Home Health Aide -- 50 Percent Growth, Diverse Career Paths


Becoming a home health aide can be the entry-level position for a solid and well-paying career in health care, a field that is exploding in growth. This can be approached as a survival job or as a platform to build a new professional life. The unemployed I coach tell me it's a healing experience after losing a big job.

Working in home health care can and often does lead to future jobs as a licensed practical nurse, registered nurse, medical technician, medical doctor, activities coordinator, and administrator, as in a group home or assisted-living center. Or, the care-giving can be focused on animals where there are surging opportunities for becoming a receptionist in an animal hospital, kennel worker, veterinary technician or even a veterinarian. There are also niche businesses in walking dogs.

To become a home health aide, there are no educational barriers such as requirements for a high-school diploma. Most hiring agencies provide full training. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects growth until 2018 is to be at 50 percent. That's because of the increase in the number of elderly. Compensation ranges from minimum wage to over $13 an hour. With certification, licensing, academic degrees, and management experience, there can be significant jumps in earnings.

Essentially, to make the first cut in applying, you have to present yourself as alert, a people kind of person, patient, and reliable. Being bilingual, be it in Spanish or Yiddish, could give you an edge. Since you will be entering homes, there can be no criminal record. Likely, there will be a drug test.

To find jobs you can search online career sites, apply directly to the growing number of private-sector and government agencies that provide this temporary help, and build word-of-mouth business by letting everyone know your availability.