Almost anyone can be a babysitter, as proven by so many parents trusting the teens in their neighborhood to watch their little ones for a few hours at a time. However, if you want to be a full-time nanny, assuming full responsibility for the development and well-being of babies and young kids while their parents work or focus on other responsibilities, you will need to pursue a few advanced credentials.
There are many benefits to a career in nannying. In addition to the excitement and joy involved in seeing kids grow and thrive, nannies enjoy good pay and remarkable autonomy. Often, nannies can choose their own schedules and clients, and sometimes, nannies are invited to travel with the families they support.
If you dream of a lifelong career caring for kids, here’s a quick and straightforward guide to help you make your nannying dreams come true:
Gain Childcare Experience
The more childcare experience you have, the more attractive you will be to prospective employers. Fortunately, you can begin accruing childcare experience from a young age, by taking care of your own younger siblings or babysitting for kids in your neighborhood. You might support yourself through school with basic childcare jobs, like babysitting or coaching at summer camps, which usually do not require extensive credentials. You can also volunteer with as a childcare provider at hospitals, shelters, and other spaces where there are many children in need. As you gain experience, you should collect references and letters of recommendation, which may come in handy when you apply for more serious nannying positions.
Pursue Advanced Education
The best nannying jobs also tend to have the highest standards for applicants, so if you want to make a career out of caring for children, you need to commit with high-quality education and other credentials. You should pursue a degree in a field that will enhance your knowledge and skill with raising kids; for example, an early childhood development degree will provide information about how babies, toddlers and young kids grow and learn, so you can set them up for lifelong success.
While not all nanny roles require a degree, most will demand key certifications. You will need to maintain your CPR training, which you can acquire through your local community center or first responder department. You might also want to pursue water training, early infant care or special needs care, if you expect to be managing children with any of these concerns. You might spend some time perusing nanny requests online to get a sense for what qualifications the highest-paying jobs in your area demand.
Set Your Rates
While some nannies find work through an agency that employs them, most nannies operate independently, which gives them more control over whom they work with, where they work and how much they earn. If you decide to be an independent contractor, you need to be careful with how you set your rates. Early in your nannying career, you will need to set your rates lower, as you will have less professional experience and fewer contacts. However, you should regularly increase your rates — to include asking your current clients for raises — in accordance with your increased knowledge and skill as well as to keep up with the ever-rising cost of living.
Find the Right Position for You
Not all nanny jobs are created equal. Just as parents want to find a nanny who can adopt their preferred childrearing practices, nannies need to work with families who share their values. The interview process for nannying goes both ways; while you do want to impress prospective clients and eventually secure a paying position, you need to carefully evaluate parents’ and kids’ behavior and the structure of home environments to determine whether you will feel safe and comfortable working in a particular space. As you gain more experience nannying, you will gain an innate sense of which homes are a right fit for you.
For many, nannying is a dream job. Becoming a full-time, career nanny is easier than you might expect, especially once you gain the right credentials and experience to attract the best families.