California Occupational Guides

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Detailed Guide for

Home Health Aides in San Diego County

May also be called: Home Care Workers; Homemaker Health Aides; Nurse Assistants; and Home Attendants.

What Would I Do?

Home Health Aides help elderly, convalescent, or disabled persons in their own homes instead of a health facility. Some help discharged hospital patients who have relatively short-term needs. They work for licensed home care agencies and provide basic nursing care in private homes or hospice programs under the supervision of Registered Nurses. The number of people living into their eighties continues to grow, a group that usually has health problems that need at least some assisted medical care. These people prefer to stay in their own dwelling where they are more independent, comfortable, and where the cost is usually lower than nursing home rates.

Home Health Aides provide health-related services. They teach patients ways to care for themselves despite illness or disability. Home Health Aides help keep patients mentally alert by talking and listening to them. They may also care for children of their sick or disabled patient.

Important Tasks and Related Skills

Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.

View the skill definitions
TaskSkill Used in this Task
Maintain records of patient care, condition, progress, or problems to report and discuss observations with supervisor or case manager.Reading Comprehension
Provide patients with help moving in and out of beds, baths, wheelchairs or automobiles, and with dressing and grooming.Service Orientation
Provide patients and families with emotional support and instruction in areas such as caring for infants, preparing healthy meals, living independently, or adaptating to disability or illness.Social Perceptiveness
Change bed linens, wash and iron patients' laundry, and clean patients' quarters.Customer and Personal Service
Entertain, converse with, or read aloud to patients to keep them mentally healthy and alert.Active Listening
Plan, purchase, prepare, or serve meals to patients or other family members, according to prescribed diets.Inductive Reasoning
Direct patients in simple prescribed exercises or in the use of braces or artificial limbs.Static Strength
Change dressings.Near Vision
Perform a variety of duties as requested by client, such as obtaining household supplies or running errands.Oral Comprehension
Source: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Information Network (O*NET)

Working Conditions

Home Health Aides work in patients’ homes where other family members may live. They also work in hospice settings caring for patients who are dying.

They need to have the ability to deal calmly and good-naturedly with patients who may be in pain, uncooperative, or depressed. In addition, Aides sometimes have unpleasant duties such as emptying bedpans, collecting urine or stool specimens, and changing soiled linens. Home Health Aides may go to the same patient’s home for months or even years. However, most Aides work with a number of different patients, each job lasting a few hours, days, or weeks. They may spend a good portion of the work day traveling from one patient to another. Mechanical lifting devices are seldom available in patients’ homes, and Home Health Aides can sustain injuries resulting from positioning patients. They need a valid California driver’s license and usually need access to a car.

Home Health Aides may work full-time, part-time, or on-call, depending on patient needs. Full-time certified Home Health Aides normally visit five or six patients a day and spend about one to two hours with each patient per visit. Many agencies hire only on-call, hourly workers with no extra benefits except for paid mileage. Other agencies hire Home Health Aides on a full-time or part-time basis and with a guaranteed minimum number of hours. Evening, weekend, and holiday work is common.

The occupation is generally non-union.

Will This Job Fit Me?

Prospective Aides should first decide if this is the kind of work they want to do. Job satisfaction and willingness to stay on the job usually comes from doing work that holds one's interest. People who like Home Health Aide work usually have a social interest. This means they truly like to help others, talk to them, teach them how to do things, and provide services.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?


The median wage in 2015 for Home Health Aides in California was $23,319 annually, or $11.21 hourly. The median wage for Home Health Aides in San Diego County was $24,177 annually, or $11.62 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Change to Hourly Wages
Annual Wages for 2015Low
(25th percentile)
(50th percentile)
(75th percentile)
San Diego County$21,602$24,177$28,550
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2015 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas


Depending on the hiring agency, benefits for full-time workers usually include vacation, sick leave, and medical and dental insurance. Some employers also pay for vision, life insurance, and retirement plans.

