How to Become a Home Health Nurse

6 Min Read Published March 6, 2024

Home health nursing is an increasingly vital specialty as the aging population turns to home care more often. In this comprehensive guide, find out what it takes to enter this flexible and rewarding specialty, salary expectations, career outlook, and more.

How to Become a Home Health Nurse

Fast Facts About Home Health Nursing

Annual Salary


Career Outlook

6% Growth 2022-2032

Program Length

2-4 Years


What is a Home Health Nurse?

A home health nurse is a registered nurse (RN) who travels to patients' homes to administer individualized care. Patients need home health nurses for several reasons, such as immobility due to an injury or illness or because they need medical supervision but want to maintain their independence.

Home health RNs provide various medical services, such as wound care, pain management, and medication administration. They may also educate family members or caregivers to ensure they can operate certain medical devices for the patient in the absence of a healthcare professional.

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What Do Home Health Nurses Do?

A home health RN travels to patients' homes to provide them with individualized care. They treat an extensive range of patients, from infants to the elderly, in various conditions. Some patients may be healthy but recovering from surgery, while others may be chronically or terminally ill.

Specific home health nurse duties will vary depending on the patient and their medical needs. However, some responsibilities a home health nurse may perform include the following:

  • Giving medications & IV infusions

  • Assisting in daily living & hygiene

  • Cleaning & dressing wounds

  • Physician & care team communication

  • Creating treatment plans w/ a care team

  • Drawing labs & monitoring vital signs
  • Evaluating patient health

  • Case management

  • Performing physical assessments

  • Educating patients & caretakers

  • Responding to emergent situations

  • Reviewing home safety

Is Home Health Nursing Easy?

As a home health nurse, you'll face unique challenges compared to hospital staff nurses. In addition to commuting from patient to patient, you'll also have to navigate the hurdles of working in a non-medical environment.

Regardless, some consider home health nursing one of the easiest nursing jobs because they often choose their own workload and can take short days when they finish their visits early.

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Where Do Home Health Nurses Work?

The day-to-day environment of home health RNs constantly changes as they go from one patient to the next. Employers of home health nurses include:

  • Agencies
  • Community or government organizations
  • Hospice organizations
  • Hospitals
  • Insurance companies

Although home health nurses work as part of a medical team, they have more flexibility and independence than staff nurses at hospitals. They conduct their day-to-day duties solo, at patient homes. This environment allows them to form more personal and relaxed relationships with patients and their families, which can be extremely rewarding.

Home Health Nurse Salary

The average home health nurse salary is $70,492 annually or $30.75 an hour, according to Payscale. This figure is slightly lower than the median annual income of all RNs, which is $81,220 annually (BLS, 2022).

However, Glassdoor reports a higher home health nurse income of around $96K annually. The difference in reports from these sources indicates a wide salary range for home health RNs. Your income as a home health nurse will vary based on your education level, experience, geographic location, and the company you work for.

Home Health RN Salary by Experience

  • Less than one year: $60,037 annually; $27.25 per hour
  • 1-4 years: $68,239 annually; $31.61 per hour
  • 5-9 years: $68,985; $31.30 per hour
  • 10-19 years: $71,893; $30.77
  • 20 or more years: $74,208 annually; $29.47 per hour

Source: Payscale, Retrieved Mar 6th 2024

Home Health Nursing Non-Monetary Compensation

Your total compensation package isn't limited to your paycheck. Other forms of compensation for home health RNs include a robust benefits package with paid time off, overtime opportunities, and health, dental, and vision insurance. Some agencies even offer childcare and tuition reimbursement.

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How Do You Become a Home Health Nurse?

Becoming a home health nurse begins with attending nursing school and earning your nursing license. You'll then earn clinical experience to prepare you for home health nursing. The following section provides an in-depth look at what it takes to enter this nursing field.

Step 1: Attend Nursing School

The first step toward becoming a home health nurse is completing an accredited nursing program. Home health nurses will pursue one of the following:

Keep in mind that most agencies prefer ADN or BSN-trained nurses over LPNs. If you're interested in taking on leadership roles in home healthcare, you may go on to pursue a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) to become an advanced practice nurse.

Step 2: Earn Your Nursing License

Before you can work as an RN or LPN, you must pass the corresponding NCLEX exam. ADN or BSN-prepared nurses take the NCLEX-RN, while LPNs take the NCLEX-PN.

Once you pass this exam, you may earn state licensure.

Step 3: Gain Clinical Experience

Finally, most home healthcare agencies require applicants to have patient care experience. To supplement your education with hands-on experience, you should earn at least two years of med-surg nursing experience. Then, you'll be qualified to become a home health nurse.

What is the Career Outlook for Home Health Nurses?

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that RN employment, including home health RNs, will grow by 6% from 2022 to 2032. Though this forecast does not differentiate between types of nurses, other factors point to a positive outlook for home health nurse jobs in years to come.

Home healthcare is becoming the fastest-growing segment of healthcare services due, in part, to the rapidly aging population. As more elderly patients and their physicians turn to home care for its convenience and affordability, the demand for home health RNs is sure to grow.

Additionally, the ongoing national nursing shortage creates a constant demand for nursing professionals in every specialty, including home healthcare.

What are the Continuing Education Requirements for Home Health Nurses?

Since home health nurses can work without additional certifications, they only need to complete continuing education requirements to maintain their RN licensure. Each state sets its own standards for RN license renewal, which you can find in our complete list of nursing CEUs by state.

Do Home Health Nurses Need a Certification?

You no longer need a certification to work as a home health nurse. The now unavailable Home Health Clinical Nurse Specialist Certification was once a requirement, and nurses who hold this certification can still renew it if desired.

Where Can I Learn More About Becoming a Home Health Nurse?

As an increasingly vital nursing specialty, home health nursing resources help foster community and share information within the field. You can learn more about becoming a home health nurse from support agencies like the Home Healthcare Nurses Association and the International Home Care Nurses Association.

Final Thoughts on Home Health Nursing

Home health RNs get to work in diverse settings and interact with a wide range of patients from all walks of life. Their proximity to patients and their families in a home environment creates a strong bond, fostering a deeper understanding of their patient's needs.

While this specialty isn't the most lucrative, it is one of the most emotionally rewarding. It also provides high levels of flexibility, allowing nurses to work independently and set their own schedules.

Learn more about what it's like to work in home healthcare with our article, 8 Things Home Health Nurses Should Never Leave Home Without.

Home Health Nurse FAQs

  • What is the role of the Home Health Nurse?

    • Home health nurses provide individualized care to patients in their own homes. This ranges from post-hospitalization check-ins to caring for ill and infirm patients.
  • How much does a Home Health Nurse make?

    • The average annual salary for home health nurses is $70,492 or $30.75 per hour. Individual salaries vary by location, education level, experience, and employer.
  • What is Home Health Nursing like?

    • Home health nursing is one of the most flexible and independent positions for registered nurses. Home health nurses often make their own schedules and practice different types of care. The field is also rewarding, as home health nurses form strong bonds with their patients in a comfortable home setting.
  • What is the best way to become a Home Health nurse?

    • Since most home health nursing agencies prefer experienced ADN or BSN-trained nurses, it's best to enter the career field as a registered nurse with at least two years of med-surg nursing practice.
  • How long does it take to become a Home Health nurse?

    • It takes between 4-6 years to become a home health nurse. Nursing school to become a home health nurse takes between 2-4 years. You'll also need at least two years of experience to enter this profession.

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