Working as a certified home health aide (HHA) is an exciting experience!
Role of a HHA
Home health aides help people who are disabled, chronically ill, or cognitively impaired, as well as elder adults who may need assistance with activities of daily living. You will help with bathing, dressing, grooming, and light housekeeping.
There is no formal education needed. Yet, working for a home health care agency, you will need some formal training. As a home health aide, you will be able to work in a variety of settings.
The best news?
The process to achieve home health aide certification is not very difficult or time-consuming.
Before you start on this path to your new career, you should be certain it is the right line of work for you. If you are mature and stable, in good health yourself, and enjoy helping others, you may be a good fit for a home health job.
Here’s a home health aide profile infographic – breaks down some key data points on who is providing care for folks in their home.
Steps To HHA Certification
The first step in the process is to gain appropriate training. Any agency in your area which deals with services for the elderly can recommend a school.
While you do have the option of accomplishing much home health coursework online, you also need to learn skills in the classroom and take part in field work.
Classes for home health aide certification are usually six weeks or less. During this short period of time, you will gain essential knowledge, practical skills, and hands-on experience. After completing the program, passing the final exam will result in a home health aide certificate or diploma from your school.
Although costs vary from program to program, they range from a couple hundred dollars to two thousand dollars. Some programs include all relevant supplies in the total cost, while others require students to buy supplies themselves. If you cannot afford a training program, you may be eligible for free training through a home care agency or hospital.
Here’s how to find free HHA training near you.
Successfully completing your training program will qualify you to take the home health aide certification exam.[See How I Overcame My Fears and Became A Home Health Aide.]
The instructor (usually a nurse) at your school will tell you where and when to take this exam.
Costs for this exam also vary from state to state. It is generally less than $100. If you have any questions or doubts about the exam, you may want to buy and review one of the home health aide exam books currently available.
These books will help you prepare for the test, and let you know what to expect.
Depending upon when the state test is scheduled, you may be fully certified to work in your state in less than two months after you begin your training.
HHA Certification Benefits
You may be wondering what benefits there are to become certified. You may have heard of people who obtained home care jobs without certification, and without any training. There are reasons why this is never in anyone’s best interest.
First, lack of training means lacking skills you need for the job. Even if you have provided daily care for an elderly family member, this does not prepare you for a career as an aide. Many situations can occur which you have not encountered before.
Knowing how to think fast and act quickly in an emergency is one example. Home health aide training covers every aspect of the job. It is necessary for both your patients and you.
Second, completing a training program shows initiative and motivation. These are factors you will need in your future job.
The person who prefers to take every shortcut possible is not a good fit for home care work.
A third reason to go through the process of certification is it will result in many more job opportunities.
All agencies dealing with home health aides need certification. If you do not become certified, your only option is to work independently.
You will find many employers who are looking for direct-hire aides also need certification. The wide range of jobs available will be narrowed down to few. You might not be able to get a job at all.
A fourth reason is limited jobs means it is likely you will end up settling for low pay. You will have little chance of getting a reasonable salary or overtime pay.
Not being certified means not being eligible to work for an agency, you would also lose out on health insurance, paid sick time, and vacations.
Trying to get a job as a home health aide without training or certification is not advisable.
Agencies and direct-hire employers will know you are qualified and will respect that fact – may even pay you more money. You can get the job you want, and not find yourself in the position of settling for less.
The income and benefits you receive make it all worthwhile. The best way to look at it is you are doing much more than meeting your state’s or future employer’s standards. You are also demonstrating that you have high standards of your own and are doing what it takes to do it right.
This is an asset that will serve you well in your new career.