How Do I Become a Personal Care Assistant?

Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen
Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

In order to become a personal care assistant, you will typically need to complete a formal or informal training program offered either through a school, a nursing home, or a home health care service. In some jurisdictions, you may be required to be licensed or hold professional certification. In addition, some employers may require you to hold certification or complete a formal training course before you can receive employment through their agency, even though your jurisdiction doesn't legally require you to hold such credentials.

The work of a personal care assistant varies, but you may be asked to help clients with basic daily living tasks, such as bathing, dressing, and eating. You may perform housekeeping tasks, prepare meals, and, depending on your qualifications, be asked to provide simple health care services under the supervision of a registered nurse or other medical professional. You may also accompany your clients if they have to leave their home to run errands, make social calls, or go to school or work. Depending on your client's needs, you may be expected to take direction directly from your client, a social worker, or a family member who is responsible for your client's well-being.

In many places, you do not need any kind of special education to become a personal care assistant, and you may not even need a high school diploma. Some employers or clients may prefer to hire personal care assistants who hold a high school diploma or its equivalent. If you will be working with a person with physical or developmental disabilities, it may be to your advantage to have some formal training in working with people with such disabilities. In some places, if you wish to qualify for professional certification or licensure, you may have to complete a formal training program and pass an examination to become a personal care assistant.

Education to become a personal care assistant may be offered at local community colleges and trade or vocational schools. In some cases, nursing homes and home health care agencies might provide a training program so that you can receive on-the-job training. Other options for receiving training as a personal-care assistant include doing volunteer work for charities and social service agencies that provide personal care services to the elderly and the disabled.

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