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What Qualifications Do You Need to Become a Nanny? by Kari Clarke

If you want to become a nanny, one of the first questions you may have asked yourself is, ‘Where do I begin?’ As stated by ABC News, some nannies start in the profession on an amateur basis, mostly being paid in cash. Becoming a full-time nanny is a whole different kettle of fish, of course. On average, nannies can charge anywhere from $25 to $50 an hour in a capital city like Washington DC, but as time goes by, you can negotiate salary rises and improvements in your conditions. Of course, the more qualified you are, the more leverage you have to negotiate. While it is true that experience is the ultimate litmus test for a good nanny, it can’t hurt to wow a prospective employer with qualifications which are relevant to the job.

What Do Most Employers and Agencies Require?

Each agency and individual family will have their own set of requirements. Some of the most common include being at least 18/21, having a minimum number of years of experience (usually around three), a high school diploma, a valid driver’s license, and a clean criminal record. Some may also require nanny training. This can range from an associate’s degree to having complete courses in first aid and CPR.

University Education for a Winning Edge

One degree very selective families can require is an Associate’s degree in early childhood education. This usually lasts around four semesters, covering around 60 credit hours. In this course, you learn how to make learning fun, but also obtain an education in guidance, discipline, and creative expression. You are probably already intrigued – since clearly, all these skill are put to use daily by motivated nannies. If you love continuous learning and you can make time to pursue a thesis-free doctorate or masters, all the better!

This type of further qualification is available as an off-campus course, which is great if you are already working. It enables you to obtain a postgraduate degree in less time, which is great if you are already working. As reported by The New York Times, “a nanny increases her market value if she speaks fluent French (or, increasingly, Mandarin); can cook a four-course meal (and, occasionally, macrobiotic dishes); and ride, wash and groom a horse.” It may all sound a little demanding but ultimately it depends on considerations such as how many hours you can dedicate to the job, your salary aims, and your target family. If you aim to enter a very exclusive household and earn a high-level salary, specialized knowledge in an area like languages can be useful.

Non-University Courses That Can Get You the Job

Arguably the most important thing to know when you are a nanny (aside from keeping kids happy) is how to deal with a medical emergency. Therefore, you should have certifications in CPR and First Aid and if you will be caring for babies, then a specific course for this age group will help you feel much more confident in a crisis situation. Other courses to consider include water safety and care for newborns. Coursera has a Newborn Baby Care Specialization that include the need for initial medical interventions and screenings, health assessments, transport and sleep safety, bonding, nutrition, etc. The World Health Organization also has online resources that provide information on those crucial first months of life. 

If you are keen on becoming a nanny, know that as is the case with most professions, learning can be a lifelong pursuit. You may start out by obtaining crucial experience, but decide that studying part time to obtain your associate’s degree or graduate and postgraduate degrees will be useful for the type of nannying you wish to undertake. Some courses are crucial (including first aid and CPR) because they will enable you to respond correctly in a crisis situation but also to go to work confidently every day, knowing you have what it takes to save a child or baby in need.

Nanny Education