Is care the job for you?

Nurturer, giver, helper.
A good listener, a supportive friend, a generous neighbour.

If you feel like any of these words or phrases describe you, a career in caring just might be a perfect fit for you. After all, the most successful and satisfied care workers are people who feel happiest when they’ve done something helpful for someone else.

A successful career in caring is typically characterised by work experiences that leave a carer feeling fulfilled and valued because of the opportunities and the services they have provided for another person. People who make great carers often display an openness towards all different people from all different walks of life, believing that everyone deserves respect, dignity, and as many moments of happiness they can find.

If a career in caring is something you would like to explore, consider the natural talents you might bring to the job: are you a giving person who actively enjoys working with people? Do you tend to put others’ needs before your own, automatically and without regret? Do you understand your own boundaries and how to maintain them in a calm, healthy, and relationship-positive way? All of these questions are important ones to consider as you contemplate a career in caring.

Carers are a very special group of professionals who spend most of their workdays in direct contact with children, the elderly or anyone else who may be vulnerable and in need of special assistance. In addition to providing individuals and their families with emotional and practical household support, carers might help with tasks like food preparation, personal care, shopping, medications, letter-writing and bill-paying. Most carers will have a background in first aid, safety, health care and/or social care; often, carers also receive specialised training so they can provide the best care possible for individuals with certain specific needs, like dementia or developmental delays. Online courses are available to train carers as they prepare to begin their careers and then as they advance professionally, and carers are sometimes expected to work with mobile devices or computers. Once you’ve begun working as a carer, you can find resources and support at local GP surgeries, hospitals and clinics, as well as libraries and organizations created specifically with the needs of carers in mind.

Many academically-minded carers begin their careers through a college course or an apprenticeship, but you can also do some volunteering with an organisation that offers support to vulnerable people or you can simply apply directly for a carer position. Though academic prerequisites don’t typically apply to the caring profession, many employers will prefer to work with carers who have some GCSE qualifications in English and maths; it would be useful to be prepared with this information if you have a company in mind with whom you would like to work. As well, any time you have spent caring for someone close to you definitely counts as relevant caring experience.

Sometimes, working as a carer can be challenging. At times, carers need to be calm and unflappable, especially when stressful situations arise. Strong communication skills are also critical, especially if you can maintain them no matter how pressured a situation might become. Because carers often work with medical professionals and family members to determine what is best for a loved one, skills like attention to detail, patience, and flexibility are valuable as they will enable you to work well with a team of like-minded individuals.

Becoming a carer can be a wonderful decision if your personality and temperament are well-suited to the work involved. Caring for others can be a hugely rewarding profession, so if you are looking for a career that allows you to make the most of your naturally compassionate personality, look no further: a job in caring just might be the job for you.

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