The Child Care Job Guide: Child Care Job Options

Find the right type of child care job for you

Through ups and downs in the economy, one type of career that is both rewarding and somewhat recession resistant is child care. Child care job options include being a nanny, au pair, babysitter, mother's helper, day care worker, or nursery school teacher. If you love children, the job can be immensely satisfying -- although sometimes exhausting, too! It helps to have lots of energy, warmth, and patience.

Child Care Provider Definitions

  • Nanny A nanny cares for the children in one family, typically on a full-time or near-full-time basis. She can live with the family or not, and may have household responsibilities as well as child care duties. If she lives with the family, she receives a salary in addition to room and board. If she is a live-out nanny, she receives a higher salary, to compensate for the lack of room and board.

  • Au pair An au pair is a college student who lives with a family and helps with child care and housework related to the child. In return for the child care and housework, the au pair receives room and board and an agreed-upon allowance. Au pairs are between 18 and 26 years old and are regulated by the U.S. Department of State. In addition to caring for children, they must also be enrolled in a post-secondary institution. Most are foreign students, but some are not.

  • Babysitter Babysitters generally work watching one or more children for hourly rates. If they do anything extra, they usually receive more pay. A babysitter can either have a regular schedule, such as every Wednesday from 5 to 10, or work for one assignment at a time.

  • Daycare worker Daycare workers work in child care centers or family daycare homes and care for several children at a time. They usually monitor play time, teach social skills, and do some pre-kindergarten readiness instruction with the children. For babies and toddlers, they are also responsible for feeding and diaper changing.

  • Nursery school or preschool teachers Nursery school teachers work with children ages 3 to 5 and help them with social skills, cognitive development through play and crafts, and some pre-kindergarten readiness.

  • Mother's helper A mother's helper is a "babysitter in training." The goal is generally to make the mom's life a little easier while the mom is still in the house or leaves for brief periods of time. The mother's helper will assist with housework, run errands, or play with the kids while the mom cooks dinner or works from home.

Training and Education

  • Nanny Nannies usually have some child care experience but are not necessarily required to have a college degree. The specific requirements will depend on each family's preferences. 

  • Daycare directors and nursery school teachers These professionals usually need a college degree and some early childhood course work.  Some centers require Child Development Associate (CDA) credentials, and some states require additional training and certification.

  • Daycare workers and nursery school aides These workers often only need a high school education and some may not need that.

  • College Students College students can be a great resource as child care providers. Some college students, such as those majoring in Nursing and Education, may be taking courses that specialize in child care. Also, most college students have flexible schedules allowing them to work during the day when they are not in class. has a special section of our website dedicated to College Caregivers to help you find a college babysitter, tutor or even a summer nanny at local colleges near you!

  • Babysitter There is no set requirement to being a babysitter except to be good with children. Babysitters can be any age, from teens to retired workers.

For all child care professions, it is a good idea to be trained in CPR and First Aid. Local American Red Cross chapters run training courses in these areas, and many offer babysitting training courses for teens.

Working Conditions

  • Child care jobs can be either part- or full-time. Work in a child care facility usually comes with limited benefits. Babysitting usually does not include any benefits. Nanny jobs often do come with health benefits.

  • Conditions vary, depending on what the home or facility is like, as well as the employer, child and family.

  • For nannies, families' requirements for the number of hours to be worked can be high -- often exceeding a normal 40-hour week.  It is important to understand the time demands of a family before agreeing to work for them.

  • When working with children, it is helpful to have energy and be in relatively good shape so that you can play with, lift, and bend down to help them.

  • There is generally a lot of demand for child care employees,  but pay levels are relatively low compared with other careers -- so it's important that child care providers love their jobs!

  • If you love being with children, a child care job can be very satisfying, as you get to help kids develop skills, flourish and grow.

As you research job options, you'll want to assess how much to charge.  Different cities may also have different pay rates, so an Orlando Babysitter may be paid a different amount than a Denver Babysitter. To find out what to the average cost is for babysitters in your area, check out Babysitting Pay Rate Calculator.  We suggest making a Babysitter Pay Calculator Widget and adding it to your blog as well as including it in messages to potential child care providers so they know what the rate is in your area.

If you are interested in child care jobs, creating a profile on is a great way to let potential employers find you.

If you are interested in posting a job, enroll at today and find the child care provider that is right for you and your family!


