Personal Health Assistant (PCA)
Home Health Aide (HHA)
Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
Education Required·         No formal education or high school diploma is required 
·         On the job training 
·         High school diploma or equivalent.
·         Short on the job training
·         Certification may be required if working for Medicare or a certified home health agency
·         High school diploma or GED
·         Nursing assistant training
Job Responsibilities·         Assists patient with self-hygiene
·         Light housekeeping chores
·         Routine cleaning and cooking
·         Arranging transportation if working in patient’s home
·         Documenting information and informing about any significant change in the patient’s condition
·         Assists patients in domestic household routine chores
·         Assists patient with self-hygiene
·         Turning and moving bedridden patients
·         Assist patient with exercise therapies and mobility
·         Provide emotional/psychological
companionship support 
·         Administer prescribed medicines
·         Monitor vital signs
·         Collect routine specimen
·         Assist patient in bathing, shaving, and brushing hair and teeth.
·         Turning and moving bedridden patients
·         Stocking medical supplies
·         Cleaning patients room
·         Attending patients calls
·         Documenting all the services provided
·         Assist patient in feeding and charting food and liquid intake
·         Monitor vital signs
·         Wound care of the patients
·         Administer prescribed medicines
·         Assisting in several medical procedures
Salary Range– $14.5k-$43.5k/year
– Average base salary $33,453/year
– $23k-$58/year
– Average base salary $36,469/year
– $30k-$64k
– Average base salary $44,373/year

PCA vs CNA vs HHA – main differences

If we look over the key differences, PCA provides the most basic form of care and support, whereas HHA provides middle-level support. Besides, CNAs, along with delivering similar care as PCA and HHA, provide basic medical care to patients under the supervision of registered nurses.


Work responsibilities — PCAs assist elderly and mentally disabled patients needing help with personal care and day-to-day activities (mostly non-medical), such as cooking, cleaning, laundry, and arranging transportation. They also help patients with self-care and daily routine activities. Unlike PCAs, CNAs are additionally trained to perform several medical-oriented tasks, for instance:

  1. Set up and operate medical equipment
  2. Taking vital signs
  3. Assist in medical procedures

Workload & workplace­ — PCA works with one patient at a time. However, CNA deals with several patients in a single shift, especially when working in a facility.

Moreover, PCAs generally work at residential care facilities, hospitals, and patient’s homes. Although CNAs do some work at patients’ own homes and assisted facilities for geriatric patients, they often work in hospital settings and rehabilitation centers.

PCA certification VS CNA certification —PCA certification is optional since you will be eligible to work without having it. Perhaps, PCA certification is required (after training and passing a proficiency test) when you receive federal payment through Medicaid or Medicare. Conversely, as the state issues CNA credentials, nursing assistants enroll in a state-approved training program and pass a certification exam.


Job responsibilities—PCA professionals help patients in all routine activities except medical support. On the other hand, HHAs assist patients in all day-to-day activities (as done by PCA) along with additional medical help such as changing band-aids, looking after wounds, and monitoring vital signs.

Workload & workplace —PCA works with one patient at a time. However, HHA professionals could have multiple patient appointments and home visits in one day, depending on their schedule.

Besides, PCAs generally work at residential care facilities, patients’ homes, and hospitals. On the other hand, HHA often works at patient’s homes, adult daycares, and assisted living facilities for geriatric patients.

We have already compared PCA with CNA and PCA with HHA — now let us see what is the difference between HHA and CNA?

CNA and HHA job roles can be ideal entry-level positions to step into the healthcare industry. Perhaps, there can be some differences in their respective role requirements.

HHA works in a slow pace and simple work environment. On the other hand, CNAs work in a first-paced and busy place because of the nature of their hiring institutions. Moreover, HHAs are often hired by senior care agencies that send them directly to work at patient home locations. HHAs also work at adult day care and assisted living facilities for geriatric patients. CNAs do some work in their patients’ homes and assisted facilities, but they often work at hospitals and rehabilitation centers.

PCA meaning and definition

PCA stands for Personal Health Assistant or Personal Health Aid— they closely work with elderly and mentally disabled patients who struggle to carry out their normal day-to-day activities independently. They also provide support to patients at residential care facilities, hospitals, and in patients’ homes.

The great news is— no formal education or a high school diploma or license is required to become a PCA.

While there is no need to be certified, you can opt to validate your personal competency by gaining certification via the National Association of Homecare and Hospice. It is because some states may require certification or complete training.

PCA job responsibilities

PCAs assist patients in daily routine activities, cleaning, cooking, serving meals, and other light household chores. They also help patients with personal hygiene and arrange transportation for hospital appointments and other errands such as grocery shopping.

 PCAs may be expected to monitor and document information related to the progress and deterioration of the patient’s health condition.

Although PCAs do not need to acquire medical skills and assist with medical help, they can be seldom expected to perform vital signs (monitoring blood pressure, pulse, and body temperature), administer timely medication, and operate medical equipment following the guidance of a licensed professional.

Besides, following traits may be necessary to become a competent PCA

  • Robust physical stamina
  • High levels of compassion
  • Flexibility
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Skill and knowledge about the services provided

HHA meaning and definition

HHA stands for Home Health Aide— they are known to provide personal care to patients at their homes who are not even able to do simple tasks by themselves, such as getting in and out of bed or chair.

