Becoming a certified caregiver is becoming an increasingly popular choice for young professionals, and it’s a good thing too. Currently, there are over 50 million Americans providing caregiving services, and it’s estimated that by 2030 that number will go up 33%.
It’s one of the fastest growing professions in the nation, but of those 50 million caregivers, less than a tenth of them are professionals. The 4.5 million paid caregivers working in hospice, nursing homes, hospitals, and providing in-home services will need to be joined by another 1.1 million by the end of the decade.
If you are considering becoming a certified caregiver, there’s no better time to join the ranks. With a little education and training, a few hours of class time, and a spirit that is ready to contribute to the health and wellbeing of those in need, you can begin your journey with these 4 easy steps.
1. Choose What Kind of Caregiver You Want to Be
You didn’t know there were going to be options, did you? There are several different categories of certified caregiving out there, and each has its unique rewards, challenges, and specializations.
Basic Caregiver Certification
If you are one of the 40+ million people in America providing unpaid caregiving services for a loved one, this level of certification allows you to professionalize and work with non-family clients.
This level of certification typically requires limited class time and has flexible options for completion.
This is basic caregiving with a specialization in first aid and emergency treatment. It includes training in CPR, defibrillation, basic life support, and first aid.
Home Health Aid
Becoming a Home Health Aid means you are specializing in elderly care. Roughly 47% of those receiving caregiving services are over 75, and the overall average age is 69.4. As the need for caregivers skyrockets over the next decade, Home Health Aides will be in particularly high demand.
Certified Nursing Assistant
A Certified Nursing Assistant is trained specifically for caregiving in a professional setting. As the name implies, a CNA provides nursing support as well as basic care, which includes dosing and administering medicines, taking basic vital readings, wound care, and various other traditional nursing activities.
If you are interested in working in a nursing home, hospice, or care facility, consider becoming a CNA.
End-of-Life caregiving is a very important specialization in the caregiving field. There are millions of elderly and terminally ill patients who need palliative and transitional care. End-of-life can be a very challenging caregiver path to choose, but nonetheless a very rewarding and meaningful one.
2. Find Your State’s Certification Requirements
Every state is different, and the rules and requirements for certification vary greatly. You will need to find out what the requirements of your particular state are, and contact an appropriate certification agency.
Some states require you to acquire and maintain a license to be a certified caregiver, and some only require the completion of an appropriate training course.
Alabama, for instance, has very light certification standards. You need 8 hours of training, and then you’re good to go! There are no licensing requirements beyond this other than being over 18 and passing a basic background screening. You are also not required to participate in any continuing education.
California is at the other end of the spectrum. Every candidate for certification must complete 5 hours of training prior to client contact, and then an additional 5 hours of in-person training. California has also enacted statewide standards for caregiving training, so unlike Alabama, your caregiver training must be from a state-approved entity. Finally, California requires continuing education to maintain certification.
3. Schedule and Complete Your Training
There are many excellent ways to complete your training, and the industry is making it easier for prospective caregivers to engage. You can take in-person courses, and online courses are becoming an increasingly popular option.
These classes are similar to most other classes you’ve taken in your life. You will be required to go to a physical location at a particular time, and you will have access to live instructors who will give you the resources and information you need.
In-person training has the benefit of handling physical materials, participating in hands-on practice sessions, and easily asking questions.
Online training provides you with the same basic information as in-person, but from a location that is convenient for you.
The downside is that you won’t have access to physical materials or hands-on training opportunities.
4. Take Your Certification Exam
The final step for becoming a certified caregiver is to take your state’s caregiver exam. Well, that’s almost the final stage. You also need to pass it, but if you’re studied hard and reviewed your notes then congratulations! You are now a certified caregiver!
Become a Valuable Expert for the I-Ally Community
Being a caregiver is an exceptional commitment to a loved one who needs support. The word itself is revealing; you are providing care, yes, but you are giving. Of your time, of your resources, and of your spirit.
I am a MIllennial as well as a caregiver for my father, and I have made it a focus of my experience to consciously challenge stereotypes of the caregiving relationship. There are millions of young caregivers just like me who are also in the midst of their careers and discovering who they are going to be in life.
I started I-Ally because I realized we needed help. We needed resources to teach us, experts to guide us, and a community so we can all grow together. It’s hard, but 91% of Millennials who become caregivers say that it has given them a heightened sense of purpose and a greater depth of meaning.
We’re realizing it’s who we are.
That’s why many of us are choosing to become certified caregivers, and that expertise and experience is enriching the I-Ally community and empowering caregivers around the world to create their best life.
For your loved one. For yourself. I-Ally.