A career in home health care can be a great way to help others. As the U.S. population continues to age, it may also provide you with many job opportunities. Before you can begin your career in this exciting field, you will probably need to complete a caregiver certification first.
There are many caregiver certifications available to ambitious home health care providers. However, not all programs are the same. While you might find free caregiver certificates online, these courses may not fit your career needs and goals. Before you jump into a program, you should consider the options available in your area so you can choose the one that best suits your needs.
Five caregiver certifications you might consider are:
1. Basic Caregiver
A basic caregiver certification could help prepare you for helping patients with everyday living activities (like dressing, bathing, preparing meals, etc.) and how to respond in an emergency.
This certification is useful for those starting their careers as home health providers who will not need to provide specialty medical care or administer medications.
2. Home Health Aide (HHA)
A home health aide certification is a step up from a basic caregiver certification. You will learn many of the same things (everyday living activities and emergency care), along with more information about helping patients recover and remain in their own homes.
HHAs usually do not need a college degree to begin this training, so it is often accessible to many people.
3. Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
A certified nursing assistant certification will train you to provide basic medical care to patients, including administering some medications.
This certification could help jumpstart your career in the home healthcare field. It is often a steppingstone to becoming a licensed nurse.
4. Hospice, Palliative, and End-of-Life Care
Training in hospice, palliative, and end-of-life care can help you better care for patients nearing the end of their life. You will learn how to help the patient and their family manage this emotional period.
This could be a good complement to a CNA or HHA certification, so you can provide more specialized care to patients with terminal illnesses or those simply reaching an advanced age.
5. Specialized Care for Specific Needs and Conditions
Training for specific medical needs and conditions could help you provide more customized care to patients such as diabetes, dementia, or Parkinson’s.
This type of training could help you offer care to a niche group of patients. You may be able to set yourself apart from other professional caregivers in your area and create a solid customer base for your business.
How can I receive a caregiver certification?
The process for becoming a certified caregiver depends on which certification you are working towards. For example, a certified nursing assistant will need to complete a more extensive program than a home health aide because CNAs are able to administer medications that a HHA cannot.
Receiving a caregiver certification also depends on the state you plan to work in. Some require more training than others to become a certified caregiver. For example, HHAs in Texas must train for a minimum of 75 hours, but those in California need over 120 hours of training and education to become certified.
Where can I find caregiver certification training?
There are several ways to become a certified caregiver:
- At a community college or trade school – Training programs offered through community colleges, trade schools, and other educational organizations are typically aimed at those wanting to become a CNA. However, they may offer HHA or basic caregiver training programs and short first aid and emergency care courses.
- Through a home health agency – Agencies often offer free caregiver training to help them prepare their staff for the job. You will likely be required to work for the agency for a period of time after completing your training.
- Specialty organizations – Niche groups may offer training in their specialty cause that can complement more general caregiver training. For example, the Red Cross offers CPR and emergency certifications that could be helpful as a professional caregiver.
The above caregiver certification options may provide caregiver certificates online in certain circumstances. However, in-person instruction is likely going to be required for most CNAs and HHAs to teach skills that cannot be taught online (for example, safely transferring a patient from their bed to a wheelchair or administering medication through a needle).
You may also find some free caregiver certificates online that can help you train to become a professional caregiver. If you decide to use these courses, it’s best to check that they meet the educational requirements in your area. These programs may provide you with useful information, but they may not fully qualify you to become a certified caregiver.
Helping Others Live Their Lives
There are many options for becoming a certified caregiver in the United States. Whether you are seeking a CNA certification to further your career or a free caregiver certificate online to start one, you could soon be putting your skills and compassion to work for patients in need.
Need to protect yourself on the job? Caregiver insurance can create a safety net for your finances so that accidents and mistakes don’t empty your bank accounts.