Since nannies work in private homes largely unsupervised, it should be no surprise that parents typically require nannies to have previous childcare experience before considering them for a position.
For those considering becoming a nanny, it can be quite frustrating to learn that you can’t easily get this type of childcare position without having previous childcare experience. In fact, most nanny placement agencies won’t even work with candidates unless they have at least two years of verifiable, profession childcare experiences.
If you’re considering becoming a nanny, it’s important to begin gathering professional and verifiable childcare experiences before you begin your initial nanny job search. These experiences need to extend beyond providing care for the children of family and friends. When considering you for a nanny position, parents will want to confirm your experience and get a reference from previous employers who are not friends or family members.
Since your childcare experiences don’t have to be limited to providing nanny care, there are many ways to gain the relevant experience needed to secure a nanny position.
Formal Childcare Experience
Working in a licensed and preferably accredited daycare or preschool as an assistant childcare worker or teacher can provide supervised, hands-on experience parents will appreciate. For those with degrees in early childhood education and/or teaching certifications, pairing knowledge with practical experience is an excellent combination to highlight on a childcare resume.
Since reputable daycares and preschools have to maintain licensing, parents tend to appreciate the level of oversight you’ve had working in a formal childcare setting. They’ll also appreciate that you’re used to being managed and doing things according to the schedule, routine and structure that your employers have provided.
Working in a before or after school program can also provide relevant childcare experience. For caregivers interested in working with elementary school-aged children and older, this type of experience will be a great addition to their childcare resume. Since these programs typically require a supervisor to oversee workers, parents will appreciate a solid reference from an experienced superior who has observed you caring for and interacting with children.
Those who have worked in summer camps, as dance instructors, as pediatric nurses and in other positions that require the care of children all have relevant childcare experience worthy of including on a childcare resume. Seeking letters of reference from past employers can help you to establish your childcare experience timeline and help to qualify you for a nanny position.
Many nannies gain their initial childcare experience through babysitting jobs. Expanding your babysitting network to include a variety of families with different ages of children can help to build your childcare experience.
Keep a detailed notebook of all of the hours you gain through babysitting. Ask parents to sign your notebook or to write a note indicating if they were pleased with your services.
Since babysitters aren’t supervised, parents will appreciate the faith and trust other parents put in you to care for their children when you are not at home. Gathering letters of reference from parents who have hired you to babysit will be beneficial in documenting your childcare experiences.
Many individuals have the opportunity to volunteer in their church nursery or to assist with Sunday school or vacation bible school. These childcare experiences are valuable because not only do they show parents you are trusted to provide childcare, they demonstrate an eagerness to gain experience and show that you have a helping heart, something parents will value in a nanny.
When volunteering for childcare positions, be sure to get documentation of completed hours to help you track your experience. Keep a notebook and ask a supervisor to sign off on the hours you’ve worked.
10 Ways to Gain Early Childhood Educational Experience
While hands-on childcare experience is essential, nannies are expected to have a basic understanding of childcare development and a familiarity with the best practices in early childhood care.
- Gain educational experience by enrolling in early childhood development classes a local college or by taking courses online. A formal early childhood education will position you to excel in your nanny job.
- Attend conferences geared towards early childhood educators. Many local NAEYC (National Association for the Educational of Young Children) chapters offer workshops and conferences that supplement the larger district and national conventions.
- Enroll in nanny school. There are several educational programs that specifically train nannies. The English Nanny and Governess School and The Alexandria School are two such educational programs that provide nanny specific training.
- Attend a nanny conference. The International Nanny Association holds an annual conference for nannies that attracts nannies from all over the world. In addition to gaining knowledge, the networking opportunities are fabulous.
- Join a local nanny group. Many major metropolitan areas are home to a local nanny support group that offers training and educational opportunities.
- Go to a National Nanny Training Day Event. Each April, groups of local nannies around the country gather for a one day training event. These local events attract thousands of nannies across the United States.
- Study for and take the INA exams. The International Nanny Association offers a Nanny Basic Skills Exam and an INA Nanny Credential Exam. Using the exam study guide Beyond Parenting Basics, those who pass the Credential Exam earn the title of INA Credentialed Nanny.
- Take CPR and first aid training. Most childcare jobs, including nanny jobs, will require applicants to have current CPR and first aid certification.
- Read books. Spend time reading up on best practices in childcare and current parenting trends. Build your library and become knowledgeable on developmental milestones and age-appropriate activities for the age group you prefer working with.
- Become a member of a nanny or early childhood educator association. The International Nanny Association and the National Association of the Education of Young Children both welcome nanny members. As membership benefits you receive newsletters and access to educational materials that can help keep you current on best practices and trends.