How much should I charge for an after-school child care gig?

July 10, 2020

Before you head into an interview for an after-school nanny or babysitter job, it's important to put some time and research into pay rates. The more you know about the going rates for your area and the job at hand, the better off you'll be when it's time to negotiate on your own behalf. 

During one of my first interviews for an after-school child care position, I didn’t do any research to determine my rates. I was inexperienced and thought the parents would have a fair rate in mind. The interview went well, and I felt confident the family would offer me the position. However, when they asked, “How much do you charge?” I just said, “That depends on your budget.” That worked out well for them, they said, because they could only afford to pay $150 a week.

My heart sank. The position required 20 hours a week, plus transportation and meal prep. In the end, I had to turn down their offer. The family was very disappointed, and I felt awful. After that day, though, I learned to always come to an interview with a rough hourly and weekly estimate in mind.

Doing a little bit of legwork beforehand can prevent you from experiencing that same sticky situation when you’re applying to after-school positions. Here’s how you can determine a rate that works for both you and the family.

Determining rates for basic after-school care

When deciding how much to charge for your after-school care services, consider the national average.

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 caregivers an average of $243 per week. After-school sitters made an average of $16.20 per hour, working about three hours a day, or a total of 15 hours per week. Nannies made an average of $14.12 per hour for a 40-hour workweek.

That said, some areas may have higher costs of living, so it is helpful to find the average hourly or weekly rates for your area. Find the going rate where you live using the babysitting rates calculator

Jenny Ochoa, a veteran child care provider from Miami, recommends browsing after-school job listings for help with rates.

“I look at families’ hourly or weekly preferences before I really hammer down on my rates,” Ochoa says.

Common factors that impact after-school care rates

The going rates and job postings aren’t the only things that should be guiding your rate research. Consider some of the other common factors that can affect your caregiver rates.

After-school care experience. Families often want someone to step in and manage the after-school rush without much guidance.

“While I wouldn’t charge a ton more for your years of experience, I would recommend at least $1 to $2 more per hour,” says Rachelle Gershkovich, founder of Maternal Instincts, a night nanny agency in Denver.

Longer or more flexible hours. Some parents have a “normal” 9-5 work day, and some don’t. If the family you want to work with keeps untraditional hours or the schedule changes by the day, you may need to charge more or keep an hourly rate (rather than a weekly one).

Transportation. Some after-school care providers ask for a higher rate to account for the use of their car and the expenses associated with it. Note: Remember, it’s your responsibility to track your mileage and related expenses for tax purposes.

Household duties. Pet care, housekeeping, grocery shopping, meal prep — all of these are additional after-school services you can offer. It’s often easiest to find a flat rate for your “full service,” but families may want to pay you separately for occasional things like housekeeping or picking up the dry cleaning.

Tutoring. If you offer tutoring services, you may be able to charge more. You can check current after-school tutoring job listings to find out what rates tutors are charging in your area. While you likely can’t charge a typical tutoring rate on top of your hourly or weekly care rate, it is something to take into account when you figure your cost.

Safety certifications or health training. Do you have certifications or training that could boost your rates? Are you specialized in caring for infants or have you worked with children with special needs? Make sure to take this into account when setting your rate.

“A la carte” services. Many parents need basic care for their kids, but they’d also love to find someone who offers more.

“I’d be willing to pay a portion of the normal rate for someone who could teach my kid to swim or do something ‘out of the norm,’” says Julie Macon, a mom of two from Golden, Colorado.

Dog walking, packing suitcases and watching kids on the weekend are just a few things you may offer to increase rates or earn extra money.

Other cost considerations to keep in mind

In addition to all the factors listed above, there are a few elements that new after-school nannies and sitters may not know to consider when figuring out their rates. These include:

Parents’ budgets. Parents need help with their kids after school, but that doesn't mean they can pay as much as someone seeking full-time care. As Mandy Leslie, mom of two from Chicago, puts it: “Some after-school sitters cost just as much as full-time care. That is really hard on our budget.”

Early arrival. While you may only see the children for three to four hours a day as an after-school care provider, you will often need to get in a school pickup line early or get to the bus stop before the children. Make sure you consider the extra time when calculating your rates.

Fewer hours. Fewer hours means less pay than a full-time position, but with just as many expectations (sometimes more, if you count homework help and/or meal prep). Know exactly what you need to make before accepting an offer; it’s not fair to you or the family if you’re unhappy with your rates.

Unexpected “full” days. School isn’t always in session. In addition to a “regular” weekly rate for school weeks, you should also have rates for full days, like:

  • Sick or snow days.

  • School in-service days.

  • Holiday breaks.

Summer expectations. Talk to the family about their summer needs during your initial interview. Then, work to develop a summer rate (if it’s a good fit).

Know your worth — and charge it

Once you’ve figured out your after-school care rates, be confident in them. Gerskovich adds that after-school positions are often “the hardest to fill” because of the non-traditional hours and extensive needs these families have. That means, if after-school care is right for you, there are families looking for you.

Know what you want to charge and which services you can offer. Then, share your rates confidently.

Get it in writing

When you and your employers come to an agreement on your rate for after-school care or any other duties, get it in writing. A nanny contract or babysitter contract can help ensure everyone is on the same page about expectations and rates and the services that will be given in exchange.

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

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