28 Sep Are CNAs and HHAs the same?
Learn the similarities and differences between what a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and Home Health Aide (HHA) does. Plus, understand what training is needed to be in these roles and uncover training and job resources for these positions.
If you’re the kind of person who loves helping people, you may be interested in becoming a home health aide (HHA) or a certified nursing assistant (CNA). You may see these terms used almost interchangeably. However, there are very distinct differences in each role. For example, the work environment, job duties and responsibilities, salary, and training for each position varies.
Home Health Aides and Certified Nurse Aides, also known as HHAs and CNAs, have very similar roles within the healthcare community. Both of these positions will assist, care for, and provide companionship to patients in need. Additionally, both career paths provide some of the quickest routes into the medical field today. Below, we dig deeper into how these responsibilities will vary.
Job description (duties and responsibilities) of a CNA and HHA
CNAs and HHAs have different responsibilities when it comes to patient and client care. Certified Nursing Aides, as their title implies, are nursing assistants. Similar to Home Health Aides, they work under the supervision of Registered Nurses. Home Health Aides help people who are limited by age, disability, chronic illness, or cognitive impairment and who are living in their homes as opposed to a healthcare facility. Both care for their patients by helping them bathe, eat, go to the bathroom, and more. However, HHAs will typically be focused on one patient at a time. They may do more duties like cooking, cleaning, household tasks, and more. Meanwhile, CNAs will be taking care of many patients by checking vitals and more involved medical care than an HHA.
As we began to mention, another major difference between CNAs and HHAs is their work environments. HNAs will work in the patient’s home. This is why they can do more around the house. CNAs will operate out of a hospital or long term care facility such as a nursing home. CNAs are also capable of providing in-home care, so they have more access to medical equipment and other resources.
HHAs may also work in other settings such as residential facilities. Broadly speaking, a CNA can work anywhere that an HHA can. However, an HHA cannot work in the exact same settings as a CNA. This is because a CNA is a higher level certification than an HHA. That is what leads to expanded job duties, responsibilities, and work settings for CNAs.
The salaries paid to Home Health Aides and Certified Nurse Aides will vary. Nationwide, the median annual wages (salary plus other cash compensation) for home health aides comes out to $24,060 per year. This equals $11.57 per hour of earnings.
In the state of Pennsylvania, home health aides see a higher average salary than the nationwide average. HHAs average $25,810 per year, or $12.41 per hour in earnings and payment across the state.
Plus, in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas (the tri-state area which includes parts of Delaware and New Jersey as well), the average wage is $26,220, or $12.61 per hour in payment and salary. Read all about a Home Health Aide’s salary here.
For CNAs, they find themselves with higher annual earnings than HHAs. On average, in Philadelphia, a CNA will earn $32,440 per year. This difference in pay is due to the expanded responsibilities and training of a CNA.
Training and entry requirements
As you might imagine, the training requirements for HHAs and CNAs will vary. Home health aides generally need a high school diploma or equivalent. However, a high school diploma is not a fixed requirement. Some positions do not require it, so it will depend on the agency or healthcare setting that one works in. The same is true for home health aide training programs.
To become a Home Health Aide, individuals working in certified home health or hospice agencies must complete formal training and pass a standardized test, like that found at CareBridge Academy’s 75-hour program. This training is a federal requirement of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). These programs may also be offered by community colleges or employers (home healthcare agencies) offering jobs in the field.
Pennsylvania requires CNAs to be on a state registry after getting training certification from a state-approved program, such as CareBridge Academy. Most programs are 120 hours of training, including a portion which is done within a long term care setting.
A major benefit both of being a CNA and an HHA is that they are low cost programs that can be completed within weeks. An HHA program can be completed faster because it is a 75 hour course and is also lower cost. The trade off, as previously mentioned, is that a CNA has expanded work settings and job duties and potentially a higher salary.
Both an HHA and CNA can have a wide range of career path opportunities. These positions are both considered entry level roles. Each position will usually have exposure to a wide range of medical specialties and settings. With that, many HHAs and CNAs will attain more education and experience that allows them to expand into higher level healthcare roles. These will pay more money and may allow even greater ability to impact patient care. Review our career paths resource page for HHAs. CNAs will have very similar career path opportunities as well to those listed.
A future in healthcare
Now that you understand the differences between an HHA and CNA, you may be ready to take the first step towards a new and promising healthcare career. Because of their promising job future, various career path opportunities, and low training and educational requirements, they are both great careers to jump into the medical field.