What Does a Nanny Do?

Learn About the Salary, Required Skills, & More

Image by Katie Kerpel © The Balance 2019 

A nanny works as a childcare worker to look after a family's children in their own home. Nannies typically work for one family at a time and may also live with them.

Nannies often work long hours with few days off in between. They are sometimes expected to care for family pets in addition to the children. Some jobs also provide room and board. They are often responsible for household chores including cleaning and cooking.

Nanny Duties & Responsibilities

A nanny's typical job duties may vary on any given day, but often consist of duties and tasks such as the following:

  • Change baby diapers, prepare and feed meals, and bathe children
  • Provide play, enrichment, and stimulation to children's day
  • Interact and involve the children in both inside and outside activities
  • Transport children to extracurricular-type activities
  • Keep the house clean, tidy, and well-maintained
  • Participate in various activities that help develop children's education, such as music classes

Nanny Salary

A nanny's salary varies based on the area of expertise, level of experience, education, certifications, and other factors.

  • Median Annual Salary: $23,234 ($11.17 /hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: More than $34,424 ($16.55/hour)
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: Less than $17,742 ($8.53/hour)

Education, Training & Certification

While there aren't formal educational requirements for nannies, certain education and credentials can help you improve your job prospects.

  • Education: some families may have their own stipulations. For example, some will only hire a college graduate while other families accept applicants who have a high school or equivalency diploma or less.
  • Professional standards: The International Nanny Association, an organization that describes itself as the umbrella association for the in-home child care industry, has a set of professional standards for nannies that include graduation from high school or its equivalent.
  • Credential: Workers who attain the Child Development Associate credential should have the best job prospects.
  • Certification: Some employers may require nannies to be certified in CPR.
  • Other requirements: Nannies may need to have the ability to pass a background check, and have a driving license with a clean driving record.

Nanny Skills & Competencies

Other than the ability to manage the hands-on tasks involved with caring for children, nannies need specific personal qualities called soft skills. One is either born with them or acquire them through life experiences.

  • Interpersonal Skills: Your ability to understand what the children in your care are feeling without being told is essential. This is called social perceptiveness. You must also be able to negotiate with, persuade, sympathize, and empathize with the children in your care as well as with their parents and other family members.
  • Speaking and Listening: The ability to understand directions and convey information to parents and others is imperative.
  • Problem Solving and Critical Thinking: You must be able to identify problems and select the best solution when trying to solve them.
  • Service Orientation: The desire to help others is an essential skill for those who want to work in this occupation.
  • Time Management and Organizational Skills: Nannies often manage the households in which they work. You may be responsible for cooking meals and getting children to and from school and other activities in a timely fashion.
  • Creativity: You will have to devise ways to keep children entertained during downtime.

Job Outlook

The job outlook in this field is good. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment will grow about as fast as the average for all occupations between 2016 and 2026, which is 7% growth in new jobs.

To cut childcare expenses, more families may decide to have one parent stay at home. This change may offset the need for nannies and other childcare workers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not report separate employment figures for nannies but instead includes them with childcare workers.

Work Environment

Nannies typically work in their employers' homes. They may also drive their employer's car, and live in their employer's home as well.

Work Schedule

Nannies may work part-time or full-time schedules, and some nannies work more than 40 hours per week, especially if parents need time to commute to and from work.

How to Get the Job

PREPARE

Assume that parents will conduct internet searches on each candidate they consider. To that end, develop a professional profile to post on online job-search websites, clean up your social media profiles, and be proactive about checking your DMV record. Do a background check on yourself, take a first-aid class, and join a local support group for nannies to find out what else potential employers may look at.


APPLY

Look at job-search resources like Indeed.com, Monster.com, and Glassdoor.com for available positions. You can also visit online sites that specialize in childcare jobs, and create a profile to showcase your skills for potential hiring parents.

Comparing Similar Jobs

People interested in a nanny career also consider the following career paths, listed with their median annual salaries: