Caregiving can be a very rewarding job if you have the right mindset. As a paid caregiver, you get to help people who genuinely need it in your community.
That said, working as a paid, certified caregiver is not for everyone. Here are a few things you should know before you sign up for caregiver training.
1. Caregivers Help People with a Wide Range of Conditions and Needs.
There are many, many people who need caregivers to help them with everyday tasks. As a paid caregiver, you may be asked to help people with all kinds of conditions, from all walks of life.
Many people need caregivers because of aging, illness, injuries, developmental disabilities, mental disabilities, or physical disabilities. Here are some of the populations you may work with:
- Elderly people
- People who have had strokes
- People with dementia
- People with visual impairments
- People with heart, respiratory, or digestive system diseases
- People with mental health conditions
- People with HIV/AIDS
- People with cerebral palsy
- People with autism
- People with ADHD
- People with developmental disabilities
- And more!
2. Caregiver Job Duties Can Vary a Lot.
Since different clients have different needs, your job duties as a caregiver depend on the client. As a paid caregiver, your work might include any or all of the following:
- Doing laundry
- Washing dishes
- Dusting and organizing
- Transporting clients to medical appointments and social events
- Assisting with medication management
- Assisting with meal preparation and feeding
- Bathing clients
- Assisting with other personal hygiene tasks
Many certified caregivers work one-on-one with clients in their homes. However, caregivers can also work in adult family homes, assisted living communities, and other places.
3. Your Pay Rate Depends on Several Factors.
Caregiver pay rates depend on the agency or client, location, experience, level of education, and certifications. An experienced caregiver with certifications beyond the basic ones will usually make more than an entry-level caregiver.
According to Glassdoor, caregivers in Washington State make a median of $38,719 per year. Across the U.S., the average salary for an in-home caregiver is $34,247 as of December 2022.
While caregiving doesn’t always offer great pay, it does offer plenty of job opportunities. Caregiver jobs are expected to rise 33% this decade from 2020 numbers. That’s a lot faster than other occupations in the United States!
Your skills as a certified caregiver should always be in demand.
4. In Washington State, Basic Caregiver Training Takes 75 Hours.
Every state has its own requirements for caregiver certification. To work as a caregiver in Washington State, you must complete 75 hours of basic training within 120 days of being hired. The caregiver training course should be approved by the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS).
These 75 hours are broken down as follows:
- 5 hours of orientation and safety training. This includes basic communication, documents and reporting, roles and responsibilities, emergency procedures, accident and fall prevention, worker safety, and more.
- 40 hours of core basic training. This includes hands-on activities, lectures, and other activities to help you learn to perform caregiving duties effectively.
- 30 hours of population-specific training. There is a wide range of populations you can learn to work with, like people with dementia, vision loss, heart disease, and diabetes.
Beyond this training, caregivers usually only need a high school diploma or equivalent education. In some cases, caregivers do not even need a diploma.
However, you will need to do more than just take a training course to get certified, as we discuss below.
5. Caregivers Also Need to Pass a Certification Exam.
Once you have completed 75 hours of basic caregiver training, you can take a state certification exam. You must pass the exam to become an HCA-C (Home Care Aide-Certified), which is the official term for certified caregivers in Washington State.
If you start a caregiving job before taking the exam, you must pass the exam within 200 days of being hired.
6. You Need Continuing Education to Stay Certified.
Long-term care workers, including paid caregivers, must complete 12 hours of Continuing Education (CE) each year in Washington State. You can choose from a wide range of CE course topics, including specializations and courses about specific populations.
You can find more information about CE requirement timelines on the DSHS website.
7. You Can Do Some of Your Caregiver Training Online.
Some parts of the required caregiver training curriculum can be taken online. With 24/7 online access to the curriculum, you can schedule at least part of your training around your life and reduce your commuting time.
At Sunrise, you can complete up to 35 hours of your caregiver training online. That includes the 5-hour Orientation & Safety component and the 30-hour Population-Specific training course.
That said, you will still need to attend the core part (40 hours) of your caregiver training program in person. In-person training gives you hands-on practice time and real-time instructor feedback.
8. Sunrise Offers Both Online and In-Person Caregiver Training.
At Sunrise Services, we have a great online and in-person caregiver training program! We offer training from experienced trainers, including a wide range of population-specific course options, to help you become certified.
Our in-person training facility is in Everett, WA. We offer in-person caregiver training classes monthly. Since Sunrise is a certified regional test site, you can get your training and complete your exam in the same facility.
Our online training program is available 24 hours a day, which gives you plenty of flexibility. You can take as much or as little time with the curriculum as you need.
We also offer continuing education services. Continuing education can help you keep your certification up to date or get new certifications. Just a few programs we offer:
- Our 3-day Nursing Assistant-Certified (NAC) Bridge program can help you transition to a nursing career.
- Our Nurse Delegation and Nurse Delegation Diabetes courses cover tasks that must be delegated by an RN, how the delegation process works, and more.
- We offer Mental Health Specialty, Dementia Specialty, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Enhanced Specialty, and Diabetes Enhanced Specialty courses. These can help you work toward an 8-hour specialty certificate, qualify for different jobs, or meet CE requirements.
At Sunrise, we want to help you become a successful HCA-C faster than you could elsewhere. Sign up for our caregiver training program today!