How Much Do Caregivers Make?

According to AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving, roughly 40 million Americans provide care to a loved one, yet few of them identify as professional caregivers. One option for those struggling to balance responsibilities is to hire a professional caregiver, an individual responsible for tending to the needs of someone with an illness or inability to perform their daily functions. 

However, a significant part of hiring a caregiver is understanding their hourly rate. The wages depend on the caregiver’s employer, which state they are in, among other factors. 

Below, we have compiled everything you need to know about a caregiver’s total earnings. Whether you’re looking to receive compensation yourself or considering hiring the services of someone else, it’s critical to have a solid understanding of what’s standard, what to look out for, and when it’s time to seek financial assistance

How Much Do Caregivers Make an Hour? 

Determining the hourly rate of a caregiver depends on their employer. 

You can search home care agencies with a staff of readily available caregivers or directly hire them. Their services may also be supported by statewide programs, although it differs from state to state. Let’s take a closer look. 

Rate for Agency Caregivers

Home care agencies employ professional caregivers and send them to your loved one’s home for medical care or non-medical care. The latter assists your loved one with daily life activities, such as preparing meals and bathing. 

For these services, the national average hourly rate for home care employees is around $21 per hour (as of 2019).

Home care agencies usually have staff with various licensing requirements and certifications. However, there are several limitations placed on these caregivers. 

For example, a home care agency may not allow its employees to drive their loved ones for shopping, appointments, or other errands. Therefore, if you desire someone with more flexibility, independent caregivers are another, perhaps more ideal option.   

Rate for Independent Caregivers 

In contrast to home care agencies, individuals can operate as a caregiver without the backing of a company. But, the family must act as the independent caregiver’s employer due to a requirement by the IRS. They state that caregivers must be classified as employees, not contractors. 

Therefore, the pay rate for an independent caregiver depends on the family and an individual state’s guidelines. 

Independent caregivers are subject to the Fair Labor Standards Act, which sets the minimum wage and requires employees to work overtime if they go over 40 hours a week. So, most independent caregivers are paid anywhere from $10 to $20 per hour

While independent caregiving may be more flexible and realistic for many families, it’s hard to compete with the amount you can make by working with an established agency. In comparison, home care agencies pay their caregivers 30% more than those working independently. 

Finding an independent caregiver who can take on the job can also be tricky; families must take, on a myriad of employer-like responsibilities, including:

  • Searching for a candidate 
  • Conducting a background check
  • Checking references
  • Reviewing credit reports
  • Managing payroll    

Though agency caregiving may be more approachable and straightforward, the simple truth is that not every family will have the funds necessary to take advantage of these services. 

So, if you do opt to either use or become an independent caregiver, it’s crucial to keep in mind that some level of trial and error may occur before pay is ironed out. Thankfully, your state may provide unique programs to help deliver the service your loved one deserves at a reasonable price; we’ll discuss this idea in more depth later on.

Being Paid By the State

If you cannot afford a caregiver or you find yourself supporting someone yourself, but you require extra income, your state could help you out. However, a caregiver’s eligibility for compensation differs depending on your situation. 

Here are a few state-funded programs to keep in mind:

  • Medicaid services let states give funds to those who need them to afford home care services. To be qualified, multiple steps are involved.
    • First, your loved one is assessed for their specific needs, capacities, strength, and more.
    • Next, your family member and loved ones detail a service plan listing what they need for daily living assistance, such as bathing and transporting to appointments.
    • Then, you may need to show a budget for everything you need for the services.
    • Lastly, you choose a caregiver to enact the service plan.
  • Veteran Directed Care is available in 42 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico for any veteran part of the Veterans Health Administration. As per a VA assessment, a fixed monthly budget helps cover all the goods and services a qualified veteran requires for wanting care without moving to a nursing facility.   
  • Long-term care insurance covers some costs for home health care. However, not every insurance can cover the costs, so you may have to ask a loved one’s insurance agent for more details.

How Much Caregivers Make by State

Each state has a different average annual wage for caregivers. The difference in income may be due to population, need for caregivers, and other factors. 

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, North Dakota ranks as the best caregiver pay, with an annual wage of $34,020. However, the salary is 35% less than what the average employee makes in the state. 

Interestingly, California employs the most caregivers in the country (597,500), followed by New York, with 469,370. 

However, the highest amount of caregivers in a given area within the country is the New York-Newark-Jersey City metropolitan area, with 426,290 total caregivers across the region.

The District of Columbia notably pays caregivers 67% less than the state’s average wage. Also, interestingly, the states with the lowest paying caregivers may have the highest populations. 

For a breakdown of the annual wage for some other states, feel free to refer to the following chart:

StateAverage Hourly Starting Pay for a Caregiver
Alabama$14.00
Alaska$14.94
Arizona$14.37
Arkansas$11.99
California$15.82
Colorado$14.77
Connecticut$14.03
Delaware$13.03
Florida$11.99
Georgia$11.63
Hawaii$15.30
Idaho$12.33
Illinois$14.29
Indiana$11.40
Iowa$13.12
Kansas$11.87
Kentucky$12.06
Louisiana$10.30
Maine$16.29
Maryland$13.47
Massachusetts$15.52
Michigan$12.97
Minnesota$13.32
Mississippi$9.27
Missouri$12.41
Montana$15.00
Nebraska$13.10
Nevada$12.12
New Hampshire$13.00
New Jersey$14.40
New Mexico$12.15
New York$17.88
North Carolina$11.93
North Dakota$15.00
Ohio$12.50
Oklahoma$11.78
Oregon$15.56
Pennsylvania$12.31
Rhode Island$15.79
South Carolina$11.34
South Dakota$13.82
Tennessee$11.39
Texas$11.36
Utah$12.54
Vermont$15.98
Virginia$12.62
Washington$17.47
West Virginia$10.77
Wisconsin$13.21
Wyoming$14.44

Conclusion

Long-term care is an invaluable way for those who can provide it to give back to their loved ones. Even if you can’t provide the care yourself, finding someone who can is an important responsibility that absolutely deserves a lot of time and care.

The best caregivers try to use their passion for helping people to ensure that parents and grandparents can see their family’s accomplishments for as long as possible. So, even if it takes some time to find the right fit, never feel like you have to compromise safety and happiness for convenience. 

Whether you decide to find help from a home agency, hire one yourself, use state benefits to handle the fees of the services, or understand your state’s annual wage for caregivers, treat them with respect. 

So long as you are working alongside the caregiver and giving it their all, then your loved one is in capable hands.   

Sources:

  1. Home Health and Personal Care Aids, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, www.bls.gov
  2. Contact Your State With Questions, Medicaid.gov, www.medicaid.gov

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