Child care has become increasingly expensive for American families, so much so that 33 percent are now spending 20 percent or more of their annual household income on care for their children.
That figure comes courtesy of the 2018 Care.com Cost of Care Survey, which also revealed that the average weekly cost of care for an infant was $211 for a day-care center, $195 for a family care center, and $580 for a nanny. Ouch.
While these figures sound painful for those paying for daycare, there’s an upside for those who decide to work in the childcare industry. If you become a child care provider, rising rates make it possible to earn a higher salary or hourly rate for your work.
Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of becoming a child care worker, how much they earn, and the type of responsibilities they take on.
What is a child care provider?
“Child care provider” is a term that describes anyone who takes care of children as the bulk of their work. However, these professionals come in many different forms since the types of childcare available are so diverse.
Some child care providers work in daycare centers, for example. These workers usually work stable hours and for an hourly rate, and some may even receive benefits.
Child care providers may also choose to open a daycare center in their home. In this case, they may decide to watch several children in addition to their own (if they have any). This type of child care arrangement leaves the provider in a situation where they are self-employed, which has both pros and cons.
In addition to these career options, some workers decide to work for someone else watching their children. These workers are typically called “nannies,” and they usually work only for one family at a time.
Finally, there are many people who do childcare work on the side sporadically. Typically called “babysitting,” this type of work is 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.
What kind of tasks do child care providers do?
The job duties child care providers perform vary widely based on their position and the age of the children they care for. Child care providers watching infants tend to perform much more hands-on work feeding and changing diapers, for example, while caregivers of older children take on more of a supervisory role.
Further, self-employed child care workers typically perform additional tasks that aren’t required of those who work in centers. Someone who runs a daycare out of their home would need to perform basic bookkeeping tasks such as tracking payments and keeping track of information for their taxes, for example.
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.
With that in mind, some of the main duties most child care providers take on include:
- 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 work for a single family may take on a broader share of duties. For example, nannies are often asked to take on basic cleaning and laundry for the family they work for during their downtime. They may also be asked to come along on family vacation and run errands such as picking up dry cleaning.
What skills do you need to be a nanny or childcare provider?
The good news about starting a career in childcare is that, most of the time, a formal education is not required. Many employers prefer candidates with some college or a degree in childhood development or education, but that doesn’t mean you need this education to find full-time work.
The requirements for this job really depend on the type of daycare position you desire. For example, The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that many states require private, in-home daycare centers to become licensed.
To qualify for licensure, you likely need to pass a background check and have an up-to-date record of immunizations. You may also need to meet a minimum training requirement and be certified in CPR.
Some states also 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.
The BLS also reports that the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) offers a nationally recognized accreditation you can earn if you desire. This credential requires training, childcare experience, and an observation period where your work with children is supervised. This probably sounds 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.
In addition to any licensing or credential requirements, there are some personality traits that help with this job. 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 instruction 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.
How much do child care providers earn?
How much you’ll earn as a child care provider depends on an array of factors such as the type of job you take, whether 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 2017 Care.com Babysitter Survey, the average rate for babysitting was $13.97 per hour nationally in 2016. Since this is a national average, however, it could be totally different where you live.
A report from Payscale.com says that the average nanny earns a median income of $14.60 per hour. According to Care.com, the salary for a nanny with college education can be significantly higher and usually above $16 per hour, however.
Child care providers who run a daycare out of their homes have variable incomes that depend on many factors. Those factors can include how many children they watch, the average child care rate they can charge based on where they live, and the age of the children they watch.
In-home providers also pay for their own licensing costs and may have expenses for food, toys, and supplies.
Pros and cons of being a child care provider
Watching children can be extremely rewarding, but that doesn’t mean childcare work is perfect. 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 child care provider:
- 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
- You can “be your own boss” by opening a daycare in your home
- 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 child care provider:
- Caring for children can be stressful and demanding
- Pay in this field isn’t as high as some other fields
- If you work for yourself as an in-home provider or babysitter, you won’t receive workplace benefits such as a 401(k) match or health insurance
- You will have to negotiate your pay and the terms of your work on your own in most cases
- Not everyone wants to open a daycare in their own home due to added stress and the potential for wear and tear
How do you find child care provider jobs?
If you’re looking for work as a child care provider, there are myriad ways to get started. For starters, it may help to ask around with people you know — and specifically people you are familiar with who have children.
Families with children may need childcare themselves, but they are more likely to know other families with kids who are in need of babysitting or in-home help.
The internet is also a treasure trove if you’re looking for childcare work.
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 child care provider, open a free account with Care.com and start your search today.
Holly Johnson is a financial expert, award-winning writer, and Indiana mother of two who is obsessed with frugality, budgeting and travel. Her personal finance articles have been published in the U. S. News, Wall Street Journal, Fox Business, and Life Hacker. Holly is founder of of the family finance resource, ClubThrifty.com, and is the co-author of Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You’ll Love. Learn more about Holly here.