What Is a Certified Caregiver? (With Salary and Job Outlook)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 8, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you're passionate about helping others, you may consider a career as a certified caregiver. These professionals work in healthcare facilities, hospitals and residential homes, assisting patients with a variety of daily activities. Learning more about the certified caregiver career path, the average salary, duties and job outlook could help you plan your next career steps. In this article, we explain what a certified caregiver is and provide important career information, including the types of caregivers, certification options and education requirements, to help you determine if this is the right career for you.

Related: 35 Best Jobs for Helping People

What is a certified caregiver?

A certified caregiver, sometimes called a personal health aide or home health aide, is a professional who assists others with daily tasks. They often care for elderly individuals or people with illnesses, injuries or disabilities. They may work in a facility, such as a nursing home, or they may travel to patients' homes. Some caregivers live with a patient, providing care throughout the day and night.

Caregivers may perform a variety of duties, including:

  • Driving patients to appointments

  • Performing general housekeeping duties, such as cleaning and purchasing groceries

  • Cooking meals for a patient and assisting them with the feeding process if needed

  • Assisting with general hygiene tasks

  • Providing companionship

  • Helping with medical treatment by calling doctors and monitoring medication

A certified caregiver is a type of caregiver who has completed the necessary training and education to show their caregiving skills and experience. Depending on your location and specialty, you may need a certification to become a professional caregiver. For example, caregivers working in a nursing home typically need a certification. A certification can help caregivers qualify for more positions, earn a higher salary and advance their careers. Each state may set its own requirements for caregiver certifications. You can check with your state to ensure you meet the necessary training qualifications.

Types of certified caregivers

There are many different types of certified caregivers. Depending on your interests and experience, you may consider pursuing one of the following career paths:

Certified nursing assistant (CNA)

A CNA, also called a nursing aide, is a caregiving professional who helps medical teams by providing basic care for patients. They may work in a hospital, long-term care facility or nursing home. Their duties can include assisting patients with hygiene, tasks, such as bathing or dressing, and helping them eat or drink. They may also observe vital health signs and monitor medication amounts. In most locations, they need a CNA certification, although this can vary depending on the state and healthcare organization.

Read more: What Is a CNA?

Assisted living caregiver

Caregivers may specialize in providing care to assisted living residents. Depending on the state and facility, these professionals may need certification. They work in assisted living facilities, where residents live independently, or semi-independently. A caregiver may observe an assisted living resident and help them with certain tasks, such as housekeeping, cooking and assisting with hygiene tasks. They may work with a variety of patients throughout the day. Depending on the type of facility, they may work with older adults or young adults with disabilities or illnesses.

Nursing home caregiver

A nursing home caregiver is a professional who specializes in providing care for elderly patients. They work in nursing home centers and perform a variety of tasks to help residents. They may assist patients with hygiene tasks and eating. Also, they often provide companionship, which can include reading to patients, talking to them and getting to know them as individuals.

Home health aide

Home health aides are professionals who assist patients in their homes. They may work in shifts for part of the day, or they may provide live-in care. They often need a certification to work for companies or government healthcare agencies. Their duties can vary depending on the patient, but they may include providing companionship, performing housekeeping tasks, cooking and helping patients travel. They also monitor vital health signs and can perform some medical duties, such as applying bandages.

Read more: How To Become a Home Health Aide

Personal care aide

A personal care aide is a professional who provides care for patients in homes or assisted living areas. They may work independently, work in one home or work for a home healthcare organization where they travel to a variety of patients. They share many duties as a home health aide, and some professionals may use the term interchangeably, but there are a few training differences between the two professions. Typically, a home health aide has completed more training and can perform more duties, such as monitoring health vital signs.

A personal care aide is one type of caregiver role that may not require certification, depending on your location and the duties you're interested in performing. For example, if you're interested in performing solely companionship duties, you may not need a certification. If you want to provide more basic care, you may consider exploring certification options. Also, some locations and organizations require or prefer certification for personal aide roles, so consider checking the guidelines in your area when considering a training program.

