June 20th, 2018 | BY: Allegra Chaney

How to Become a Certified Caregiver

Dear Allegra,

For over 5 years I was the primary caregiver for an older cousin. It was a role I really enjoyed. After she passed away last year, I started to think about making caregiving a full-time profession.

While I did help my cousin with medication and some nursing tasks (e.g., changing dressing on wounds that wouldn’t heal because of her diabetes), what I enjoyed most were the day-to-day tasks. I could see how that support helped my cousin remain in her own home.

Do caregivers have to be certified in some way? If so, how can I get certified as a caregiver? I live in a fairly rural area and am wondering if there are certified caregiver training opportunities online.

Any advice you can give me would be appreciated!



How to Get Certified as a Caregiver

Dear Megan,

You may be surprised to learn how many people start their careers in caregiving after providing support to a senior loved one. Because you have hands-on experience, you know how rewarding caregiving can be.

When it comes to learning more about becoming a licensed caregiver, it is important to know “licensed caregiver” is a fairly broad term with a wide variety of requirements.

In general, most states don’t require a license to be a professional caregiver who helps with tasks that are considered to be more custodial in nature. Home care agencies often refer to these as Homemaker Services. These tasks may include assisting with menu planning, cooking, light housekeeping, and companionship.

If the care is more medical in nature, the state you live in may require you to complete a training program and pass a test to be considered licensed. Learn if you have to be licensed and what is required where you live by searching the Institute for Professional Care Education’s database.

As far as which organizations offer caregiver training programs, a few avenues to explore are:

  • The American Red Cross
  • The Institute for Professional Care Education
  • The American Caregiver Association
  • The National Caregiver Certification Association

The last 3 organizations on this list also offer online learning opportunities to make it easier for students with nontraditional schedules to take classes. If you are working your way through school, one of these organizations may be a good fit for you.

Adults interested in pursuing a career as a professional caregiver will be happy to learn that there is a wide range of employment options. From contracting directly with seniors to working for a home care agency or an assisted living community, aging services is a constantly expanding industry.

Salaries for caregivers vary by geographic location and by the type of organization you work for.

I hope this information is helpful, Megan! Please let us know if we can answer any additional questions.

Best regards,