Education and Training: High school plus training
Salary: Median—$400 to $700 per week
Employment Outlook: Good
Definition and Nature of the Work
Nannies are child care specialists who provide full-time care for children in the employer's home. People sometimes confuse nannies with babysitters, teachers, or housekeepers. However, unlike other child care workers, a nanny usually provides long-term care for the children in one family. These children may be infants, preschoolers, or older. Nannies work directly for a family, not for a school or an organization.
Duties may vary from household to household, but nannies generally tend to the basic needs of the children they care for, including shopping, cooking, preparing bottles, changing diapers, ironing and mending, supervising baths, and educating and amusing the children by reading and taking them on outings. They also discipline the children according to parents' wishes.
Education and Training Requirements
A nanny must be a sensitive and stable person who understands and likes children. A typical nanny is a high school graduate who has received further training in child care and development. If interested individuals have been trained as a teacher, they may wish to pursue a governess position, which combines the roles of nanny and teacher. Governess jobs are available in some wealthy families.
High school students interested in becoming nannies should take courses in communication, psychology, health, family and consumer science, and biology. Babysitting and camp counseling will also provide valuable experience.
A number of nanny schools have opened in different parts of the country. Some private schools provide a ten-to sixteen-week training course for nannies that includes an internship. Applicants to nanny schools must be in good health, provide letters of reference, and show that they have a driver's license. Many two-year colleges offer an associate degree program in child development, and some four-year colleges offer a bachelor's degree in child development. Courses include child psychology, first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), creative play, and family dynamics. A few states offer certification for people who have successfully completed such courses.
Getting the Job
The three main paths to employment as a nanny are school placement services, employment agencies, and classified ads. Agencies may request a minimum commitment of a year, so job seekers should screen them carefully, perhaps by contacting some of the nannies the agencies have already placed. State employment offices and college newspapers may also advertise positions.
Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook
Advancement opportunities in the nanny profession are limited. Nannies are not promoted. However, they may leave one job for another that offers better wages and living conditions. Some nannies return to college and receive teaching credentials. Others may open nanny schools or agencies.
The employment outlook for nannies is good through the year 2014. As the number of families in which both parents work outside the home increases, so will the demand for nannies. Already the demand far exceeds the supply. Those with formal training and excellent references from past employers will be the most sought after.
Most families who hire nannies live in apartments in large cities or in houses in suburban areas. In most cases nannies work in agreeable surroundings. They may live in pleasant rooms in the homes of their employers, or they may have homes of their own and commute back and forth to work. Before accepting a position, a nanny should feel comfortable in the prospective employer's habitat.
Nannies do much of their work in the employer's home. However, they may also spend a good deal of their work time outside the home, driving the children to school, to the doctor's office, and to special events. They may take the children for walks, go shopping with them, or participate in some of their hobbies or athletic activities, such as ice skating or soccer. Nannies might also travel with the family on their vacations. Sometimes this may involve travel out of the country. Nannies often work more than forty hours per week. Occasionally they may be asked to work during the evening or on weekends. Working with children for long hours can be stressful. Some children are very demanding and resent being disciplined by a nanny. Parents, too, can make the nanny's job difficult, by interfering too much or by indulging the children and thus undermining the nanny's authority. The long hours and the demanding nature of the job may inhibit a nanny's social life. Nannies must be sure to set aside time to pursue personal interests. It is important for nannies to sit down with their future employers and discuss expectations on both sides and what their job entails. This will prevent disagreements and tension later. Nannies who live and work far from their own families may experience homesickness and loneliness. But most nannies experience great professional and personal satisfaction in their jobs.
Earnings and Benefits
Nannies earn a median weekly income of $400 to $700. Experienced nannies, especially ones working for wealthy families in major metropolitan areas, can earn $800 or more per week. In addition, they often receive room and board. Some have the use of a car. Nannies usually receive an annual raise, although some employers give them a raise every six months.
Where to Go for More Information
American Council of Nanny Schools
30 S. Franklin St.
Chagrin Falls, OH 44022
International Nanny Association
2020 Southwest Frwy., Ste. 208
Houston, TX 77098
Employers must make payments for the worker to the Social Security Administration, and some states require that employers provide workers' compensation insurance. Other benefits vary according to the contract between employer and employee; benefits may include paid vacations and health insurance, and even such fringe benefits as education reimbursement.