What are the Differences Between a CNA and HHA?

If you’ve looked for a job in healthcare, you’ve probably noticed a number of listings for CNA and HHA positions. But, aside from the fact that these are both entry-level positions in health care, do you know what the differences between them are?

In this article, we’ll provide a detailed comparison between the positions of a Certified Nursing Assistant and Home Health Aide.

Is a Home Health Aide the Same as a CNA?

The idea that the positions of CNA and HHA are the same is a common misconception. It is understandable, as both of these Allied Health professionals share many common responsibilities.

Both provide personal care for patients, with a focus on daily living needs. Both also work under the supervision of physicians or nurses.

Knowing what separates these positions, however, can help you make an educated choice between each career field. So, what is the difference between CNA and HHA?

Differences Between HHAs and CNAs

In this section, we’ll take a look at the major differences between an HHA and CNA. If you have additional questions that aren’t covered here, feel free to contact us at carley@cnaonlineprograms.net.

Where and How You Work

One major difference between the CNA and HHA is that the CNA works in organizational healthcare settings like hospitals and nursing homes. The HHA works exclusively in the patient’s home.

While certified nursing assistants may also occasionally work in the patient’s home, the reverse is not true with home health aides.

The key difference in responsibilities between the CNA and HHA is that the Certified Nursing Assistant cannot administer medication, while the Home Health Aide is allowed to do so.

Otherwise, both healthcare positions require taking care of the basic daily quality-of-life needs of patients. This includes bathing, feeding, changing bandages and dressings, and exercising.

Both jobs require the healthcare provider to be compassionate, patient, and to deal with the bodily functions and blood of patients. Depending on your personal preferences for a healthcare job, each position has its own appeal.

Some folks prefer the fast-paced, clinical action of hospitals, while other may be more partial to the personal pace of working in a patient’s home.

In either case, the caregiver can be assured that they are providing vital, necessary services that directly improve the quality of life of the patient.


As the table below illustrates, Certified Nursing Assistants are usually paid more than Home Health Aides. The reason for this is related to the types of employers that each position works for.

Whereas the HHA is almost exclusively employed by home care agencies, the CNA may work in a wider range of facilities.

Some of these, such as clinics and private practices, often pay considerably more than one would earn solely working as a home care provider.


Education Required

CNAs and HHAs must both complete educational training programs, though the specifics of each program differ depending on state regulations.

To become a Nursing Assistant, you can often complete your education at vocational schools, community colleges, traditional colleges, universities, and through online training programs.

An HHA can also find classes in similar institutions, but there are some states that do not require school based training. In those states, it is more than likely that an HHA will be trained by the agency or company they are employed by.

It is best to check with your state’s Board of Nursing to find out the mandatory requirements to become an HHA in your state.

Training for both CNA and HHA professionals first focuses on nursing techniques, including how to care for a patient’s daily quality-of-life needs.

The difference in the programs typically resides in the fact that the Home Health Aides must also learn about various types of medication, and how to administer each type. Certified Nursing Assistants primarily focus on basic nursing skills.

Qualifications and Certifications

certified nursing assistant and home health aideIn most states in order to become a CNA, you must first pass a comprehensive certification examination. CNAs takes a test administered by the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP).

In most places, an HHA is required to pass the Medication Aide Certification Examination (MACE).

Both examinations are comprehensive, so you will have to dedicate yourself to your studies in order to pass them.

That should not to discourage you from pursuing these careers. As long as you study earnestly, and follow the recommended steps for preparing for exam day, you should do well.

CNA vs HHA – A Final Look

Now that you know the differences between the CNA and HHA positions, you have the opportunity to pursue work in the nursing field in the area that best fits your interests.

Upon graduating from a CNA or HHA program, you’ll also have an opportunity to follow your interest in a healthcare career and make a living. So, what are you waiting for?

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