Thinking about a career in caregiving? What you may not know is that there are many ways you can go about making a living at it. Unlike a retail or food service job that has a traditional employment structure, a caregiving job can go down a few different paths. Ultimately, the route you go makes a difference when it comes to how you get paid, how much effort you’ll have to put in, how much autonomy you’ll have, and job security.
In this article we’ll talk about the three main ways you can be employed as a caregiver as well as some pros and cons of each. Equipping yourself with this knowledge can help you make the best choice possible for your situation so you can focus on what matters – caregiving!
Working as a private caregiver for yourself (self-employed)
This option is probably the most work but offers the most freedom. If you choose to be self-employed, you have total control over what you charge, but you’re on the hook for all the financial paperwork and extra taxes (the self-employment tax is 15.3%!). You’ll also need to pay for your own medical and worker’s comp insurance (or risk financial disaster if something happens). Essentially, you’ll have your own business and have to deal with everything it takes to be successful. Finding and managing clients, invoicing and bookkeeping, and legal compliance are just a few of those tasks.
On the flip side, you have the autonomy to say yes or no to a client and to work the schedule you desire. This option works best if you have an entrepreneurial spirit and are highly organized/detail-oriented and willing to put in extra hours. Staying on top of running a business in addition to doing the work of caregiving can be a lot, and it may not be worth the freedom and control.
Working as a private caregiver as an employee
There are some families who want to hire privately and are willing to go through the process of becoming an official “employer.” To do so, they usually work with an account and a lawyer to make sure everything is compliant. You’ll collect a regular paycheck with the taxes withheld so you won’t have to worry about self-employment taxes and paperwork. Worker’s comp insurance may or may not be provided to you, so that’s a question you’ll want to ask. Benefits (if there are any) will vary depending on the family.
In this scenario, you’ll likely just have one client (or perhaps two if it’s a couple) and the family caregiver will be your supervisor. This situation can work out really well if the family caregiver is organized, communicates well, and is pleasant to work with. Managing an employee is not an easy task, and not everyone is cut out for it! Pay will also vary in this situation. In many cases, it’s the same pay rate you’d receive if you worked for an agency, possibly a bit more. But remember to factor in benefits when comparing the two.
If you are interested in working privately for a family, make sure they are doing what they need to do to stay compliant with the law. As an employee, you have certain rights, but you need to be your own advocate to ensure you’re protected.
Working for an in-home care agency
This option is the least risky and less effort on your part. With most in-home care agencies, you’re classified a regular employee. This means:
- They’ll take care of the tax withholding – you just fill out your W-4 and collect your paycheck.
- They’ll also take care of worker’s comp insurance, so if you get hurt on the job you’re covered.
- Many agencies (such as Sequoia Senior Solutions) also provide benefits like paid training, paid vacation and sick time, medical insurance, and 401K programs. This isn’t easy to find with a private family.
One thing to consider when considering an agency is that you may have more than one client or be moved around a bit depending on client needs. Many of our caregivers enjoy the variety, and the bright side of this is that you’ll have more job security. If a client cancels service, you won’t be scrambling to find work because there are more clients you can help already lined up! Or, if you need to take some time away, you’re able to do so and still have a job.
That said, this flexibility means you probably won’t have the final say in the clients you take, which is something to factor in. However, if there are problems with the client most agencies will work to resolve them or move you to a new client if necessary. When it comes to wages, working with an agency may be the lowest pay rate of the three choices, but there are a lot of indirect benefits and value you get with an agency, as well as the direct ones like medical, 401K, etc. Not having to worry about legal and tax issues is priceless!
As with any company, it’s important to do your research on any agency you’re thinking about working for. Many agencies have flexible schedules and great support from care managers, schedulers, and other staff. They’ll try to get to know you and match your skills and personality with the right client. But it’s important to ask those questions before accepting a position. Check out this article on what to look for in a great caregiving job for more info.
There are a few different ways you can go about your caregiving career – being employed either privately or by an agency, or being self-employed. The type you choose depends on how much time and effort you want to put in yourself, and how much autonomy and job security you’re looking for. Whichever route you choose, just be sure that everything is on the up and up from a legal, insurance, and tax standpoint. The consequences of not doing so are not something you want to deal with!
If you’re ready to learn more about becoming a caregiver with Sequoia Senior Solutions, visit our “Becoming a Caregiver” section and fill out our interest form today. You can also read more about professional caregiving in our recent blog posts:
Top 10 Reasons to Become a Professional Caregiver