Personal Care Attendant: Job Duties, Occupational Outlook, and Education Prerequisites

Research what it takes to become a personal care attendant. Learn about training requirements, job outlook and salary to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Medical Assisting degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is a Personal Care Attendant?

Personal care attendants provide care for elderly, disabled and mentally impaired clients and for those with chronic illnesses. They provide a variety of personal services for these clients, including transportation, cooking and cleaning. You'll need to have good communication and organizational skills. You'll also need to be able to provide emotional support as necessary. In the table below, learn about the training, job duties and growth potential for personal care attendants.

Training Required On-the-job training
Key Responsibilities Wash dishes, do laundry, make beds and bathe patients
Job Growth (2014-2024) 26% (for all personal care aides)*
Median Salary (2015) $20,980 (for all personal care aides)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Job Duties Might I Have as a Personal Care Attendant?

Personal care attendants work with clients who require long-term care. In this position, you might help clients with tasks such as dressing, bathing and eating. Other services you may provide include cooking and serving meals, shopping and running errands. You could also be required to perform common household chores, such as cleaning dishes, doing laundry and making beds. You might also escort clients to and from medical appointments, provide transportation to other locations, offer assistance with personal hygiene and provide emotional support when needed.

What Is the Occupational Outlook for this Career?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that hiring of personal care attendants, also known as personal and home care aides, is expected to increase by 26% from 2014 to 2024, which is much faster-than-average growth rate (www.bls.gov). Factors that are expected to contribute to this rapid growth rate include an increase in the elderly population and the rising cost of inpatient care at hospitals and nursing homes.

Additionally, many patients prefer to remain in their home environments while receiving care. Because this profession has a relatively high turnover rate, new job openings are expected to become available as people leave the occupation for other fields.

What Education Prerequisites Must I Fulfill?

There are no stringent educational prerequisites for personal care attendants. A high school diploma is usually not required and neither is state licensing. You may receive on-the-job training from experienced supervisors or nurses who will instruct you in areas such as home safety and sanitation, emergency response, meal preparation and housekeeping.

If you'd like to obtain training through a more formal program, courses for personal care attendants are offered by some community colleges. They cover areas such as first aid, body mechanics, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, nutrition, medical terminology and skin care. You can complete this sort of training in approximately 40 hours, after which you may be awarded a certificate of completion.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Another career that only requires a high school diploma or some certification is home health aides. Home health aides perform basic medical services and assistance. Social and human service assistants provide assistance for clients in fields such as psychology and rehabilitation. This career typically requires only a high school diploma and some on-the-job or postsecondary training.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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