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What Are The Differences Between Home Health Aides and CNAs?

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With so many similar responsibilities between them, the line between certified nursing assistants and home health aides (HHAs) can sometimes become blurred to the outside observer. Both types of professionals provide basic, direct care (e.g. changing dressings on wounds, assisting with meals, etc.) and can often be found caring for elderly patients. Nonetheless, these are two distinct positions each requiring unique certifications and training.

HHA vs. CNA – How Are They Different?home health aides

While the CNA and home health aide certainly perform many similar tasks, the settings in which they are employed are generally quite different. Furthermore, there are some certified nursing assistant tasks that an HHA is not legally authorized to perform. The following is a summary of the primary differences between the two positions.


Although there certainly are some CNAs who work in home care, the vast majority of nursing assistants work in hospitals, clinics and assisted living communities. As a result, certified nursing assistants are typically required to care for multiple individuals – sometimes concurrently – in a fast-paced, sometimes-stressful environment.

Home health aides, on the other hand, work exclusively in one-on-one settings with patients at their personal residences. This enables the HHA to become more familiar and comfortable with the needs and requirements of each individual, and to do so in a more relaxed setting.

CNA vs. Home Health Aide Certification

Although most home health aides are also certified as CNAs, the opposite is not always true. Becoming an HHA requires a CNA to complete a separate program (usually 40 hours in length) that focuses specifically on issues related to personal care in a home setting.  There are some home care agencies that will hire a CNA who has not completed this additional training, but the title they are usually given is “personal care aide”. Only those individuals who have completed a home health aide certification program can carry the title HHA.


On average, the salary paid to home health aides is lower than that paid to certified nursing assistants. Per 2010 BLS data, the median pay for home health aides in the United States is $9.70/hour while the median hourly wage for CNAs is $11.54. The reason for this is that the CNA is able to take on a wider scope of responsibilities in a greater range of facilities.

Job Outlook For Home Health Care Jobs

Because of the rapidly-growing number of seniors in America, home health aides are now among the most-sought-after caregivers in the healthcare industry. According to the latest projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 1.3 million new aides will be needed by 2020 (an increase of 70% over current levels) in order to meet rising demand, making home health care one of the fastest-growing sectors in the job market.

Reasons To Consider Becoming A Home Health Aide

If you’re someone who enjoys working in a slower-paced setting where you’re able to really build relationships with your patients, becoming an HHA may be enticing. Although the pay is usually lower than what you’d receive as a CNA, the chance to work independently and have greater flexibility in your schedule is certainly a benefit that cannot be overlooked.

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