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How much should you charge for your child care services?

Robyn Correll
Aug. 10, 2018

You’ve had a successful interview for a new nanny position. You like the family, and the family likes you. Now it’s time to answer their next question: “What do you charge for your nanny services?”

According to the 2018 Care.com survey, the average nanny makes about $580 a week in the U.S., or about $14.50 per hour. But how much you charge for your nanny services will depend a lot on where you live, what you bring to the table and — perhaps most importantly — what you’re being asked to do. Tasks like preparing meals or doing laundry will take additional effort on top of caring for children, and you want to be sure you're paid what you're worth. Here’s how to figure that out.

What to consider when determining your rate

In addition to your budget and that of the family’s, deciding on a pay rate involves considering your location, your background and how much work is involved.

1. Average nanny rates for your area

Base rates are often dependent on how expensive it is to live in a given place, such as the average cost of rent or the price of groceries. If a particular city has a shortage of qualified nannies, that might also mean higher prices overall, as families compete for the few who are available.

Looking up average rates for your area is good starting place — you can always go up or down based on your experience or expected duties.

2. Your experience

How many years have you been working as a child care provider (including babysitting and in places like a child care facility)? How many years have you been working as a nanny, specifically? The more experience you have, the more you are able to charge.

It’s important to note that this generally refers to paid work experience only. Experience raising your own children can help your resume and tip the scales in your favor during the hiring process, but it shouldn’t factor into how much you charge for your nanny services, says Gabriela Gerhart, founder and president of the Motherhood Center, an organization that trains and places nannies throughout the Houston area.  

3. Your level of education

Do you have a college degree? How about a master’s? Nannies with more education are typically able to charge more, especially if the degree is relevant to child care, such as a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education or a master’s in child psychology. Someone with a graduate degree can charge, on average, about two dollars more an hour than someone with a high school diploma, according to Care.com data from 2016.

Other licenses or certifications could also give you leverage to charge more. Families will often pay extra for nannies who are licensed nurses or certified teachers, for example, because of the expertise they’re able to provide.

4. The number of children and their ages

Caring for four kids is significantly more challenging than caring for one. And those with medical or behavioral issues might require more attention than other children. That extra workload should be taken into consideration when you’re determining your pay rate.

Average cost comparison for full-time nanny (40 hours/week)

City

Infant only

Infant + Toddler

Infant + Toddler + Preschooler

Infant, Toddler, Preschooler and Pre-K

Houston, Texas

$15.50/hour or

$620/week

$17/hour or $680/week

$18.50/hour or $740/week

$20/hour or $800/week

Annapolis, Maryland

$15.22/hour or $609/week

$16.73/hour or $669/week

$18.23/hour or $729/week

$19.73/hour or $789/week

Byram, Mississippi

$15.60/hour or $624/week

$17.10/hour or $684/week

$18.60/hour or $744/week

$20.10/hour or $804/week

Albuquerque, New Mexico

$14.30/hour or $572/week

$15.80/hour or $632/week

$17.30/hour or $692/week

$18.80/hour or $752/week

Source: Cost of Care calculator

Something many nannies of younger children don’t take into consideration is after-school or summertime care for their charges’ school-aged siblings. That’s a mistake that Kattia Morales says she made as a nanny in Virginia. She was hired to care for an infant, but when school let out, the child’s siblings were suddenly hers to watch, too — exponentially increasing her workload.

“When summer came, I was like ‘oh boy, this is overwhelming,” Morales says.

She recommends nannies whose families have school-aged kids talk about those issues up front and figure out what kind of compensation will be provided during summer months, in particular.

5. Other benefits

Consider charging slightly less if it means gaining some non-monetary perks, such as:

  • Paid vacation time

  • Paid sick days

  • Room and board

  • Being able to bring your own child with you

Morales says she accepted lower rates for her nanny services in the past because families allowed her to bring her daughter with her while she was working. This helped her save on child care costs herself — something that’s becoming increasingly expensive for many families.

“Bringing her is a big deal for me,” Morales says.

So, while she would have liked a higher rate, Morales says she knew that the family was making a special accommodation to allow her daughter to be there.

What to charge for additional services

It’s not uncommon for nannies to pitch in here and there with household tasks during naptime, but if you’re regularly being asked to do things unrelated to child care, you should factor that into your hourly rate.

“Any cooking or light housekeeping pertaining to the children should be standard for any nanny, as well as driving to and from activities,” says Gerhart.

Gerhart says if you regularly cook for the whole family or do the household laundry, it’s typical to add a dollar or two to your hourly rate. Likewise, if you use your own car to transport children, it would be appropriate to ask the family to give you a predetermined mileage rate to cover the cost of gas and any normal wear and tear on your vehicle.

In addition to cooking, cleaning and laundry, other services you should consider charging extra for may include:

  • Dog-walking or other pet care

  • Administering medications

  • Doctor visits

  • Grocery shopping

  • Tutoring

  • Managing contractors, such as landscapers or pool cleaners

  • Buying gifts

  • Party planning

When do you ask for a raise?

Even if already working with a family, nannies can still negotiate for more pay, often as part of routine performance appraisals.

“As the children they care for grow (especially infants), the job duties will evolve and potentially become more demanding,” says nanny Melodie Peachey.

She recommends asking for a job evaluation every six to nine months to discuss your performance and changing responsibilities, as well as a fair rate increase.

Gerhart agrees, though she recommends annual performance reviews. She suggests nannies ask for at least $1/hour raise each year, unless a change in job duties warrant a larger increase. As an alternative, the family could provide an annual performance bonus in lieu of upping the hourly rate. Regardless, Gerhart says, nannies should incorporate both the routine appraisals and either the rate increase or annual bonus into their nanny contract, so everyone is on the same page about what to expect.
 

Setting a pay rate for your nanny services isn’t a perfect science. You might propose a starting rate you think is appropriate, only to realize later the compensation doesn’t quite match the workload. One way to avoid that might be to incorporate a three- or six-month trial period into the nanny contract, giving you a built-in timeline to revisit payment early on. And if you do get into a situation where you think you’ve made a mistake with your rate, don’t hesitate to speak up. Many families want to give their nannies a fair wage — but it’s up to you to communicate what that is and why.

Read next: How to interview for nanny jobs

Comments

What to do when the family gets a new puppy?

Robyn Correll
Aug. 27, 2018

Thanks for the question Kattie. Every situation/family is different. That said, generally speaking, my sources indicated that if you're using your own vehicle for pick-up and drop-off, then it would be appropriate to charge for that (often in the form of a per-mile reimbursement). But if you are using the family's vehicle, that would likely be included as part of your routine nanny responsibilities. I hope that helps!

User in Canton, MS
Aug. 24, 2018

What about pick-up and drop off?

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