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Personal and Home Care Aide Job Description, Career as a Personal and Home Care Aide, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training On-the-job training or formal training

Salary Median—$8.54 per hour

Employment Outlook Excellent

Personal and home care aides—also called homemakers, caregivers, personal attendants, and companions —work with a diverse group of elderly, disabled, ill, or mentally disabled clients.

Their main duty is to provide extensive personal care, as well as home care to their clients. Duties may include house cleaning, changing bed linens, cooking, and doing laundry. Some clients may require assistance getting out of bed, getting dressed and bathing. They may also accompany clients to doctor appointments or run errands, if necessary.

Personal and home care aides generally work on their own with the occasional visit from a supervisor. They are given detailed instructions for each client so they know what services to perform. Aides must have their own transportation and may travel from one client to next on the same day.

Personal and home care aides must be patient, compassionate, cheerful, and truly enjoy working with and helping others. They should also be tactful, honest, and be in good physical health. Most work part-time and have several clients. Therefore, it is important for personal and home care aides to be flexible. Although the pay is fairly low, overall the job can be very rewarding.

Education and Training Requirements

Education and training requirements depend on the state. Some states require formal training which can be obtained from community colleges, elder care programs, home health care agencies, and vocational schools. Other states’ only requirement for personal and home care aides is on-the-job training which is provided by the employer. Most on-the-job training is short-term and may include cooking, housekeeping, ways to deal with emergencies, and how to behave professionally while in the client’s home.

Personal and home care aides should be compassionate, responsible, patient and emotionally stable as well as be in good health. Other requirements may include a physical examination, state-mandated disease testing, a criminal background check, credit check, and an excellent driving record. It is also necessary for personal and home care aides to provide their own transportation to the client’s home.

Those interested in obtaining certification can do so from the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC). To become certified, personal and home care aides must complete a 75-hour course, observe and document specific skills, and pass a written exam.

Getting the Job

Interested candidates can find job postings for personal and home care aides through local hospitals, home health care agencies, nursing care facilities, psychiatric facilities, social assistance agencies, and residential mental health facilities.

State employment offices also provide information about job opportunities for personal and home care aides.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

The job outlook for personal and home care aides is excellent for the next several years. Opportunities are expected to arise due to employment growth as well as the need to replace those who leave the field. With the growing elderly population and the desire to be cared for at home rather than in healthcare facilities, personal and home care aide jobs will be necessary to fill those needs. Experienced personal and home care aides should have the best job opportunities.

Advancement opportunities are limited for personal and home care aides. Once an aide is experienced and trained, they may receive added personal care responsibilities through the agency. Others obtain additional training to become registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, or nursing and home health aides, while others become self-employed and open their own home care agency.

Working Conditions

Personal and home care aides travel from client home to client home, therefore, their working environments vary constantly. In addition, they have to deal with client diversity. They may encounter clients who are pleasant and easy to work with, as well as those who are more difficult, angry, or depressed.

Sometimes personal and home care aides work with the same client for weeks or months, while other times clients change from day-to-day. Aides may also have to work evenings and weekends to meet the needs of their clients.

Where to Go for More Information

National Association for Homecare and Hospice
228 Seventh St. SE
Washington, DC 20003

Earnings and Benefits

Personal and home care aides typically do not receive any benefits and work on an on-call basis with hourly pay. The pay is based on the time spent in the client’s home and does not include travel time to and from the clients’ homes.

The pay is considerably low, although, depending on the employer, personal and home care aides can make close to $11 an hour. Most aides fall within the $7 – $10 range. The median hourly earnings for personal and home care aides in May 2006 were $8.54.

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