How to become a nanny

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Nannies take care of kids in their own homes, or client’s homes.

They watch over them and keep them safe, entertain them with games and toys, and foster educational activities to nourish their growing minds.

To find nanny jobs, start by asking around among people you know. Also, check online websites like craigslist.org or sign up for a profile with Care.com to look for nanny jobs in your area.

Here's what you need to know before becoming a nanny:

What is a nanny?

A nanny is a person hired to care for children, usually young children who are not yet school-aged. 

Traditionally, the term nanny has applied to women. A more gender-neutral term that has gained popularity in recent years is “child care provider”—literally, someone who provides care for children.

Nannies can work in their own home or in the home’s of their clients, depending on the work arrangement that they prefer. 

Those who work in their own home often do so because they have their own family to take care of. Running their nannying business out of their home gives them the opportunity to make money while also caring for their family.

Those who work out of the homes of their clients will often also perform other roles for the family, such as housekeeping, etc. 

Nannies can work full-time or part-time hours for their clients, depending on the needs of the client. For example, parents might hire a nanny for full-time hours between the hours of 8am and 5pm, when they are at work and need childcare. Because these nannies can only tend to one family at a time, they often charge higher rates than those who watch the children of multiple families at once. Alternatively, a family might only need a nanny on certain days of the week. In either case, their schedules tend to be consistent and regular. 

Babysitting and nannying are not the same thing. Babysitters are usually hired out on an as-need basis and for an hourly rate. Babysitters may watch children in their home or their client’s homes, and they may work any hours but especially during the evening.


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What kind of tasks do nannies do?

Most nannies will perform a mix of the following tasks:

  • Supervise children and monitoring them for safety
  • Prepare meals and snacks
  • Change diapers
  • Administer medication to children
  • Organize games and activities
  • Help children with hygiene, such as brushing their teeth or bathing
  • Plan and initiate naps and nap times
  • Help children learn through reading or educational games
  • Teach children good manners
  • Drive children to appointments or activities
  • Care for sick children in some cases

Nannies who care for infants will need to be much more hands on in their care than nannies who care for older children. They will typically be responsible for feeding, bathing, and changing diapers, amongst other tasks such as entertaining the child. Nannies of older children typically act more in a supervisory role, and it is not uncommon for nannies of middle- and high-school aged kids to spend a lot of time running the children to activities and appointments. 

Because nannies are self-employed, they will also need to perform basic bookkeeping tasks themselves, such as tracking payments and keeping track of information for their taxes. They may also have to pay quarterly taxes on their income, and they would likely need to spend some time getting their daycare licensed and making sure their license and registration is up to date.

Nannies who work in their clients’ homes may perform other tasks for the family, such as housekeeping and laundry. They may also be asked to come along on family vacation and run errands such as picking up dry cleaning and grocery shopping.

What qualifications do you need to be a nanny?

The requirements to become a nanny really depend on the type of nanny position and where you work. 

For example, many states require childcare workers to be licensed, even if they are operating out of a private home. Usually, licensure will require passing a background check. It will also often require that you have completed a standard list of immunizations, and have completed a minimum level of training. 

Learn more about what is involved with a background check, and how to make sure yours is clean in this post.

Some states require childcare workers to earn a credential such as the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential offered by the Council for Professional Recognition. This credential requires some coursework along with childcare experience. 

Licensure may also require you to complete CPR and first aid certification. Even if this is not required, many families prefer to hire nannies who have their CPR, first aid, and swimming and water safety certifications. A number of organizations offer certification programs in these areas. Those offered by the Red Cross are amongst the most common and well-recognized.

It’s also possible to earn optional certifications which, while not required, will help you bolster your resume and stand out from the competition. The National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC), for example, offers a popular credential. Likewise, the US Nanny Association offers three certifications you may want to consider:

  • Nanny and Childcare Provider (NCP) Certification
  • Newborn and Infant Care Professional (NICP) Certification
  • Professional Nanny and Childcare Provider Credential (PNCP) Certification

This may sound like a lot of work, but it’s important to remember these requirements don’t exist in every state. Make sure to check your state’s requirements for child care workers before you sign up for a program.

That said, these credentials can help you qualify for nannying job — especially safety certifications like CPR and first aid certification. 

While not required, completing an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in early childhood education can also help you stand out from the pack, and might even empower you to command a higher salary. If you don’t want to earn a degree, completing courses such as water-safety classes, infant care classes, or special needs courses can likewise improve your hireability. 

