Caregiver Jobs: The Right Career For You

The healthcare industry offers some of the best job security out of any career choice. There will always be patients in need of assistance. While most people think of doctors and nurses in the healthcare industry, there are many other jobs as well. 

If you do not have extensive medical training but still want to help people, you can work as a caregiver. Caregiver jobs are normally in high demand, but there has been a huge increase after 2020 due to Covid-19. As of writing, caregiver jobs are predicted to see a 34% increase up to 2029.

Caregivers are similar to home health aides. Caregivers provide assistance to individuals who are unable to perform day-to-day activities on their own. They commonly work with the elderly, as well as disabled individuals or patients with a chronic medical condition. Some caregivers partner with nursing homes or similar communities, while others work with individual clients. More information about becoming a caregiver is detailed below.

Requirements to Become a Caregiver

One of the reasons caregiver is such a popular career choice is the limited requirements. Most healthcare jobs require at least an associate degree, but there are minimal education requirements to be a caregiver. In most cases, you only need a high school diploma, though some employers may ask for additional training or certification. A degree is rarely required, but you are often required to get CPR training. Depending on your state, there may be additional mandatory certifications, but it typically takes at most a few hours and passing a test to fulfill these extra requirements.

The majority of employers prioritize caregivers with prior job experience. This can be difficult if you are just getting started. Some employers will allow you to work with an existing caregiver, treating it as a trial run. This allows you to get on the job experience and transition into working alone. You can also look for internships or apprenticeships as well to get experience. If you want to pursue a degree, there are some universities that include on the job training as part of your classes. If you are interested in receiving additional caregiver training, you can take classes from the Professional Association of Caregivers (PAC).

Caregiver Responsibilities

Being a caregiver is a diverse job, requiring many skills. One of the most important aspects of being a caregiver is adaptability. Each patient has different preferences and needs. As a caregiver, you are supposed to help and make their lives easier. This means you must change to suit their needs, as opposed to them changing to match yours.

In terms of practical skills, home management and care planning are both important. You must know how to make a schedule, based on what your patient needs. If your patient is close with his or her family, make sure you include them in creating the care plan. This is also a good idea if your patient lives in a nursing home or similar care facility.

Social skills are important as well. Taking care of a patient means addressing their social needs as well. Many patients have a difficult time leaving their home without assistance, which greatly limits their socialization options. Sometimes, the best way to help a patient is simply by talking with him or her.

Unlike home health aides, caregivers do not administer advanced medical care. However, there are some medical requirements you must be prepared for. Caregivers help schedule medication time, and oversee the process, making sure their patients are taking the correct medication and doses at the appropriate times. You may also be expected to pick up medication on their behalf. This involves placing orders, and depending on your patient, they may have specific medical needs.

Caregivers are also responsible for taking care of their patient’s home. This involves assisting with cleaning and helping prepare meals. When planning meals, you must take medication into account. Certain foods do not mix well with medications. With some patients, you are also responsible for doing the grocery shopping. If family members or other aides take care of your patient, make sure to consult with them about meal plans.

Advancing as a Caregiver

Working as a caregiver is a good introduction to the healthcare industry. Caregivers have many responsibilities, but they are not making the heavier decisions other healthcare workers make. As you build up experience as a caregiver, you may find you want additional responsibilities. Many caregivers either decide to go to school to get a medical degree, but some are more comfortable staying outside of the classroom and working directly with patients.

Many caregivers decide to become home health aides. Home health aides require additional certification, but do not require a degree. They share many responsibilities with caregivers, but also administer medication, take vital signs and participate in treatments. You can get this certification by taking classes with the National Association of Home Care and Hospice (NAHC).

Other caregivers pursue a nursing career. Advanced nursing careers require getting degrees, but you can become a Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) without returning to university. The more experience you develop working in the healthcare industry, the easier it becomes to advance. Even jobs that have stricter requirements often require extra certification as opposed to a degree. Employers are often willing to waive education requirements if you have enough work experience as well.