How to Become an Elder Care Worker


Career Path Guide

If you want to become an elder care worker, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for your skills, interests and personality traits. If the following description sounds like you, then you’re probably well suited for this line of work:


• You want to work in a healthcare setting, and directly with patients/clients

• You are understanding, tactful, patient, gentle, respectful and non-judgmental

• You would enjoy a job that involves physical activity, such as standing, walking and lifting

• You are able to perform duties such as meal preparation, light housekeeping and laundry

• You have the will to enrich people’s lives through caring and compassion, as well as have them enrich your life


Below we've outlined what you'll need to get started in this profession. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, educational requirements, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education Needed to Become an Elder Care Worker

Although there are no industry-regulated educational requirements for becoming an elder care worker, most employers prefer to hire candidates that have completed at least a high school diploma, as on-the-job training is often available.


Some employers however, require elder care workers to have completed a recognized health care aide certificate program or equivalent. These programs usually take between four months and one year to complete. Completion of these programs enable graduates to demonstrate the knowledge base, skill set and attitudes that are consistent with industry expectations for entry-level workers.





General Job Description

Elder care workers are responsible for providing quality personal assistance, daily care, and support services for people that require short-term assistance or ongoing care, such as the elderly, the disabled, as well as acute or chronically ill patients. Oftentimes they work under the direction of a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a Registered Nurse (RN).


The personal care and assistance elder care workers provide typically includes helping clients with daily personal care such as washing, dressing, using the toilet and feeding themselves, as well as helping clients carry out general tasks such as housework, laundry and shopping.


Elder care workers must be able to foster and maintain their client’s independence and trust, as well as gain the confidence of the client’s family and other caregivers. Elder care workers are also known as nursing attendants, health care aides, home support aides, home support workers or residential support workers.



Typical Job Duties

• Confer with client receiving care and their family in order to gain full understanding of client’s needs

• Provide information to other health care professionals as required

• Establish and maintain accurate and confidential client reports and files

• Coordinate the delivery and requisition of appropriate services and supplies

• Discuss any concerns with the supervisor

• Monitor blood pressure and other physical conditions, as required

• Provide in-home care including general housekeeping, personal hygiene and meal preparation

• May transport clients to appointments and activities

• Ensure that care is provided according to all relevant laws, policies, procedures and regulations

• Assist with exercises, physiotherapy and other medical plans



Who Employs Elder Care Workers?

The following types of organizations employ elder care workers on a casual, part-time, full-time and contractual basis:


• Extended and intermediate care facilities

• Home support agencies

• Private home

• Hospices

• Assisted living residences

• Adult care centres

• Self-employment (working independently as a personal care attendant)





Skills Needed to Be Successful

To be effective in a career as an elder care worker, and perform your job duties with competence, you need to posses a certain set of skills, including:


• Able to work within health and safety guidelines

• Able to assist clients with bathing, grooming and dressing, and other personal hygiene activities

• Able to perform light housekeeping

• Able to prepare meals

• Able to assist clients with therapeutic activities such as range of motion exercises

• Able to effectively communicate with clients

• Able to perform wheelchair transfers



Helpful Personal Characteristics to Have

In order to enjoy performing the duties of an elder care worker, you need to have certain personality traits. Taking enjoyment from your duties is important, as it helps you maintain a positive attitude towards your work, which usually leads to having a long and successful career.


• You want to work in a healthcare setting, directly with patients/clients

• You are compassionate and deeply interested in helping people

• You would enjoy working with patients and being part of a team

• You are understanding, tactful, patient, gentle, respectful and non-judgmental

• Have an ability to work in a fast-paced and often demanding environment

• You would enjoy a job that involves physical activity

• You have the ability to relate to people from a wide variety of backgrounds

• You are able to remain calm under pressure, such as when an emergency occurs



Other Qualifications Needed

Employers will typically require you to have other qualifications in addition to work experience, skills and education. These other qualifications may include:


• Possession of a valid driver’s license

• First aid and CPR certification

• Able to pass a criminal record check



Typical Salary in This Field

The earnings of elder care workers can vary based on their level of education, their level of experience, the size and type of their employer, the region in which they work, and many other factors.


There is no salary information available from reliable sources specifically for this career. We can however, get a good idea of what they earn by looking at the salary level of workers in closely related occupations.


Salary - Canada: According to the 2014 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, (latest figures available at the time of writing - June 26, 2019) Albertans working in the Health Care Aides occupational group earn an average salary of $34,460 per year. Unfortunately, no similar statistics were available from reliable sources for other Canadian provinces or territories at the time of writing.


Salary - United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of American workers in the Personal Care Aides occupational group is $19,910 per year.



Current Job Opportunities

Our job board below has elder care worker postings in your area of Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, when available:




Work Environment

Setting: Elder care workers may work in a wide variety of settings, they may range from institutional settings to private homes. Their work setting may be comfortable or poorly maintained and undesirable.


Hours: The hours of work for elder care workers can also vary. Many home care agencies and institutions offer 24-hour service, in which case they would require elder care workers who can work in shifts that could range form daytime, evening or overnight hours, including weekends and holidays.


Conditions: There is a considerable amount of physical activity involved in elder care work. The work often involves helping people to move, bath, dress and perform other daily activities, such as wheelchair transfers. Elder care workers are required to lift items and be on their feet for long periods of time.


The work of elder care workers also involves working very closely with individuals who are dealing with losing, or having lost, much of their independence. Some clients may be pleasant, which is can be highly rewarding, whereas some clients can be difficult, which can be frustrating and stressful. 



Similar Occupational Profiles in Our Database

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to elder care worker, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Geriatric Care Manager


Health Care Aide

Long Term Care Nurse

Medical Social Worker




Please use the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as an elder care worker.


Occupations in Alberta:Health Care Aide.” (April 9, 2014). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved November 12, 2019.

Healthcare:Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides.” (March 29, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved November 12, 2019.

Explore Careers: Care Worker.” (n.d.). National Careers Service website. Retrieved November 12, 2019.


Please Note: Much of the information for this career guide was gathered from actual job postings, which due to the brief nature of their online presence, are not listed here as sources.



Scholarships for Becoming an Elder Care Worker

The 'Applicable Majors' section below shows fields of study relevant to becoming an elder care worker. You can search for scholarships matched to those fields of study on our All Scholarships by Major page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to for getting into this line of work. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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