Personal Care Aides

Summary

Home health and personal care aides
Personal care aides provide light housekeeping and homemaking tasks, including planning and preparing meals.
Quick Facts: Personal Care Aides
2015 Median Pay $20,980 per year
$10.09 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education No formal educational credential
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Short-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2014 1,768,400
Job Outlook, 2014-24 26% (Much faster than average)
Employment Change, 2014-24 458,100

What Personal Care Aides Do

Personal care aides help clients with self-care and everyday tasks. They also provide social supports and assistance that enable clients to participate in their communities.

Work Environment

Personal care aides held about 1.8 million jobs in 2014. Most personal care aides work in clients’ homes, small group homes, or larger care communities.

How to Become a Personal Care Aide

Most personal care aides are trained on the job. There are no formal education requirements for personal care aides, but most aides have a high school diploma.

Pay

The median annual wage for personal care aides was $20,980 in May 2015.

Job Outlook

Employment of personal care aides is projected to grow 26 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. As the baby-boom population ages, there will be an increase in the number of clients requiring assistance.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for personal care aides.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of personal care aides with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about personal care aides by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Personal Care Aides Do About this section

personal care aides image
Personal care aides help people in their own homes or in residential facilities.

Personal care aides help clients with self-care and everyday tasks. They also provide social supports and assistance that enable clients to participate in their communities.

Duties

Personal care aides typically do the following:

  • Care for and assist clients with cognitive impairments, such as Alzheimer’s or mental illness
  • Engage clients by talking to or playing games with them, or by taking them for walks
  • Help clients with hygiene-related tasks, such as bathing, brushing teeth, and going to the bathroom
  • Transfer clients to and from a bed or a wheelchair
  • Complete housekeeping tasks, such as changing bed linens, washing dishes, and cleaning living areas
  • Help prepare and plan meals
  • Assist with organizing a client’s schedule and schedule appointments
  • Arrange transportation to and from doctors’ offices or the store
  • Help clients pay bills or manage money
  • Shop for personal items and groceries
  • Assist clients in going to work and participating in their communities

Personal care aides—also called caregivers and personal attendants—help clients with self-care and daily activities. Personal care aides perform tasks that are similar to those of home health aides. However, personal care aides cannot provide any medical services, whereas home health aides may provide basic medical services.

Direct support professionals work with people who have developmental or intellectual disabilities. They may help create a behavior plan and teach self-care skills, such as doing laundry or cooking meals. They may also provide other personal assistance services.

Work Environment About this section

personal care aides image
Most personal care aides work in clients’ homes; others work in small group homes or larger care communities.

Personal care aides held about 1.8 million jobs in 2014. The industries that employed the most personal care aides were as follows:

Services for the elderly and persons with disabilities 43%
Home healthcare services 17
Residential intellectual and developmental disability, mental health, and substance abuse facilities 9

Most personal care aides work in clients’ homes; others work in small group homes or larger care communities. Some are hired directly by the client or the client's family, but many are employed by organizations or agencies that provide in-home services or support.

Some aides work in many facilities or homes during the day, whereas others may work with a single client. Personal care aides may help people in hospice and day service programs or may help people with disabilities go to work and stay engaged in their communities.

Work Schedules

Most personal care aides worked full time in 2014, although 2 out of 5 worked part time. They may be required to work evening and weekend hours to attend to their clients’ needs.

Injuries and Illnesses

Personal care aides have a higher rate of injuries and illnesses than the national average. Work as an aide can be physically and emotionally demanding. Aides may become injured when lifting clients or transferring them into and out of beds or wheelchairs. Aides often work with clients who have mental health issues or cognitive impairments and who may become difficult or violent at times. There are also dangers when working with clients who have communicable diseases or infections. Personal care aides can guard against many injuries and illnesses by following proper procedures.

How to Become a Personal Care Aide About this section

Home health and personal care aides
Most personal care aides are trained on the job.

Most personal care aides are trained on the job. There are no formal education requirements for personal care aides, but most aides have a high school diploma.

Education

Although there are no formal education requirements for personal care aides, employers may prefer candidates with a high school diploma.

Training

Aides may be trained on the job by registered nurses, other personal care aides, or their direct employer. They are trained in specific tasks, such as how to work with a client who has a cognitive impairment and how to assist a client in preparing meals.

Most employers require aides to have training or certification in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Important Qualities

Detail oriented. Personal care aides must follow specific rules and protocols to help take care of clients. They must pay close attention to a client’s medical condition, quickly noting any changes that may require assistance from medical personnel.

Integrity. Personal care aides should make clients feel comfortable when the aides tend to personal activities, such as helping a client bathe. In addition, personal care aides must be dependable and trustworthy so that clients and their families can rely on them.

Interpersonal skills. Sometimes clients are in extreme pain or distress, and aides must be sensitive to their emotions. Aides must be compassionate, and they must enjoy helping people.

