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The Ultimate Guide to Caregiver Certification Programs in California

Jul 22, 2022 · 4 minutes to read

A senior woman with walker and carer in garden at home.

As more people decide to age in their own homes, the demand for professional caregivers is growing. Aspiring caregivers in California may find excellent employment opportunities around the state and in other parts of the country.

Before you can apply for these types of jobs, you will need to complete a caregiver program and get a caregiver certification in California. The required training and exams help prepare you for a career as a home care aide, home health aide, or certified nursing assistant. It also helps protect your patients by ensuring that you are able to meet their safety and wellbeing needs.

Who is considered a professional caregiver in CA?

California recognizes different types of professional caregivers, including:

  • Home care aides (HCA) – Offers non-medical assistance, such as preparing meals or providing companionship.
  • Home health aides (HHA) – Provides some medical assistance, including physical therapy, monitoring vital signs, and wound care.
  • Certified nursing assistants (CNA) – May provide much of the same care as an HHA but can also administer prescription medications.

Recommended reading: The Differences Between a CNA and HHA

The instruction for each type of caregiver is different. You will need to complete a recognized caregiver program that meets the minimum state or federal requirements to work in any of these roles.

Who can receive a caregiver certification in CA?

To enter a caregiver program and receive a caregiver certification in CA, you must first meet the basic enrollment requirements. These vary depending on where you are completing the training and the type of program you choose.

Basic requirements for many caregiver programs include:

  • Reaching a minimum age – typically 16-18 years old
  • Having a high school diploma, GED, or passing competency exams
  • Meeting minimum health standards (such as passing a physical and having a Tuberculosis skin test)
  • Passing a criminal background check and drug test

It’s wise to contact the school, training center, or organization that is providing training to learn what requirements you will need to meet before enrolling.

How do I get a caregiver certification in California?

You will need to complete a training program to become a certified HCA, HHA, or CNA in California. Each program has a minimum number of training hours:

  • HCAs must complete 5 hours of initial training and 5 hours of continuing education training each year.
  • HHAs must complete 120 hours of initial training and 24 hours of continuing education training each year.
  • CNAs must complete 150 hours of initial training and 48 hours of continuing education training each year.

Depending on the program you pursue, you will receive both classroom instruction and hands-on training. For example, HHAs must complete at least 20 hours of clinical training (where they provide direct patient care under supervision) as part of their 120 hours of total training.

Once you have completed your caregiver program, you may need to pass a competency exam. This will test your knowledge and skills related to performing the work of a professional caregiver.

Finding a caregiver program in California

There are many ways to receive caregiver training in California:

  • Vocational or technical schools
  • Continuing education programs
  • Community colleges and universities
  • Home health agencies

Free caregiver training may be available, particularly through home health agencies. You will likely be required to work for them for a set number of years in exchange for them training you.

Helping those in need

A caregiver program could be the start of a stable and rewarding career. There are many ways to get your caregiver certification in California so you can start changing the lives of patients in the Golden State.

Thinking about caregiver insurance? Insurance for home health aides and professional caregivers could help protect you while you work—learn more.

*This information is a general guide only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Always check with your local licensing board when getting or renewing your caregiver license to ensure you are meeting their current licensing requirements.

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