Is Working as a Nanny Skilled or Unskilled Labor?

Nannies without any specialized training are unskilled and nannies with childcare training and experience lean more towards skilled labor.

Being a nanny is a huge responsibility. Families trust you with the care and well-being of their most precious family members – their children. Some families seem to think caring for children is an innate talent that doesn’t require any specialized training or experience. Other families want to hire a fully trained childcare specialist.


When talking about wages, it helps to understand some basic workforce terms and how they relate to pay. One main concept that needs to be understood is the difference between skilled and unskilled labor. This difference is not as clear cut as you may think.


According to, “Skilled labor refers to persons or positions requiring a specialized skill set in order to complete some of the assigned tasks”. This generally requires advanced education or training beyond high school and can sometimes be acquired through experience. Skilled labor is not limited to white-collar positions, but also includes many blue-collar professions such as auto mechanics, HVAC specialists, plumbers and electricians.


Typical unskilled labor positions require no specific higher education although many prefer a high school diploma or GED, no specialized experience, and are often comprised of common and/or repetitive tasks. They are often basic positions and are generally low paying. “Unskilled labor is used to refer to a segment of the workforce associated with limited skill set or minimal economic value for the work performed” (


These seem cut and dried, but what about all the positions that fall in between these extremes? What about the home health care worker who is trained by their agency, but not a licensed medical professional? What about the foodservice and retail position worker who has completed require company training? Are these positions deemed skilled or unskilled? There is a continuum between unskilled and highly skilled labor. Positions requiring years of education and training, such as doctors and lawyers, are not referred to as skilled labor but fall under the umbrella of professionals.


Many of today’s positions fall into a mid- or semi-skilled category. With the advent of technology, jobs that were once simple and didn’t require training, now do. For example, a call center employee used to be able to perform their job by talking on the phone and writing the necessary information on forms. Now, they have to have computer entry skills, so all data are correctly captured in the company database.


So how do Nannies fit into this ever-evolving picture? We entrust nannies with the care and well being of our children – a daunting responsibility. However, there is little to no documented skill set requirements for nannies. Thus, many families view childcare as an unskilled, common-sense position with a low salary. This may be true for babysitters who provide for the safety and well-being of children for short periods of time.


However, Nannies differ from babysitters in that they are a consistent childcare provider over a longer period and assist with the development of the children. Nannies may be responsible for one or more children throughout the workday while family members are at their places of employment. In addition to providing for the safety and well-being of the children, a nanny may also provide meals and activities, take them on outings and providing additional support such as transporting children to and from school, from school to clubs, sports practices, playdates, and other activities. Nannies work autonomously and may have full responsibility to care for the children overnight or when families are out of town. Many people view these tasks as unskilled while some families recognize nanny training and view the position as skilled.


Nannies without any specialized training are unskilled and nannies with childcare training and experience lean more towards skilled. Some nanny positions may include responsibilities for early childhood education to ensure the toddler is ready for preschool. The optimal candidate for this position would not only understand the age-appropriate basics of care but would also understand the preschool requirements and how to create and implement lesson plans. Other nanny positions may require a special needs caregiver. This position would require very specialized training and experience.


If a family is desiring to hire a nanny – they should list the job responsibilities and assess their desired level of training and skill set. When they interview prospective candidates, they should ask about specialized education and training as well as experience. The compensation package they offer should be commiserate with the training and skill level of the candidate.


When it comes to compensation, the US Department of Labor Fact Sheet 79B: Live-in Domestic Service Workers Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), states “Persons employed in domestic service in private homes are covered by the FLSA; they must be paid at least the federal minimum wage for all hours worked and overtime pay at time and a half the regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek, unless they are subject to an exemption.” Domestic service workers who reside in the employer’s home and are employed by an individual, family or household are exempt from the overtime pay requirement, although they must be paid at least the federal minimum wage for all hours worked.


Being a nanny can be a rewarding career. If you are just starting your career or want to improve your skillset, consider taking courses focused on the responsibilities you will encounter on the job. Many nannies may have qualifications that include college degrees in Early Childhood Education, Special Needs Education, or Psychology with diverse work experiences as a nanny, in daycares, teaching, or advocacy positions. Some nannies have specialized training in Montessori, Resources for Infant Educarers® (RIE), or Waldorf child development approaches. Nannies who are highly skilled and work for high profile and/or high net worth families and find themselves extremely desirable within the nanny market.

Is Your Daughter Ready to be a Babysitter?

Supervising children is an important responsibility and there are many considerations for new sitters.

