How much should I charge for child care?

April 27, 2021

Are you looking for a job in child care but you’re not sure what you should charge? Or maybe you’ve been a nanny, sitter or day care worker for awhile and feel like you should be making more? Asking for a lower rate may land you the new job, but (of course) you also want to make good money. So when determining your rates per hour, it’s important to know what your services are worth.

Pay rates for child care workers can vary significantly due to a number of factors: experience, job expectations, number of children, your location and more. But there are definitely some pay ranges that are standard for each type of child care job. We did some research (so you don’t have to), and here’s what other caregivers are getting paid.

Pay rate by job type

How much do babysitters make?

Setting babysitting rates can be a challenge since you don’t always get to communicate with other sitters to compare notes. The good news is there’s some good, hard data on this.

According to Care.com’s 2020 Cost of Care Survey, which used payment data from over 3,800 parents across the country, parents paid after-school babysitters — working about three hours a day, or a total of 15 hours per week — an average of $16.20 per hour (or $243 per week). 

This rate can fluctuate depending on your skill level, education and experience, as well as the number of children who need care. The most notable factor, though, is location.

For example, in the Boston-Cambridge area, the going rate for an experienced sitter to watch one child averages $17.00 per hour, but in Akron, Ohio, it averages $12.25 per hour, according to the Care.com babysitting rates calculator.

Aside from the location, what’s going to make you a little more dough? Education and training. Here are the percentages of parents who told us they'd pay more for a babysitter who had any of the following education and/or certifications:

EDUCATION/CERTIFICATION TYPE

PERCENTAGE OF PARENTS WHO SAID THEY'D PAY MORE

Safety training (e.g., CPR & first aid  certification)

66%

Early Education degree

41%

State-level child care certification required for preschool teachers

33%

Beyond these, there are many other types of child care experience, training courses and certifications, including infant care certification, water safety certification and special needs care, that can help boost your career — and hopefully your pay rate, too!

It’s important to note that you should be paid fairly. At the very least, you should make above the federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour in April 2021) and above your state, city or county’s minimum wage, which may be even higher.

To find the going rate near you, enter your ZIP code into our babysitting rates calculator.

How much do nannies make?

Nannies provide personalized care, usually full time and in the family’s home. That may be why they’re among the highest paid child care providers.

Nannies caring for one infant and working 40 hours per week made an average of $14.12 per hour (or $565 per week), according to Care.com’s 2020 Cost of Care Survey. 

This means that full-time nannies can potentially make an average of about $29,380 per year, depending on the paid time off situation. In general, a nanny caring for more than one child can expect to earn a little more than a nanny who’s in charge of just one kid. Experience and job expectations can play a factor in rates, too, as well as location.

Currently, in the San Francisco Bay area, a full-time nanny for one infant earns an average of $20.88 per hour, and in the Houston area, they average $16.05 per hour, according to the Care.com cost of child care calculator.

To find the going rate near you, enter your experience level, job information and ZIP code into our rates calculator. You can set the tool to calculate hourly, weekly, monthly or annually.

How much do day care workers make?

Interested in a day care job? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, education and child care administrators at preschools and day care centers earned an average annual income of $54,940 — which boiled down to an average rate of $26.41 an hour. For child care workers, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the average was closer to $26,790 a year — which broke down to an average rate of $12.88 an hour.

How much do nursery or preschool teachers make?

Nursery or preschool teachers' salaries can depend significantly on their location, type of degree and the school’s set rates.

That said, the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that preschool teachers (with the exception of special education teachers) earned an average annual income of about $36,550 in 2020 — at an average rate of $17.57 per hour. Nursery and preschool teachers can often boost their annual salaries by getting trained and certified to work with children with special needs, or by moving over to a private preschool, which usually has the means to offer better pay.

Factors that will influence your pay rate

Reminder: The above rates are just averages, generalizations and general guidelines. You’re not going to make exactly what another child care provider does — and for a variety of different reasons. Just going from the suburbs to the city could mean a sitter makes up to double or even triple the pay. And of course, nannies and day care teachers with 10 years of experience are going to earn more than a newbie does.

Keep all the factors of your employment, your experience and your job expectations in mind when setting your rates. Here are some of the most important ones to consider.

Geographical location

As mentioned above, different cities have different costs of living (e.g., cost of food, housing, etc.). This means child care professionals may have to charge different pay rates so that they can cover their basic expenses — and, ideally, still make a profit afterward. For example, a babysitter living and working in a rural area will probably charge less than a babysitter who lives and works in a huge city.

If you'd like to find out what other child care providers are charging in your neck of the woods, check out our handy babysitting rates calculator.

Job requirements

Another factor that should influence your rates is the type of care a family expects you to provide. This includes the number of children they want you to care for, the number of hours they expect you to work and the time of day that they want you to be "on duty."

If a family expects you to perform additional services outside of the traditional realm of "child care duties" — such as housekeeping, tutoring or providing overnight care — that can also justify a higher rate.

So if you want to make more money, consider offering additional services that you'd be willing to perform. This strategy will enhance your "value-add" for prospective families and could even increase your likelihood of landing a job.

Level of skill and experience

Many families prefer to hire child care providers who have previous child care-related experience. Some look for certification in child development or a degree in early childhood education. Other families want a caregiver who speaks a second language or who has specialized experience — whether it's caring for multiple children, children with ADHD or newborns.

Moral of the story: When setting your rates, take into account your previous work experience, your skills and any certifications and training you've received, as well as your education level. And don't forget to list all of them in your online job profile and resume, so families can see what makes you worth your rates.

Benefits

Full-time household employees (e.g., nannies) should ask hiring families if they'd consider providing them with benefits like health insurance, paid time off and more. These benefits are often built into their salary and may be broken down into monthly or weekly rates.

Final tips for setting your child care rates

By this point, you've familiarized yourself with the national averages for different types of child care jobs, you've scoped out your competition's rates and you've figured out how much your skills and experience are worth. But you have a little more work to do in order to set your rate.

Ask yourself these final questions to make sure you’ve accounted for everything:

  • How far do you have to commute for the job?

  • How many children are you being asked to care for?

  • Are you being offered benefits such as health and dental insurance, 401(k) and paid time off?

  • Have you accounted for your added value services (e.g., more education or certifications, increased experience, etc.)?

  • Do you know how much tax you’ll have to pay and whether or not it will be withheld from your paycheck?

  • Does this job fit your budget needs and will you bring home enough money every month to cover all your expenses (aka, a living wage)?

Starting with what you need to make — and then breaking down what your services are worth — will help you find your pay "sweet spot.” That rate should be enough to cover your monthly expenses, pay your taxes and still have some fun with friends and family.

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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