Personal Care Aide

physical care aide

Table of Contents

Overview

Job Responsibilities

  • Help clients perform daily activities such as bathing, dressing, eating, and more
  • Perform housekeeping tasks including laundry, dishwashing, and cleaning
  • Organize client’s schedule and appointments
  • Prepare meals that meet the client’s dietary requirements
  • Engage clients into their social networks and communities
  • Provide companionship by talking to,  going for walks with, or playing games with their clients
  • Arrange transportation to or from various destinations such as the doctor’s clinic, store, park, and more
  • Help shop various items for the client
  • Remind the proper time to take client’s medications
  • Teach family members how to provide proper care for the client

How Much Does a Personal Care Aide Make?

Personal Care Aides made a median salary of $24,020 in 2018. The best-paid 10 percent made $31,650 that year, while the lowest-paid 10 percent made $18,740.

Common Requirements

  • High school diploma or any equivalent
  • Certification for knowledge of performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • Knowledge in providing first-aid and other safety control techniques
  • Required training and passed the competency exam for some states
  • Compassion to provide help to the elderly

Similar Careers

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Home Health Aide

Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses

Medical Assistants

Nursing Assistants and Orderlies

Occupational Therapy Assistants and Orderlies

Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides

Psychiatric Technicians and Aides

Registered Nurses

Social and Human Service Assistants

Common Skills

Understanding of personal and emotional care

Knowledge in emergency safety techniques

Commitment to health and wellness

Strong work ethics

Compassion

Detail-oriented

Interpersonal skills

Integrity

Physical Stamina

MEDIAN SALARY

$24,020 per year
$11.57 per hour

JOB OUTLOOK

36%

NUMBER OF JOBS

2,421,200

A Comprehensive Guide to Becoming a Personal Care Aide

Personal care aides provide assistance to people in need of a companion to accomplish their daily activities in life. Working in various settings like hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, adult daycare, and residential homes, they accompany most elderly people who have handicaps, mental dysfunction, or other physical limitations that hinder them from doing simple tasks.

Personal care aides provide not only assistance, but also companionship. They take satisfaction in having helped people who are physically or mentally challenged to accomplish daily tasks. 

There is a high demand for personal care aides at the moment. Its job employment is expected to grow up to 3,302,100 jobs by 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). If you are one who seeks to become a personal care aide, you have a great opportunity waiting for you on this pursuit.

What Does a Personal Care Aide Do?

Personal care aides assist another person to do their daily tasks. Most commonly found in nursing homes and hospitals, they serve as a trained caretaker to the elderly. They are not nurses, nor are they medical professionals. They are hired to provide assistance, care, and companionship to patients with cognitive and physical impairments who can’t operate on their own.

The typical duties of personal care aides include the following:

  • Help clients perform daily activities such as bathing, dressing, eating, and more
  • Perform housekeeping tasks including laundry, dishwashing, and cleaning
  • Organize client’s schedule and appointments
  • Prepare meals that meet the client’s dietary requirements
  • Engage clients into their social networks and communities
  • Provide companionship by talking to,  going for walks with, or playing games with their clients
  • Arrange transportation to or from various destinations such as the doctor’s clinic, store, park, and more
  • Help shop various items for the client
  • Remind the proper time to take client’s medications
  • Teach family members how to provide proper care for the client

Signs You Should Consider Becoming a Personal Care Aide

Are you ready to take on the responsibilities of a personal care aide? Before jumping into the practice, you should evaluate yourself first if your qualities fit into the requirements. Here are some of the telltale signs that you are wired to do this job:

You are hardworking.

Have people called you the most hardworking person they know? If you have, you can totally fit in this job environment. It takes a combination of perseverance and patience to handle the duties a personal care aide has. You have to accomplish a lot of housekeeping tasks that are draining, so you need to be persistent all the time.

You love working with people.

Do you enjoy the company of others? Well, this job will never let you be alone as you have to take care of your clients at all times. You have to be a people person if you want to accomplish all your tasks dutifully. If you have no problem at all with working around people, then this job will not be a threat to you at all.

You are hands-on to everything that you do.

There are people who are so invested with the thought of doing things on their own because they want things to go according to their liking. If you are one of those people, then this job is a nice way to put into action your love for being hands-on. You will be tasked to do several things for your clients and their families, and you will surely enjoy fulfilling your duties as all these consists of hands-on activities.

