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3. Home Health and Personal Care Aide

The nitty-gritty: Home health aides assist the elderly, ill or disabled with daily activities ranging from bathing and dressing to running errands. Other duties might include light housekeeping, laundry, companionship, grocery shopping, preparing meals and monitoring medications. The jobs may be at the client's home or at an assisted living or nursing home facility. Home health workers also take vital signs, administer drugs and operate medical equipment. A personal home care aide has similar responsibilites, minus the medical duties, with no license required. This work can be physical if you're needed to lift patients. Both personal care and home health aides top the Bureau of Labor statistics rankings of fastest-growing occupations, with rates of 70 and 69 percent growth expected between 2010 and 2020, respectively.

Median pay range: $9.70 an hour. With experience and professional certification this can go up to $35-plus an hour.

Qualifications: Short-term or on-the-job training is the norm. Some states require formal training, which is offered at community colleges, vocational schools and home health care agencies. Home health aides who work for agencies that receive reimbursement from Medicare or Medicaid must get a minimum level of training and pass a competency evaluation or receive state certification. Training includes learning about personal hygiene, reading and recording vital signs, fighting infections, and overall diet and nutrition. Aides can be certified by the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC). Although certification is not always required, employers prefer to hire certified aides. States may conduct criminal background checks on prospective aides. Some employers may require a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certification. CPR training and a driver's license are helpful too. Contact local care facilities and home care staffing agencies for job openings and training requirements. Word of mouth within a community or area physicians who have an elderly patient population can offer job leads.

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