Job seekers can find immediate openings in most areas across the country as companions for retirees. No medical training is required, though most applicants need to have a driver’s license and their own transportation.
“Right now, there is a crisis for caregivers. The demand is so high. We all need them,” said Elaine Poker-Yount, director of care management for the Visiting Angels franchise in Mesa, Ariz. “It’s not just us. There is strong demand for all caregiver positions.”
Visiting Angels has more than 600 franchises in 50 states employing caregivers who help seniors with transportation, easy meal preparation, light housekeeping, other activities of daily living and mostly being a friend.
Some Visiting Angels franchises as well as many other senior care program employers around the country are also hiring home health aides or personal care aides. They tend to help with additional tasks such as teeth brushing, bathing and toileting.
These Caregiver Jobs Are in Demand
Home Health Aides
Typically, these aides need a high school diploma or equivalent and must complete formal training and pass an exam. This career often doesn’t require you to have your own transportation while being a companion does usually require driving.
Home health aides earned a median annual salary of $27,080 or about $13 per hour in 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It expects the overall employment of these caregiver jobs to grow 33% in the next eight years as Baby Boomers age.
BizInsure, a marketplace for business insurance, reports that many home health aide training programs last just two weeks. Training programs cost between $200 and $1,000. Because there is such a shortage of people to fill caregiver jobs, some employers will pay for new hires to get their caregiver certification.
Most community colleges offer training and exam prep for these caregiver jobs.
The course and exam are more about knowing how to care for people than medical training.
Many job seekers who aren’t up for bathing and toileting assistance already have skills that can be put to good use as a full-time or part-time companion.
“We look for someone with empathy, not sympathy. Someone who can walk in someone else’s shoes and see the world from their point of view,” Poker-Yount said. “We look for that respect piece, that they really want to make a difference in somebody’s life.”
Search here to see if Visiting Angels is filling caregiver jobs in your zip code.
Because each Visiting Angels franchise has a different owner, there is no set pay scale. Many offer competitive pay of two or more dollars per hour above the state’s minimum wage. Employees with more experience may be compensated more than that, Poker-Yount said. Some offer benefits. You can work full time as a companion or as little as one four-hour shift a week in most cases.
Each state’s licensing or association requirements for caregiver jobs are different, though it’s not uncommon for companions to undergo criminal background checks and provide references. Some programs also require CPR training.
Who Typically Works as a Caregiver?
Some caregivers are students going through medical school or working to become a physical therapist, but many are caring people with no specific academic or medical training wanting to work part time or full time.
Poker-Yount doesn’t require job applicants to have prior care working with seniors in a professional setting. She does look for employees who have cared for a family member at some time in their life for six months or more.
“Somebody who took care of a little sister who had Down syndrome, or cared for someone with intellectual development difficulties or who took care of their spouse makes a wonderful companion,” she said. “We have found family caregiving is the best experience for providing well-rounded care.”
Poker-Yount is certified to train companions to care for clients with dementia.
“Not everybody is comfortable caregiving in a dementia world, whether because they lived in it or because they haven’t had experience and it daunts them,” she said. “When the caregiver has zero to little dementia experience and gets a client (with dementia) they grow with them. They become phenomenal. It’s baby steps along the way.”
Employers make sure the caregiver is comfortable with the older adult and so that the client and caregiver are a good match and it’s a good work environment.
Katherine Snow Smith is a staff writer for The Penny Hoarder.