Home Health Nurse Career Overview


Updated September 20, 2023

check mark Reviewed by

Our Integrity Network

NurseJournal.org is committed to delivering content that is objective and actionable. To that end, we have built a network of industry professionals across higher education to review our content and ensure we are providing the most helpful information to our readers.

Drawing on their firsthand industry expertise, our Integrity Network members serve as an additional step in our editing process, helping us confirm our content is accurate and up to date. These contributors:

  • Suggest changes to inaccurate or misleading information.
  • Provide specific, corrective feedback.
  • Identify critical information that writers may have missed.

Integrity Network members typically work full time in their industry profession and review content for NurseJournal.org as a side project. All Integrity Network members are paid members of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network.

Explore our full list of Integrity Network members.

Read on to discover home health nurse jobs, what home healthcare nurses do, and home health nurse salary expectations.
mini logo
NurseJournal.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

A cheerful African-American nurse is helping a senior female patient to use a walking frame. The nurse has her arms around the patient's left shoulder and back to offer support. They are both inside the patient's home living room. Credit: izusek / E+ / Getty Images

Home Care Nurse

What Does a Home Health Nurse Do?

ADN or BSN required
certification optional

Home health nurse jobs provide clinical healthcare to patients in their homes under the supervision of a physician or nurse practitioner. While most home health nurses take care of older adults with disabilities or provide hospice/palliative care, they also serve patients recently discharged from hospitals needing additional care.

Key responsibilities include the following:

Primary Responsibilities

  • Treating wounds or injuries
  • Administering treatments
  • Monitoring vital signs and performing tests

Career Traits

  • Empathy
  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Flexibility

Credit: Ronnie Kaufman / DigitalVision / Getty Images

Where Do Home Health Nurses Work?

Home health nurses provide care in patients' homes, but work from a variety of settings, including hospice and homecare organizations, community facilities, and hospitals.

  • Hospice/Homecare

    Nurses administer medications, treat injuries and wounds, communicate with or educate family caregivers, and ensure patient's physical comfort.

  • Community Facilities

    Nurses administer medications, conduct tests, and coordinate care with other agencies or organizations.

  • Hospitals

    Nurses treat patients recovering from surgeries who no longer need inpatient care, administer medications, monitor and report vital signs, and conduct tests.

Featured Online MSN Programs

Why Become a Home Health Nurse?

Home health nurses help patients to remain in their homes during treatment rather than a hospital, and they get to know patients in a more personal way than hospital nurses. Like all registered nurse (RN) salaries, home health nurse salaries are above the national average. Home hospice nursing holds particularly powerful pros and cons from an emotional perspective.

Advantages To Becoming a Home Health Nurse

  • Establish personal relationships with patients and family members
  • Patients are generally happier at home
  • Less clinical atmosphere than a hospital
  • Can have more flexible scheduling

Disadvantages To Becoming a Home Health Nurse

  • Some family members or situations can be unwelcoming
  • Need to travel from location to location
  • More isolated from clinical colleagues
  • Fewer medical resources immediately at hand if a patient needs them

How To Become a Home Health Nurse

Earn an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN).
The ADN degree takes two years to complete, while the BSN takes four years. However, the BSN is a requirement for advancement for most home healthcare nurse jobs.
Pass the NCLEX-RN to receive RN licensure.
The National Council Licensure Examination for RNs is a national examination that takes up to six hours and covers medicine, nursing practice, psychology and communication, and legal/ethical aspects of nursing.
Gain required nursing experience.
Most home health nurse jobs call for at least 2-3 years of medical-surgical or critical care nursing, given the high level of job autonomy.
Consider a certification in home health nursing.
While it is not a requirement to practice as a home health nurse, the certification to become board certified can be valuable. However, it is no longer available for new certifications, only for renewals.

Learn More About How to Become a Home Healthcare Nurse

How Much Do Home Health Nurses Make?

Home health nurses with the RN credential earn a median annual salary of $73,300, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) earn a median $29,640, below the $39,810 annual median salary for all jobs in the United States.

Both home health nurses and CNAs remain in demand. BLS projects nursing assistant jobs to increase by 8% between 2019 and 2029, with nursing positions expected to increase by 7%. Home health nurse jobs and home health nursing assistant jobs may grow at a faster rate because of the rising emphasis on providing care in homes rather than hospitals and the aging population of the United States.

How Home Health Per Visit Pay Works

Many home healthcare nurses receive salary pay, but others are paid per visit. Those paid per visit usually receive earnings through private insurance companies or government programs, such as Medicaid or Medicare, that use set fees. Usually, the first visit pays more than subsequent visits, since the first visit often takes longer to complete paperwork, meet family members for the first time, and assess the patient's needs.

Laws about overtime pay are often in flux, but according to federal law, home health nurses paid by visit are not eligible for overtime pay. However, state laws may vary.

Questions About a Career as a Home Health Nurse

How long does it take to become a home health nurse?

It takes two years to earn an ADN or four years to earn a BSN and obtain RN licensure. Most employers prefer at least 2-3 years of experience in an acute care or surgical setting before becoming a home health nurse. CNA requirements vary by state but do not call for a college degree.

Can home health nurses prescribe medicine?

Home health nurse practitioners and other advanced practice nurses can prescribe medicine, including controlled substances. Other home healthcare nurses without that extra education or certification cannot prescribe medication.

What is the difference between a CNA and an RN?

CNA certification requires a high school diploma or GED certificate, the completion of a state-approved training course with a minimum of 75 hours, and a passing score on the nurse assistant certification test. RNs must hold at least an ADN degree, though many jobs require or prefer a BSN, and must also pass the national licensure test.

Who do home health nurses work alongside on a home health team?

Home health nurses carry out the treatment prescribed by physicians or nurse practitioners. They may supervise CNAs or home health aides. In addition, they may work with other care providers, such as social workers or hospice/palliative care, psychologists, counselors, or chaplains.

Resources for Home Health Nurses

  • NAHC offers education, conducts research, engages in advocacy, and posts a job board for hospice care providers at all levels, including homecare nurses. Membership is open to agencies, providers, and solutions providers, among other organizations. Financial managers can join NAHC's Home Care and Hospice Financial Managers Association subsidiary.
  • The American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine provides education, job listings, resources, and networking for physicians and advocates engaged in hospice and palliative care. Membership is also open to hospice nurses, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals in hospice or palliative care.
  • IHSNO's mission is to promote global connections among homecare nurses and provide resources for best practices in home healthcare. IHCNO offers networking, education, and guidelines for homecare nurses. Free membership is open to all home healthcare nurses.
  • Home Healthcare Now is a journal for home healthcare nurses. Access to some articles is free while others require a paid subscription. Homecare nurses can earn continuing education credits for reading certain articles through CEConnection. The site also includes home health nurse job listings.

Related Pages

NurseJournal.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

Whether you’re looking to get your pre-licensure degree or taking the next step in your career, the education you need could be more affordable than you think. Find the right nursing program for you.

Popular Nursing Resources

Resources and articles written by professionals and other nurses like you.