Ask the Nannies: How Do I Become a Professional Nanny?

Experienced Nannies Share Their Tips

Mom’s Best Friend’s staffing specialists Melanie and Elena have extensive experience as professional nannies. Their advice addresses frequently asked questions from both aspiring and experienced nannies.

Gaining Experience
A career as a nanny starts differently for everyone, but for both of us, we started at daycare centers. We both quickly realized this wasn’t the right long-term setting for us. As Melanie noted, “I loved working with the children but wanted to provide individualized care.” We both went on to look for entry-level positions as a nanny, which typically can be found either through online sites, Facebook groups, word of mouth, or through a sitter service. Elena worked as a sitter through Jovie (which was then College Nannies and Tutors), which eventually matched her with a family for a long-term nanny position. For Melanie, Sittercity ended up being where she landed her first position.

Daily Tasks/Duties
In these new roles, we began learning the ropes. Daily tasks and responsibilities varied with each family but included helping get their children ready for school in the morning (dressing, making breakfast, etc.), tidying up, transportation to/from school, running errands (dry cleaning, groceries, etc.), children’s laundry, children’s meal preparation, play dates, age appropriate developmental activities, putting kids down for naps (a great time to do some light housekeeping of common areas and plan the next day), and taking children to after-school activities (making sure they have their supplies). Summer activities included outings, swimming, craft and activity ideas from Pinterest, and workbooks/educational activities to prepare them for the future school year. We both agree that screen time is a no-go. “I always made sure to go the extra mile too,” said Elena, “My mindset was always focused on what I could do to help the family so they could spend more time with each other.” Once the parents came home, it is important to give them an account for the day.

Industry Standards
In our early jobs, we learned about the industry, “Before my first position, I did not know much about industry standards within the nanny profession,” said Melanie, “But I was lucky to have a family who provided competitive pay, offered a contract with benefits and paid me via a payroll service. This really set me up for success and became my standard moving forward.” It is important to remember however that families posting their jobs sometimes do not know what the industry standards are for hiring a nanny. Make sure to educate yourself beforehand on your local industry standard rates, make sure you use a contract and are paid legally via a payroll service.

Gaining References
It is extremely important to be dependable, proactive, flexible, and to end things professionally, because these references are the key to future positions. We both recommend getting letters of recommendation for each position as well to build your professional portfolio (resume, letters, certifications/continuing education, etc.).

Continuing Education
We recommend being CPR and first aid certified for the duration of your career (expires every 2 years). Of course degrees of any kind are helpful (particularly those with a child/education focus), but there are also many childcare related certifications and resources. It’s important to make sure they are accredited programs, such as some continuing education classes offered by major universities. Melanie mentioned as one of her resources. “It was very thorough, super affordable and I was able to take the classes at my own pace.” We also recommend the yearly International Nanny Training Day events (in April) both for education and as a great way to network with and meet other nannies.

Career/Professional Nannying
Once we had sufficient experience, we were ready to work with a reputable nanny agency like Mom’s Best Friend. This is a priority, because when agencies do it right, they educate families about industry standards, including pay rates, benefits, paying legally, standard duties for nannies, and employment contracts, ensuring that nannies have an advocate in their corner.

For any additional information or questions, please feel free to reach out to either of us!
Melanie (Austin) | Elena (Houston)