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How to Become a Nanny: Career Guide

Research the requirements to become a nanny. Learn about the job description and duties, and read the step-by-step process to start a career in nannying.

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Requirements to Become a Nanny

A nanny is a childcare provider who also handles other duties in the home, such as cleaning, doing laundry or tutoring children. Nannies aid in the intellectual and emotional growth of the children they care for and often work for a family for the minimum contract of one year. Nannies can be employed part- or full-time, and they often live with the families who employ them.

There are no educational requirements to become a nanny, but an associate's degree in early childhood education or certifications in specialized safety and childcare areas can potentially expand job opportunities. The following table outlines common requirements to become a nanny:

Common Requirements
Degree Level No degree is required, but an associate's degree and/or specialized certifications may aid career advancement.*
Degree Field Childcare, early childhood education.*
Certification CPR and first aid certification are commonly required. Additional optional certifications are available.**
Experience Varies. Each family will have their own expectations for a nanny's previous childcare experience.**
Key Skills Strong communication and instructional skills; patience is needed when working with children. Nannies need to have stamina to deal with high-energy children.*
Additional Requirements Nannies are typically required to be at least 18 years old. Candidates must be in good health, up to date on immunizations and have negative results on a tuberculosis test. A clean criminal background and negative drug test are also required.**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **Nanny.org.

Step 1: Gain Experience in Child Care

Nannies usually have prior experience working with children, either through babysitting, daycare, teaching or personal experience as a parent or a member of a large family. In order to stand out to potential employers, an aspiring nanny should have as much childcare experience as possible. The amount of experience required will vary significantly from one family to another.

Success Tips:

  • Collect references. As a prospective nanny builds experience, he or she should collect references and letters of recommendation from the families, centers, or schools he or she works with. Having solid references and accurate, up-to-date contact information will make it easier for a family to verify a nanny's experience.
  • Volunteer with children. Volunteering through an organization that works with children, such as at a hospital or an after-school program, may expand career opportunities for a person who wants to become a nanny. Volunteer work will provide both references and experience.

Step 2: Earn an Associate's Degree

A degree is not typically required for someone to become a nanny, but some families may look favorably upon applicants who hold a college degree in early childhood education. An associate's degree program in this field can provide knowledge of child behavior, development and special needs.

Success Tip:

  • Attend parenting classes or lectures. A person who wants to become a nanny might benefit from attending lectures related to child development or from taking parenting classes in addition to earning a degree. Lectures and parenting classes will teach an aspiring nanny valuable communication and mentoring skills to use when working with children.

Step 3: Join a Professional Organization

Joining a professional organization for nannies can be highly beneficial to workers in this field, since organizations often have a wide variety of resources available to members that can help advance a nanny's career. For example, the International Nanny Association (INA) provides access to continuing education information, mentoring programs and other services. Additionally, the INA offers two professional exams for members. The basic skills exam tests a person's childcare knowledge in the areas of health, safety, nutrition and professionalism. The INA credential exam tests applicants on practical childcare knowledge, such as child guidance, family communication, multicultural awareness and management skills. Passing these exams and earning their respective credentials can help a nanny stand out to families when applying for jobs.

Step 4: Obtain Additional Credentials

Completing the Child Development Associate (CDA) program offered by the Council for Professional Recognition can help nannies stand out as professionals in the field. This national credentialing program assesses a person's knowledge and abilities in childcare. To earn the title of CDA, one must be competent in a variety of areas, such as safety, health, teaching, communication, creativity, socialization, family child care and management. CDAs can also earn an additional endorsement in nurturing bilingual development in settings where English and a second language are regularly used. The CDA credential is required for child care center staff and preschool teachers in most states and thus may also provide nannies with alternative job opportunities.

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