How to become a Personal Assistant (PA)

Social care Personal Assistants

A Personal Assistant is employed to provide everyday care and support to people of all ages, with different needs and from all communities. This may include personal and domestic care, support to get out and about, as well as other day to day activities. Using a Personal Assistant offers the individual more control over their support. This is because they get to decide when and how they would like to be supported.

Below are the basic steps to becoming a Personal Assistant. The steps also explain how the process is different for employed Personal Assistants and self-employed Personal Assistants.

The Personal Assistant Team can provide further information on this. You can contact us by emailing: 

Becoming a Personal Assistant

Employed Personal Assistants

  • Sign up on the PA register by contacting the PA Team on
  • Attend interview with service user
  • Provide references to be checked by service user
  • Provide documents to service user for DBS Check to be carried out – Personal Assistant Team submits the DBS Check on the service user’s behalf
  • Agree start date and salary
  • Read and sign employment contract
  • Provide bank details to service user
  • Undertake any necessary training

Self-Employed Personal Assistants

  • Sign up on the PA register by contacting the PA Team on
  • Complete self-employed declaration showing that you declare your earnings to HMRC
  • Meet service user to understand their needs and whether it fits your services
  • Agree terms of service and client rate
  • Provide current DBS Certificate or required documents to service user for DBS Check to be carried out – the Personal Assistant Team will submit the DBS Check on the service user’s behalf
  • Provide a copy of your own Public Liability Insurance to the service user
  • Inform the service user of your HMRC-issued self-assessment registration number. The service user will then confirm to Reading Borough Council that they have seen this

Skills and qualifications

No specific qualifications, training or experience is needed to become a Personal Assistant.

The service user looking for a Personal Assistant will explain any required skills that are important for the role. As with any job, they may be looking for a Personal Assistant with particular values and attitude such as reliability, understanding, empathy and willingness to learn.

Before applying for a job, read the advert and job description carefully so that you’re happy the job is right for you. For example, you might decide not to apply for a job that involves going swimming twice a week if you don’t like water.

If you think that being a social care Personal Assistant might be right for you, you can take part in a simple quiz on the Skills for Care website.

The job role

As a Personal Assistant, you’ll work directly with one or more individuals to support them with various aspects of their daily life.

The role of a Personal Assistant is extremely varied, and no two jobs will ever be the same. Some examples of the kind of support you might provide are:

  • Support with dressing and personal hygiene
  • Support with attending medical appointments and administration of medication
  • Support with preparing meals
  • Support with going out and about
  • Support with household chores such as washing, cooking and cleaning

Your role might not involve all these tasks – it may be that your employer wants support with just one of them.

Personal care

Some Personal Assistants may carry out personal care, but not always. It depends on the needs of the individual you are supporting. Reading Borough Council offers a range of free training to help you feel more confident in your role.

What makes it a rewarding role

As a Personal Assistant, you’re employed directly by the individual, so you support them for the time they need. This also means you can build a longer-term professional relationship with your employer and choose an employer who shares similar interests with you.

Individual employers might need support with different parts of their life, at different times of the day. This means you can find a job with hours to suit when you’re able to work, around your other commitments.

You can also work for more than one person if you want to, making it a varied career. You can provide a wide range of support for individual employers who want or need different things.


Personal Assistants are employed directly by the person who needs care and support. This person is the Personal Assistant’s employer (and is often referred to as an ‘individual employer’).

You can be employed directly by several different individual employers. As the role of a Personal Assistant is tailored to the individual employer’s needs, some Personal Assistants work as part of a team and some work as the only Personal Assistant supporting the individual.

Some Personal Assistants choose to be self-employed, to give them more control over when and how they work. More information on the difference between being an employee and a self-employed person.

If you know the person that you want to be a Personal Assistant for, keep in mind that unless it is agreed otherwise by the council, they cannot employ:

You cannot be employed by any of the following people, unless agreed otherwise by the Council:

  • a husband/wife/registered civil partner/partner
  • a close member of the family (including cohabiting partners, parents, parent-in-law, aunts, uncles, grandparents, children [step/adoptive/foster children], brothers/sisters or the spouse or partner of any close member of the family)
  • anyone living in the same household.

Working elsewhere

You can have as many jobs as you want, as long as:

  • there are no restrictions in your employment contracts,
  • and you work fewer than 48 hours a week (or opt-out of the working time directive.)

As being a Personal Assistant is so flexible, many people work as a Personal Assistant part-time whilst keeping their main, full-time job.

DBS checks

If you are employed to work as a Personal Assistant with children, it is a legal requirement to have a clear DBS check.

It is not a legal requirement for adults to carry out a DBS check for their Personal Assistant. We do recommend all individual employers make this a requirement for any Personal Assistant they employ.


The amount you will be paid will depend on each individual employer and what has been agreed in their Personal Budget.


The hours you will work will be agreed with you by the individual employer. You can also work for multiple individual employers. You can’t work more than 48 hours a week unless you choose to opt-out of the working time directive.

Holiday pay and maternity leave

As an employee, you are entitled to holiday pay, maternity leave, paternity leave and other forms of statutory pay and leave.

If you are self-employed, you are not entitled to holiday pay or maternity leave. Usually a self-employed person’s fees are higher than an employee’s hourly wage to reflect this. You may be eligible for maternity allowance from the government.

If you have any questions around statutory pay and leave, ask your employer or contact their payroll provider.


As an employee, you can ask your employer to put you into a pension scheme. If you are age 22 up to state pension age, and earn over:

  • £10,000 per year,
  • £833 per month,
  • or £192 per week,

you will be put into a pension scheme by your employer, and you will both contribute to it.

You can choose to leave the pension scheme at any time.

If you have any questions about being in a pension scheme, ask your employer or their payroll provider.


If you have a disagreement with your employer or have concerns about your rights as an employee, contact ACAS.

Helpline: 0300 123 1100

Last updated on 10/05/2024