Medical Caretaker: Job Outlook & Career Info

See how to prepare for a job as a medical caretaker. Find out what the education and training requirements are. Discover the career outlook and earning potential for this job to decide if it is a good fit for you.

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Career Definition for Medical Caretakers

Medical caretakers are part of a team of medical professionals who provide care to patients who are elderly, mentally or physically disabled, ill, recovering from surgery, or otherwise unable to care for themselves. Medical caretakers typically work in patients' homes or in residential living facilities, though they may also find employment in long-term care facilities or hospices. Typical duties for a medical caretaker include assisting patients with dressing, bathing, and eating, helping patients get into and out of bed, assisting patients who need to be moved or transported, advising patients and their families on cleanliness, hygiene, and nutrition, and acting as a companion to patients.

Education High school diploma or equivalent and job training
Job Duties Assist patients with dressing, bathing, and eating, provide companionship
Median Salary (2015) $21,920 for home health aides
Job Growth (2014-2024) 38% for ome health aides

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

The education requirements to become a medical caretaker vary by state and place of employment; some agencies - depending on their funding sources - also have various training and certification requirements. Typically, a high school diploma and some training from a vocational school or technical job will be more than adequate to become a medical caretaker; some positions offer on-the-job training as well. Relevant certification is available by taking a 75-hour course and exam offered through the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC), www.nahc.org.

Skill Requirements

One of the most important roles played by a medical caretaker is that of companion to the patient; thus, it's important to be empathetic and possess strong communication and interpersonal skills. Also, because medical caretakers are often the ones who spend the most time with a patient, knowledge of basic emergency management skills, first aid, and CPR is beneficial.

Employment and Economic Outlook

Medical caretakers, also known as home health aides, can expect very strong employment growth from 2014-2024; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) projects that the number of these jobs will increase by 38%, a total of 348,400 new jobs over that 10-year period. This growth is expected as a result of an increasing population of aging Americans and their common desire to live in their own homes instead of moving to residential care facilities. The BLS reports that this occupation paid a median salary of $21,920 in 2015.

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Alternate Career Options

Similar career options for this field include:

Childcare Worker

Childcare workers provide care and supervision to children while their parents or guardians are working or otherwise away. They provide meals and assist with personal hygiene, like changing infants' diapers or assisting young children with the bathroom. Childcare workers also prepare meals and provide educational and stimulating age-appropriate activities. They may work for daycare centers; they may also care for children in their own homes or in the children's homes.

A high school diploma is usually required for employment. Licensing and certification requirements vary by state; they also vary depending on type of employment. There are several nationally recognized voluntary professional certifications available. The BLS reports that childcare workers can expect job growth of 5% from 2014 to 2024 and that they earned median pay of $20,320 in 2015.

Licensed Practical Nurse

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) are also known as licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) in some states. These nurses provide basic, hands-on nursing care under the supervision of a registered nurse or higher medical professional. They may help with daily personal-care tasks and monitor vital signs. Depending on state regulations, LPNs may also administer prescribed medication or start intravenous treatment. Completion of a 1-year postsecondary diploma or certificate program is required for employment. LVNs must take the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX-PN. State licensing is required, and professional certification options are also available; requirements vary. The BLS reports that jobs are expected to increase 16% from 2014 to 2024. The agency also reports that LPNs and LVNs earned median pay of $43,170 in 2015.

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