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Becoming a Self-Employed Private Carer: Everything You Need to Know

A career as a private carer can be incredibly rewarding while giving you access to increased employment flexibility as well as excellent pay and a sense of accomplishment.

What you’ll learn in this article

How do I start a career in care?

The easiest way is to simply dive in and apply for some roles. There are currently more than 500 care-related vacancies listed on Adzuna, with varying degrees of experience and qualifications needed, but if you’d prefer to dip your tie in the water before committing, you could look for volunteer roles.

As long as you have completed your police check, you should be able to find an experienced carer that will let you shadow them, to get a feel for what the work really entails, on a day-to-day basis.

How much does a full-time carer get paid?

The national average wage for a full-time carer is currently $77,806. This takes into account various specialities and seniority levels and usually, within a fixed organisation setting, such as a care home. Self-employed carers have the opportunity to earn very well, as they can set their own rates according to experience and hours being worked.

Looking at the most popular care jobs we see that live-in nannies, elderly, and dementia care roles seem to be the most well-paid with an average salary over £30,000, while au pairs are being offered just below £20,000. Please note that salary and vacancy information is correct as of March 2020.

How to find a private carer job?

Finding a private carer job has never been easier. Obviously, a good place to start is right here on Adzuna, but you can also go direct to private care agencies.

What are the different types of private care jobs that you can look for?

Care roles come in many formats, with some needing more experience and expertise than others, but what are the main types and which is, potentially, right for you? Take a look at the following and see which might be a good fit.

Personal Care Assistant 

  • $60,880 average salary
  • Current vacancies: 306

Helping clients within their own homes and giving assistance with day-to-day living is what being a personal care assistant is all about. Cleaning, personal hygiene, cooking and shopping are regular duties and contribute to service users retaining some all-important independence.

Aged Care Assistant 

  • $86,737average salary
  • Current vacancies: 3552

Caring for older clients that may have more severe mobility and mental health needs, including dementia care. This is a role that takes patience, experience and a lot of compassion and is often recruited for on behalf of specialist facilities.

Children’s Care Assistant

  • $58,560 average salary
  • Current vacancies: 18

Caring for children with a range of complex needs, including learning and behavioural difficulties is a rewarding career, but can be emotionally tough. This is not usually a first role for a new carer and many vacancies are for live-in professionals, at dedicated facilities. On-home roles are not common.

Working in childcare is challenging and fun and requires you to wear a few different hats. Nutritionist, teacher and playmate are some of the most common, while being vigilant about health and safety.

Part Time Nanny 

  • $49,440 average salary
  • Current vacancies: 16

Often including some housekeeping duties, nanny positions require suitably qualified and vetted carers who enjoy spending time with children. Creative people flourish in these roles, as cooking and homework help is usually needed.

Live-in Nanny

  • $47,200 average salary
  • Current vacancies: 15

Mastering the art of being part of the family but unobtrusive is not easy but that’s why the best live-in nannies can command a good salary. Household tasks will be a major part of the working day, but perks can include being taken on holidays and access to a vehicle.

Live-In Carer 

  • $141,101 average salary
  • Current vacancies: 14

Being on hand all the time is not an easy task, but it can be very rewarding, especially when you’ve built a relationship with a client. Your day will normally be spent assisting with everyday tasks, ensuring comfort and reacting to needs as they arise.

Au Pair 

  • $12,960 average salary
  • Current vacancies: 31

Au pairs usually live-in and help with all aspects of childcare and housework. Clients often look for some special skills, such as multiple languages or a gift for sports, so you can help teach the children.

Do you need qualifications to be a carer?

There are very few formal qualification requirements to be a good carer, as much of the job comes down to your physical capabilities and your personality. A compassionate person with vocational experience only could, in this sector, be a more sought-after candidate than a university-educated individual with no hands-on participation.

That said, a good standard of numeracy and literacy always helps, and healthcare qualifications can prove very useful, too. If you already hold a Certificate III, that will definitely make it easier for you to find employment.

How do I go self-employed as a carer?

In terms of how to become a private carer, just as with any self-employed venture, there are a number of steps to progress through. These will include:

  1. Checking that you have the right qualifications and references to be able to work for yourself in the care sector.
  2. Ensuring you own all relevant equipment and can demonstrate a clear record of when it was last checked and serviced.
  3. Set up your business and register for ABN (Australian Business Number).
  4. Meet any and all insurance requirements.
  5. Decide on your hourly or day/night rate.
  6. Look for clients.

This might sound simple, but you will need to spend plenty of time ensuring that you have the right liability insurance in place, as well as a current enhanced CRB disclosure.

How much do private carers get paid?

As self-employed people, private carers can set their own rates, but there are some industry-wide recognised baselines. You can take the average industry figures and specialist carers can charge more for their services.

It’s worth remembering that private carers are liable for their own bookkeeping and taxes.

What does a private carer do?

A private carer is somebody who works for themselves, not an agency care home or the government. They set their own hours and rates and decide who they want to work for and when.

Many private carers choose to keep a number of clients on a long-term basis, with regular set hours that fit into their lives and still afford the right levels of care for each client. Experienced carers will often choose to specialise in certain areas of care, such as dementia or disability assistance, investing in a suitable vehicle and continued training.

Carers take on a number of duties, ranging from basic shopping and in-home support through to total care with dignity and hygiene assistance included. The level of care provided is up to the carer.

Although working on a freelance basis, private carers can easily attain full-time hours.

Can a family member be a paid carer?

This is a tricky area. On the one hand, yes, family members can be paid carers, but only if they are a registered professional and in possession of the right experience and qualifications. There are no shortcuts here. If the circumstances are not correct and above board, the answer is a firm no – family members cannot be paid as private carers.

Family members can be carers and receive Carer’s Allowance benefit payments, if they are eligible.

Can I get a grant for being a carer?

Most financial support for carers, when not employed as a private businessperson, comes in the form of Carer’s Allowance.

Can a live-in carer be self-employed?

Yes. Just like visiting carers, live-ins can be self-employed and responsible for their own rates, taxes and responsibilities. Many people find it easier to deal with individuals than care agencies, which can prove far more expensive.

Any self-employed live-in carer will be subject to appropriate service-level checks.

How many hours can a live-in carer work?

Many live-in carers struggle to manage their time and to know what they are reasonably allowed in terms of hours to themselves. The rule of thumb is that carers can work up to 10 hours a day, but always need two hours off for personal breaks. These can be decided between the carer and their client.

As a live-in assistant, should anything unpredictable happen, of course, you would be on hand to help, but nobody is expected to work through the night. A regular working day of between eight and 10 hours is usual, with breaks included and an uninterrupted night.

How much should a live-in carer be paid?

If a carer works for an agency, the management will set the rate paid. This will usually be higher than that of a self-employed individual as there will be administration and business costs to take into account.

Does a live-in carer pay rent?

Not normally, no. It is usual for a live-in carer to not be expected to contribute to the running costs of the property, from rent to utility bills, within reason. If a separate self-contained dwelling is provided, nearby to the client’s home, this might become something that is chargeable.

Whatever your skill set, there could be an amazing career waiting for you within the private care world, so who do you want to work with and when will you get started? Check out out our Value My CV tool to see if you have transferable skills to become a private carer.