Is a Career in Assisted Living Right for You?

If you've long wanted a career in the nursing field but aren't sure you'd fit in well in a hospital environment and are reluctant to work at a nursing home, you may want to consider a job in an assisted-living community. These communities cater to seniors who desire to remain independent but may need a bit of help with daily tasks, like dressing, bathing, or taking medicine. With more and more Baby Boomers hitting their Social Security years (and predicted to be the longest-living generation yet), the number of assisted-living jobs available is likely to increase exponentially in the near future. Read on to learn more about the careers available in the assisted-living field and which may be the right choice for you.

What jobs are available at an assisted-living facility?

There are several types of nursing-related jobs available at most assisted-living facilities, and you may be able to work your way up the ladder as you gain education and experience.

  • Certified nursing assistant (CNA)

Becoming a CNA is one of the quickest paths to a healthcare career in many states, requiring only a high school diploma or GED and a short training course available at most vocational and community colleges. CNAs spend the most one-on-one time with assisted living residents, helping them with bathing and feeding, administering medicine, changing bandages, and even changing bedsheets. 

CNAs are generally the lowest-paid workers in an assisted living facility, earning an average of just under $11.00 per hour or around $23,000 per year. However, the low barrier to entry in these jobs (and the ability to work shifts around a school schedule) can help you pick up another degree and dramatically increase your earnings after moving to a job with more responsibility and decision-making duties. 

  • Registered nurse (RN)

In addition to the CNAs who provide basic care and assistive services to patients, most assisted-living facilities have at least one RN on staff during each shift. These nurses have at least an associate's degree and sometimes a bachelor's degree, and must pass a licensing exam in order to obtain employment. RNs have a more active role in the management of a patient's health conditions, and can educate patients on their medication regimen and assist doctors in providing medical care to ill or disabled patients. 

RNs can be significantly more well paid than CNAs, with the average RN earning about $66,000 per year plus benefits. Although your shifts will usually be longer than the traditional 9 to 5, you'll usually have a generous amount of time off to help you mentally and physically recuperate.

How can you know whether you'll enjoy a career in assisted living?

Becoming a CNA or an RN in an assisted-living facility can be a challenging and rewarding role. You'll be responsible for providing the seniors in your care with an environment that is as comfortable and stress-free as possible. Because you'll see the same patients on a daily basis, you'll experience both joy and heartbreak as you form strong ties with fun and interesting individuals and spend the last few minutes of a patient's life providing comfort and support. You'll also spend the majority of your shift on your feet, providing direct assistance to patients who may not be able to stand or walk on their own.

In order to pursue a career in the assisted-living field, you'll want to make sure you can handle both the highs and lows that come with this type of work environment as well as the sometimes onerous physical demands of a highly mobile job. However, those who work in assisted-living homes often find it to be one of the most rewarding work experiences around, allowing them to forge bonds with those they might never have otherwise encountered. Look for an assisted living career Rapid City, SD, or your local area today.