Your daughter is growing up so fast and now she wants to take on part-time babysitting jobs to earn spending money. While admiring her work ethic, you may wonder if she’s ready. What if one of the children gets hurt? What if there is a fire while she is babysitting? What if a child wanders off? Supervising children is an important responsibility and there are many considerations.


Babysitters supervise children while the parents are temporarily away or nearby and focused on other activities. Babysitters are usually hired by the hour and work in the family home. Typical duties include playing with children, preparing simple meals and/or snacks, cleaning up play areas, and putting children to bed. The underlying assumption is that the babysitter is responsible for keeping the child safe.


  1. Is your child old enough? Some states have specific age requirements for babysitting while others simply offer guidance on what age children can be left home alone. The most common state minimum age for children to be left alone with siblings or other children is 12 years old. The American Red Cross has a minimum age of 11 years old to take their babysitting course. Be sure to check if your state has a minimum age requirement.


  1. Is your child mature enough? The right age to allow a young person to start babysitting is a judgment call that should be based on training, maturity and experience. Before letting your child babysit, encourage her to take CPR and First Aid. These courses are basic childcare requirements and will better prepare your daughter for emergency situations. In addition to training, honestly assess your child’s personality, work ethic and maturity level. Does she like playing with younger children? Is she responsible enough to put her phone away and focus solely on the children in her care? Would she be able to keep track of several children at one time?


  1. Does your child aware and comfortable with the responsibility? The type of babysitting job is also critical as some focus on entertaining and playing with children while other sitter jobs include bath time and overseeing children as they complete their homework and chores. Will the parents be close and available to come home quickly if need be? Are the parents at work and less able to return? Will you be nearby and able to assist? Is the job for a few hours on a Friday night or a summer job while the children are out of school? If the job requires more than a few hours of supervisory childcare or working with an infant, does your daughter have the childcare skills?


  1. Does your child have experience? Many sitters start as mother’s helpers to learn more about childcare, especially caring for toddlers and preschoolers. Being a mother’s helper allows your daughter the opportunity to shadow and work with a mother under the supervision of the mother. This reduces stress and anxiety for both the family and the new sitter until both are comfortable.


Each sitter position is unique to the needs of the family so it’s important to have a written document to clarify the expectations and job requirements. A simple letter that documents the expectations by defining what the sitter should and should not do and rules for the children can help avoid misunderstandings. This agreement should be reviewed by both the sitter and the parents and should contain the hourly rate for the sitter and emergency contact numbers for the parents.


  1. Are you comfortable with the risk? It’s rare, but things can go wrong. Babysitters are expected to keep the children in their care safe and conduct themselves in a ‘reasonable’ manner. Unfortunately, the definition of reasonable is not always cut and dried and is determined on a case by case basis.


If a child is injured, liability decisions are affected by many factors including how the injury occurred, if the injury was the result of a known medical condition and the actions of the sitter. Children are active and skinned knees and bruises from falling while playing a game are expected. These can occur no matter who is watching the child and it is considered ‘unreasonable’ to try to protect children from every possible injury. However, if a parent says the child is not to ride their bike, and the sitter lets them ride – the sitter may be liable for any injuries incurred – especially if the instructions were written in a babysitter agreement.


Babysitting is a wonderful first job for your daughter as it teaches responsibility, communication skills, and work ethic. Childcare is also a potential career as many sitters advance to nanny positions that provide flexible income while they are in college or entering the workforce. While sitters earn about $10 per hour, nannies can earn $15-20 with advanced training. Sitters who are at least 16 years old and are seeking to be summer nannies can enroll in the Basic Childcare Certification program.

Babysitter, Nanny, Family Assistant: What Do I Need?

Childcare is a must, so where do you start?

You have young children and need time to work. Childcare is a must, so where do you start? Do you need a Nanny, a Family Assistant, or should you use daycare and augment with a Babysitter? There are so many different terms and titles, it can certainly feel overwhelming! “A big challenge in the industry is that terms are often confused. It leads to a disconnect in expectations making it harder for families and nannies to manage expectations about job duties and compensation.” Shares Daryl Camarillo, Owner of Stanford Park Nannies.

While there are training programs and state requirements for daycare workers and teachers, no qualifications are required for nannies and sitters who work in our homes. “Licensed childcare certification programs for nannies, are vital in helping families ensure their children are cared for by qualified persons” shared Dr. Lauren Formy-Duval, a child psychologist, adjunct professor, and a mom. “Nannies and Sitters investing in affordable and high-quality training not only gain practical skills but also enable a career path, just like teachers and other professionals.”

