Work As a Home Care Giver: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a home care giver. Research the job duties, education and licensing requirements and find out how to start a career in the health care field. View article »

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  • 0:03 Should I Become a Home…
  • 0:38 Career Requirements
  • 1:01 Steps to Become a Home…

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Video Transcript

Should I Become a Home Care Giver?

When an elderly or disabled person needs extra support, home care givers can lift the burden from family and friends. These workers, also known as home health aides, perform common duties like cooking meals, helping with household chores, giving emotional support, and providing companionship. They may also be responsible for monitoring patients' vital signs, assisting with mobility, and maintaining patient records. Working with challenged adults can be emotionally and physically demanding. Care givers must be fit and protect themselves from injuries when moving, lifting, or caring for others.

Career Requirements

Degree Level No degree required; most home care givers have a high school diploma
Experience None required; an entry level position
Certification Required in some instances; generally preferred by employers
Training Most home care givers receive on-the-job training
Key Skills Physical strength and stamina, attention to detail, ability to manage time
Salary (2015) $21,920 per year (Median salary for home health aides, which includes home care givers)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Steps to Become a Home Care Giver

What steps do I need to take to become a home care giver?

Step 1: Complete On-the-Job Training

In most states, home care givers can obtain a position by receiving on-the-job training under the guidance of nurses, experienced care givers or their supervisors. Many employers offer training programs and employment after successful completion of this instruction. Individuals enrolled in a training program will usually need to complete 100 hours of classroom and hands-on training. Most training programs last less than one month, allowing individuals to quickly enter the workforce.

It's a good idea to build your physical strength. Most home care givers will be required to pass a physical examination to ensure they are capable of performing their duties. Prospective home care givers should work on strengthening their back, arm, and leg muscles.

Step 2: Obtain Formal Education if Necessary

Home care givers who wish to work for a certified hospice or home health agency must receive formal training and pass a certification exam. Some states also require home care givers to complete a formal training program before being employed. Community colleges, elder care programs, and home health agencies often offer formal training programs. Topics covered in a formal training program typically include anatomy and physiology, body mechanics, and procedures for responding to emergencies. Students also learn how to provide non-medical care for the elderly or people with disabilities.

Step 3: Become Certified to Advance Your Career

Although it is not required, many employers prefer applicants who have certification. Those seeking employment with agencies funded by Medicare or Medicaid will need to meet the minimum training requirements and pass a certification exam. The National Association for Home Care and Hospice offers training and an exam that leads to certification upon passing. This certification program involves 75 hours of formal training, a skills demonstration, and a written examination.

You will want to review for the exam. Individuals preparing to take a certification exam should save any materials they received during on-the-job training or in formal training programs. Reviewing materials and practicing skills can help home care givers adequately prepare for the exam.

Home care givers help elderly or disabled people when they need extra support with household or medical care. They usually have high school diplomas, on-the-job training, and the strength and stamina to accomplish their tasks. And they earn a median annual salary of $21,920.

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