Caregiver Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Illustration of a caregiver pushing an elderly, or mobility impaired individual in a wheelchair. Text reads:

A Caregiver, or Personal Care Aide, supports patients with difficulties completing basic tasks, like people with disabilities, the elderly or patients suffering from mental disorders. Their main duties include administering medications, helping patients complete personal care tasks like bathing, dressing, eating or grooming and following the patients’ prescribed healthcare plan.

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Caregiver Duties and Responsibilities

Caregivers help clients with everyday activities, from cooking and cleaning to completing errands. Other essential duties and responsibilities include:

  • Serving as a companion to clients
  • Transporting clients to and from appointments, errands, activities, etc.
  • Managing medication
  • Preparing meals
  • Interpersonal skills, including exceptional patience and listening skills
  • The ability to provide care across a variety of settings, including group homes and day service programs
  • Performing light housekeeping duties (e.g., keeping room clean, laundry)
  • Providing bathing and dressing assistance
  • Keeping proper care records and reporting changes to nursing team
  • Encouraging socialization and participation in community activities
  • Following patient care plan
  • Communicating with families, co-workers and supervisors regarding care
  • Assisting with transfer and mobility
  • Shopping and running errands
  • Maintaining a safe and comfortable home environment

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What Does a Caregiver Do?

Caregivers can work independently or for a health care facility providing personal care to patients. They typically travel to a patient’s home and help them perform basic tasks like cleaning the house, bathing the patient and providing them with companionship and emotional support. Caregivers may also be responsible for driving and escorting Caregivers to appointments, grocery trips and other important errands. They may also help the client with any mobility issues, like helping them in and out of their beds or chairs and pushing them in wheelchairs.

Caregiver Skills and Qualifications

Caregivers have a wide mix of skills. They need to be highly organized and be able to multitask, and they must be able to help with a range of home chores, such as preparing meals and cleaning. Depending on the level of care you provide, your Caregivers will need several specialized skills, such as:

  • Experience with Alzheimer’s or dementia care
  • Empathy and the ability to care for the client’s social, emotional, physical and mental needs
  • An understanding of what to do in an emergency
  • Training in any special areas of care you provide

Caregiver Salary Expectations

Based on data collected from roughly 54,000 people, the average pay for Caregivers is $12.23 per hour, or approximately $25,000 per year for a full-time employee. Pay for these workers ranges from minimum wage to around $23 per hour for more experienced workers. You’ll need to set your pay based on the amount of experience you need, any type of special training or qualifications you’d like to have, and any special areas of care (e.g., care for Alzheimer’s patients or clients with diabetes) you provide.

Caregiver Education and Training Requirements

The minimum education requirement for Caregivers is a high school diploma or GED. Caregivers learn many skills through short-term or on-the-job training, but it’s common for these employees to have specialized certifications. However, there are no official Caregiver licenses.

Many organizations offer online certifications and training courses that Caregivers can complete. Caregivers coming from the healthcare field, such as Certified Nursing Aids, may have state-mandated licenses. You may also require special training for age-related illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, if you’ll be working with clients who have these conditions.

Caregiver Experience Requirements

Many Caregivers are entry-level employees that require a minimal amount of education and training. However, this is generally for basic caregiving services that covers things like light housekeeping, meal prep and helping clients remember their appointments and which medications to take. If you’ll be working with clients who have a higher need for caregiving, you may want to target candidates with one or more years of experience.

Job Description Samples for Similar Positions

Caregiving isn’t the only field that helps clients with daily living activities. If you’re looking for similar positions or jobs with more specialized experience, consider these similar roles:

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Frequently asked questions about Caregivers


What makes a great Caregiver?

A strong Caregiver should be compassionate and friendly, as they’re regularly working with patients and providing them with a positive and encouraging atmosphere. Caregivers should also have CPR and first aid training and be ready to use it in emergency situations in case unexpected critical health issues occur. It’s also important for the Caregiver to hold a driver’s license so they can easily transport the patient to and from their appointments and errands. Great Caregivers should also be adaptable and willing to work extra hours in case a patient needs extra assistance during nights or weekends. 


What settings do Caregivers typically work in?

Most Caregivers work in a patient’s home helping provide personal care and also assisting with the upkeep of their home, if needed. Other Caregivers may work in a nursing home taking care of elderly citizens and providing basic care services like bathing, feeding and prescribing medication to them. They may also work in other health care settings like hospitals or long-term care facilities, giving care to patients suffering a variety of conditions like mental health problems, disabilities or severe illnesses. 


What's the difference between a Caregiver and Caretaker?

A Caregiver is typically a paid employee who looks after a specific person to provide them with basic care and assistance. They can work in a variety of health care settings or in a patient’s home. A Caretaker is a person who looks after a home, person or animals while the primary Caregiver or homeowner is away. For instance, a Caretaker may be hired to care for a child while their parent is away for the weekend. 

The Caretaker may complete tasks like cleaning the house, feeding the animal or person and other housekeeping duties while the homeowner is away. Caretakers don’t typically work in a healthcare setting like Caregivers do. 


Who does a Caregiver report to?

Caregivers may work for health care facilities, meaning they may report to a manager of that facility. Their managers may oversee the Caregiver’s progress with their patients and will address any issues the patient or Caregiver is facing. They may also be in charge of the Caregiver’s schedule and ensure the Caregiver is arriving at the patient’s house or room in the facility in a timely manner. 

Caregivers may also work independently, especially if they hold previous experience working extensively as a Caregiver. This typically means the Caregiver doesn’t report to a specific manager but should follow direct orders given by the person who hires them, which is usually the patient’s family member or health care provider.

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    Last updated: May 10, 2021