How do you know if a career in caring is right for you?
If you’ve recently found that your career isn’t a good fit for your personality, then you might be asking some questions about what it is that you want to do, and what you want from your job.
There are a hundred different answers, but for some of you out there, the question of ‘Am I helping people?’ may rise up to the surface. For some of these people, caring can be a tempting field of work, but it’s not one that should be taken lightly.
In this article we’re going to look at how to work out if it’s for you, and what steps you need to take if you think that it is.
Can you deal with the realities of the work?
First of all, you have to know what, exactly, you’re getting into with care work. It can involve a lot of hard labor, not to mention work that the squeamish may not be able to handle as well. If you’re not able to deal with the potential of health crises, not to mention helping people with hygiene and sanitation, which can (and almost certainly will) involve helping patients or clients with the toilet, then you may find caring a tough career to get into.
What’s more, while being empathetic on the job is always a good thing, there is such a thing as being too empathetic. If you’re not able to maintain a professional yet caring demeanor in the face of illness and even the prospect of death, you might need to rethink your career choice.
Can you handle stress well?
Of course, no one expects carers to be automatons who are able to help people at their most vulnerable without being affected. Stress is a big part of the job, so much so that there are support groups of carers who help each other deal with that stress, not to mention the risk of burnout.
A certain resilience is certainly necessary but, more than that, you have to be able to blow off some steam and deal with that stress in a healthy way so that it doesn’t begin to show in your work or how you treat those you’re supposed to help.
Are you good with irregular working hours?
Carers do not always work a 9-to-5 job or anything resembling normal shift work. To some people, this can be a barrier to getting into the role, but to others, this can be a huge benefit. The job does offer some flexibility in when you work. Depending on the agencies and organizations you work with, you might not always have a lot of choices, but you can certainly avoid the daily grind of the traditional work hours if that’s something that you’ve been looking to get away from.
Of course, the hours are going to differ depending on the positions that you pick, so always keep a close eye on those, as well as how they might affect your work-life balance when looking at job listings.
The benefits of caring
We’ve looked at some of the challenging aspects of becoming a carer, but there are also significant benefits that are well worth considering. Aside from the flexibility mentioned above, carers earn a decent living. The average salary of a carer may not be life-changing, but combine that with the constant availability of work, and you can ensure that you’re able to keep money coming into the household, with plenty of room to earn more as you get experience or find your specializations.
What’s more, caring can be extremely rewarding and satisfying work. Knowing that you’re able to make a big difference in the quality of life of the people that you help to and avoid unnecessary pain and suffering can be a great blessing.
Deciding on a niche
As you look at the prospect of becoming a carer, it’s worth taking a look at the different kinds of career paths that you can grow into and thinking about how they may fit your particular personality traits and soft skill sets.
There are carers who work with older adults, those who work with people with disabilities, as well as those who work with private organizations, in the homes of their clients, or in supporting specific health needs.
While there are similarities between all of the different niches, particularly in ensuring that you’re able to help your clients/patients address needs that they’re not able to take care of themselves, there are unique responsibilities within each, as well.
Building your professional qualifications
Of course, if you want to become a carer, then you have to earn the qualifications to work in the field, as well. There are certification courses that can teach you all of what you need to know and will have you earn your accreditation, usually through an examination process at the end of the course. You had better be ready to go through some schooling again, and you might be able to get into a basic caring support job after that.
However, if you want to become a fully qualified carer, then you may well need to look into getting work experience after that. Depending on where you are working as a carer, there might be different specifications in what experience and qualifications you need before you can work professionally, so be sure to do your research.
Finding the right positions
Once you have the training and education that you need, and you have found the opportunity to gain some work experience, it’s time to look at your first full working position as a carer.
In some cases, you might be able to continue working with the agency or company that offered you that experience, but you may want to spread your horizons and look for job boards and agencies that specialize in care jobs. You want to be specific about where you look for these jobs, as looking in the listings of more general sites or the local papers might limit your options.
Stay up-to-date with your training
You may not need any further formal training to continue working in the care industry, once you have acquired whatever accreditation is necessary for your state, or for the positions that you want to apply for.
That said, getting additional training can certainly help your career. Aside from the refresher courses that can make sure that you retain whatever knowledge you have already earned so that you’re always ready to make use of it, you can get additional training like further first aid skills, or skills in handling and moving people, or other niche skills that may open up further career options for you.
Hiring agencies and organizations are always going to look at your skillset when making decisions on who to bring on board and who to promote.
Keep building connections
If you’re looking to further your caring career, then you should always be networking and always building new connections. This can be done with the agencies and clients that you work with, as well as by attending industry and networking events for carers.
If you’re good at your work and always keeping up with your training and acquiring new skills, building a professional brand amongst those in the know can help open some doors to better-paying jobs and working with more specialized clients in the future.
With the tips above, hopefully, you should get a good idea of how you can get into caring, as well as whether or not it’s the right step for you. It can be a highly rewarding and lucrative career in the right spaces, but it is certainly not for everyone.