Certifications for caregivers

If you're interested in becoming a caregiver, there are a variety of certifications you may pursue. Depending on your location and desired role, you may need a certification to begin your caregiving career, or it may help you earn a competitive position. Here are some different certifications you may consider:

Basic caregiver certification

One popular way professionals can prepare for their caregiving careers is with basic caregiver certification. You may find certification options through your state, the American Caregiver Association or the Professional Association of Caregiving. Each state's department of health sets its own guidelines regarding the certification process, but typically to earn this kind of certification, individuals need to complete a training course. This can be several hours long or up to 12 hours, depending on the state.

Then, aspiring caregivers can complete an examination to show their skills and knowledge. This type of certificate may allow you to work as a caregiver in some facilities. If you're interested in advancing your career, you may pursue additional training and certification.

Home health aide certification

The home health aide certification trains professionals for a career as a home health aide. The requirements can vary depending on your geographic location, so consider checking your state's guidelines to find an accredited program. You may complete a training program through the National Association of Home Care and Hospice (NAHC), a local community college or a vocational program. These courses can vary depending on your location, but often they involve 120 hours of classroom training and at least 50 hours of clinical work, including observation and practical training.

Certified nursing assistant (CNA) certification

A CNA certification program trains professionals for a CNA career. The requirements for this certification can vary depending on your location. Typically, to earn this certification, you must enter an accredited program at a college or vocational program. These programs can last from four to 12 weeks. During the program, students complete classroom education and clinical training hours. After completing the program, they may take an examination to show their skills.

Read more: Your Guide To a CNA Career: How To Obtain CNA Certifications

First aid, basic life support and emergency care certifications

First aid, emergency care and basic life support certification programs train professionals to provide specialized care, such as how to perform CPR, how to administer basic life support and how to use a defibrillator. Caregivers may pursue these certifications in addition to other certificates. For example, a professional may earn basic caregiver certification and first aid or basic life support certifications to advance their skills and qualify for more roles.

You may complete these various certifications individually or together. For example, you may combine CPR training with basic life support training in some programs. You can pursue these through a variety of organizations, such as the Red Cross, the American Heart Society and the American Health and Safety Institute. These programs typically take several hours to complete.

Hospice caregiver certification

Caregivers interested in working in hospice may pursue a certification program that trains them for this role. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization offers a variety of certification programs that train professionals for a career in hospice care. These programs can vary in length but typically take several hours to complete. Professionals may take them online or through a local program.

Caregiver certification for specializations

Caregivers may also specialize in additional types of care, and they can earn certifications to train them for these roles. For example, they may specialize in providing care to patients with certain medical conditions, including diabetes or memory loss. You may earn these certifications through local universities, online schools or vocational programs. The length can vary depending on your area of focus.

Salary and job outlook for certified caregivers

The average salary for certified caregivers can vary depending on your geographic location, specialty, education, certifications and training. The national average for all caregivers is $30,326 per year. They may work full-time or part-time hours, providing care to patients as needed. This may include overtime hours, weekend shifts or overnight stays. Your salary may vary depending on your work environment and typical hours.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) groups caregivers into the home health aide and personal aide career field. They expect careers in this field to grow by 34% from 2019 to 2029, which is much higher than the average for all careers. As the population ages, the BLS expects more people to need healthcare services.

Education for certified caregivers

The education requirements for certified caregivers can vary depending on your program, specialty and location. Typically, to enter a certification program, caregivers need to have a high school diploma or equivalent. In some states and programs, you may be able to take and pass a written examination in place of a high school diploma.

You may also need additional training to earn your certification and begin working as a certified caregiver. For example, some states require CNAs or home health aides to have CPR training before they can begin their careers. Consider checking the state guidelines in your area to ensure you meet all education and training requirements.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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