Caregivers, often referred to as Home Health Aides or Personal Care Aides, assist individuals who have a hard time performing basic activities of daily living (ADL). These activities include bathing, eating, toileting, and dressing.
There are multiple occupations that fall under the “caregiver” category. The most common caregiver occupations include in-home caregivers and long-term care nurses. In-home caregivers provide personal care to seniors in their homes. These individuals tend to be employees for a private health care agency or self-employed. They usually travel between different homes, helping the elderly residents with basic daily tasks.
Long-term care nurses are usually employed at a long-term care facility. These facilities include assisted living, memory care, retirement home, and independent living. Long-term care nurses are often paid more compared to in-home caregivers.
When job searching, it is important to understand how much you can expect to receive as a senior caregiver. This article compares the average base wages and salaries of home health and personal care aides in the United States. By the end, you will have a better understanding of caregiver salaries and what to keep in mind before accepting a job in this industry.
Expected Job Growth For Home Health and Personal Care Aides
Home health and personal care aides were among one of the largest occupations in metropolitan areas in 2019. This industry is growing fast, which means there is plenty of demand for new workers.
New York state has the highest projected job growth between 2018 and 2028, with an expected increase of 66%. The national average job outlook for home health and personal care aides is 37% growth in the same 10-year span.
This chart shows the expected growth rates for this occupation in each state for the years 2018 to 2028:
Home health and personal care aides are some of the strongest and fastest-growing occupations in the United States. This is mostly due to rising demand as Baby Boomers, the generation born from 1946 to 1964 after World War II, are starting to get older. The older boomers will turn 74 this year, and by 2030, all Baby Boomers will be 65 or older.
With this high demand, you should have a relatively easy time finding a job in this industry. There is an endless number of families, health care agencies, and long-term care facilities looking for caregivers to hire. Now, let’s break down the difference in pay between in-home caregivers and long-term care nurses.
In-Home Caregiver Wages
In-home caregivers are personal aides who provide care in the private homes that the seniors live in. These caregivers can be self-employed (independent caregivers/contractors) or employed under a private senior care agency.
Before you decide what job you are looking for, it is important to understand the major differences between these professions. Independent in-home caregivers are self-employed. This means you will be required to take on all of the responsibilities (mainly taxes and insurance) that come with being self-employed. This option gives you more flexibility with your hours and the care you provide but can be much more stressful when it comes to managing your finances.
If you are a standard in-home caregiver (that is, you work for a private agency), you are considered an employee. This means that your employer takes on most of the documentation responsibilities while you focus on providing top-level care to senior citizens. Although you have less control over the hours you work, the seniors you care for, and the services you provide, this is a good middle ground between being self-employed and working at a facility.
The national average for in-home caregivers’ base salary is $27,014, and the base hourly wage is $11.60. Rhode Island offers the highest pay to these workers at an astounding base salary of $65,983. That is 144% higher than the national average!
On the other hand, Florida offers the lowest salary to these workers with a salary of only $20,525, which is 24% lower than the national average. However, Florida’s base wages have a wide range of $8.10-15.15, which suggests there is plenty of room for growth in pay through promotions and general pay increases.
The chart below shows the average base average wage and salary compared to the national average for each state.
|State||Average Hourly Wage||Salary||National Average Comparison|
|New Hampshire||$14.67||$34,172||26% higher|
|New Jersey||$10.56||$24,591||9% lower|
|New Mexico||$12.73||$29,656||10% higher|
|New York||$15.58||$36,295||34% higher|
|North Carolina||$10.86||$25,288||6% lower|
|North Dakota||$13.23||$30,820||14% higher|
|Rhode Island||$28.32||$65,983||144% higher|
|South Carolina||$10.34||$24,098||11% lower|
|South Dakota||$12.56||$29,255||8% higher|
|West Virginia||$10.18||$23,711||12% lower|
In-home caregivers often receive multiple employment benefits, including: paid sick time, health insurance, 401(k) plans, paid time off, vision insurance, mileage reimbursement, dental insurance, and tuition reimbursement.