What Do Local Employers Say About Benefits?  Of the 22 employers in San Diego County, many provide medical insurance, disability insurance, dental insurance, life insurance, vision insurance, sick leave, vacation, and retirement plan, and some provide paid time off bank benefits to Home Health Aides who work full-time.

Percent of Employers Who Provide
Specific Benefits by Time Base
Benefit TypeFull-TimePart-Time
Medical Insurance59%14%
Disability Insurance55%9%
Dental Insurance50%9%
Life Insurance45%5%
Vision Insurance45%5%
Sick Leave41%23%
Retirement Plan41%27%
Paid Time Off Bank32%14%
No benefits18%45%
Source: EDD/LMID Local Occupational Information Survey.

Of the 13 employers surveyed who responded in San Diego County, who provides medical benefits, most reported that they pay half or more of the cost of medical insurance for full-time, and most reported that they pay half or more of the cost of medical insurance for part-time Home Health Aides.

Percent of Employers Who Paid Medical
Insurance by Portion Paid by Time Base
Portion Paid by Employer:Full-TimePart-Time
Half or more62%67%
Less than Half23%33%
Source: EDD/LMID Local Occupational Information Survey.

What is the Job Outlook?

The outlook for Home Health Aides is excellent. With more people living longer, more Californians are living with disability and/or illness. Most people needing care would prefer being cared for in their home rather than a nursing home or hospital, leading to more jobs for Home Health Aides.

This occupation will grow much faster than average compared with all occupations in California. This high rate of growth is expected to continue into the foreseeable future. The occupation provides good opportunities for job seekers who want a short training period and for those who want part-time or temporary work.

Projections of Employment

In California, the number of Home Health Aides is expected to grow much faster than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Home Health Aides are expected to increase by 39.0 percent, or 17,500 jobs between 2012 and 2022.

In San Diego County, the number of Home Health Aides is expected to grow much faster than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Home Health Aides are expected to increase by 33.4 percent, or 1,200 jobs between 2012 and 2022.

Estimated Employment and Projected Growth
Home Health Aides
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Additional Openings
Due to Net
San Diego County
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Projected Growth for All Areas

Annual Job Openings

In California, an average of 1,760 new job openings per year is expected for Home Health Aides, plus an additional 850 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 2,610 job openings.

In San Diego County, an average of 120 new job openings per year is expected for Home Health Aides, plus an additional 68 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 188 job openings.

Estimated Average Annual Job Openings
Home Health Aides
Geographic Area
(Estimated Year-
Projected Year)
Jobs From GrowthJobs Due to
Net Replacements
Total Annual
Job Openings
San Diego County
Source: EDD/LMID Projections of Employment by Occupation
View Data for All Areas

How Do I Qualify?

Education, Training, and Other Requirements

A high school diploma is not required to work as a Home Health Aide. In general, Home Health Aides must take classroom and clinical training approved by the Department of Health Services, Aide and Technician Certification Section (ATCS). Course content includes basic nutrition, meal planning and cooking, home cleaning tasks, and ways for bathing, turning, and moving the patient. Home Health Aides also learn to deal with patients’ emotional problems caused by illness or aging and learn something about behavior, particularly in elderly patients.

Health care agencies that employ Home Health Aides must give them at least 12 hours of in-service training and do a performance review each year. Home Health Aides are required to renew their certification every two years.


There are no experience requirements for Home Health Aides. However, most employers prefer applicants who have experience in this occupation or a related field.

Early Career Planning

High school classes that might help pepare one for a job in this field includes domestic arts, strength training, English and a foreign language would be good preparation for a career in this field.

Apprenticeship and Work Study Programs

Adult education programs and regional occupational programs (ROP) in many local school districts give Home Health Aide training. In addition, some private career schools and colleges train for this occupation. The local EDD One-Stop Career Center can help the job seeker find training.

Licensing and Certification

Contact the agency that issues the license for additional information. Click on the license title below for details.

