Become a Nanny


What advice can you give a new Nanny? Here are the top answers from industry professionals:

  1. Become a nanny because you love children…you delight in the everyday little things….and you respect each and every child as a unique person with feelings, thoughts and ideas, no matter how old they are.
  2. It is important NOT to choose a career as a nanny for the money, because you will not get rich in this field.
  3. Know child development. Read magazines and books on the subject. (See the bookstore on this site for some suggestions from Nannies.) Take classes at your local community college. If you haven’t already done so, become certified in CPR and Emergency care by contacting your local Red Cross.
  4. Be picky about whom you work for. Try to get a personal interview in the house, meeting everyone before you decide to take the job. TRUST YOUR GUT INSTINCTS. Nannies are highly intuitive, it is a part of what makes them successful in raising children. Sometimes you WILL NOT BE ABLE to pinpoint what is making you uncomfortable about a job, but you can trust the feeling enough to make it a factor in your decision.
  5. Network with fellow Nannies. There are many places to find connections with other nannies on the internet. Check out the links page for a list of places to talk with other nannies from around the world.
  6. Learn to be organized. Don’t just let the days happen, plan activities and share your day’s events with your employers through brief written progress reports.
  7. Communicate with your employers. This is one of the most important and most difficult things to promote but it is essential in a successful relationship with your employers. If you are unsure how to handle a specific issue, ask some fellow nannies for advice. But make sure when you talk to your employers you are respectful and calm. Follow the golden rule to do unto others as you would have done unto you. Try to see an issue from both sides.
  8. Set a good example for your charges. Keep your environment tidy, your appearance respectable. Act like a professional and you will be treated as such.
  9. Join the International Nanny Association. You will find infinite support and wisdom through this organization.

Should I go through an Agency or through an Online Service?  Here are the top answers from industry professionals:

  1. Both probably. The agency you are with may not have a good match for you at the time and you could wait for months. It’s always advisable to be proactive in your search for a nanny job. Follow these safety tips for online nanny searchers. Also read this article on online scams and how to avoid them.
  2. Yes, definitely. However, be prepared to wait until you get what you want. Be picky and choosy. You have to deal w/ a potential family on a very intimate level so the right match is very important. Don’t do it for the money, do it because you genuinely like the family. Make sure that you agree w/ them on different levels such as discipline issues.
  3. Agencies are a good way to start. I wish I had known about them when I first started nannying. Check out the agency thoroughly first. Ask if you can talk to other nannies that have gone through the agency. See if they only work with specific areas. A good agency will not make YOU (the nanny) pay for any services/fees/etc. See how thorough they are when interviewing you. If they just want name, rank and serial number, that should be a warning sign.
  4. Yes. You have to be careful with them, because they will have other priorities than just Nanny, but the extra buffer they provide in dealing with the families first, provides a little bit of a screening process that you won’t have to do. By no means should you consider them a complete safety mechanism, because they are helping the families also, and sometimes do not perform all background checks on either family OR nanny.
  5. I own a nanny agency. I think that you should apply with different ones. Why not. You are looking for a job. If they want to prevent you from signing up with other agencies then there is a RED flag. We personally do not have our nannies stay with us for any period of time. When they are done with a job, they usually call us. As far as obligations-Be careful what you sign. Loyalty is a big thing with me. Meaning that if I was to refer a nanny to the job…if the family offers her *something* not to tell me that they have hired her. I feel that the nanny should tell me because the family is trying to cheat us out of the fee that they agreed to before I sent the nanny.

If I don’t go through an agency, do I need a background check on myself? Here are the top answers from industry professionals:

  1. I think that this is unnecessary. Some states such as California have a registry that you can join (Trustline) for a fee of $80. I would think that having sufficient references such as 3 previous jobs and 2 or 3 personal references would be ideal. Also provide a DMV printout, a copy of your drivers’ license and social security number. You can also get your fingerprints done to add an extra incentive to give the parents more trust.
  2. If you don’t go through an agency (and even if you do) be prepared to have a resume of sorts listing prior childcare experience and valid references. These should be previous employers as well as some personal. Have a driving record that is CURRENT from the DMV. I do not know about background checks, but I do know that local police stations will do fingerprinting for a small fee or for free. Also, in CA you can be registered under TRUSTLINE which does a background check for you. I don’t have the number on me, but I believe it is an 800 number.
  3. I am not sure that they would respect a background check that originated from your files, but they are most certainly sure to trust something that they obtain for themselves or from an agency. Doing a background check and financial search on yourself will provide peace of mind for you, in knowing what the computers will reveal, but you should also include the information about how they could obtain this information independently, should they wish to do so.

