careertrend article image
KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/GettyImages

How to Become a Licensed Private Caregiver

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

With an aging population of adults who need special care but wish to spend their twilight years in the comfort of home, the need for private caregivers grows. Home caregivers provide a range of services, but are hired in particular to meet the special needs of their clients — whether it be to help with walking and bathing, administering medication or answering the phone. Currently in the United States, there are no official licenses or certifications required to be a home caregiver; only a few legal requirements must be met. However, special training and institutional certification courses are available and recommended.

Meet the following requirements: Be at least 18 years old. Be able to pass a background check. While having felonies does not make it impossible to become a caregiver, most agencies will not certify a person with any sort of felony or major blemish on his record. In states that permit medical marijuana use, caregivers who handle marijuana cannot have a felony record involving drugs. Other felony convictions are permitted, but will make it extremely difficult to secure a position as caregiver.

Register with the state in which you will be working in. To do this, contact the office in your state that handles these registrations, typically called Department of Family Services or the Department of Social Services. Let the department know you want to register as a personal caregiver, and it will guide you through your state's requirements.

Enhance your credentials by taking a Personal Care Aide certification course. You can take a program online or from an in-person organization that places and trains caregivers. Understand, however, that online courses are not certified by any national or regional body. This means they are not accredited. These certificates have no legal force and are not required. An example of an online organization providing this certificate is the Institute for Professional Care Education. If you decide to be placed by an agency that offers in-class training, an online search will locate an agency in your area that provides this service. Make sure the agency is licensed by your state's Department of Health; otherwise, it is not legal for it to place you. You must be certified before an agency can place you. However, this certification is not required for you to become a caregiver, but it is for you to be placed by an agency.

Enhance your credentials by going through training specific to at-home care. An online search will reveal agencies in your area that provide this service. An example of one such agency is Home Instead Senior Care, which has offices nationwide. It offers in-person training for home caregivers that will help you communicate with seniors, plan activities, recognize illness and depression, and learn safety procedures. All organizations that place caregivers must be registered with the state and provide state-approved training. Improve your credentials further by attending nursing school, or getting CPR and first-aid certification from the American Red Cross.

Create a work agreement in writing that outlines in as much detail as possible the role, responsibilities, duties and compensation for the position. The work agreement is between you and whomever is hiring you for your caregiving service. It could be the person who you will be caring for directly, his family or his legal guardian. If you are placed by an agency it will be between you and the agency. Make sure to read the contract carefully before you sign. Also, have the contract notarized.

Tip

The more work-related credentials, experience, references and certifications, the more likely you are to get a caregiver position.

Warning

Consult a lawyer to discuss to any potential liability you have as caregiver if something happens, such as death by natural causes, to those you will be giving care. You don't want to get sued for anything not your fault.

Read thoroughly any documents before signing. Only sign if you understand and agree to the terms of employment.