work as a nanny

How to work as a nanny (or how to get started in this amazing industry!)

A blog by Amanda Ferguson (@nannyofoz) – Nanager Recruitment Manager + Career Nanny.

The nanny industry is in need of more caring, capable, and confident caregivers to join us in nanny work to support families who want personalised care based in their home. Being a nanny is a rewarding and varied role that can suit all kinds of schedules and preferences, so now is the time to consider finding a way to work as a nanny!

But how? What background do you need to work as a nanny? What documents, qualifications, and experience is required? There are some essentials, but mostly there is a huge range of things that can be beneficial or necessary – depending on the type of nanny job you are seeking. This article provides some tips and guidance on how to work as a nanny.

Firstly, arm yourself with the bare necessities!

To work as a nanny in Australia you need to hold a state-based Working With Children Check. You should also hold a First Aid/CPR certificate (I highly recommend completing any HLTAID012, at least initially, though the HLTAID011 course is also widely accepted, and both include the yearly requirement of CPR).

Next, how to get your foot in the door?

Unlike some professions, there are several pathways that can lead you to work as a nanny, whether that is for a short time or a long career. