article sources


US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Healthcare Occupations,” Accessed February 13, 2023.

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