Care Assistant

The Job and What's Involved

As a care assistant, care worker or social care worker, you would provide practical help with daily activities to people with a range of difficulties. You could work with children, people with physical or learning disabilities, older people or families.

You could work with clients in their own homes, in sheltered housing, day centres or in residential settings such as nursing homes. Your exact duties may vary depending on the type of setting, but could include:

  • Getting to know individual clients and being aware of their special interests and social needs.
  • Supporting clients with daily personal care such as washing, dressing, using the toilet and feeding themselves.
  • Carrying out general tasks such as housework, laundry and shopping.
  • Helping clients organise their budget, pay bills and write letters.
  • Helping families adjust to new caring responsibilities.
  • Working with other health and social care professionals to deliver individual care and development plans.
  • Helping to organise recreational activities.
  • Escorting clients to and from the residential home (for example, young people attending a local college).

You could also work as a 'personal assistant', which involves working closely with one disabled person to support them in their day-to-day life.

Your working hours are likely to include weekends. In residential settings, you would usually cover a rota that involves occasional overnight stays, and in some jobs you may need to live in. Part-time hours are frequently available.

Your employer will usually provide you with protective clothing such as gloves and tabards.

If you work in the community you may need to travel between clients' homes.

Starting salaries can be between around £12,000 and £16,000 a year. With experience, qualifications and extra responsibilities or specialist support worker skills this may rise to between £18,000 and £21,000.

In some cases, free or subsidised accommodation is provided. Night shifts and weekend working may attract an higher hourly rate.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

It would be useful to have experience in a caring role, perhaps through volunteering or with your own family. Previous experience is likely to be essential if you plan to work with people who have mental health issues or learning disabilities.

You can find out about volunteering opportunities in your area through the Volunteering England website.

Education and Training

When you apply for a job, you would have a medical check and you would also need Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) to make sure that you are suitable to work with children and vulnerable adults.

To work in the community, some employers will expect you to have a driving licence because you are likely to have clients in a number of different locations.

You may be able to get into this job through an Apprenticeship scheme. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work, Careers Wales; and for Northern Ireland contact

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Once you start work as a care assistant you will receive on-the-job training from your employer, which will often include working closely with experienced colleagues. You may also attend external courses on issues surrounding hygiene, health and safety, and lifting techniques.

If you work in adult social care in England you will be expected to take part in a 12-week induction programme provided by your employer. This will be based on a set of national minimum standards of care, which cover areas such as:

1. Principles of care.

2. Understanding your role as a care worker.
3. Safety.

4. Communication skills.

5. Recognising and responding to abuse and neglect.

6. Developing as a care worker.

If you work with children or support people with learning disabilities you will also have to meet additional standards.

You may also be encouraged to work towards NVQ levels 2 and 3 in Health and Social Care.

Featured Job Guide - Laboratory Technician

Laboratory Technician

Laboratory technicians carry out routine laboratory tests and perform a variety of technical support functions to help scientists, technologists and others with their work. They can work in research and development, scientific analysis and testing, education and manufacturing.

They are employed in a wide range of scientific fields which affect almost every aspect of our lives.


Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A care assistant needs:

  • A friendly and caring approach.
  • A genuine desire to help people.
  • The ability to relate to people from a wide variety of backgrounds.
  • Tact and sensitivity.
  • A respectful approach to clients.
  • Patience and a sense of humour.
  • Reliability and flexibility.
  • Team working skills and the ability to work on your own initiative.
  • The ability to work within health and safety guidelines.
  • The ability to remain calm under pressure.

Your Long Term Prospects

You could progress to a senior care assistant or supervisor job. With experience and qualifications in care, you may be able to move into social work or nursing.

You could work with local authority social services departments, private agencies providing care services, or voluntary organisations.

Get Further Information

Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC)

Skills for Care (England),
Albion Court, 5 Albion Place, Leeds LS1 6JL
Tel: 0113 245 1716

Care Council for Wales (CCW)

Other Related Jobs

Additional resources