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

Elderly Care Assistant

A career in care can be incredibly rewarding, and being a private carer can give 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 17,000 carer 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 an enhanced CRB check completed, 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 £25,500. 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 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.

Private care jobsNumber of available vacanciesAvg. salary
Live-in Nanny93£32,092
Elderly Care Assistant8,311£30,908
Aged Care Assistant819£29,842
Dementia Care9,660£29,224
Children’s Care Assistant6,318£28,662
Full Time Nanny74£27,969
Childcare Assistant721£25,852
Domiciliary Care Assistant2,136£23,550
Live-In Care Assistant4,333£22,633
Personal Care Assistant1,959£20,042
Au Pair393£19,561

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 and try something more traditional, such as the classifieds in long-standing magazines such as The Lady.

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 

  • £20,042 average salary
  • Current vacancies: 1,959

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 

  • £29,842 average salary
  • Current vacancies: 819

Caring for older clients that may have more sever 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.

Elderly Care Assistant 

  • £30,908 average salary
  • Current vacancies: 8,311

Working both in clients’ homes and in residential care facilities, elderly care assistants have a natural regard for people and seek to maximise the sense of dignity felt by those in their care.

Children’s Care Assistant

  • £28,662 average salary
  • Current vacancies: 6,318

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.

Childcare Assistant 

  • £25,852 average salary
  • Current vacancies: 721

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.

Full Time Nanny 

  • £27,969 average salary
  • Current vacancies: 74

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

  • £32,092 average salary
  • Current vacancies: 93

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 Care Assistant 

  • £22,633 average salary
  • Current vacancies: 4,333

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.

Domiciliary Care Assistant

  • £23,550 average salary
  • Current vacancies: 2,136

A very social care role, domiciliary carers visit clients in their own homes to help with tasks that are difficult. Mobility is often a stumbling block for those requiring this sort of care, so assisted trips out can be a very rewarding part of the job.

Au Pair 

  • £19,561 average salary
  • Current vacancies: 393

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. BTEC and NVQ qualifications are seen in a positive light as they require work experience to complete them. If you already hold a Care Certificate, that will definitely make it easier for you to find employment.

What is the Care Certificate equivalent to?

The Care Certificate is not accredited in the same way as a formal qualification, so it isn’t equivalent to anything. It is simply an industry-recognised set of standards that demonstrate a person’s suitability for the role.

It can be used to help gain a Qualifications and Curriculum Framework award, but this will involve using qualified assessors to sign off on your certificate, which is not a normal requirement.

Is the Care Certificate easy?

The Care Certificate is awarded once you have been assessed and found to meet 15 standards. It demonstrates that you have the requisite knowledge and personality to be a kind and professional carer to vulnerable people.

The criteria covered includes basic skills such as communication, all the way through to more specific areas including mental health, dementia and learning disabilities. Infection prevention and control is also assessed, as is your understanding of health and safety. The certificate is not difficult to complete but does require commitment and thought.

Any carer doing their best to provide compassionate care and enhanced dignity will find it easy to complete the assessment.

Is the Care Certificate free?

Yes, it is free to complete and valuable in terms of applying for private carer jobs.

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 self-assessment tax.
  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. Hourly rates usually start from around £15 and live-in positions will command from £500 per week, but these are just average 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.

Do self-employed carers need to be registered with CQC?

The CQC is the Care Quality Commission, an independent organisation that regulates health and social care services in the UK. It aims to ensure that everybody receives safe, effective and high-quality care and all self-employed carers providing regulated services need to be registered. Failure to do so is an offence.

Registration can be completed online and simply acts as an opportunity for relevant assessors to make sure a carer is not only fulfilling their duties, but in a manner which is appropriate. This is for the protection of vulnerable people and is a small hurdle to scale in order to offer peace of mind to clients and potential clients’ families.

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, recognised by the CQC 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. There are non-government grants available, from organisations such as the Carer’s Trust, but they are not guaranteed and are usually small one-off payments.

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 CQC registration and 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.

In the UK, live-in care positions are advertised as starting, on average, at around £500 per week. This will usually include food and utilities, but travel costs incurred during the working day can often be extra.

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.