Understand Your Family Needs

Childcare costs are often the second largest family expense and the salary you can afford to pay is one of the most important elements to finding a great nanny. What is your budget? When you have determined how much you can invest in childcare, you can then determine the tasks you need to be completed. How many hours of childcare are needed? Do you need backup care if the nanny isn’t available? Do you need overnight care? Take time to write out as many of the logistical needs as possible and create a separate list of all the activities and tasks that need to be completed.

Align Your Needs to Childcare Job Titles

Matching the family needs to childcare job titles and skills is vital to find the best fit. Families can’t realistically hire Nanny Poppin at a babysitter rate so it’s important to understand the different types of sitters, nannies, and family assistants. Babysitters provide for the safety of children for several hours, often with the family members nearby and available by phone. Babysitters may have some childcare experience but are often early in their childcare career.

1. Parents’ Helper

Parents’ Helpers are considered babysitters-in-training, as they help care for children under the direct supervision of a parent or guardian. Often too young or inexperienced to care for children independently, Parents’ Helpers play with children, feed babies or make easy lunches, and perform light housework. An entry-level position in childcare, Parents’ Helpers should have CPR and First Aid training but may not have experience working with children. For those less than 16 years old, the American Red Cross offers an online class and local YMCA’s may host a babysitter training day.

2. Babysitter

Babysitters provide for the safety of children for several hours, often with the family members nearby and available by phone. Usually working for a few hours in the evening or during the weekend, Babysitters may supervise playtime, provide parent-approved snacks, and help children get ready for bed. Sitters may do light housekeeping, such as washing the dishes or emptying the diaper bin. Sitters should have CPR and First Aid certification and it’s recommended they compete for childcare training.

3. Nanny (Part or Full Time)

Nannies have contracted, consistent work for at least 3 months but usually a year or more. Nannies are responsible for one or more children throughout the workday while family members are at their places of employment. Care includes providing meals and activities for the children and may also include taking the children on outings and providing additional support such as transporting children to and from school, from school to clubs, sports practices, play-dates, and other activities. Nannies work autonomously and may have full responsibility to care for the children when families are out of town.

All nannies, whether part or full time, should have CPR and First Aid certification and invest in childcare training that teaches age-appropriate growth, development, and activities from newborn through primary years. Nutrition, fitness, health, art, music, and communication courses provide practical skills to help nannies excel as in-home childcare providers.

4. Professional Nanny and Family Assistants

Professional Nannies are the central core to managing all schedules, logistics, and needs for the entire family. Daryl Camarillo describes the role of a professional nanny. “Families think of [professional] nannies as in-home professionals who do everything to care, nurture, and develop the children. These include household duties related to childcare and the upkeep of the home such as washing bottles, meal preparation for the children, emptying diaper bins, and the child’s laundry. Families are seeking nannies to take the child to activities and invest in their development and growth. They view the nanny as part of the childcare team.”

Professional Nannies can have different types of specialization based on training and experiences that elevate their skills as family assistants, early childhood educators, or special needs caregivers. Family assistants (sometimes referred to as Household Managers or Nanny Managers) perform childcare duties with additional responsibilities such as managing a weekly schedule, scheduling and attending doctor appointments, picking up the dry cleaning, planning and hosting birthday parties, household organization, shopping, pet care, meal planning, and preparing meals for the family. Family Assistants are often committed to the role as their primary employment and have the maturity to work unsupervised while remaining responsible for several children and an allocated budget.

Family Assistants have a combination of childcare experience, training, and organizational skills. Family Assistants often have between 2 to 5 years of in-home childcare experience with additional experience managing their own household or working in the service industry as a personal chef, pet sitter, or cleaning service provider. The majority have CPR and First Aid certification, and most have completed childcare and household management programs.

Specialist Nannies have varying qualifications that often include college degrees in Early Childhood Education, Special Needs Education, or Psychology with diverse work experiences as a nanny, in daycares, teaching, or advocacy positions. Specialists may also be travel nannies or are specially training in Montessori, RIE, or Waldorf child development approaches. Specialist Nannies are passionate about their work and are often leaders in the nanny industry. Many Specialist Nannies work for high profile and/or high net worth families and find themselves extremely desirable within the nanny market.

Leverage Resources

After listing your family needs and matching job titles, you can use online resources and local networks to seek candidates or work through a nanny agency. Many families network with other parents, talk to daycare and children activity leaders, as well as use online job boards to find great nannies and sitters. “It’s time-consuming to screen and interview potential sitters,” said Lisa Merriweather, a working mother in Los Angeles. “I look for an investment in childcare training and I always call their references after conducting a background check.” A reputable nanny or domestic placement service can also help find top nannies and sitters in your area, saving you time and effort.

