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Personal and Home Care Aides

At a Glance

  • Help elderly or disabled clients with tasks they can't do themselves
  • Work under supervision
  • Often work within inches of clients
  • Often work weekends
  • Train on the job
  • May work part time or full time

Career summary

Personal and home care aides provide services to elderly, disabled, and ill clients so they can live in their own homes.

Personal and home care aides help people do tasks they cannot do for themselves. Their help allows people to live at home instead of in a health facility. Most aides work with elderly or disabled clients who need more care than family or friends can provide.

Some aides work with families when a parent is ill and small children need care. Others help patients who are discharged from the hospital and need short-term help.

Aides help clients complete daily personal tasks, including:

Personal and home care aides also do light housekeeping tasks such as laundry and changing bed linens. Some aides plan meals (including special diets), shop for food, and cook.

Aides sometimes take clients to doctor appointments or out to buy groceries.

Personal and home care aides may work directly for a client or a client's family. They also work for a social service or nursing agencies where they are supervised by a social worker or nurse.

Under the supervision of a nurse or other medical professional, some home care aides provide help with medication and taking vital signs. They record the client's condition and progress to the supervisor. In addition, aides may participate in case reviews with the team caring for the client.

Related careers

This career is part of the Human Services cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to personal and home care aides.

Common work activities

Personal and home care aides perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, personal and home care aides:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Personal and home care aides frequently:

It is important for personal and home care aides to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for personal and home care aides to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Personal and home care aides need to:


Reason and problem solve

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study to consider


To work as a personal and home care aide, you typically need to:

Education after high school

No formal education is required beyond high school for this job.

Work experience

Experience helping and working with people is good preparation for this occupation.

On-the-job training

Almost all personal and home care aides learn their skills on the job from an experienced worker. Training may last up to one month.

Helpful high school courses

You should take a general high school curriculum that meets the state's graduation requirements. You will be required to take both math and science classes to graduate.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Employers prefer applicants who like to help people and are willing to work hard. They may also prefer applicants who have a high school diploma or equivalent. Employers look for aides who are responsible, emotionally stable, and cheerful. Aides should also be tactful and honest.

Most employers require some experience in a health care setting such as a skilled nursing facility. Because workers provide their own transportation and may drive patients on errands, a valid state driver's license is usually required.

Some employers prefer to hire aides who specialize in certain types of care, such as working with AIDS patients.

Qualified home health care aides who care for state-supported clients can be listed on the Home Care Referral Registry of Washington State. The registry connects home care workers with those who need in-home services.

#The HCQA was created by a voter initiative in 2001. The authority determined qualifications, recruitment, and established a referral directory. Providers were hired from the referral directory. Due to state budget restrictions, the HCQA is no longer being funded. The referral directory, however, is still available and is now known as the Home Care Referral Registry of Washington State. The HCQA also represents the state in contract bargaining with the Service Employees International Union who represents the home health care workers. (Not sure if this is still applicable information, so left in for now. 3/16/11, cj.)

For more information, contact:

Home Care Referral Registry of Washington State (external link)
PO Box 45600
Olympia, WA 98504

#Updated contact address & phone 4/16/13 cj. Above contact info still ok 3/17/15 cj. removed phone number as each office is contacted by area. 3/10/16 lh. Contact info ok 4/5/19 cj.


Call home health agencies to see if they offer free or inexpensive training. Volunteer work at hospitals or other health care facilities also may be helpful.

Costs to workers

Personal and home care aides must provide their own transportation. Some may join a professional association and pay annual dues.


Most individuals hired as long-term care workers for the elderly or persons with disabilities are required to become certified as home care aides.

Certification requirements include:

The application fee is $85 and the certification renewal fee is $85.

For more information on certification, contact:

Washington State Department of Health
Home Care Aide Credentialing (external link)


#added initiative reqs 2/27/12 lh. Added AIDS & cont ed requirements 4/16/13 cj. no changes 3/20/14 lh, fine. fee increase moved to may 1, but updated now not promoted yet. 3/10/16 lh, small adjustment to narrative 3/5/18 lh

Many employers require workers to be registered as a nursing assistant with the state health department. In order to work for a state-certified, or Medicare or Medicaid approved home health agency, workers must pass a set of competency requirements, including a skills test. Some agencies require workers to pass the state certification requirements for nursing assistants, which includes 85 hours of training and seven clock hours of AIDS education. The certification application fee is $65 and the annual renewal is $70.

For more information, contact:

Washington State Department of Health
Nursing Assistant Program (external link)

PO Box 47877
Olympia, WA 98504

#checked 2/28/12 lh. Checked info 4/16/13 cj. Updated url 3/17/15 cj. looks okay 3/10/16 lh. Updated CNA fees 12/13/16 cj. 3/5/18 lh. ok 4/5/19 cj.

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


The minimum wage for Washington State as of January 1, 2020 is $13.50 per hour. Some areas of the state may have a higher minimum wage.

