Enrolling In a Home Health Aide Program

Discover the education and certification requirements to become a home health aide. Learn about taking online and in-person certification classes.

The health industry has always been a reliable career path, but in recent years, the need for professional health workers has greatly increased. Some of the most identifiable healthcare jobs include doctors and nurses, but there are many other career paths to choose. One of the healthcare careers in the highest demand is home health aides. Home health aides primarily work with seniors. Many are partnered with assisted living communities. Home health aides travel directly to their client’s home, providing assistance with daily living. The exact requirements greatly vary depending on the client, ranging from light housekeeping, meal preparation and administering medication to providing companionship.

Becoming a home health aid is not nearly as strict as a doctor or nursing career. While there are many classes available to teach you the necessary skills to succeed as a home health aide, you only need to pass a certification course to start your career.

Education Requirements to Become a Home Health Aide

While there is no specific degree for home health aides, some students prefer to get an associate degree in nursing before enrolling in home health aide certification. Getting your degree gives you a greater range of training and prepares you to complete the certification test. It also looks better on your resume and can give you an edge when negotiating for a starting salary and opens up more possibilities for future healthcare careers. 

The downside is, completing a degree is much longer than completing the certification course. As of writing, the home health aide certification course involves 75 hours minimum of training. In some states, additional time may be required, but nowhere close to the amount of time it takes to complete a degree program.

If you want additional training before you enroll in a home health aide certification course, you may be able to find general education classes taught at local hospitals. These classes are intended for individuals taking care of sick friends or family members, but it covers many of the same skills necessary for home health aides.

Home health aide certification courses focus on safety techniques to take care of your patients. This includes administering basic medication and how to take vital signs. You also learn about addressing dietary needs and cleaning practices for patients with various medical conditions. State agencies, nonprofit organizations and nursing facilities commonly run certification courses for home health aides. You can also take a course through the National Association of Home Care and Hospice (NAHC). Cost varies depending on your state and where you take classes, but on average certification is between $300 and $700.

Additional Requirements

Once you complete your certification course, you are legally allowed to work as a home health aide. However, some agencies require additional training. The most common requirement is completing a CPR training course. You may also be asked to complete an evaluation before getting hired. Some agencies will pair you up with a more experienced home health aide to act as a mentor.

In addition to your agency, there may be extra state requirements you must complete. Local classes often take these requirements into account, either providing you the training or at least letting you know what other certification is required. If you took a national course, be sure to check your state requirements to see if you need extra training.

Online vs. In Person Courses

Because of Covid-19, there are a number of schools and health facilities offering certification classes online. Online classes are as valid as taking in-person courses. However, make sure your online class comes from an accredited agency. If you are unsure where to look for online courses, start by checking local college websites. While more in-person courses became available in 2021, there are still many venues going into 2022 that either have no in-person courses or much smaller classes.

Taking in-person classes has a few benefits, such as getting practical training. Many students also find it easier to ask questions and communicate with a professor in a traditional classroom setting. Local classes often partner with healthcare centers or nursing home, allowing you to practice working directly with clients. 

The biggest advantage of online classes is scheduling. If you normally work during the day, your only viable option may be taking an online course during the evening. Because there are fewer resources, online classes are often less expensive than in-person certification courses.

Financial assistance is available for both in-person and online classes. If you are getting a medical degree, your college may allow you to take the certification course at a reduced price. Many healthcare agencies provide discounts for in-person classes during the year. Select hospice agencies also cover the costs of certification classes, if you agree to work for the agency after becoming certified.

Ashworth College

Ashworth was one of the first universities to provide online certification courses for home health aides. All of the courses are not only certified by NAHC, but all classes are accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). All of the courses include a list of state licensing resources, so you are not caught off guard by additional requirements. The course provides many digital resources to students free of charge, including a mobile app that contains all of the learning materials, letting you study even on the go.

Penn Foster

Penn Foster combines both online and in-person elements. The class is divided into nine separate courses. Each of the courses can be accessed either from the website or a mobile app. Penn Foster provides students with a success coach, who helps students find employment after completing the certification course. While all of the classroom portions are available online, you must complete a 40-hour externship after the classes. Your training is overseen by a supervisor, who acts as a mentor. Penn Foster does not directly provide the externship, but the school has many resources to help you find a suitable program.

American Caregiver Association (ACA)

The ACA provides an entirely online accreditation course for home health aides. It is one of the least expensive options available, even before financial aid is applied. Many students pay less than $200 for the entire course. The program is longer than other options, with 120 classroom hours. Students are required to get 16 hours of hands-on learning after completing the online classes.