To work in California, Home Health Aides need a certificate issued by the California Department of Health Services (DHS).

Applicants need:

  • To be 16 years of age or older.
  • A report that gives medical history and states that the applicant can do the work without harm to self, patients and family members, or visitors.
  • A physical examination stating that the applicant has no health condition that would create a hazard to him/her, fellow employees, or patients.
  • Results of a tuberculosis skin test.
  • No felony or certain misdemeanor convictions. However, an applicant who has a Certificate of Rehabilitation or Dismissal from the court where the conviction happened can be certified.
  • An application, fingerprint records, and fees to the Aide and Technician Certification Section (ATCS) of the DHS.
  • 120 hours of approved training. Training includes 65 hours of classroom and 55 hours of clinical training in basic nursing and home health topics. Nurse assistants can be certified by taking supplemental training.
For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.

Where Can I Find Training?

There are two ways to search for training information:

Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.

Where Would I Work?

Most Home Health Aides work in patients homes. Some work in residential care facilites, nursing homes, and hospitals. Most Aides find work with the help of agencies. The largest industries employing Home Health Aides are as follows:

Industry TitlePercent of Total Employment for Occupation in California
Community Care Facility for the Elderly 30.3%
Home Health Care Services 28.7%
Residential Mental Health Facilities 16.1%
Individual and Family Services 10.2%
Nursing Care Facilities 2.2%
Source: EDD/LMID Staffing Patterns

What Employers Say...

About Work Experience:  Of the 22 employers surveyed in San Diego County, most require new hires to have prior work experience as Home Health Aides. In the table below, percentages may not add to 100% since employers may select more than one time period.

How Much Work Experience
Do Employers Require?
More than 5 years 0%
25 to 60 months 0%
13 to 24 months 13%
1 to 12 months 88%
Source: EDD/LMID Local Occupational Information Survey.

About Recruitment:  Of the 22 employers surveyed in San Diego County, many indicate it is easy to find applicants with experience who meet their minimum hiring requirements, while many indicate it is easy to find applicants without previous experience who meet their minimum hiring requirements to fill vacancies for Home Health Aides.

About Hiring:  Of the 22 employers surveyed in San Diego County, many expect the number of Home Health Aides they employ to remain stable during the coming year.

Hiring Expectations
Expect Employment to Increase 45%
Expect Employment to Remain Stable 50%
Expect Employment to Decline 0%
Source: EDD/LMID Local Occupational Information Survey.

About Vacancies:  Of the 22 employers surveyed in San Diego County, 73 percent hired Home Health Aides during the past year. Of the hiring firms, 88 percent filled existing vacancies, 31 percent filled newly created positions.

Finding a Job

Home health agencies and hospice programs hire Home Health Aides. Recent graduates can apply at their school for job placement. Many go to work for the agency where they did clinical on-the-job training. They should also apply at a local Visiting Nurses Association of America. Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods.  Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

Yellow Page Headings

You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Home Health Aides.

  • Assisted Living Facilities
  • Home Health Services
  • Hospices
  • Nurses and Nurse Registries

Find Possible Employers

To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:

  • Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
  • Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
  • Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
  • Contact the employer for possible employment.

Where Could This Job Lead?

With more training, Home Health Aides can become Medical Assistants, Licensed Vocational Nurses, or Registered Nurses.

Related Occupations

Below is a list of occupations related to Home Health Aides with links to more information.

Childcare WorkersGuide
Flight AttendantsProfile
Nursing Aides, Orderlies, and Attendants*Profile
Personal Care AidesGuide

Other Sources

These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.

For the Career Professional

The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.

SOC - Standard Occupational Classification31-1011
O*NET - Occupational Information Network
   Home Health Aides31-1011.00
   Interest Codes (RIASEC)SRC
CIP - Classification of Instructional Programs
   Home Health Aide/Home Attendant 512602
TOP - Taxonomy of Programs (California Community Colleges)
   Home Health Aide123080