Top 10 Benefits to Nanny or Babysitter Certification

Families, agencies, and employers are always looking for high quality babysitters and nannies so set yourself apart as a certified childcare provider.

Want to be a babysitter or nanny? How can you compete? Families, agencies, and employers are always looking for high-quality babysitters and nannies so set yourself apart as a certified childcare provider. According to Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce*, on average, certificate holders earn 20 percent more than high school-educated workers. Moreover, even when certificates don’t provide an earnings boost, they make individuals more employable.

With 5 licensed and industry respected certification programs from Basic to Advanced and Professional, you can pick the certification that patches your career goals. Here are the top 10 reasons to invest in certification.

1. Childcare Knowledge.

Having a solid knowledge of child development is a key piece of quality childcare. Knowing what is typical or common at different ages is important in providing appropriate and effective care for the children placed in our supervision. This training includes the major developmental stages of infancy through elementary and middle school age; discussion of the physical, cognitive, and social-emotional milestones within each stage; and activities that encourage healthy child development. Learn the basics of positive discipline from a child psychologist, nutrition for children from a clinical dietitian, and important employment information from a lawyer.

2. Practical Skills.

From diapering infants to temper tantrums to helping with homework, these courses provide practical advice and tools that you can apply when caring for one child or a group of children. Faculty experts also share how to create daily schedules, support the child athlete, and help children learn to cope with stress.

3. Better Job Opportunities.

Are you applying for your dream job working with children? Training and certification increases family and employer’s confidence in your skills and creates a competitive advantage for positions. With advanced certifications that require work experience, you may even earn a higher wage. If certified by Amslee Institute, you get job placement support including resume writing and interview preparation.

dad and child feeding kangaroos at zoo4. New Places.

Want to travel or live in new and exciting locations? Certified applicants have greater opportunities to work at resorts, on cruise ships or find employment in another city or country. Completing a well-designed curriculum demonstrates broader childcare knowledge as well as specialized skills required for in-home care.

5. Demonstrated Commitment.

Children need stable environments so families, as well as employers, look for someone who will commit to the position – often for at least a year. An investment in training and certification demonstrates this type of commitment to a childcare career.

6. Confidence.

By completing the courses and passing the proficiency exams, you can be confident knowing you’ve learned the skills you need to be successful. Attaining a professional certification shows that you have done the work – you set a goal, worked towards completion, and earned a certification.

woman using laptop7. Continuous Learner.

According to the Guardian**, there’s a strong correlation between learning and sustained employment. Employees who demonstrate that they’re conscientious about their personal development are likely to be seen as highly motivated and engaged. With 5 certification levels, you can improve your skills and knowledge over time to demonstrate you are a continuous learner. Part-time babysitters can start with the Basic certification and as they gain experience, seek additional certifications. Experienced nannies may start at the Advanced or Specialist level and progress to the Professional level.

8. Leadership.

The Professional certification program includes a student project that requires the students to share their expertise with others. Mentorship opportunities are also available to allow Professional certificate candidates the opportunity to help those early in their careers.

certification9. Simplified Hiring Process.

Amslee Institute certification programs require completion of First Aid and CPR certification, passing of proficiency exams, written recommendations, and documented work experience. These job requirements and achievements can be shared with an official transcript. This will streamline the hiring process with potential employers. In addition, when certification is completed, Amslee Institute will help connect graduates with potential employers.

10. Community.

Students become part of the Amslee family and can network through classes, join the private Facebook group with other students and faculty, and participate in online discussions where fellow students and faculty share best practices and answer questions.

Certification can fast track a childcare career in weeks with training that is specifically designed to provide students with the mental, emotional, and social skills needed to positively influence the development of young children. With job placement support and demonstrated skills, an industry respected certification may earn higher compensation.

For more information about childcare certification programs, visit Amslee Institute at

*Carnevale, Anthony P., Rose, Stephen J., Hanson, Andrew R. (2012, June). Certificates: Gateway to Gainful Employment and College Degrees. Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Retrieved from

**Mills, Corinne. (2013, May 6) Keeping your professional development continuous. The Guardian. Retrieved from

8 Role Model Behaviors for Nannies and Babysitters

Ensuring children are around positive role models and childcare providers will help them learn a vast array of social skills.

It’s so cute when a 3-year old boy wears a team jersey and cheers for his dad’s team. It’s adorable when a 4-year old girl wears mom’s shoes and carries her purse around the house. Imitating the behaviors of adults and other children is commonplace from infancy through adulthood. It’s amazing how much children learn from watching others. Ensuring children are around positive role models and childcare providers will help them learn a vast array of social skills.

