How to Become a Health Care Aide


If you want to become a health care aide, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for you. If the following description sounds like you, then you’re probably well suited for work in this field:


Those who become health care aides are compassionate individuals who are interested in helping people. They enjoy work that involves physical activity and allows them to work with people on a personal level. They must have a natural aptitude for personal care, and be able to deal with sensitive situations with good judgment and tact.


Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as a health care aide. We've also included helpful occupational information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education Needed to Become a Health Care Aide

Although the educational requirements for this field vary by employer, you typically only need a high school diploma to enter this profession, as you're likely to be trained on the job.


On-the-job training typically includes instruction in housekeeping tasks, such as cooking for clients who have special dietary needs. You would also probably learn basic safety techniques, such as CPR and how to respond in an emergency.


Some employers however, would require that you have a university degree in a field such as nursing, or a college diploma in a health care aide training program. 





General Job Description

Health care aides are responsible for providing short and long term personal care to individuals who are disabled, chronically ill, cognitively impaired, as well as older adults that require assistance. They provide assistance with such activities as bathing, dressing, meal preparation and light housekeeping.



Typical Duties of the Job

• Observe changes in client condition

• Ensure the safety of clients

• Administer suppositories and enemas

• Collect stool samples and assist with toileting

• Implement therapeutic interventions for behaviour management

• Assist clients with basic personal care and hygienic activities such as bathing, grooming and dressing

• Assist with bed transfers, lifting, turning, walking and crutch walking

• Assist clients with therapeutic activities such as range of motion exercises, wound care and administering medication

• Liaise with other health care professionals, such as physicians, when necessary





Personal Characteristics Needed to Succeed

If you have the following personal traits, you may be well suited for a career as a health care aide:


• Compassionate and interested in helping people

• Enjoy working on a personal level with patients

• Understanding, patient and non-judgmental

• Able to work in a fast-paced environment

• Enjoy a job that involves physical activity

• Mature and dependable

• Able to communicate effectively and get along with people

• Able to keep personal information about clients confidential

• Able to use tact and judgment in dealing with difficult situations

• Sensitive to the physical, social, cultural, spiritual and psychological effects of illness and aging



Typical Salary Level

The salary level of health care aides can vary depending on such factors as their level of education; their level of experience; the organization that employs them; how many hours the work, and many others.


Health Care Aide Salary - Canada: According to the 2016 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey (the latest figures available at the time of writing), Albertans working in the Nurse Aides, Orderlies and Patient Service Associates occupational group earn an average salary of $34,578. WorkBC (Province of British Columbia) states that the annual provincial median salary of Nurse aides, orderlies and patient service associates is $43,680.


Salary - United States: According to the Unites States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary of workers in the Home Health and Personal Care Aides occupational group is $24,060 (May, 2018 figures). 



Who Employs Health Care Aides?

Health care aides are hired by organizations that provide personal assistance and support services for elderly, disabled, acute or chronically ill individuals; these organizations include:


• Self-employed (on contractual basis)

• Private health care agencies

• Continuing care facilities

• Senior housing facilities

• Government social service departments and agencies

• Non-profit charitable agencies

• Home care and family service associations

• Hospitals



Health Care Aide Jobs - Current Opportunities

Our job board below has "Health Care Aide" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.




Working Conditions Common to This Profession

Physical Activity: Since health care aides must assist people with activities such as bathing, moving, dressing, using the washroom and preparing food, there is a lot of physical activity required to properly perform this job. Health care aides may also spend long periods of time on their feet during their workday.


Work Environment: Health care aides may find themselves working in institutional settings or in homes, some of which may be comfortable settings to work within, while others may be quite uncomfortable and undesirable. Health care aides may provide care for clients that are quite pleasant and cooperative, although some may be quite difficult and uncooperative.


Working Hours: The hours of work for health care aides can vary, typically depending on where they work. Since many agencies offer 24-hour health services, health care aides often have to work shifts that involve irregular hours, includes early mornings, evenings and weekends.



Similar Careers in Our Database

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to "health care aide", as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Developmental Care Worker

Elder Care Worker

Geriatric Care Manager

Orthopaedic Technician




Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a health care aide.


Alberta Health Services website:

Alberta Learning and Information Service website:

United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website:

WorkBC website:



Scholarships for Becoming a Health Care Aide

Scholarships in our system are organized by field of study. The fields that are relevant to this profession are listed below on our "Relevant Areas of Study" section below. Any scholarships found within those fields will be suitable, all of which can be found on our Scholarships page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Relevant Areas of Study

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a health care aide. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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