Generally, personal support workers don’t make very much. According to the Labour Force Survey (2009), the median hourly wage for personal support workers—who are grouped by Statistics Canada with visiting homemakers, foster parents, and housekeepers—was $13.50. (This means that half of the people in this group earned less than this amount and half earned more.) This is significantly lower than the average median hourly wage for all occupations, which was $21.00.
The same survey reports that the average hourly wage for people in this occupation group was $14.30. The average salary range is between $25,000 and $35,000.
Seem dismal? It isn’t always. “What a lot of people don’t know about personal support work is that there is quite a wide salary range,” says Craig Pawlak, personal support worker and CEO of Has Care Inc. “Like in any other profession, the more experience you have and the more you do for your clients, the more you make. On the high end of the spectrum you can make well north of six figures.”
In addition to experience, where you work and for whom are also factors that affect your pay. Personal support workers who work for retirement/nursing facilities will be paid differently than those working for agencies or individual clients. If you’ve got the entrepreneurial edge, you can make more money by starting your own agency of personal support workers. As a growing number of Canadians are becoming seniors, this could be an excellent business opportunity if you have the necessary drive and skill.
When working for individual clients, what you earn depends on what they’re able to pay and what you do for them. “What’s most important is the level of services you’re willing to provide,” says Pawlak. “If you come in and sit on the couch, make her [the client] a cup of tea, and do her nails, you’re not going to make much money. It’s about what you have to offer.”