Employers Loosen Skill Requirements For Home Health Care Jobs

As of the March 2019 jobs report, average wage growth has hit or exceeded 3% every month for more than a year. The tight labor market seems to have finally given way to higher earnings for workers who have gone without a raise for decades.

Unfortunately, several of the fastest growing jobs in 2018 were also among the lowest paid. The Personal Care Aide (PCA)—the Home Health Aide’s (HHA) non-certificated cousin and soon-to-be fixture in every aging Boomer’s home—was the fastest growing job last year, according to the latest Labor Department data.

10 Fastest Growing Occupations in 2018

OccupationYOYAverage Wage in 2018
Personal Care Aides8.7%$24,020
First-Line Supervisors of Construction Trades and Extraction Workers7.5%$65,230
Human Resources Specialists7.2%$60,880
Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists7.0%$63,120
Financial Managers6.8%$127,990
Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers, Hand6.7%$28,260
Software Developers, Applications6.4%$103,620
Industrial Truck and Tractor Operators5.9%$34,750
Business Operations Specialists, All Other5.9%$70,530
Cooks, Restaurant5.0%$26,530
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics 2017-2018

Given that there will be 78 million people over the age of 65 in the U.S. by 2035, it’s not surprising that the fastest growing job last year was in healthcare. What is surprising given the insatiable demand for in-home care and relatively low salary on offer is that people are flocking to the role. The PCA applicant pool on ZipRecruiter in 2018 was 20 times larger than it was during the previous year. Just three months into 2019 applicants are on track to quadruple compared to 2017.

One possible explanation for this surging interest in the role could be that they require less formal education.

No Certificate Required

The Labor Department has two main designations for home health care workers: Personal Care Aide and Home Health Aide. Both support the elderly and/or disabled in accomplishing their day-to-day tasks and both help to ensure that basic needs are met. However, HHAs, unlike PCAs, are certified and regulated by their state medical board. As such, they can also perform basic medical treatment, including checking vital signs and administering medication.

Also unlike PCAs, HHAs were among the fastest declining jobs in 2018, falling nearly 3% year over year. Applicant volume on ZipRecruiter for HHAs also trailed off in 2018 compared to PCAs, declining just over 12% compared to the year prior.

A declining labor supply among workers with specialized training and certifications is consistent with an incredibly tight labor market. It is unusual, however, to see demand for skilled labor declining in this market.

Labor Shortages and a Lower Bar to Entry

Employers aren’t just deferring to a role with fewer skill requirements to meet demand in the midst of a talent shortage, they are also actively lowering the bar to entry for home health care roles overall—including for job titles typically associated with formal certifications.

Based on an analysis of more than 200,000 home health care job postings on ZipRecruiter since 2017, job postings mentioning HHA certifications declined 9.3% year over year in 2018. This may have to do with the fact that job postings for PCAs grew at twice the rate as certified HHAs. But we also ran the numbers on job postings for the specific Home Health Aide job title and found that certification requirements fell by 3.5% in 2018.

Other skills in decline for HHAs include practical nursing licenses (-97%), nursing assistant certifications (-47%), and registered nurse certifications (-32%). Rising skills include cooking (385%), punctuality (192%), and house cleaning (129%).

In the event of a talent shortage, the ideal outcome is for workers to up-skill or re-skill in order to take advantage of emerging opportunities with higher pay or a brighter career path. Unfortunately, it appears that the opposite is happening in the home health care industry.

Written by

Jeffery Marino is a Los Angeles-based writer who previously covered emerging job market trends using proprietary ZipRecruiter data.

More Articles by Jeffery Marino