As a nanny, you spend a lot of time with children. These children look to you and will learn from your words, actions, and behaviors. Here are 8 things to consider when you are working with children:

1. Lead by example.

When you are driving and another car cuts you off, it is often tempting to yell at the other driver. If there are children in the car with you, think about the message you are sending to them. You don’t really want them to think it’s okay to shout or say mean things to others. Instead, keep the words of annoyance and frustration in your head. Speak to the children and share that the person driving the other car made a bad choice or a mistake and that you are going to focus on making good choices. This teaches accountability and independent decision making.

2. Listen to children.

Children see the world in wonderful and surprising ways. Because of their curiosity, they often see things that adults overlook. It’s easy as an adult to ‘half-listen’ when a child is sharing something with you. Instead, focus on what the child is saying and ask questions to really understand what the child is thinking or trying to communicate. This teaches children that what they say is important to you. It also teaches them active listening and social skills. Adults can also benefit from this as they often see things from a different, and sometimes a more interesting perspective.

3. Use positive re-enforcement.

Caregivers can get into the habit of saying “No” a lot. Of course, in a situation where the child may get hurt – “No” is important and children must be kept safe. But if you find yourself saying “No” to everything – you may want to rethink your approach. If Johnny wants to go outside and it’s raining – instead of just saying “No’, you may want to say “Johnny, it’s raining so we can’t go outside right now. Would you rather play with your blocks or train set?” If you get down to Johnny’s level with open body language and a pleasant voice – Johnny will most likely choose one of the options and begin to play. If you encourage his selection and comment on how nicely he is playing, everyone has a better day!

child playing with blocks4. Creative and positive outlets.

Everyone has stress in their lives. Having a way to manage stress positively is important for childcare providers and children. When you are feeling stressed, don’t be afraid to show children how you handle it. Let them see you taking a few deep breaths or jogging in place. When you recognize stress in children, help them cope by doing deep breathing exercises with them, or playing soft music, or running with them to let off steam. Children who learn stress coping techniques will fare better at handling adult stresses later in life.

5. Be confident.

Children want to feel safe and secure and if they think an adult is scared or unsure, then they may feel insecure or anxious. In day to day interactions, using a strong voice and clear sentences conveys confidence. If you tend to talk out loud to yourself and you say, “I wonder if we have food for lunch”, it may make a younger child worry about their next meal even if the kitchen is fully stocked. Watch what you say and think about how a child might interpret it. If you are thinking about lunch, ask Sally if she wants a sandwich or chicken for lunch instead of wondering what is available. This provides Sally confidence there is food and empowers Sally in the decision-making process.

6. Be Respectful of others.

Being disrespectful is often easy to see in others but harder to see in ourselves. The grimace on our face when we disagree with someone on the news or the comment about the woman in line who is wearing too much perfume are both behaviors that will be mimicked by children. To teach positive behaviors, we need to exhibit them, so this means saying please, thank you, and excuse me to others. It also means paying attention to our body language. When our words differ from our actions, children get confused.

7. Positive relationships.

Children will learn how to build relationships with family, friends, and future romantic partners based on their relationships as children. If a family hugs and freely shares their feeling, then children will be comfortable with these behaviors. If friends are treated kindly and show understanding and forgiveness, then children will be better able to adopt these traits.

8. Be humble and kind.

Teaching children about charity and kindness can help them see past their daily needs and understand more about our world and the power of working together. Children watch our daily interactions with others and we need to make sure they learn humility and politeness. Holding the door for the next person to enter a building, giving up your seat on a bus or subway car, and smiling at people you meet are all ways to show a child how to be a better person.

While it is incredibility rewarding to work with children, it also has important responsibilities including role model behaviors. As young children learn by watching others, it’s important to demonstrate the behaviors you want children to mimic and learn. If you want children to be patient, then show them how to patiently wait for an appointment to help them learn this skill. From fist-pumping when our favorite football team scores a goal to calming an upset friend, children will mimic you. Take a few minutes to think about how you can use this to your (and their) advantage.

For more information about role model behaviors for childcare providers, a Professionalism course is available within the Basic Childcare Certification from Amslee Institute.

About the Author. Karli Ortmann is a professional nanny with over 8 years of experience and is currently earning a Master of Art in Counseling from Chicago Professional School of Psychology. Karli is also an adjunct faculty member of Amslee Institute, an organization dedicated to professional training and certification of elite Nannies, Au Pairs, Babysitters, and other childcare providers.

Loading cart ⌛️ ...