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Things to Know When Considering a Career as a Caregiver

Being a professional caregiver can be a very rewarding career choice but it’s not without its challenges.
Matt H

A Career in the Healthcare Industry

Working in the healthcare industry can be hugely rewarding and there is no better way to feel you are really making a difference to the lives of other people than choosing this career path.
Of course, there are many different occupations one can pursue if they are keen to work in the healthcare industry. From the doctors and nurses who are directly responsible for providing treatment and care, to the admin staff that ensure the smooth running of medical facilities – each individual has a key role to play.
Another crucial role is that of the caregiver and the demand for caregivers, especially in the West, has never been greater. With ageing populations comes the need for more qualified carers to help provide support to the elderly and also those with debilitating medical conditions.

What is a Caregiver?

A caregiver is someone who routinely looks after another person who is in need of care. This can be a child, someone with a chronic illness, a disability or an elderly person.

A caregiver can be an unpaid family member or friend of the person who requires care or they can be a professional caregiver whose job it is to provide care and support.
This story will focus on professional caregivers and things that should be contemplated when considering embarking upon a career in caregiving.
There are several ways in which a professional caregiver may offer their services. They may provide medical or non-medical support at a healthcare facility or they may travel to the home of their patient to provide the necessary care.

Live-in caregivers will work and live in the home of their patient and will provide full time care from there.

What Qualifications are Needed to Become a Caregiver?

The qualifications will vary from country to country and also will depend a lot on the type of caregiver role one is applying for. Generally speaking, volunteer caregivers may not need any specific qualifications but may have to pass certain background checks and an interview process.
Non-medical caregivers may need to possess a certificate in a caregiving course before they are considered for a job. Again, this may vary depending on the location of the position and the specific job responsibilities.

The typical duties of a non-medical caregiver will include things such as feeding, bathing, dressing and providing general companionship.
Pursuing a career as a skilled caregiver will require specific training to be successfully completed.

In the USA, qualifying to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA) will open up the doors to many skilled caregiver job opportunities. The requirements for becoming certified vary from state to state, but the federal minimum length of training is 75 hours.

Pros of Becoming a Caregiver

It takes a certain type of person to become a successful caregiver – but the personal rewards from working in this field, if caring for others is something you love to do, can be immeasurable.

The most obvious reward of pursuing a career in caregiving is the opportunity to make a difference to the lives of people who really need help.
Caregivers will be forever meeting and getting to know interesting people, which for many people makes this a great career choice compared to an office based job which involves little interaction with others.
A caregiver may get to work in a wide range of different environments, depending on the type of role they accept.

This is especially true of caregivers who visit several different patients every day at their own homes, rather than working entirely from a hospital or care home.

Cons of Becoming a Caregiver

Being a caregiver can be a stressful and emotional challenge. The responsibility of looking after another individual is obviously one which shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Often, caregivers may find themselves struggling to meet the demands that are placed upon them.
It’s not uncommon for those working in this role to experience ‘caregiver burnout’, which happens when the individual becomes stressed and anxious as a result of feeling like they cannot cope with their responsibilities.

More information about caregiver burnout can be found here.
Being a caregiver is also unlikely to be a lucrative career choice in terms of salary.

This, coupled with the fact that it’s a job which will require long hours each and every day, means that it’s certainly not the right option for someone whose priority is obtaining personal wealth rather than improving the health and well-being of others.
That being said, if you are the type of person who feels great satisfaction when helping others and you are excited at the prospect of meeting new people really making a difference, not only to the recipient of your care but also their family members and friends, then pursuing a career in caregiving may just be ideal approach to consider.