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healthcare career

CNA, HHA, and PCA: Demystifying Healthcare Career Paths

Assisted living jobs need to be filled, and The Kensington Falls Church needs people like you—compassionate, hard-working, healthcare career-minded people interested in finding meaning in their jobs and a good, steady income. 

If you’re unfamiliar with the assisted living jobs in senior living communities, you’re not alone.

Understanding the different roles of CNAs (Certified Nursing Assistants), HHAs (Home Health Aides), and PCAs (Personal Care Assistants) can be challenging due to the similarities in their care responsibilities. 

All three positions support patients with their daily living activities; each has distinct qualifications, training requirements, and scopes of practice. 

In this article, we’ll clear up confusion for those entering the field and guide them to the right path. Keep reading to learn more about beginning a healthcare career at The Kensington Falls Church.

Our promise is to love and care for your family as we do our own.

Healthcare careers and assisted living jobs are booming

Senior healthcare professionals anticipate a significant rise in senior living communities and assisted living jobs—a 37% rise from 2020 to 2030, to be exact. 

Employment for personal care aides is on track to expand by 22% from 2022 to 2032

The home healthcare sector itself is on a growth spurt that will result in an annual addition of approximately 711,700 jobs throughout this decade.

CNA vs. HHA vs. PCA: Training duration and curriculum


  • CNA programs are more extensive, typically ranging from four to twelve weeks, depending on the state’s requirements and the intensity of the program. 
  • HHA training can be completed in less time, with some programs lasting approximately three weeks to three months. 
  • PCA training is often the most flexible, with some courses being just a few days long and others spanning several weeks.


  • CNA training covers basic nursing skills, anatomy, physiology, infection control, and patient rights—designed to prepare individuals to handle a wide range of duties in a clinical setting. 
  • HHA curriculum focuses on home care skills, including how to manage personal care tasks, basic cooking and cleaning for clients, and understanding the specifics of home health care needs. 
  • PCA training often emphasizes personal care, companionship, and assistance with activities of daily living, tailoring its program to non-clinical support services.

The differences in training programs

CNA training is the most comprehensive due to the clinical nature of the work. The curriculum prepares CNAs for a variety of settings, including acute care. 

HHA training is specialized toward providing care in home settings, emphasizing support and comfort for patients in their own living spaces. 

PCA training is more varied and focuses on the comfort and life-quality enhancement of individuals needing assistance. 

Scope of practice for CNA, HHA, and PCA

Despite different training programs, you’ll find in senior living communities like The Kensington Falls Church that the roles of CNAs, HHAs, and PCAs often intersect when it comes to assisting with personal care, mobility, and everyday activities. 

But they also have distinct areas of responsibility. 

For example, CNAs may have additional responsibilities such as recording vital signs and assisting with medical equipment, which HHAs and PCAs do not perform. 

Overlapping duties and the importance of clear communication

Communication among these care providers, patients, and supervising medical team is crucial to maintaining effective and safe care delivery.

License requirements and certification

  • CNAs must complete state-approved education and pass a competency exam. Minimum classroom and clinical hours required vary by state.  
  • HHAs need to meet state-set training hours and sometimes additional certification. 
  • PCAs usually require less formal education but may need to demonstrate competency based on employer standards. A minimum number of hours is also required. 

Employability with multiple certifications

Having multiple certifications can increase job prospects and flexibility within the healthcare sector. It allows for a broader range of service offerings and the ability to cater to diverse patient needs. 

For example, a professional with both CNA and HHA certifications can work in a hospital setting and provide home health care, making them highly employable and adaptable.

Healthcare career opportunities and growth

The career opportunities for CNAs, HHAs, and PCAs are expanding with the growing healthcare industry. 

  • CNAs often find work in hospitals, senior living communities, and outpatient clinics—often advancing to become licensed practical nurses or registered nurses with further education
  • HHAs have opportunities to specialize in areas like geriatric care or palliative care and can move into supervisory roles within home health agencies 
  • PCAs can leverage their experience to specialize in caregiving for specific conditions or to pursue roles in healthcare management

Each path offers room for growth and the chance to build a rewarding, long-term healthcare career by providing essential care to those in need.

Making the right choice for your healthcare career

Choosing any career—whether it’s in healthcare or otherwise—requires self-reflection. 

Self-assessment: Identifying your interests and goals

Prospective CNAs, HHAs, and PCAs should evaluate their interests, strengths, and long-term professional goals. 

Consider whether you thrive in fast-paced environments, prefer long-term relationships with patients, or enjoy the flexibility of providing care in home settings. 

Understanding the long-term career paths

Each role presents unique career paths. CNAs can transition into more advanced nursing roles, HHAs may evolve into specialized home health care professionals, and PCAs often pursue opportunities in care management or administrative positions. 

Understanding where each path can lead is crucial for long-term career satisfaction.

Potential for a rewarding career in healthcare with The Kensington Falls Church

The Kensington Falls Church team encourages individuals drawn to the noble call of senior healthcare to explore these rewarding roles. 

As we’ve shown here, the opportunities for personal growth, professional development, and job satisfaction are abundant and ever-increasing.

Making an informed choice about your career in healthcare is imperative. It ensures that you are prepared for the responsibilities of your chosen role and can embark on a career that is both fulfilling and in demand.

Embark on a healthcare career with The Kensington Falls Church and open the door to a world of opportunities where you can make a real difference in the lives of others. 

We stand by to support your journey with training, continuous learning, and a team that values every member’s contribution. 

At The Kensington Falls Church, you join a community dedicated to excellence in care and an enriching, rewarding career.

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