Differences Between an HHA and a CNA


You’ve decided that you would like to start a career in healthcare and you are slightly confused on what are the differences between an HHA and a CNA. No need to get frustrated as these two positions are commonly confused with each other. Both positions have direct contact with their patients while working under the supervision of a nurse or a physician. But there are some key differences between a certified nursing assistant and a home health aide.

In the following article we will be going through the main differences between an HHA and CNA. We will look at a number of factors from their job description to the training they must complete. Hopefully, by the time you finish this article you will be able to know the difference between these two positions and make up your mind if either of these careers are something you have an interest in.

Differences between an HHA and a CNA

Even though there are strong similarities between these positions, there are enough subtle differences between an HHA and a CNA. Below we will chart out some of these differences to help better understand that while the jobs are somewhat similar, the differences are enough to end any confusion between the two careers.

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Similarities between an HHA and a CNA

Before we start going over the differences between an HHA and a CNA, there are some similarities between these two careers. As previously mentioned both of these jobs require direct contact with their patients by providing basic care. In fact, both a CNA and HHA will spend more time with their patients than the supervising nurses and doctors. This repeated contact places the HHA or CNA in an important position of possibly noticing subtle changes in their patient’s health, condition or emotional state.

Another similarity is that both of these positions are entry-level healthcare jobs that do not require a post-secondary degree. For most people, becoming a CNA or HHA is a stepping stone to furthering their careers. By utilizing the experience gained as a direct care worker combined with additional education, they are able to move up the nursing ladder to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or even a registered nurse (RN).


It doesn’t matter if you decide to become an HHA or a CNA, you will still need to undergo some training in order to start working. You will be able to find training programs for either position at vocational or technical schools, community colleges and some job training programs. Both types of programs offer similar training in basic nursing care, however HHA includes education in the types and methods of administering prescribed medication.


Both CNA and HHA training programs require that the student pass both a background check and drug test along with the correct vaccinations. You will find, though that a number of HHA programs require their students to have some experience as a CNA or some relative training in a similar familiar.


Where one works can best show one of the bigger differences between an HHA and a CNA. A certified nursing assistant can work with a number of different patients in a wide range of healthcare facilities such as a hospital, nursing home, long-term care center or even some people’s homes. While a home health aide works in the patient’s home usually for one person.

Job Description

As one would expect, there are very few differences between an HHA and a CNA as far job description. Both provide direct basic care for their patients by helping them bathe, eat, move and keeping the patient free from infections and bed sores, just to name a few duties. However, an HHA can also take care of administering medication to their patients while a CNA does not have that ability.


If you would like to become either an HHA or a CNA, you will need to pass a certification examination. An HHA will need to pass the Medication Aide Certification Examination (MACE) while a CNA must pass the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP). Both of these exams are given by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).

It should be mentioned that both the positions of an HHA (home health aide) and a CNA (certified nursing assistant) are extremely important in the current health care system. Both provide basic direct care and helping improve the quality of life of their patients. As you can see, there are a number of subtle differences between an HHA and a CNA, so that you know what these are which career path are you going to travel down?

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