You are empathetic to the people around you.

One of the needed values to survive this job is compassion to people who need your help. You are, after all, will be working for them—you need to develop empathy and genuine care for the people you are working for.  Not only these let you complete your tasks more easily, but these also allow you to make them feel you truly care like a family.

You have a thing for organizing.

Being detail-oriented is what makes a personal care aide exceptional. You will be organizing a lot of tasks that deal with housework, clinic appointments, meal preparations, and many other tasks that require your keenness to detail. If you have always been a highly organized person, this job will be easy for you.

You can cook well.

Often, you will prepare and cook food for your clients. If cooking is one of your specialties, you will enjoy doing your job as you will spend lots of time in the kitchen. Not everyone has the gift of cooking—anyone can cook, but not most can nail it. If you are not a good cook, you should start learning to be one through this online course for cooking nutritious food.

You are an advocate for health.

The health and wellness of your clients is your priority in your job. All the things that you do should contribute to the health and wellness of your clients. Without understanding its importance in the totality of your job, you are going to lead your client’s health in the wrong direction.

You are physically fit.

You need enough physical stamina to fulfill all your duties. Most, if not all, of your tasks, mainly require your physical ability to complete them, such as helping your clients eat, bathe, dress, walk, exercise, drive, drink medications, sleep, and more. 

You have a genuine love for helping others.

Providing help is the heart of your job. If you don’t love helping people, you can’t really say you are a fit for this role. Giving aid to others must be given to you as this is your call of duty. Without it, how can you fulfill all your tasks with the utmost care and precision?

How Do You Become a Personal Care Aide?

When you have finally decided to pursue being a personal care aide, you must get acquainted with the career requirements that you have to meet. Here is a rundown of all the things you need to earn to finally qualify for the role:

1. Obtain a minimal educational requirement.

There is no required educational attainment for being a personal care aide. However, a high school diploma or any equivalent is a requirement for some employers. 

Just because there isn’t an educational requirement, doesn’t mean you should not pursue any related postsecondary non-degree programs. Having pursuits in educational programs related to providing personal and health care display stronger qualifications. You can definitely enroll yourself to your nearest community college or vocational school to get proper training and knowledge.

2. Earn knowledge of basic safety techniques.

One of the requirements to get hired is having adequate knowledge in providing emergency health care techniques. These include certified knowledge in giving first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), reading and recording vital signs, and basic nutrition. Having a solid foundation on these precautionary measures is essential to your job as you are assigned to tend to a person that may need these.

3. Meet your state requirements.

The certification requirements vary per state—some may need you to get on-the-job training, while there are others that require formal training from an educational institution. Also, there are states that conduct a background check prior to being qualified. You can refer to your state’s health board to know your state’s respective requirements.

4. Get the required training and pass the competency exam when working for an agency that receives reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid.

When you are working for such agencies that receive Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, you ought to get the required minimum training and pass the competency exam. However, there are states that let you skip the training and go straight with passing the exam. You should consult first to your state’s health board to find out the other requirements.

What are the Knowledge and Skills Needed to be a Personal Care Aide?

To thrive in this career, you have to instill the right qualities that will make you perform your job with ease and precision. Here are the following skills and knowledge that a personal care aide must have:

Commitment to health and wellness

As a provider of personal and health care, the advocacy of health and wellness should start with you. You should always promote its importance over the course of your practice as you provide help to achieve this.

Knowledge in housekeeping tasks

A chunk of your tasks include performing housekeeping work that includes doing the laundry, cleaning the house, washing the dishes, preparing and cooking meals, and more. You must have the adroitness in each skill as you have to juggle these tasks together while also assisting your client.

Knowledge in health safety techniques

Having received proper training, you are most likely to be adept in the proper execution of some precautionary health measures. These include first-aid, CPR, vital sign reading, and nutrition.

Strong work ethic

As someone is directly dependent on your help, you must be able to display a strong work ethic to produce high-quality assistance to your clients. You must have specific work principles that will help you set good work behavior. 

Compassion

You must truly love helping others to fulfill your duties successfully. Your compassion to help others will pave the way for the proper execution of your tasks as you fully understand their situation.

Keen to details

A personal care aide adheres to various protocols and instructions that come from medical professionals. Obeying instructions carefully will help you assist your clients accurately. Some of the tasks you will need attention to detail consist of dressing wounds, identifying changes in clients’ health conditions, preparing the right meals, and more.

