As Baby Boomers Age, Caregiver Jobs are Plentiful and in Demand
Being a home health aide or companion can offer a flexible work environment, with options to work in nursing homes, assisted living facilities or the patient’s home.
And unlike some other in-demand professions in health care like nurse practitioners, there’s no college degree required to land some caregiver jobs (though you might be required to do training courses or complete a set number of in-person training hours).
And employers are looking to fill these caregiver jobs, as home health and personal care aide employment is expected to grow 22% by 2032, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Kaylee Orman is a former home health aide who worked in nursing homes and private homes in Indiana. She saw the demand in real time.
“I was in a health science program in high school that opened up my interest in health care,” Orman said. “I saw a ton of HHA ads posted asking for immediate help, so I went for it to get my foot in the door.”
Different Types of Caregiver Jobs
Being a professional caregiver can take different forms, but depending on the company you work for and the patient you’re placed with, duties can be similar. In general, home health aides can expect to do more medical work than companions.
A companion is the less medically inclined path when it comes to caregiver jobs. General duties can include housekeeping, meal preparation and taking the patient to doctors appointments or to run errands. Be prepared to also act as a friend who engages in hobbies and conversation with them. Depending on the expectations of the company you join, duties may be more extensive and similar to a home health aide.
ZipRecruiter reported that the average hourly wage for companions is $15.
Home Health Aides
As a home health aide, you’ll have the responsibility of assisting with some medical care in addition to duties a caregiver would do. Aides can guide physical therapy sessions, monitor medication and assist with hygiene such as bathing, dressing and going to the bathroom.
The average hourly wage for home health aides across the country is $16, according to ZipRecruiter.
You can even get paid to work with your family. If you have a family member who needs an aide, you can be certified and placed with them.
“Most of my shifts were two to three hours. Some people get placed with patients who need 12 hours, but most of the time they’re ‘claimed’ by a specific aide or with family,” Orman said.
What Are the Home Health Aide Requirements?
The requirements for a home health aide will vary by state and employment agency, but the general criteria are fairly simple. You’ll need:
- A high school diploma or GED. You might also be required to do on-the-job training or become certified through a third party. You can find certification programs online.
- A valid driver’s license. You may take patients to doctors appointments or help them run errands.
- An empathetic personality. Aides work with elderly and disabled people with a variety of needs and conditions. Kindness is key.
- An open schedule. A lot of patients may require around-the-clock care. That means you’ll have to be willing to work nights, weekends and holidays and up to 12 hour shifts. You might also be asked to do shorter shifts and visit multiple homes in one day.
While it might not be a requirement from your prospective employer right out of the gate, it’s also helpful to complete CPR and first aid training. You can find online training courses through the Red Cross.
Not every employer will require experience, but it doesn’t hurt. Volunteering at your local nursing homes or senior centers can help you get some hours under your belt before applying for jobs or getting a certification.
While you don’t need a college degree to become a home health aide, employers may require some sort of training, either before or after getting the job. You can get a certification online from different sources. Getting a certification requires time and a financial investment, but some employers will pay for certification.
- The Ashworth College course is $799 if paid in full and can take four months, though participants have access to the program for one year.
- The Penn Foster certification is $799 and can take between 13-16 months. You’ll also be required to do 40 hours of an “externship.”
- Through the American Caregiver Association, you’ll only need 2-3 days to complete its certification. The course is $99, with an ID card and an embossed certificate costing extra. It also offers a separate course and bundled options available for caregivers who want to be self-employed.
- The National Association for Homecare and Hospice has a certification course that is free for members of the organization. Non-members pay $750.
Orman obtained her certification through an in-person program.
“Half of the day was spent doing slideshows and lectures. The other half was working with classmates to demonstrate the real life scenarios, like transferring someone or changing their bed with them in it,” Orman said. “We would also travel to some homes as a group to get the feel of what it would be like.”
How to Get a Job as a Caregiver
After you’ve gotten your certification, it’s time to job hunt. You can look in the usual places like Indeed or the classifieds (whether print or your local Facebook group). There are also websites more specific to caregivers, like these:
Care.com is a popular third party website for people looking for all kinds of caregiving jobs. There are currently more than 16,000 listings for families looking for home aides. On care.com, you can set how far you’re willing to travel and your required hourly rate. You’ll be required to pass a background check to join the site as a caregiver, but you can start looking for jobs as soon as you pass. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can sign up for a Premium Caregiver Membership to rank higher in searches and get your background screen fees waived.
Visiting Angels has been in business for more than 25 years and has offices across the country. Caregivers will help with various needs, ranging from basic home care to more advanced needs like memory care. Some Visiting Angels locations require certification, while others will help you obtain a certification. Pay rate will also vary among offices.
Senior Helpers is another company that has offices across the country. As an employer, it was named a Certified Age-Friendly Employer by the Age-Friendly Institute, a Best Place to Work in Aging Services by Fortune Magazine and certified by the Great Places to Work Institute. Salary varies by location, but Indeed lists an average of $15.49 for caregivers and $15.81 for home health aides.
Contributor Jenna Limbach writes on financial literacy and lifestyle topics for The Penny Hoarder from her home base in Nevada.