6 important steps to becoming a professional nanny

Feb. 28, 2020
6 important steps to becoming a professional nanny

Nannying is an incredibly fulfilling and rewarding job, but it’s not easy work by any means. A nanny is someone who is patient and attentive, as well as committed to providing care for children of any age. Because of this, becoming a nanny is not a career you should dive into headfirst. You want to have the right experience and training, and it’s also important that you’re passionate about caring for kids. 

If this sounds like you and you’re ready to become a professional and find work as a nanny, here are the key steps to help you get there.

1. Get child care experience

To become a nanny, you need to have child care experience. 

“The fastest and easiest way to get experience is to start babysitting for your family and family friends,” says Imani Francies, a former babysitter and nanny from Atlanta, with nine years’ combined experience. 

There are several ways to gain experience and land babysitting gigs:  

  • Ask to babysit kids of friends, family, relatives, coworkers or neighbors.

  • Shadow families while the parents are home.

  • Become an assistant or helper at nearby child care centers.

Once you've successfully taken on your first few babysitting jobs, use that experience to build a steady flow of work, says Gabby Mata, a child care expert from San Antonio, with 15-plus years of experience. 

"Ask those families for recommendations or to be used as references," she says. 

Be sure to also ask for feedback and constructive criticism from the parents, as this will help you learn more as you work to transition from a babysitter to a nanny

2. Focus on trainings and certifications

There are no formal requirements needed to become a nanny, but arming yourself with the right training and certifications can help prepare you and help you stand out as a candidate.

Anyone working with children, says Francies, should have CPR and first-aid training

“You can receive this certification at your local YMCA or even at a local fire station,” she says.

Can’t find any local programs? 

“If all fails, Google will inform you of local individuals who are certified to train you,” says Francies.

If you want more in-depth training and education, consider more specialized nanny training courses and certifications, like:

  • Infant care classes.

  • Special needs care.

  • Water-safety education.

Even if you have a lot of certificates to show off, however, that’s not all families are looking for in a nanny. Families want someone with “personality, energy, compassion, empathy and kindness," says Florence Ann Romano, a Chicago-based child care expert known as the Windy City Nanny

In short: Don’t let a lack of certifications stop you from becoming a nanny.

3. Consider an early childhood education degree

To increase the likelihood of landing a job right away, Francies also suggests you consider a degree in early childhood education or a related field. 

“[These classes] can boost your chances of being hired almost instantly, and they’re a good investment if this is something you tend to do long-term,” she says.

4. Know the basics

Before you begin searching for a job, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the basics of the profession. The Professional Guide for Nannies from Care.com is one place to start. In it, you'll find everything you need to know about:

  • Finding the right job.

  • Interviewing process and tips.

  • Discussing and negotiating pay and benefits

  • Preparing for your first day

  • Setting yourself up for long-term success as a nanny

Bookmark and reference this guide as often as you need — but don’t stop your research there. There are so many nanny-friendly resources out there, from blogs and books to meetups and child care forums. Learn what you can about being a nanny so you feel more confident and prepared when you start applying.

5. Familiarize yourself with average rates in your area

As with any job, it's essential to know how much to charge. Whether you're looking to work part-time, full-time or do a nanny share, get familiar with average pay rates in your area. This interactive Cost of Child Care tool can calculate the average pay rates (weekly and hourly) based on how many children you're caring for, their ages and where you live. 

Pro tip: When you’re interviewing with potential employers and discussing pay, it’s OK to share your preferred rate. 

“Most times, [parents] will negotiate down or express they can’t afford the rate you presented,” Francies says. 

 However, if a family thinks your rate is too high or simply can’t afford your services (and you’re charging fair market rates), keep looking!

6. Create an online profile and start applying

Once you've got the experience and skills necessary to work as a nanny, it's time to land your first nanny job! One of the best ways to start is by searching for jobs online and creating a job profile and resume that stands out. 

While a nanny resume is important to showcase your experience, many families want to know that you’ll be a good fit for their kids, too. 

That’s why Francies advises that your bio and resume should “be conversational, show your personality and avoid grammatical errors.” 

Romano adds that you should also include more than just your qualifications and experience. Sprinkle in things like: 

  • Your philosophy as a nanny.

  • Your values.

  • What you would like to contribute to a family. 

Because you’ll most likely be looking for nanny jobs online, make sure to include a professional photo. Romano advises posting one that portrays you in a responsible, appropriate and friendly way. 

"Remember, a picture really is worth a thousand words!" Romano says.

Ultimately, though, Romano says it’s important to really wow families during the interview.

 “The bio is the bait, but you have to make sure that you sparkle even more in person than on paper!" she says.

Ready to start nannying? Take a deep breath

The journey to becoming a nanny will look different for everyone. Ultimately, though, this journey ends with you working with and investing in kids and families you love. Put in the time and effort to learn how to be a great nanny, and you’ll soon be fulfilling your role as a professional caretaker. 

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

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