Integrity

Some tasks require you to do personal activities for your clients such as bathing, dressing, and assisting in the bathroom—and you must make them feel comfortable at all costs. You also have to be a trustworthy and dignified person to prove to your client and their families that they can rely on you.

Interpersonal skills

Having the responsibility to keep an eye on your clients for the whole time of your shift, you are to develop the interpersonal skills that will let you engage with them without boring or offending them. Good interpersonal skills come in handy for building good relationships between you, the client, and their families.

Physical stamina

As you are providing assistance in various needs of a client, you need to have the physical built to perform your duties. Most tasks require you to move, run, lift, and do other physical activities, so having the endurance to last all these are important in fulfilling all your duties.

Although a postsecondary degree is not a strict requirement, you can always pursue a vocational non-degree that will supply you the needed knowledge in providing personal and health care.Here is a list of some vocational schools and community colleges that offer training in providing health care aide:

  • American River College
  • Chaffey College
  • Santa Barbara City College
  • Johnson County Community College
  • Wiregrass Georgia Technical College
  • Wichita Area Technical College
  • Washburn Institute of Technology
  • Trinity Vocational Center
  • Southern Union State Community College
  • Southern Crescent Technical College
  • Seminole State College of Florida
  • Santa Rosa Junior College
  • Salina Area Technical College
  • Richmond School of Health and Technology
  • triOS College
  • Medix College of Healthcare
  • Westervelt College
  • Sprott Shaw College
  • Eastern College
  • Vancouver Career College
  • Reeves College
  • CDI College
  • Oxford College
  • CTS Canadian Career College
  • Evergreen College

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How to Get a Job as a Personal Care Aide

So, where do personal care aides get jobs? Well, considering that there is a staggering number of 2.4 million employed personal care aides in the workforce today, they can be found in various work settings. Half of them are employed for assisting elderly and persons with disabilities, whereas the remaining of them are found in home healthcare services, residential intellectual and developmental disability facilities, care retirement facilities for elderly, and private households. 

With that information, you get an idea where you can secure a job. Here are some additional tips on how and where you can score job opportunities as a personal care aide. 

Check out your local health facilities, nursing homes, and retirement facilities.

Taking a look at these institutions near you display a high chance of finding a job vacancy for you. These are the main job environments for your career, so give them a call and ask if there is any career opportunity you can take.

Use your network to find any referral.

Word of mouth is a powerful tool to source any career opportunity. Ask your friends, family, connections, or previous coworkers if they know any job vacancy they can hook you up with. In addition, you can use your LinkedIn profile to source out jobs that fit your best interests. So make it a habit to keep your LinkedIn profile updated so recruiters can easily find you and directly offer you career opportunities.

Scour through your local job listing.

Keep updated with your local newspaper to keep tabs on urgent hiring for health facilities near you. Some of them may use classified ads to post their job vacancies, so practice being updated with your local job listings.

Browse through online job portals. 

The easiest and by far the most convenient platform to get a job is through the use of online job search. The Internet has offered the gift of a fast employment process through online job applications. Take advantage of it and scroll through some of the popular job portals out there such as:

Learn About Geographic and Location Pay Differentials

The average pay of a personal care aide varies per location. Here is a complete list of the average pay for every state:

State2018 Mean Annual Wage
Alaska$33,840
North Dakota$32,890
Vermont$30,750
District of Columbia $30,440
New Jersey$29,890
Washington$29,140
Massachusetts$29,080
New York$27,640
Hawaii$27,530
Connecticut$27,300
California$27,210
Rhode Island$27,190
Oregon$26,980
Maryland$26,910
New Hampshire$26,900
Wyoming$26,780
Colorado$26,410
Minnesota$26,260
Nebraska$26,230
Kentucky$25,740
Utah$25,740
Maine$25,490
Iowa$25,050
Pennsylvania$24,880
Illinois$24,600
Arizona$24,440
State2018 Mean Annual Wage
South Dakota$24,400
Montana$24,250
Wisconsin$24,250
Michigan$24,230
Delaware$23,840
Nevada$23,580
Ohio$23,530
Florida$23,390
Missouri$23,020
Idaho$22,970
Indiana$22,830
Georgia$22,540
Kansas$21,920
North Carolina$21,660
Arkansas$21,390
Virginia$21,240
Tennessee$21,060
New Mexico$21,020
South Carolina$20,990
Mississippi$20,800
West Virginia$20,760
Oklahoma$20,270
Texas$19,960
Louisiana$19,300
Alabama$19,250

Report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Make Your Resume Stand Out

A good looking resume is always hundreds of times better than a regular resume that doesn’t have any appeal at all. As the first thing that your prospective employers see, your resume creates a big impact on how likely you are to be hired. So make sure only leave good impressions when they have read your resume.

