Becoming a Nanny

Welcome to BecomeaNanny.org, an online resource dedicated to helping individuals learn how to break into the nanny market and secure their first nanny job.

What is a Nanny?

Nannies are hired by parents to provide childcare for their children in their family’s private home. Nannies are not independent contractors, but are employees of the families for whom they work.

Nannies may be hired as full-time, part-time, live-in or live-out nannies. Some nannies are even just hired to work during the summer months, while other are hired to strictly provide before and after school childcare. On average, full-time nannies work 40 to 60 hours per week and part-time nannies work less than 30 hours per week.

Regardless of how much and how often a nanny provides childcare, all nannies typically have the same duties and responsibilities; to create a nurturing environment that supports the health and development of the child and to provide attentive child care that focuses on meeting the child’s physical, social, emotional and intellectual needs.

What Does a Nanny Do?

In addition to providing high-quality childcare, nannies are also responsible for childcare related tasks. This includes doing the children’s laundry, preparing the children’s meals and keeping the children’s areas clean and organized.

Nannies may also be responsible for transporting the children to and from activities and appointments, assisting with homework and maintain the children’s wardrobe. Oftentimes nannies are also counted on to provide parenting education and support, as experienced nannies may have more childcare experience than the parents they are hired to work for.

Although some families may request that their nannies take on non-childcare related duties, like preparing meals for the family, general housekeeping tasks and family pet care, the nanny must agree to take on these tasks and should be compensated fairly for doing so.

Who Can Be a Nanny?

In the United States, there are no federal regulations that govern who can and who cannot work as a nanny. However, within the nanny industry, associations and organizations have developed accepted standards outline the basic qualifications one should have to be a nanny.

At minimum, an individual should be at least 18 years of age, in good health and have at least a high school diploma to work as a nanny. Individuals must also be able to legally accept work on the United States to legally work as a nanny.

Since nannies work unsupervised, previous childcare experience is typically required. Daycare workers, assistant teachers, babysitters and those who provide care for children all have relevant experience that would position them well when applying for a nanny job.

While there is no training required to work as a nanny, there are nanny schools and training programs that specialize in educating nannies. These schools like the English Nanny and Governess School and the Northwest Nanny Academy provide specialized training to those wishing to pursue a nanny career. The International Nanny Association maintains a list of member educators on their website, www.nanny.org.

Oftentimes, a college graduate who has perused a degree in early childhood development or early childhood education will opt to work as a nanny. A new nanny with formal college education paired with hands-on childcare experience will be an attractive applicant to parents.

While also not required, the International Nanny Association has developed a Nanny Basic Skills Exam and Nanny Credential Exam for those who wish to have their caregiving knowledge tested. While not required, all nannies should hold current CPR and first aid certification.

Characteristics of a Good Nanny

Parents depend on their nannies to provide the highest level of care. To provide high- quality care, a basic understanding of early childhood development and best practices in childrearing is essential. Good nannies also tend to have extensive childcare experience.

Since nannies work unsupervised in private homes, they must be trustworthy. They must also be able to work long hours without adult interaction and be self-motivated and willing to take initiative to ensure that all of their tasks get done and their duties completed.

Nannies serve as role models for children, so they must be good role models.  They should be free from a criminal past, should be non-smokers and should have a well calibrated moral compass. Nannies must also be able to help fine-tune the child’s moral compass by offering praise as well as gentle guidance and discipline when appropriate.

Since parents also depend on nannies to provide childcare so that they can meet their professional and social obligations, nannies must be punctual and reliable. They must also be flexible and able to adjust their schedule to accommodate the needs of the family.

Most importantly, those who work as nannies must have a genuine love of caring for children. This love must extend beyond loving to be around children. Good nannies love caring for children and meeting their unique needs, and understand the child’s needs must come before their own.

Earning Potential

When it comes to earning potential, a nanny’s earning potential is impacted by many things. Where a nanny lives, her childcare experience, her educational background, the quality of her references and her skill set will all impact her market value.

In general, nannies in major metropolitan areas tend to earn more than those who live in small, rural communities.  And like with most jobs, the more education and experience you have, the more your earning potential is.

Each year the International Nanny Association conducts a salary and benefits survey. According to the 2013 results, the median hourly wage for nannies in the United States is $16 per hour.

In addition to a nanny’s wages, most nannies receive employment benefits. These benefits typically include full or partial contributions towards health insurance premiums, one to two weeks of paid vacation, paid sick and personal days and eight to eleven paid holidays.

How to Become a Nanny

So you think you want to become a nanny. Now what? Following these steps will help you break into the nanny market and secure your first nanny job.

  1. Gain Childcare Experience. Spend as much time as possible caring for children. Babysit more, take a job in a daycare center as an assistant teacher and volunteer in your church nursery.
  2. Gather Proof of Your Experience. Document your childcare hours in a notebook and ask supervisors and parents whom you’ve worked for to provide written letters of reference.
  3. Get Basic Training. Be sure to get CPR and first aid certified. Enroll in early childhood development courses at your local college, attend childcare related workshops, or sign up for nanny school. Familiarize yourself with best practices.
  4. Network with Other Nannies. Join your local nanny support group or become a member of the International Nanny Association. Get in touch with other nannies who can serve as mentors and role models.
  5. Determine Your Ideal Nanny Arrangement. Consider if you want to work part-time or full-time and if you want to live-in or live-out. Think about how far you want to commute. Consider the ages of children you wish to work with.
  6. Begin Your Job Search. Use as many tools as possible to search for your first nanny job. Word-of-mouth, placing advertisements, responding to nanny classifieds, signing up for membership on an online nanny recruiting site and listing with an agency are all viable nanny job search tools.
  7. Apply for Positions. Apply for nanny jobs that you’re qualified for. Consider if you meet the minimal criteria for applying and consider if the job fits within your ideal arrangement.
  8. Interview with Parents. Prepare to have both phone an in-person interviews with the parent. They’ll want to ask you tons of questions, but you’ll want to be prepared to ask some too. Be sure to only consider working for families with whom you sense a genuine connection.
  9. Accept a Job Offer. Once a job offer that you like is presented, accept it! Be prepared to negotiate the offer first, though, if it’s not all that you desired.
  10. Sign a Work Agreement. Formalize the mutually agreed upon terms of employment by executing a detailed written work agreement. Having a written work agreement can bring clarity to arrangement and prevent confusion when it comes to duties, responsibilities and expectations.

Once you sign your first nanny job work agreement, your work isn’t done, it’s just begun. For the relationship to be successful, you’ll need to invest time and energy in establishing and maintaining professional boundaries and communication. When you do, you’ll reap the rewards of a healthy working relationship that will likely grow into a friendship and extend beyond your years of employment with the family.