What is HHA in healthcare?

HHA in healthcare provides hands-on functional, medical, and emotional support to patients, as well as assisting other healthcare professionals such as therapists, nurses, and social workers in a variety of tasks.

To work as HHA, you don’t require formal education or a college degree except a short on the job training. However, there can be some specific job requirements that may vary for several states and hiring organizations. For instance, some states may require a license to become HHA, or some organizations may ask for CPR certification and first aid courses.

Additionally, HHAs willing to work for Medicare or a certified home health agency are required to be certified. To achieve that, you must complete a minimum of 75 hrs of formal training (including lectures, hands-on skill practice, and supervised experience in a healthcare setting) via a state-approved program and pass a state-approved certification test. Nevertheless, HHAs, who do not want to work for Medicare-approved home health agencies, would only need to complete the employees on the job training.

Besides, HHAs are often hired by senior care agencies that send them directly to work at the patient home location. Nevertheless, HHAs also work at adult day care and assisted living facilities.

HHA job responsibilities

HHAs are mainly responsible for assisting their patients with day-to-day daily activities such as bathing and dressing. Besides, they help with light housekeeping duties such as washing dishes, laundry, and home safety. They also accompany and arrange transportation for their patients for hospital or doctor visits.

HHAs also provide minor medical support— for instance changing band aids, looking after wounds, and monitoring vital signs.

CNA meaning and definition

CNA stands for Certified Nursing Assistant—another name for CNA is nurse aid—it is an entry-level position that provides an explicit and direct opportunity to work with patients and nurses.

The CNA job role seems an ideal start for people considering pursuing careers in nursing or other healthcare areas in the future.

CNAs are known for providing hands-on functional, personal, and medical care to patients in healthcare settings under the supervision of a registered nurse.

They commonly work at hospitals, adult day care, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, long term residential facilities. They also work at doctor’s private practices, community clinics, hospices, and urgent care centers.

To become CNA, you must complete a state-approved training program. You will need a minimum high school diploma or GED in order to be eligible for CNA training. This training lasts 4-12 weeks and is usually offered by vocational schools, community colleges, and healthcare settings. Training will include classroom lectures and hand on skill/clinical training in a healthcare setting under the supervision of a health professional instructor. Then, once the training is completed, you will need to pass a state competency evaluation assessment which will award you state certification as CNA.

CNA Job responsibilities

CNA professionals are responsible for ensuring that every patient receives adequate care and safety during their stay at the hospital. They help patients with different physical tasks of varied complexity, such as cleaning, bathing, self-hygiene, moving/turning bedridden patients, etc.

CNAs also assist in medical procedures and are expected to perform several skilled medical tasks such as wound care, cleaning urinary catheters, controlling infections, and administering treatments. They also monitor vital signs and document patient-relevant information.


The highest salary is earned by CNA($44,373/year), followed by HHA($36,469/year) and PCA($33,453/year). The average base salary of a CNA is somewhat higher i.e., $44,373/year, whereas PCA earns the lowest wage i.e., $33,453/year, among three job positions.

What is CNA salary?

According to the Indeed website’s latest data in 2023, CNA’s mean annual salary is $44,373/year. CNAs can earn between $30k-$64k, depending on state, years of hands-on expertise, and employing healthcare organization/facility and other relevant factors. Their expected hourly rate ranges from $11.48-21.27/hour.

Perhaps, one great news for CNAs would be that an estimated increment of 22% ($7,410) in their salaries has been expected over the next five years (2022-2026), as per BLS.

What is HHA salary?

BLS estimated that HHA earns between $ 22.5k- $ 38k/year, which may vary based on experience, duration of employment, state, and other relevant factors. However, based on Indeed website data updated in June 2023, HHA can earn between $23k-$58k/year with an average base salary of $36,469/year.

What is PCA salary?

According to BLS (May,2022), PCA earns between $ 22.5k -$ 38k/year with an average salary of

$ 30,930/ year. Salaries may vary based on experience, duration of employment, state, and other relevant factors. However, as per Indeed website data updated in May 2023 suggested that PCA earns between $14.5k-$43.5k/year with an average base salary of $33,453/year. Table shows industries offering varied hourly and annual mean wages for PCA and HHA professionals, as per BLS report 2022.

SerialIndustryHourly rateAnnual salary
 1Home health care services$14.26$29,660
 2Residential, developmental disability, mental health and substance facilities  $ 15.39  $32,010
 3Nursing care facilities$15.44$32,110
 4Assisted living facilities for geriatric patients$15.45$32,140

FAQ section

Is PCA the same as CNA?

No, PCA is not the same as CNA since PCA often assists patients with self-care and routine life activities but doesn’t provide any medical support. On the other hand, CNAs have training in performing complex medical-oriented tasks— therefore they can provide medical and non-medical support to patients.

Secondly, working as a PCA may not require certification —whereas working as CNA requires state-approved training and passing a certification test.

Is PCA higher than a CNA?

CNA is a bit higher job role than PCA as CNAs acquire additional medical-oriented training and serve patients with basic medical support. Besides, CNAs’ annual wage is higher than that of a PCA.