These cities are the highest-rated cities for in-home caregivers in 2021:
- Vancouver, WA
- Los Angeles, CA
- Sacramento, CA
- Long Beach, CA
- Chicago, IL
- Phoenix, AZ
- Springfield, MO
- Dallas, TX
Keep in mind that, although the pay is higher in some states, this is usually linked to higher living expenses. For instance, Hawaii has a 95% higher cost of living compared to the national average, while Mississippi has a 15% lower cost of living.
Long-Term Care Nurse Wages
Long-term care nurses differ from in-home caregivers in that they don’t go to a person’s home to provide care. Instead, they work at a long-term care facility and have set hours and procedures that they are expected to abide by.
On average, long-term care nurses are paid more than in-home caregivers. This is mostly due to them working for larger corporations compared to in-home caregivers who often work for private families with limited funds.
The national average base salary for long-term care nurses is $29,425, while the average base hourly wage is $12.58. Employers usually provide the same employment benefits to these workers as they do for in-home caregivers.
Washington state offers the highest salary for long-term care nurses, with an average base salary of $38,948, which is 32% higher than the national average. The lowest paying state is Louisiana, with a base salary of $21,076 at 28% lower than the national average.
This chart shows the average base hourly wage and salary for long-term care nurses compared to the national average in the United States:
|State||Average Hourly Wage||Salary||National Average Comparison|
|New Jersey||$13.58||$31,764||8% higher|
|New Mexico||$11.60||$27,137||8% lower|
|North Carolina||$11.13||$26,041||12% lower|
|Rhode Island||$16.23||$37,977||29% higher|
|South Carolina||$10.65||$24,916||15% lower|
|West Virginia||$10.15||$23,745||19% lower|
In this occupation, years of experience play a major role in how much you will likely be paid. This is because the more experience and training you have, the higher level of care you can provide and the more seniors you can care for. Some elderly individuals have more health risks and are more difficult to care for compared to others. You will need plenty of experience and training to care for these seniors.
In-Home Caregiver Salaries VS Long-Term Care Nurse Salaries
In-home caregivers and long-term care nurses are often not paid the same, and both professions come with their own responsibilities and advantages. Rhode Island offers the biggest pay difference between the two professionals with an average difference of $10,451, while Iowa has the smallest average difference of $16.
This chart shows the difference between the average base salary of in-home caregivers and the average base salary of long-term care nurses in each state.
|State||In-Home Caregiver Salary||Professional Caregiver Salary||Difference|
Before You Become A Caregiver…
Finding the right job can be stressful and difficult. It is important to be sure that the job you are looking for is the right job for you. Understand the following points to confirm that caregiving is the right occupation for you.
- Understand The Difference Between Each Type of Caregiving Job. Then, Decide Which One Works Best For You: Independent caregivers have more control over their hours and the services they provide but are often paid less. Long-term care nurses have very little control of the hours they work and the services they provide. Although, these workers tend to be paid more. A good middle ground between these two occupations is an in-home caregiver that works for a private agency.
- Know What Duties You Will Be Expected To Perform: Before you start looking for jobs, it is important to understand the daily duties that you will have as a caregiver. These duties often include helping the elderly with activities of daily living (ADL), including:
- Be Prepared For The Challenges of Caregiving: As a caregiver, you will be performing one of the most fulfilling and heart-warming jobs on the planet. However, this job can be very difficult at times. It is important to understand that being a caregiver comes with major emotional and mental challenges. Be aware of these challenges and make sure you will be able to withstand them before accepting a job.
❝Caregiving often calls us to lean into love we didn’t know possible.❞ -Tim Walker
Caregiving is one of the best occupations to go into right now. The industry is very strong, and the demand is rising very quickly. There are a ton of different types of home health and personal care occupations to choose from, but the most common are: in-home caregivers and long-term care nurses.
These occupations come with their own pros and cons. It is important that you know the difference between the professions so that you can decide which one works best for you. Before searching for a job, understand your wants and needs so that you can find the perfect job quickly and stress-free.