What does a Caretaker do?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Caretakers are professionals who are charged with the task of looking after property, assets, or individuals at the request of an employer. Caretaker jobs can be short-term arrangements with specified start and end dates, or be structured as a long-term employment opportunity. The scope of responsibilities will vary, depending on the type of position offered and the duties assigned by the employer.

Caretakers might care for sick children while parents are working.
Caretakers might care for sick children while parents are working.

The most common form of caretaking job is that of a property caretaker. A position of this type involves caring for the buildings and grounds of a specific piece of property. It is not unusual for the individual charged with this responsibility to reside on the premises, sometimes in living quarters assigned in the main structure. More often, the caretaking professional will occupy a small dwelling that is located in some area of the property that is removed from the main building.

Property caretakers may oversee the grounds at a cemetery.
Property caretakers may oversee the grounds at a cemetery.

In some cases, the caretaker job is a short-term arrangement. For example, people who will be away from their homes for several months may choose to hire someone to handle maintenance tasks in their absence. This can include tasks such as collecting mail, paying utility bills on behalf of the owner, maintaining the grounds, and in general giving the property the appearance of being occupied. Utilizing caretaking services for this type of short-term application helps to discourage break-ins as well as ensure that the home and grounds are in good condition when the owner does return.

Long-term caretaking positions are not uncommon with larger estates. In this type of situation, the caretaker is likely to live on the premises in assigned quarters and see to the daily maintenance of gardens, plumbing, wiring, and other aspects of the property. It is common for people who want an inviting home but do not wish to handle the details of maintenance to hire caretaking professionals who handle the day to day tasks of running the estate. This can include basic maintenance tasks, as well as oversee the process of securing outside assistance when and as needed.

A different type of caretaker job has to do with caring for an individual who is unable to function without assistance. Sometimes referred to as caregiving, this type of caretaking responsibility may include helping people who are ill or infirm to dress, eat, and attend to personal hygiene. Additional duties may include running errands, and transporting the client to and from doctor appointments. A personal caretaker may live at the residence of the client, or maintain a separate residence and work a specific number of hours each day.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


There are non-profit jobs out there as well. I am the current caretaker of a non-profit.


I can't imagine being wealthy enough to have an estate large enough I would need to hire someone to take care of it! That just sounds crazy to me. I suppose I can imagine being in a position to hire a caretaker housesitter, but that would only be a temporary employee.

I wonder how much money caretakers make, especially the ones who live on the property? Because they're definitely getting an added benefit of free housing, in addition to their salary.


@KaBoom - You're right, that type of caretaker employment does sound like something a Certified Nursing Assistant would do. I've also seen caretaking jobs like that advertised that didn't require any certification though. Usually it would be for an older person that wasn't ill, but needed some help.

Either way, I don't think I would enjoy any kind of live in caretaker position. You would basically never leave work! It sounds like you could be called on to do something at any hour, if the person you're taking care of needs help or something breaks on the property. I personally like to be able to leave work at the end of the day!


It sounds like a personal caretaking job is equivalent to the duties of some Certified Nursing Assistants. I have a friend who is a CNA, and she was hired by a family to take care of an elderly person who was terminally ill.

Her job was basically to keep the patient comfortable. She administered medication, but she also helped the patient with basic hygiene. In addition, she did basic household tasks, like light cleaning and doing the laundry.

My friend was paid fairly well for this job, probably more than she would have gotten if she went through an agency.


I knew someone who worked in a property caretaker job and boy was it a good gig! Now, this was a little more than just looking after a house that was sitting empty. The guy had to maintain a "plantation," which in that part of Georgia these days often means a hunting retreat. So there was a lot of acreage and several buildings.

A lot of the plantations are public, but this one was private. The guy and his family usually had the place to themselves and he was able to have guests over for things like skeet shooting. Naturally, when the owner was coming, he had to get the place ready. He had special expertise in land and wildlife management (I forget what kind of degree).

Mostly, I say it was a nice gig because although it was certainly a full-time job, it was a beautiful property that he usually had the run of and came with free housing - a very nice cottage for his family.

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