Become a Nanny

Becoming a Nanny

While the media often portrays nannies as caregivers for the next generation of Hollywood’s elite or babysitters who harm children, the reality is that today’s nannies are childcare specialists with a working knowledge and a genuine love for children. While some nannies are indeed employed by the rich and famous, most nannies are employed by dual income families to provide childcare while the parents work away from the home.

What Is a Nanny?

A nanny is employed by parents, either on a live-in or live-out basis, to care for their children and perform all tasks related to their care. While nannies may or may not have formal nanny training, most have several years of in-home childcare experience, at minimum a high school education and some training in childcare and development.  Nannies work 40 to 60 hours per week and usually work unsupervised. Unlike teachers or other childcare workers, nannies typically provide long-term care for the children and make a minimum commitment of one year.

A Nanny’s Role and Responsibilities

A nanny is responsible for the complete care of the children in her care. Nannies contribute to the physical, social, emotional and intellectual health of the children in her care. While the nanny’s specific duties will vary family to family and with the age of the children, nanny duties typically include:

  • Diapering and toilet training
  • Meal planning and preparation
  • Keeping the children’s areas clean and organized
  • Doing the children’s laundry
  • Transporting the children
  • Organizing play activities and outings
  • Engaging the children in age-appropriate activities
  • Providing discipline and guidance.

What You Should Consider Before Becoming a Nanny

Working as a childcare provider in a private home is much different than working as a childcare provider in a center based program or daycare center. Nannies must be comfortable working in a home setting and without daily adult interaction.

Before becoming a nanny, it’s important to gauge if working as a childcare specialist in a private home is right for you.  As you consider becoming a nanny, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have experience working with children?
  • Do you genuinely enjoy working with children?
  • Are you able to work independently?
  • Are you patient?
  • Are you sensitive?
  • Are you a self-starter?
  • Are you willing to be flexible?
  • Are you a good communicator?
  • Are you reliable, dependable and trustworthy?
  • Is working long hours, without a formal break acceptable to you?
  • Do you have an understanding of child development?
  • Are you able to make a one year commitment?
  • Are you able to follow directions?
  • Do others consider you stable?
  • Are you a high school graduate?
  • Are you in good health?

If you can answer “yes” to all of these questions, you may enjoy and have success working as a nanny.

What Makes a Good Nanny

A good nanny, most importantly, has a genuine and absolute love of caring for children. While the background, skill sets and personality traits of each nanny will be different, good nannies share common similarities. 

A good nanny typically has:

  • Extensive childcare experience
  • Excellent references
  • Current CPR/first aid certification
  • At least a high school education
  • Some training in early childhood development
  • No criminal background

A good nanny typically is:

  • Loving
  • Nurturing
  • Patient
  • Healthy
  • Stable
  • Dependable
  • Reliable
  • Trustworthy
  • Punctual
  • Energetic
  • Safety conscious
  • Flexible
  • Organized
  • Detail oriented
  • Communicative
  • Respectful
  • Playful
  • Proactive
  • Creative
  • Responsible
  • Polite
  • Well mannered
  • Knowledgeable
  • An advocate for children.

If you share these traits and experiences, you may excel working as nanny.   

The Pros and Cons of Being a Nanny

Nannies are the highest paid of childcare workers. While a nanny’s pay will vary depending on where she works, her experience, educational background and qualifications, on average, nannies gross $700 per week.

As a nanny, you are able to invest all of your energy and efforts into the children of one family. You are able to provide customized and personalized childcare and meet the needs of the children in your care, without having to worry about a roomful of other children. Many trusted nannies are given the freedom to plan the children’s day and play age-appropriate activities and outings for the children outside of the home.

Since nannies work in private homes, they typically do not have coworkers and their work environment can be isolating. To avoid isolation, nannies should join local nanny groups, participate in play groups and maintain an active social life outside of work.

Unlike in daycare centers or schools, nannies have no human resources department. The nanny and the parents are left to work things out on their own. For this reason, nannies and parents should have a written work agreement that outline a nanny’s salary, roles and responsibilities to prevent misunderstanding and miscommunications. They should also have regular communication and work to ensure that the lines of communication are always open.

Nannies typically do not get formal breaks during the day. Instead, nannies enjoy their meals with the children and utilize their down time, like during nap time or rest time, to take a working break.

While nannies typically to do not get promotions, as they complete jobs and gain more experience, they can increase their salary requirements when they move on to their next nanny position.

The nanny industry is highly unregulated. Unlike with teachers, there is no licensing required. Nannies can improve the quality of care that children receive by attending a specialized nanny training program, taking early childhood development classes, attending childcare conferences or belonging to the International Nanny Association (INA) and taking the INA Nanny Credential Exam.


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