Job Description

Baby and Nanny
••• Alexandra Grablewski / The Image Bank / Getty Images

A nanny is a childcare worker who looks after a family's children in their home. He or she typically works for one family at a time and may live with them.

Quick Facts

  • Over 1.2 million people are childcare workers, including nannies (2016)*
  • They earn a median annual salary of $22,290 or hourly wages of $10.72.*
  • 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. To cut childcare expenses, more families may decide to have one parent stay at home. This change may reduce 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.

A Day in a Nanny's Life

Employers listed nannies' typical job duties in ads on

  • "Change diapers, feed meals, and bathe"
  • "Provide enrichment and stimulation to children's day"
  • "Interact and involve children in play, both inside and outside"
  • "Transport children to activities"
  • "Keep household clean, tidy, and well-maintained"
  • "Participate in activities that help to develop the child's education including music classes and other stimulating activities"

The Truth About Being a Nanny

  • 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.

How to Become a Nanny

While there aren't formal educational requirements for nannies, 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. 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.

What Soft Skills Do You Need?

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. 

What Will Employers Expect From You?

Job announcements on reveal what qualifications families are looking for when they hire a nanny:

  • "Ability to pass background check"
  • "Driving license with a clean driving record"
  • "Must be CPR certified"
  • "Long term commitment"
  • "Must be kind, responsible, reliable, and be capable of organizing a household"
  • "Have lots of energy and love to have fun"
  • "Reliable, sweet, and proactive"

Is This Occupation a Good Fit for You?

Individuals with the following interestspersonality type, and work-related values are better suited for this occupation than are others:

Occupations With Related Activities and Tasks

Description Median Annual Wage (2017) Minimum Required Education/Training
Personal Care Aide Helps clients with activities of daily living


On-the-Job Training
Fitness Trainer Instructs people in exercise and related activities $39,210 H.S. or Equivalency Diploma
Childcare Center Worker Cares for children in childcare centers and preschools $22,290 H.S. or Equivalency Diploma
Residential Advisors Oversees activities in a residential facility such as a college dormitory or group home $26,830 Bachelor's Degree

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,  Occupational Outlook Handbook; Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor,  O*NET Online (visited June 18, 2018).