Next: How Much to Charge for Child Care »
Comments (38)
Photo of Melody S.
Melody S.
How do you get a child care profile, so you can apply for babysitting jobs?
Posted: March 25, 2015 at 1:03 PM
Photo of Marjorie B.
Marjorie B.
I can relate to these comments. I have 25 years as an RN in the Newborn Nursery and am trying to do newborn care. I have my CPR and First Aid certificate and will even do nights and twins-nothing. Have my own car etc. Had several saw your application etc but no call. Had one that wanted a phone interview but never called despite me replying positively. Since November 1 I've applied to 19 people and got not a single response. I even am sure to let them see my background check and address their requirements in my application. However, it seems only if you pay a premium amount every month will your apps and profile be pushed whichever fair for those of us who can't afford it. Marjorie B
Posted: November 08, 2014 at 9:17 PM
Wow. . . Child care is also a part of professional industry. Sounds great. It was nice to read that a person can earn and make money in child care as well. I think all of the career guidance portals and employment solutions like should think about pitching this industry as well.
Posted: November 08, 2014 at 5:31 AM
Photo of Maria M.
Maria M.

I've been on the site for 3 years. I have not found a job that I would say was good enough -- meaning long term, with a schedule, and enough hours a week.

Having said that, that I've had 2 good jobs (meaning they were long lasting, during the school year).

All the rest, 20-30 families, have been parents calling me from time to time when they went out.
Posted: September 11, 2014 at 8:13 PM
Photo of Maria M.
Maria M.
When someone hires a tutor -- the tutor gets between $25-50 an hour.

When someone hires a house cleaner -- the cleaner gets between $15-$30 an hour.

Hope that helps in figuring out what to charge for those services.
Posted: September 11, 2014 at 8:09 PM
Photo of Maria M.
Maria M.
Kathryn K.

I created an email that I keep my template for applying for a job. I copy and paste it into any job I am looking for.

At one time I saw that I had answered 546 requests in the last few years. Didn't get as many jobs. But having that template makes things easier.

What I HATE is parents who waste my time, an hour or so, and gas money (for me to get to their place) by meeting me and saying that they're just seeing what is out there. For goodness sakes == learn what's out there before having me waste my time and money. Not one of those families hired me or anyone. They took their child to day care.

But back to your situation. What I find is that once a person puts an ad on, they tell their friends/family. And then "someone" pops up to do the job off the books for less money.

Hope that helps.
Posted: September 11, 2014 at 8:08 PM
Photo of Maria M.
Maria M.

Take the bull by the horns. It's not up to to determine how clients handle us, it's up to us to determine how we want to be treated.

I had the same problem you mentioned. Unfortunately, some parents did this to me more than once. So I instituted a new guideline that they know up front.

I ask for a guarantee, in writing.

IF I'm sitting for them every now and then....

I say that as a parent, you want to make sure that I'm at your home when I agree to be. You want to know that you can count on me.

In return, I expect the same thing. Once you're in my calendar, I don't accept any other jobs, even if they're for more money. As such, I ask that you don't cancel, and if you do, you agree to pay me in full.

For clients who hire me longer term, let's say during the school year, or a quarter of a year while they go to school, etc. To what I've written above, if they decide to cancel, they must give me 30 days notice and I will do the same for them.

