TO THE POINT
It’s a great field with tons of job openings and growth, but there are certain absolute minimum requirements to become a home health aide (HHA) in .
There are many misconceptions about what a HHA actually does and how to become one in .
Home health aides take care of clients (sometimes referred to as patients) who may be afflicted with an illness and/or disability; clients may also be the elderly who may need care – but in all these cases the clients are in their homes.
One of the many great things about being a home health aide is that there are not that many obstacles to getting trained and finding a job.
They call this low “barriers-to-entry” – meaning there are few things to get in your way of landing a job as a HHA!
No extensive training, no apprenticeship, no college degree, etc.
But… there has to be some limits…
Laws vs. Requirements to be a HHA
There are not many laws enacted to become a home health aide: most are requirements.
For example, there is no federal law that states an aide has to be 18 years old; but most agencies and other employers have this as a requirement to enter a training program or work for them. Besides, who wants to hire a 16 year old to assist a senior citizen out of bed and get dressed?
Here’s a listing of bare (i.e. minimum) qualifications or requirements to be a home health aide.
U.S. Citizen or Qualified Legal Alien
There is no law that you need to be a U.S. citizen to be a home health aide.
If you do not have citizenship you will need to prove eligibility to work in the United States; you usually have a couple of days to provide the necessary document(s).
Documents Validating Proof to Work in the US
Any of the following documents is sufficient to meet the identification/eligibility requirements to become a HHA:
High School Graduate (or GED)
HHA’s will usually need a high school diploma or a GED (“Graduate Equivalency Degree” which is a substitute for a high school diploma).
This is only an upside, though, as getting a high school diploma helps with your home health aide career but also anything else you may want to do after this.
Besides, if you want to advance to any level in the medical profession then the minimal education requirements will be a high school diploma. There is no downside or disadvantage to getting a high school diploma.
Eighteen (18) Years Old
Most job descriptions and HHA training programs state that the applicant for a position will have to be at least 18 years old.
A typical job description would overwhelm anyone younger than 18. Many of the duties and responsibilities require maturity, attention to detail, strength, patience, etc. Eighteen-ear-olds may not possess these traits either, but an employer has a better chance of a proper fit.
Lastly, most training programs require candidates to be at least 18.
Background checks provide employers with a fairly good measure of how much they can trust potential and current employees. They are not unique to the healthcare industry.
Similar to some of the other HHA qualifications, there is no federal requirement that workers pass a background check. But there are individual state laws that may be in place.
An employer will focus on such items/events as:
- whether or not the individual is on a registry for abuse, neglect, or misappropriation of any type
- whether or not the individual is a registered sex offender
- whether or not the individual has convictions for abusive behavior
Background checks are designed to make sure only the right individuals get entrusted with the most vulnerable members of society.
HHA [Other] Requirements
As you can imagine, the list of requirements does not stop with the four (4) mandatory ones above.
There are other qualifications that need to be satisfied; these include training, certification, good communication, and other less tangible qualities such as empathy, patience, etc.
Here are the other top four (4) traits of a very successful home health aide!
Completion of Training Program
The completion of a training program may vary by state. has a unique HHA job training program.
Pretty much the standard in the industry is that HHA’s need training and to pass a competency test in order to work with patients in their homes.
Since most HHA’s work for an agency, this is where you will be afforded the training (and in many cases free training). The home health agency will be the best source of information such as training requirements and testing.
These agencies will offer the required training and the testing (written and hands-on skills testing) in order for the potential HHA to be considered for employment.
Quite simple: if the home health aide will be working for a home health agency that will receive Medicare reimbursement from administering assistance to patients then the HHA needs to be certified; this is the normal case.
HHA training consists of at least seventy-five (75) hours of training and hands-on skills; many states have the minimum at one-hundred-twenty (120) hours.
And, of course, the candidate must pass the required testing as determined by the respective state.
Ability to Read and Write Consistent With Job Requirements
Certainly, reading and writing are core requirements of being a home health aide.
Working for, and assisting someone in their home, requires a great deal of documentation such as recording vital signs, filling out forms, etc.
Don’t be mislead or think this will not be a major part of the job.[Ask about the possibility of working as a bilingual home health aide – they tend to make more money as they can speak more than English (usually Spanish) and are in very high demand.]
Proficient Interpersonal and Communicative Skills
Good communication skills for a successful home health aide are imperative.
The HHA needs to be informed of changes in the patient’s condition and overall health and she/he must keep the home medical team and family members informed of changes as well.
You will be a providing a valuable communication link with other members of the team, the agency, the doctor and RN, and the family – accurate and proficient communicative skills are vital.