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Is being a nanny the right career choice for you? Maybe you took care of your younger brothers and sisters, or you were always called to babysit by your neighbors, or maybe you are just passionate about working with kids. Being a nanny might be a great career choice for you.

[Credit: © Marcinski]
Credit: © Marcinski

What exactly is a nanny? defines a nanny as a person whose work is caring for a young child in the child's home. This can be done full- or part-time. If you decide you want to become a nanny, it’s important to figure out how many hours each week you’d like to work.

Full-time nannies work 40–60 hours each week and have two days off. They get paid vacations, sick time, overtime pay, and other benefits.

The family is relying on you to serve in their place while they work so your personal character and behaviors must be impeccable. You will be working with little or no other adult interaction, so your desire to be with children most of your day must be something you really want to do and enjoy.

Sometimes a nanny has specialized skills, like being able to work with newborns. These nannies are generally on call for 24 hours a day during the first few weeks of a child’s life.

Temporary nannies are another type of specialized nanny. These nannies will accept short-term, temporary employment — perhaps if a full-time nanny for the family is ill or on an extended leave.

Some nannies even specialize in working with multiples such as twins, triplets, or more.

Basic nanny characteristics

Being a nanny is rewarding, but it takes hard work and dedication to be successful. Sometimes you have to work in an environment with morals and values that differ from your own. In addition, you might have to relocate and spend countless hours without a peer support system like many other professions provide.

The International Nanny Association (INA) has adopted the following basic standards for nannies:

  • Must be at least 18 years of age

  • Must have completed high school (or the equivalent)

  • Must be in good general health with proof of immunizations, and, where states require, a negative TB test and/or chest x-ray

  • Must be able to legally accept employment in the country where they work

  • Must have an innate desire to make a positive contribution in the lives of children under their care

  • Extensive babysitting or daycare experience

  • Perhaps have already raised a family of her own

  • Could have a degree in early childhood education or elementary education

What is the nanny’s role?

A nanny basically takes the place of the parents for several hours daily. Although it’s important to ensure the children are protected, a nanny does much more. The duties of the nanny can include

  • Disciplining children based on the values of the family

  • Providing transportation to and from after school and cultural activities

  • Planning and cooking meals

  • Doing laundry and basic mending of the children’s clothes

  • Child-related housekeeping activities, like cleaning up after spills

  • Traveling with the family and caring for the children during family vacations

  • Designing and providing stimulating learning and appropriate exercise

Being a nanny can be a very rewarding field. For more information on becoming a nanny, visit the Internal Nanny Association (INA).

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