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Home > Articles > Join One of the Fastest-Growing Careers in the U.S. Today as a Home Health Aide
Home health aides enable elderly, convalescent, or disabled people to live comfortably at home instead of a health care facility. Under the supervision of a medical professional, a home health aide might administer oral medications, check a patient's respiration rate or temperature, help patients with therapeutic exercises, and even assist patients with personal matters such as bathing and getting dressed. With additional training, they can also use specialized medical equipment such as ventilators.
As a home health aide, you may sometimes work with long-term patients who need more care than their family or friends can give them. Other times, you may take short-term assignments with patients recently discharged from the hospital.
In order to help keep other people in good health, you need to be healthy yourself. You may have to undergo a physical examination, including a test for tuberculosis. To succeed as a home health aide, you should have excellent patience, understanding, and tact. Keep in mind that you will be helping your patients with their most personal needs. The job also requires good communication skills, honesty, and discretion.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), home health aides earned an average salary of $10.31 per hour or $21,440 annually in 2008. You can earn more working for psychiatric and substance abuse hospitals, where home health aides average $29,190 annually. Colleges and insurance carriers also pay higher average wages. The lowest 10 percent of home health aides earn less than $7.65 an hour, while the highest 10 percent earn more than $13.93 per hour.
Training and Education
Many home health aide jobs don't require any classes or degrees beyond on-the-job training. If you do need formal training, or if you prefer to take some classes before starting this work, home health aide training programs are available and can last from several days to a few months.
However, if you work for an employer who receives reimbursement from Medicare, you must receive training and pass a competency test that covers a variety of subjects. Additionally, some states do require home health aides to be licensed. You can also receive voluntary certification from the National Association for Home Care and Hospice.
According to BLS figures in 2006, home health aides held 787,000 jobs. These jobs were mainly found at home health care services, nursing and residential care facilities, and social assistance agencies.
The BLS predicts that employment for home health aides is expected to increase by 49 percent from 2006-2016, making it one of the fastest-growing occupations in the U.S. today. This growth comes from an aging population and a desire to curb costs by sending patients home from hospitals as quickly as possible. Many patients also prefer receiving care at home, and recent improvements in medical technology have made that more possible than ever before.About the Author
Laura Horwitz has worked as a freelance writer and researcher for five years in both London and the U.S.
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