Physical stamina. Personal care aides should be comfortable performing physical tasks. They often need to lift or turn clients who have a disability.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Personal care aides may be required to complete a formal training program depending on the state where they work, and state laws vary widely in terms of the requirements that must be met. Some states and organizations may conduct background checks on prospective aides. A competency evaluation also may be required to ensure that the aide can perform certain tasks.

There are no federal training requirements for personal care aides. For specific state requirements, contact the state’s health board.

Pay About this section

Personal Care Aides

Median annual wages, May 2015

Total, all occupations

$36,200

Other personal care and service workers

$21,640

Personal care aides

$20,980

 

The median annual wage for personal care aides was $20,980 in May 2015. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $16,910, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $28,620.

In May 2015, the median annual wages for personal care aides in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Residential intellectual and developmental disability, mental health, and substance abuse facilities $22,150
Services for the elderly and persons with disabilities 21,070
Home healthcare services 19,130

Most personal care aides worked full time in 2014, although 2 out of 5 worked part time. They may be required to work evening and weekend hours to attend to their clients’ needs.

Job Outlook About this section

Personal Care Aides

Percent change in employment, projected 2014-24

Personal care aides

26%

Other personal care and service workers

16%

Total, all occupations

7%

 

Employment of personal care aides is projected to grow 26 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations.

As the baby-boom population ages, there will be an increase in the number of clients requiring assistance. As clients age, they often develop health or mobility problems and require assistance with daily tasks. The demand for the services that personal care aides provide will continue to rise.

Elderly clients and people with disabilities who do not require medical care are increasingly choosing home care instead of entering nursing homes or hospitals. Home care is often a less expensive and more comfortable experience for the client. Moreover, studies have found that home care is frequently more effective than care in a nursing home or hospital. Because personal care aides do not provide any medical services, they are a less expensive option for families or clients who seek someone to help clients with daily activities or perform light household chores.

Job Prospects

Job prospects for personal care aides are expected to be excellent. The occupation is large and is projected to grow quickly, adding many jobs. In addition, the low pay and high emotional demands cause many workers to leave the occupation, and they will have to be replaced.

Employment projections data for personal care aides, 2014-24
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2014 Projected Employment, 2024 Change, 2014-24 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Personal care aides

39-9021 1,768,400 2,226,500 26 458,100 [XLSX]

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

Career InfoNet

America’s Career InfoNet includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of personal care aides.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2015 MEDIAN PAY Help
home health aides image

Home Health Aides

Home health aides help people with disabilities, chronic illness, or cognitive impairment with activities of daily living. They often help older adults who need assistance. In some states, home health aides may be able to give a client medication or check the client’s vital signs under the direction of a nurse or other healthcare practitioner.

No formal educational credential $21,920
Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses

Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) provide basic nursing care. They work under the direction of registered nurses and doctors.

Postsecondary nondegree award $43,170
Medical assistants

Medical Assistants

Medical assistants complete administrative and clinical tasks in the offices of physicians, hospitals, and other healthcare facilities. Their duties vary with the location, specialty, and size of the practice.

Postsecondary nondegree award $30,590
Nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants

Nursing Assistants and Orderlies

Nursing assistants, sometimes called nursing aides, help provide basic care for patients in hospitals and residents of long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes. Orderlies transport patients and clean treatment areas.

See How to Become One $25,710
Occupational therapy assistants and aides

Occupational Therapy Assistants and Aides

Occupational therapy assistants and aides help patients develop, recover, and improve the skills needed for daily living and working. Occupational therapy assistants are directly involved in providing therapy to patients; occupational therapy aides typically perform support activities. Both assistants and aides work under the direction of occupational therapists.

See How to Become One $54,520
Physical therapist assistants and aides

Physical Therapist Assistants and Aides

Physical therapist assistants, sometimes called PTAs, and physical therapist aides work under the direction and supervision of physical therapists. They help patients who are recovering from injuries and illnesses regain movement and manage pain.

See How to Become One $42,980
Social and human service assistants

Social and Human Service Assistants

Social and human service assistants provide client services, including support for families, in a wide variety of fields, such as psychology, rehabilitation, and social work. They assist other workers, such as social workers, and they help clients find benefits or community services.

High school diploma or equivalent $30,830
Child care workers

Childcare Workers

Childcare workers provide care for children when parents and other family members are unavailable. They attend to children’s basic needs, such as bathing and feeding. In addition, some help children prepare for kindergarten or help older children with homework.

High school diploma or equivalent $20,320
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Personal Care Aides,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/personal-care-and-service/personal-care-aides.htm (visited April 29, 2016).

Publish Date: Thursday, December 17, 2015

What They Do

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Work Environment

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How to Become One

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Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. This tab may also provide information on earnings in the major industries employing the occupation.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's Career InfoNet.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2015 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2014

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2014, which is the base year of the 2014-24 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2014-24

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2014-24

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2014 to 2024.

2015 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2015, the median annual wage for all workers was $36,200.