Here are some helpful tips to craft an impressive resume:

1. Create a strong career objective.

Every resume starts with a sharp objective that defines who you are, what you can do, and what you seek to happen in your career. Set the mood as early as now by showcasing a short but fine objective that oozes your vision as a professional. Condense your statements into a one-to-three-sentence paragraph to not go overboard.

2. Highlight your expertise and experience in personal and health care.

As this is a job that is highly based on expertise in providing personal and health care, you should be able to prove yours through a clear layout of your skill set and experiences. Shed light on your experiences and the skills earned during your previous jobs through the use of bullet points and a timeline.

3. Add resume keywords to appeal to your prospective employers.

Sprinkling several resume keywords that relate to your industry is one effective way to catch the attention of an employer. With tons of applications they are browsing through, they are looking for “the one” with the help of resume keywords to speed up the process. 

Some of the keywords you can use to your resume include assisted living, advocate, health and wellness, provider, managed care, housekeeping, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), first aid, nutrition, and companionship.

4. Include some character references.

As a reference to your work ethic, you should provide two to three professional connections you have worked for. These people should have direct supervision to you on your previous work experiences to testify for you. Ask for permission to include them on your resume so they can prepare themselves when someone calls them up for character verification.

Ace Your Personal Care Aide Interview

Securing an interview means you are only one step away from landing that role! Make sure you do your best to nail that interview! You can most definitely do that through thorough preparation of what to answer on potential interview questions on the big day.

Here are some of the common interview questions for personal care aides that you should get ready for:

1. Why do you believe your role is important to other people’s lives?

Your role is to provide assistance to people who cannot freely perform tasks on their own. These people have a huge dependency, so basically, you help them operate with your aid. 

Provide an answer that will display your flexibility to juggle various patients’ tasks and needs, the willingness to provide uncalled for support, alertness to aid when in need, and your physical capacity to handle all the tasks. The interviewer wants to hear how fully aware you are with the weight of your tasks, so share how devoted you are to provide them.

2. What help do the elderly clients need?

Every client you will handle has their own respective needs. You are not to provide a one-size-fit-all assistance as every need varies per client. There will be clients who need more attention in terms of physical care needs, while there are some who need more companionship. 

The interviewer seeks to know your awareness of every client’s needs. The ideal answer to this question should show your understanding of different care needs, the consciousness that every client’s needs differ, and the sensitivity to both emotional and physical care.

3. How will you define great client care?

Great client care is being able to provide an exceedingly exceptional assistance to the wellness of the client. With the right amount of dedication to lend the helping hands your client needs, you can perform your duties well. You just had to instill a full understanding of the needs, the compassion to help, and the hard work to ensure great physical and emotional care.

4. What have you done in the past year to become better at your niche?

This is the employer asking about your recent pursuits to improve yourself in the industry. Employers are always curious to find out if you are highly invested in making yourself better. In addition, this also lets them know what experiences you have had that they can take a value of.

Ideally, your answer should contain your latest experiences, engagements, and education pursuits (if there are any). Supply the knowledge and skills you have learned during the whole span of the year and add how it can affect your future work productivity. Impress the interviewer how much you seek growth through the learning experiences you get every time.

5. What do you like and dislike about this job?

A question like this should not throw you off as it brushes the topic of what you dislike about the job. It’s a given that every job has its own pros and cons, so you don’t have to worry about divulging an ugly part of the job. The key to persuading the interviewer that you are “the one,” is honesty.

Just be honest on your answers and provide all the things you think are rewarding for you, as well as those you don’t like for personal reasons. Do not be shy to share what certain aspects of the job you dislike, any employer will see the reasonable reason behind this when you provide support.

Top Online Courses for Aspiring Personal Care Aides

Sharpen your skills in personal care assistance by taking these top online courses

Check out these online courses form Skill Success that will gear you in your road to becoming a personal care aide.

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