Personal Care Assistant Certification and Certificate Program Info

Students in personal care assistant certificate programs learn how to provide aid to individuals with disabilities, injuries, or elder-care needs in the privacy of their homes.

Essential Information

Personal care assistant certificate of completion programs are offered by a number of community colleges throughout the United States. These programs can be taken as non-credit options or as a prerequisite to a nursing or medical assistant program. Toward the close of the program, students complete a clinical internship that provides direct contact with patients in a home healthcare setting. Programs vary in length. The curricula consists of sensitivity training, personal care equipment operations (such as stair lifters and wheel chairs), and fundamental coursework in anatomy and physiology.

Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED, a current immunization record, CPR or healthcare provider certification and liability insurance. They also must pass a tuberculosis test, a drug screening, and a criminal background check.

Graduates of these programs could meet state requirements for the profession and might be eligible to take the Home Care Aide certification examination, offered through the National Association for Home Care and Hospice. Affiliations with some organizations, such as MetLife or Goodwill, could decrease the cost of these programs for eligible students.

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Certificate in Personal Care Assistance

A personal care assistance certificate can usually be earned in one year or less. Coursework covers topics in emergency care, medical terminology, and issues in personal care ethics. Aspiring PCAs learn to assist clients with getting in and out of bed, bathing, dressing, eating, house cleaning, and preparing meals. Other topics of discussion might include:

  • Medical terminology
  • First aid
  • Hygiene
  • Dementia
  • Infection control

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of personal care aide jobs was expected to grow by 26% between 2014 and 2024. The average annual salary of personal care aides in May 2015 was $21,790 per BLS data.

Continuing Education and Certification Information

Graduates of certificate programs could meet eligibility requirements for the National Association for Home Care and Hospice's Home Care Aid certification examination administered by the Home Care University ( Applicants must complete a 75-hour training course, pass a written examination, and provide proof of competency to obtain certification. Certification could meet state requirements for those who receive compensation from government health programs, such as Medicaid and Medicare.

Personal care assistant certificate programs prepare graduates for the field, as they learn about age-related illnesses, infections, medical vocabulary, grooming, and meal preparation.

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