Because you will be working with children, and may be working in client homes, it’s very common to need to submit to a background check to ensure you haven’t been convicted of any felonies. Some clients or employers might even run a credit check. In either case, it’s a good idea to know what’s on both of those reports so you can either take steps to correct mistakes or else just be prepared to speak to any questions your potential clients or employers might have. 

How to find and hire a nanny

What skills do you need to be a nanny or childcare provider?

In addition to any licensing or credential requirements, there are some personality traits that help with being a nanny. It is extremely helpful to have great communication skills since you’ll be dealing with both parents and children, for example. It also helps to have a lot of patience and the physical stamina to care for children all day long.

Finally, you need to be able to follow the instructions of either your employer or parents that pay you for childcare. And since you’ll be making many decisions throughout the course of a day, it also helps to have excellent analytical and decision-making skills.

If you will be running your own nannying or childcare business, it’s also a good idea to have at least a basic understanding of bookkeeping. This will make it much easier come tax time, when you will need to report not only your income for the year but also your job-related expenses. 

How much does a nanny make in a year?

How much you’ll earn as a nanny depends on an array of factors such as the type of job you take, whether you open your own daycare, and whether you work as a nanny in a family’s home.

Your salary can also depend on how many kids you watch and the ages of the children. Providers caring for an infant can charge a lot more than those watching a toddler or school-age child, for example.

Still, there are some average pay rates to be aware of. According to the 2021 Cost of Care survey conducted by Care.com, nationally the average nanny charges approximately:

  • $15.30 per hour for one child, or about $612 per week
  • $16.35 per hour for two children, or about $654 per week

Since these are national averages, however, nanny rates varry by where you live.

A report by PayScale.com determined that the average nanny earns approximately $15.30 per hour, or about $32,800 per year. Nannies with higher levels of education or greater experience can command up to $20 per hour or more. Nannies rarely have many professional expenses.

By comparison, in-home providers also pay for their own licensing costs and may have expenses for rent, payroll, food, toys, and supplies.

Find other career-level work-at-home jobs that are great for moms in this post, or explore 7 business ideas that are great for moms.

Pros and cons of being a nanny

Like any other job, a career in childcare can have pros and cons that vary depending on the type of position you end up in.

Before you consider a future caring for children, consider these advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages of working as a nanny:

  • You get to work with children and provide them with important care
  • You may not need a lot of education to get started
  • You can earn more with more experience, college education, and credentials
  • You may be able to work flexible hours
  • Child care is in demand, which may make it easier to find a job
  • You may be able to bring your own children with you on the job

Disadvantages of working as a nanny:

  • Caring for children can be stressful and demanding
  • Pay in this field isn’t as high as some other fields
  • You won’t likely receive workplace benefits such as a 401(k) match, health insurance, life insurance, or disability insurance
  • You will have to negotiate your pay and the terms of your work on your own in most cases
  • Work can be unpredictable as you are the mercy of your employer’s needs and whims

How do you find nanny jobs?

If you’re looking for work as a nanny, ask around with people you know — and specifically people who have children. There are many nanny agencies that hire nannies, or match nannies with families. 

The internet is also a treasure trove if you’re looking for childcare work. Some websites where you can find nanny jobs include:

Care.com is an excellent resource since it lets you set up a profile and find families seeking nannies and other childcare arrangements in your area. With Care.com, you can browse family profiles to find a good fit for your needs then contact them when you’re ready.

If you’re ready to begin your career as a nanny, open a free account with Care.com and start your search today >>

What is a nanny?

A nanny is a person hired to care for children, usually young children who are not yet school-aged.

What kind of tasks do nannies do?

Supervise children and monitoring them for safety, prepare meals, and much more. Nannies who work in their clients’ homes may perform other tasks for the family, such as housekeeping and laundry.

What qualifications do you need to be a nanny?

The requirements to become a nanny really depend on the type of nanny position and where you work. 

How much does a nanny make in a year?

Your salary can also depend on how many kids you watch and the ages of the children. Providers caring for an infant can charge a lot more than those watching a toddler or school-age child, for example.

Robyn Evans is an award-winning writer, inspirational author, and occasional songstress (especially in the shower). Born and raised in Baltimore, she focused on helping women make healthy choices for body, mind and soul. She’s a grateful bonus mom to a photographer son and activist daughter and works with young writers through a non-profit organization. Robyn writes for corporate clients, is a former feature writer for The Carroll County Times, has written for The Baltimore Sun and is the author of three books. Learn more about Robyn here.

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