Should I be a live-in or a live-out Nanny? Here are the top answers from industry professionals:

  1. This depends on you personally. If you are 18 and used to living in a structured, secure environment of your parents home, perhaps this is the best route. I also think that this is preferable when moving to a new area where you may know no one. There are a lot of benefits to living in: free room, generally a car, and usually home cooked meals. The benefits of living out is that you usually make more money and you can fully leave your job when you are off.
  2. If you feel the need for complete privacy, you will need separate quarters that some families do not provide. Nanny Quarters are about a quarter of the job’s total attractiveness for me… since I spend a lot of my free individual time in them. The privacy benefits both Nanny and Family. Live-out Nannies make more money, and sometimes it is worth losing most of your income towards providing and being responsible for that separate housing, just to have the security of not losing your residence with your job each time.
  3. Being a live in or a live out depends on lots of things. Living in means always being around your employers, even on the off hours. There is a loss of some privacy, but at the same time, it is room and board and there is no need to worry about commuting/paying rent. If you are moving to a new area and don’t know it well or anyone there and have the chance of being a live in, go for it. I became a live out when it got hard for me to be at my job 24/7. Since then, I have been a live out and not had a problem. Some need that separation from work and regular life. You really have to observe yourself and see what situation would work better for you.

How do I know what I should be paid? Here are the top answers from industry professionals:

  1. Go to the International Nanny Association’s Nanny Salary Survey for up to date information on salaries in your area.
  2. I wish the agency would be up front about the solid facts of what your closest geographical peers are making. I wish the families would tell you what their last nanny was paid; if they are open and reasonable about giving their considerations along with their salary offer, they will be worth working for, even if their offer is a low one.
  3. Most entry level nannies make between $400 – $450 depending on the area you are in. Experienced nannies have been known to make over $1000 a week.
  4. Pay is another issue that differs from state to state. It even differs from city to city. Talk to agencies in the areas. If possible, talk to other nannies. Don’t expect to go in with little or no experience and make top dollar. It is just like any other job. You work your way up. The internet is full of nanny support groups/message boards/web sites for you to ask your questions to as well

What Questions should I ask a potential employer? Here are the top answers from industry professionals:

  • Here is a list of question put together by the Board of Directors of the National Association of Nannies.
    • Interview Questions
    • Is this a live in or live out position?
    • How many children, and what ages?
    • What are the hours?
    • Are the hours flexible or does 8-6 mean 8-6?
    • Are there other adults living in the home besides the parents?
    • Will I be expected to work weekends?
    • Do you travel?
    • Will I be expected to travel with you?
    • Will I be expected to stay with the children while you travel?
    • What is your description of the “ideal nanny”?
    • Define your idea of the nanny’s role in the family.
    • What are the duties?
    • Laundry ? (for children)
    • Who plans the meals, cooks and shops for groceries?
    • Who purchases the children’s clothes, toys, supplies?
    • Do you work outside the home or out of your home?
    • If the parents work at home, you need to set up some guidelines for how to handle things when you are there, and they are too.
    • What religion are they and how do you expect your nanny to participate in the child’s Religious teaching?
    • Is there other household help?
    • Who supervises them?
    • Will I be expected to take the children to doctor appointments, music lessons, classes, etc.?
    • Will I be expected to use my own car?
    • If yes, who will pay costs for Insurance, maintenance and gas?
    • How will we handle vacation time?
    • May I take it at my choice of times, or when you take yours?
    • Make a point of finding out whether or not you will be paid for unexpected days off. (Example: Grandparents come to town and parents give you the week off)
    • Explain that this is your profession and your livelihood and that you count on your paycheck to live. Paid Holidays?
    • Work holidays?
    • Weekly pay?
    • Salary or hourly?
    • Taxes?
    • Health insurance?
    • Retirement benefits? IRA?
    • Childcare related classes and conferences?
    • If I agree to work x number of hours a week for x amount of pay, do I get paid extra for any time over that amount?
    • What about pay for 24 hour duty?
    • What if I am sick?
    • Do I get sick pay?
    • What is your back up plan if I am sick?
    • Do you see this as a long-term position?
    • Do you anticipate moving in the near future?
    • Do you have pets?
    • What are your household rules?
    • Do the children or the parents have allergies I should be aware of?
    • Special dietary needs?
    • What is your discipline philosophy?
    • What values do you want taught and re-enforced in your children?
    • I would like to have an opportunity to spend some time with your children before I make my final decision, is that ok with you?
    • Are you willing to sign a work agreement with me that includes a 90-day trial period?
    • Communication is very important for nannies and employers. Are you willing to meet with me on a regular basis so that we can discuss how things are going? Will I receive an evaluation from you and raises on a yearly or BI- yearly basis?
    • This is my job, I am very serious about it, and I count on my paycheck to live. I need full-time work and full time pay.
    • What is your position on videotaping?

These interview questions were compiled by the Board of Directors of the National Association of Nannies and appear here with their permission.

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