Personal care aides (SOC 39-9021)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $11.96 $12.61 $13.77 $15.03 $16.78
Monthly $2,073 $2,185 $2,386 $2,605 $2,908
Yearly $24,880 $26,220 $28,650 $31,260 $34,900
    Bellingham Hourly $12.25 $12.74 $13.75 $14.84 $15.62
Monthly $2,123 $2,208 $2,383 $2,572 $2,707
Yearly $25,491 $26,490 $28,598 $30,870 $32,480
    Bremerton-Silverdale Hourly $12.41 $13.10 $14.27 $15.52 $17.09
Monthly $2,151 $2,270 $2,473 $2,690 $2,962
Yearly $25,808 $27,234 $29,695 $32,288 $35,547
    Clarkston-Lewiston Hourly $10.21 $10.75 $11.63 $12.68 $15.85
Monthly $1,769 $1,863 $2,015 $2,197 $2,747
Yearly $21,239 $22,359 $24,198 $26,392 $32,973
    Kennewick-Richland Hourly $12.35 $12.94 $14.07 $15.42 $16.96
Monthly $2,140 $2,243 $2,438 $2,672 $2,939
Yearly $25,687 $26,918 $29,268 $32,079 $35,261
    Longview Hourly $12.39 $13.00 $14.06 $15.08 $15.93
Monthly $2,147 $2,253 $2,437 $2,613 $2,761
Yearly $25,760 $27,057 $29,234 $31,355 $33,116
    Mount Vernon-Anacortes Hourly $12.27 $12.77 $13.82 $15.29 $17.22
Monthly $2,126 $2,213 $2,395 $2,650 $2,984
Yearly $25,519 $26,545 $28,743 $31,787 $35,814
    Olympia-Tumwater Hourly $12.26 $12.76 $13.78 $15.21 $17.16
Monthly $2,125 $2,211 $2,388 $2,636 $2,974
Yearly $25,499 $26,535 $28,662 $31,653 $35,695
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $12.49 $13.23 $14.43 $15.69 $17.78
Monthly $2,165 $2,293 $2,501 $2,719 $3,081
Yearly $25,974 $27,512 $30,019 $32,622 $36,996
    Spokane-Spokane Valley Hourly $12.22 $12.73 $13.87 $15.19 $16.39
Monthly $2,118 $2,206 $2,404 $2,632 $2,840
Yearly $25,426 $26,470 $28,848 $31,594 $34,083
    Vancouver Hourly $11.16 $12.05 $13.14 $14.66 $15.70
Monthly $1,934 $2,088 $2,277 $2,541 $2,721
Yearly $23,211 $25,075 $27,318 $30,493 $32,663
    Walla Walla Hourly $12.83 $13.79 $15.06 $16.51 $18.69
Monthly $2,223 $2,390 $2,610 $2,861 $3,239
Yearly $26,686 $28,670 $31,331 $34,355 $38,887
    Wenatchee Hourly $12.42 $13.29 $14.95 $16.66 $18.95
Monthly $2,152 $2,303 $2,591 $2,887 $3,284
Yearly $25,830 $27,654 $31,101 $34,651 $39,423
    Yakima Hourly $12.47 $13.09 $14.24 $15.45 $16.55
Monthly $2,161 $2,268 $2,468 $2,677 $2,868
Yearly $25,935 $27,229 $29,620 $32,130 $34,442
United States Hourly $9.01 $10.48 $11.55 $13.22 $15.22
Monthly $1,561 $1,816 $2,002 $2,291 $2,638
Yearly $18,740 $21,810 $24,020 $27,490 $31,650

Wages vary by employer and area of the country. Most employers give slight pay increases as workers gain experience and add responsibility. Aides are usually paid only for the time worked in the home. They normally are not paid for travel time between jobs.

Most employers hire only "on-call" hourly workers and do not provide benefits.

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook

The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Personal and Home Care Aides (SOC 39-9021)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 48,774 27.4% 16.1% 10,456
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 1,254 25.0% 13.4% 258
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 1,051 37.0% 8.6% 252
    Benton and Franklin Counties 1,955 30.4% 15.0% 437
    Clallam, Jefferson, and Kitsap Counties 2,222 24.2% 11.9% 456
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 4,660 23.0% 15.2% 936
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 3,415 25.2% 14.1% 711
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 1,991 24.9% 14.6% 411
    King County 15,978 26.2% 19.6% 3,384
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 3,123 35.5% 13.8% 742
    Pierce County 4,138 31.7% 15.2% 934
    Snohomish County 2,603 24.9% 12.4% 542
    Spokane County 6,159 27.5% 13.9% 1,319
United States 2,421,200 36.4% 5.2% 486,900

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand for this occupation will grow significantly. The number of people in their seventies and older will continue to grow. This age group has an increased need for care at home. Also, more patients of all ages are expected to rely on home care. This trend is the result of several factors. One, patients are being moved from hospitals more quickly. Two, treatment is often more effective in familiar surroundings. Three, many medical technologies can now be used in the home. This trend will increase the need for caregivers who work with people in their homes.

Many job openings will occur in this field because of the high turnover rate. This occupation has high physical and emotional demands. For people who enjoy this type of work, there will be many job openings.

Other resources

American Health Care Association (external link)
1201 L Street NW
Washington, DC 20005
Explore Health Careers: Home Care Assistant/Aide (external link)
Home Care Association of Washington (external link)
2311 N 45th St, #337
Seattle, WA 98103
National Association for Home Care & Hospice (external link)
228 Seventh Street SE
Washington, DC 20003
Service Employees International Union (external link)
1800 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20036


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupations

Holland occupational cluster