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Should Family Caregivers Become State Certified?

By Reagan GreenwoodApril 21, 2022
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Caring for a loved one can be difficult, and there’s no one way to go about it. Some seniors require around-the-clock assistance while others simply need help with a few daily tasks. Your aging loved one’s unique lifestyle and care needs will determine how you decide to care for them.

One thing you may not have considered is whether you should become a state-certified caregiver. There are pros and cons when it comes to becoming a state-certified caregiver. Read on to learn more about the potential benefits and drawbacks of the certification process to decide whether this route could be helpful for you and your loved one.

In this article:

Do you have to be certified to be a caregiver?

State certification is not mandatory for family caregivers. Anyone can care for their loved one in the comfort of their own home. In fact, many professional homemakers and personal care attendants are not required to have state certification because their services are non-medical, like housekeeping, meal preparation, and companionship.

What are some benefits of becoming a state-certified caregiver?

While state certification is not required, it does have some perks. Not only is state certification a sign of continued education, but it could also provide you with additional income, proper caregiver training and knowledge, or even a new career passion.

1. It could help you get paid

According to the Caregiving in the U.S. 2020 AARP Research Report, adults caring for a family member or friend over the age of 18 increased from 16.6 percent in 2015 to 19.2 percent in 2020 — that’s an increase of over 8 million adults. Many of these adults are unpaid and are not receiving any compensation or help for their caregiving work.

Caring for a loved one takes energy and resources, so it’s normal for family caregivers to look for compensation opportunities. Check out the following potential caregiver payment options that you or your loved one may qualify for:

These options require you to take some time to get on the phone or visit relevant agencies to find more information. If getting state certified can result in compensation, then that time is likely well worth it. If not, it may be best to keep that time and energy focused on caring for your loved one.

2. You can get professional training

Chances are, you don’t intuitively know how to do all the things your loved one currently needs or will need in the future. This is not meant as a slight: Caregiving is demanding, and it can require technical skills. The certification process can help you become a better educated, more compassionate caregiver by providing you with valuable information. State certification involves taking specific courses or training modules that help you become an effective caregiver. That means dedicating time, money, and energy towards these courses.

Before committing to a certain program, be sure to assess your loved one’s needs and then decide whether you could benefit from the training. Most basic caregiver training courses cover the following:

  • Safety standards
  • Emergency situation and CPR training
  • Proper hygiene care
  • Mobility and transfer training

Some specialized training programs, especially those focused on memory care, may also include classes about person-centered care. So, if your loved one has Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia, consider enrolling in a memory care training course instead of a general caregiving program.

State certification isn’t the only way to become a trained caregiver

The state-certification process isn’t the only way for you to obtain skills training. You can find similar information through other educational resources. Some courses may cost money, such as the hands-on Summit Resilience Training course for family caregivers, while others are free of charge. The Family Caregiver Alliance provides free classes and workshops, and Care Academy has a free online course for family caregivers. Jill Lorentz, president and owner of Summit Resilience Training, even offers free memory care information through her podcast.

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3. You might be interested in a caregiving career

Caring for your loved one may have helped you realize that you have a passion for elderly caregiving. If you choose to pursue caregiving as a career, then getting your state certification is absolutely worth it. Typically, certified nursing assistants, home health aides, and other professionals that offer medical support need to be state certified before caring for others, as many senior care homes or agencies require these licenses of their staff.

Obtaining your state certification now can help you become a better caregiver for your loved one while setting you up to transition to a caregiving career in the future.

How to become a certified caregiver for a family member

To become a certified caregiver or personal care aide in your state, you need to look up the state-specific requirements. Remember that there is no national standard for caregiver certification, which means that licensure and training requirements vary widely from state to state. Look up your specific state caregiver training requirements to learn more.

Caregiver certification costs can fluctuate. Generally, you can expect to spend at least $59 for caregiver state certification training. You also have the option of obtaining the National Caregiver Certification from the American Caregiver Association, which costs around $99. Although it is not required by all states, this particular certification is nationally recognized, enabling you to work across the country. For both options, you complete a required online training followed by an exam to confirm you’ve mastered the concepts covered.

Once you’re done with the training and have passed the exam, you’ll be a state-certified caregiver.

What’s best for you and your family?

The certification process may not be the right choice for every family caregiver. Do your research to find out if your loved one’s insurance or medical benefits will pay you to become certified. If you’re interested in simple skill building, state certification may not be necessary, as many educational resources are available to anyone online. However, if you want a future career in caregiving, state certification and licensure make sense to pursue. Discuss all these options with your loved one, weigh the costs and benefits, and decide if state certification is the reasonable next step.

If you would simply like support in caring for your loved one by a state-certified caregiver, you can also consider in-home care or a senior living community. Reach out to a Senior Living Advisor at A Place for Mom for free, local advice on certified, professional caregivers in your area.


Administration for Community Living. (2022, April 1). Veteran Directed Care program.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Home & community based services. Medicaid.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2022, January 19). Home health providers.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Self-directed services. Medicaid.

Family Caregiver Alliance. Events & classes.

PHI. Personal care aide training requirements.

Summit Resilience Training. Alzheimer’s Resilience training for family caregivers.

The National Alliance for Caregiving & American Association of Retired Persons. (2020, May). Caregiving in the U.S.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2022, March 29). VA Aid and Attendance benefits and Housebound allowance.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2021, November 3). Locations.

Udemy. Essential skills for family caregivers.

The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical, legal, or financial advice or to create a professional relationship between A Place for Mom and the reader. Always seek the advice of your health care provider, attorney, or financial advisor with respect to any particular matter, and do not act or refrain from acting on the basis of anything you have read on this site. Links to third-party websites are only for the convenience of the reader; A Place for Mom does not endorse the contents of the third-party sites.

Reagan Greenwood

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