Caring for those in need is one of the noblest pursuits in the world. Medical and caregiving professionals strive every day to provide the highest standards of care. These thankless professions require attention to detail that is unparalleled due to their work’s often lifesaving nature. About 48 million or one in five Americans are caregivers in some form for a family member or friend over 18 years old.
Thousands of professional caregivers work day and night tirelessly to improve the lives of others who need their help. Elderly care recipients deserve the utmost care to enable them to live and enjoy life to its fullest. Caregivers help with the myriad tasks that make up their client’s lives. It can be an incredibly demanding job, from bathing and hygiene to administering medications and taking care of household chores.
Caregiving has relatively low barriers to entry and beginning a career, but there are some requirements and things to think about before making sure this is the path for you. This quiz can help you answer some of these questions to see if it could be the right fit for you.
Related: Benefits of Being a Caregiver
Why Caregiving is a Rewarding and Fulfilling Career
Caregiving can be a very challenging but extremely rewarding career path. Over time and with more experience, higher-paid caregiving positions are commonly found from clients wanting the absolute best care for their families. Job benefits can encompass health and other insurance, job and travel expenses, and pay for continued training and education.
The common requirement for caregivers and all medical professionals is a strong desire to help others. Compassion and empathy are the desired traits of successful caregiving professionals and are needed to stick with jobs that be so taxing. Other traits of successful caregivers include a list of potential indicators for your suitability in this demanding environment.
- You are a people person. Specifically, a person that others know and ask for assistance and advice from. You are a safe person to talk to, and you enjoy listening to people and helping them wherever you can.
- You are determined. Caregivers must bring their best every day to those that they are charged with helping. This requires a high level of endurance and determination that is impossible without caring about those patients you are providing for. This often thankless job requires someone who is unshakeable in making sure every job is done with the highest level of care that they can provide.
- You live a healthy and balanced life yourself. In caregiving, an essential rule to follow is making sure that you are focused on caring for yourself first and foremost. If caregivers aren’t in an excellent physical and mental state, they can’t provide the best care for their patients, and they risk making their own situation worse.
In addition to these unwritten requirements, there are formal training programs and certifications you must complete in order to begin your career as a certified caregiving professional.
Looking for a list of caregivers in your area? Check out our database at Champa Caregivers.
Steps to Become a Certified Caregiver
- The first step to becoming certified is searching for your state’s requirements surrounding certification. Requirements for individual states can be found on their department of health website. Most states require that you take at least eight hours of instruction to become certified as a caregiver, and some require that you have ten or more hours to fulfill this. Some states such as New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Alaska have additional requirements such as CPR certification, first aid training, background checks, and supervised in-person coursework.In some states like California, the training requirements are not a one and done situation and mandate recurring training every year. Check with your state’s government website, as many of them have tools to help you find accredited classes that will meet all of your needs. Many times online training will be sufficient, although if preferred, you can take in-person classes. Community colleges and organizations such as the American Red Cross will usually have courses available. Organizations like the Professional Association of Caregivers can offer a host of resources and exist to help form a community and uphold ethical care standards.
- Once you have found a training that fulfills all of your requirements, you can begin with the instruction. Most courses are designed to take you about eight to ten hours and can be completed at your own pace — usually a few days. These hours of instruction are packed with information that you will need to care for your patients successfully, and that usually includes things such as:
- Nutrition and hydration, the basics of aging, reading vitals, and proper hygiene and bathing practices
- Communicating respectfully with your patients and ways to deal with difficult behavior
- How to administer medication in emergencies or help with administration, how to keep records, and how to deal with diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia
- How to prevent falls and promote recreation and rehabilitation safely and help with all (ADLs) Activities of Daily Living
Courses are designed to prepare you for most things that you can encounter on a daily basis. Things such as safety and emergency procedures are extremely important, and knowing them may be critical. In addition to the agenda listed above, your course may have new or different information.
- Study your coursework carefully. Ensure you are taking notes and paying close attention to videos or in-person lectures to prepare yourself for the examination. The goal isn’t to memorize this information to pass the test; it is to learn helpful knowledge that you will need to keep with you throughout your career.
- When you are done with your training, you will need to pass your examination. The exam will hold pertinent questions from your coursework to make sure you have absorbed everything and that you are prepared for the trials of caregiving.
Your education doesn’t have to stop with becoming a certified caregiver. A career in caregiving is an ongoing educational process, and other courses are available. Those wishing to broaden their career paths may also take classes such as:
- Certified Nursing Assistant. A CNA license is the next step in becoming an RN and is often required in working in medical facilities.
- Health Home Aid License. An HHA may complete more advanced medicine administration and rehabilitation exercises.
- First Aid training and more training for specific ailments is always a good idea and can go a long way to improve your hireability and competitiveness down the road.
Interested in finding work as a caregiver? Take a look at our job openings on Champa Caregivers!
How to Find Caregiver Jobs
Caregivers are in high demand as many families have other matters and careers to attend to. Families will often post jobs online or in newspapers for a variety of caregiving jobs. These jobs can be both full and part-time or even live-in positions. Families are often seeking live-in positions for family members who need extra care to improve the quality of life for elderly persons when they have to leave for jobs or other matters.
Job listings can be found on job posting boards such as the one at Champa Caregivers. Agencies hire high-quality caregivers that they can deploy to a number of jobs in their geographic region. This can be a good option to find hire standards of training and work that will look good on your future resume. One job sites such as indeed, search for your desired position and terms of employment and make sure to filter any additional wants, such as salary range.
Some tips for getting the best caregiver jobs available are:
- Perfecting your resume with all relevant experience and showcasing your soft skills and compassion thoroughly. Having a resume that shows how attentive you are with specific examples will go a long way toward getting your desired job.
- Continue gaining advanced training and certifications. Your qualifications shouldn’t stop at your caregiver certification. Extensive qualifications will improve your pay and opportunities.
- Obtain letters of recommendation wherever you can to highlight your personable skills when working with patients — knowing that you are a kind and compassionate caregiver will put your next patients at ease.
- Do your research on a client and make sure you have answers for how you will care for them when being interviewed. Being prepared with answers to specific questions as far as care types will be valuable.
Experience with different types of care may be desired by families or agencies hiring, such as in-home care, occupational therapy, pain management, or other care types. Types of senior care can also range from companionship, personal care, and skilled nursing care. If you have no formal experience, volunteering at a hospital or senior home can be a good option and will quickly build your skills and reputation.
Certified caregivers are essential to providing the best care and companionship possible to those in need. Getting an accredited certification is a relatively straightforward and easy process when following the four steps above. Certified caregivers should continue their learning and formal training to be more competitive and improve their lives and careers as well as enable them to provide better service to their patients.
National and state resources can help you find more about what licenses and certifications you need to reach your goals and provide a higher standard of care for your patients.