A personal care worker usually works in clients' homes, where they provide basic healthcare and domestic assistance for disabled and elderly patients. Although no formal education is needed to become a personal care worker, many employers and some states require candidates to have licensure or certification.
Personal care workers help take care of elderly and disabled individuals. Their duties may include housekeeping, cooking and transportation, as well as regulating medications. Personal care workers generally hold a high school diploma or GED and receive some on-the-job training. Certification or licensure is sometimes required, depending on the employer or state.
|Required Education||High school diploma or GED; on-the-job training|
|Additional Requirements||Licensure or certification is required in some states and by some employers|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||26% for personal care aides and 38% for home health aides*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$20,980 for personal care aides and $21,920 for home health aides*|
Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Personal Care Worker Job Description
Personal care workers are hired by public or private health care providers to assist in the daily care of elderly or disabled individuals. They typically live in the individual's home providing day-to-day care. Job duties may include housekeeping, food preparation and shopping. Along with these tasks, a personal care worker may also be responsible for monitoring or administering medication under the supervision of a nurse or physician. They may also be responsible for training patients to care for themselves, as well as training family members on proper bedside care.
Personal care workers must also participate in case reviews concerning their patients. These are done in order to determine the current well-being and future health needs of the patient.
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Personal Care Worker Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for personal care aides was $20,980 in May 2015 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reported a median salary for home health aides of $21,920, at that same time. Additionally, the BLS projected employment to grow by 26% for personal care aides and 38% for home health aides from 2014-2024 - well above the national average for all occupations.
Personal Care Worker Job Requirements
Personal care workers generally hold a high school diploma; however, this is not required. Depending on the type of hiring health care agency, he or she may receive on-the-job training. For example, those working for Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement agencies must have some level of training (www.bls.gov). Training typically covers topics in nutrition, personal hygiene, personal care and infection control. A criminal background check, as well as a physical exam is often required.
Voluntary certification is available through the National Association for Home Care and Hospice. The requirements to become certified typically include completion of 75 training hours and the passing of an exam. Applicants may also be required to be observed for competency by a registered nurse.
Many personal care workers live in the home of an individual requiring assistance, with duties including cooking, cleaning, shopping and transportation. While many jobs require no formal education in the field, those caregivers who are reimbursed by the government must complete a training program, in addition to a criminal background check. High job growth in this field is expected to continue through 2024, but salaries are low.