Now what happens is that I don't get hired as much as I used to. BUT when I am hired, I work with people who value me and my services a lot more.
Posted: September 11, 2014 at 8:00 PM
Photo of Jennifer P.
Jennifer P.
I need some advice. Why is as the "nanny's" or "child care providers" it's so important to give advanced notice (which I always do!) if something comes up. Yet, in the last year or so I have had several parents just up and cancel on me last second...literally! Once I was literally at the corner! I can completely see if something happens. However, when I'm told, oh we decided we're not comfortable with your height (yes, I'm short) or "oh we got our nanny back, never mind!" Is it just me or does it sometimes seem like we have to be super professional, but we aren't given the same respect back. I am very qualified, over 10 years experience, cpr/first aid certified, baby nurse certified, INA member, and exceptional special needs experience. It seems lately like parents just don't care. I know this isn't everyone, I've worked with some great families! Also, how do you get parents to leave a rating? I have parents tell me they will, and then they never do. I almost wish that made this mandatory for parents and care providers.
Posted: May 29, 2013 at 6:37 PM
Photo of Donna N.
Donna N.
I believe the easiest way to get a job in childcare is through referral. is a nice site but you are up against a lot of people wanting the same thing as you. I love being with young kids and they love me but it's hard to convince parents of that if all they know of you is what they read on this site.
Posted: May 09, 2013 at 7:49 AM
Photo of Kaye H.
Kaye H.
I am new to being a nanny. How do I go about getting licensed and bonded in Florida?
Posted: April 29, 2013 at 9:48 AM
Photo of Ada P.
Ada P.
This all takes time.
If you watched your siblings, that is experience,, put it down. The neighbors, or anyone else, put that down as EXPERIENCE--that is exacty what parents are looking for, especially long-term. Be confident because you know you can do the job 10 fold. The cleaning, straightening is a good addition, and it only takes about 1 hour a day, especially if you clean up after. Laundry is, oh, perhaps 1 or 2 loads - over in a snap and you can do so many other things while washing/drying.
Look over the jobs and find those that you are after---, the best pay, hours, ages, and number of kids, and do not apply to anything else until you know u r not going to get a reply. If you do not hear, then yes, write your own response stating that you have been ready for the interview, etc...was that still on track? or have things changed? Always be sweet and pleasant--they may be back!
I love my work!!! I am happy every day and have learned quite a bit since I was a mom to the younger generation. I have great references, connections with the kids and parents and feel I am doing a fabulous job. Just be yourself and enjoy being with the children and watch them--they are awesome.
Posted: April 16, 2013 at 1:33 PM
Photo of Diana M.
Diana M.
how long it tacks to be hired by a family???
Posted: March 29, 2013 at 5:54 PM
Member Care.
Hi Regina H and Yvonne P,

Thanks for the feedback. We agree that this is a feature that is needed on our site and it's something that is currently in the works. Starting in early spring we will have a new feature on our site where families can search for in home day cares (also known as family child care).
Posted: March 13, 2013 at 1:29 PM
Photo of Yvonne P.
Yvonne P.
I agree with Regina H. I am now going to stop looking for a Nanny job and post an opening in my home. I would like to care for infants, and that is what I have done for military families in the past. I know it is difficult to find care for infants, and I love babies :) I guess I will have to use the local paper or the military base.
Posted: March 11, 2013 at 7:07 PM
Photo of Regina H.
Regina H.
you need a site for in home day care,most post are for going to ther homes.
Posted: January 15, 2013 at 7:42 PM
Photo of Trish L.
Trish L.
The average rate is $2.50-3.00 hr here in Moline, IL for home day care providers. Thats why we end up watching 6 kids of all ages to try to make up minimum wage w/expenses taken out too. I wish I made more per hour per kid.
Posted: January 14, 2013 at 8:00 PM
Photo of Laura P.
Laura P.
Most parents want to pay you very cheaply, and ask you to do everything for them. I have even seen parents post up that they will pay more, then they back down and pay you less than they themselves posted. It's hard to believe all the things they expect you to do for only $5.00 per hour. And that is not even minimum wage. I guess they think us caregivers are not worth it. What a shame.
Posted: November 25, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Photo of Argentina P.
Argentina P.
How Can I apply to a job that I like.
Posted: October 24, 2012 at 8:24 PM
Photo of Katie G.
Katie G.
My advice to everyone is pay for a background check on and you will get more responses that way. I had to email and ask them if I'm doing anything wrong and if my profile look professional because I wasn't getting any responses back from the families I emailed. The lady from said there was nothing I needed to fix on my profile. Then a few days later I decided to get my background check done and I received more replies back and got hired 2 weeks later.. Oh another tip for you is to search how to make a nanny portfolio to take with you to your interviews. I made one and the family I interviewed with loved it, make a long story short I got the job!! Good luck!
Posted: October 24, 2012 at 10:53 AM
Photo of Mary B.
Mary B.
I have been a member since May and I have been applying to many childcare positions. I am a mother myself of two teenage children. I am a person who has 31 years of childcare experience along with 7 years of Pre-School teaching and Pre-Kimdergarten teaching. ALong with my experience I worked with down syndrome children and autistic children. I coordinated the childcare/nursery at my old church. I have an Associates in Arts Degree from college and an Child Development Certificate from college. We all know that Childcare is exspensive but in my opinion if you have the experience and education background that you deserve a good salary. Stay strong on your beliefs and what you want to get as far as compensation.

Mary Brohm
Posted: October 02, 2012 at 7:33 PM
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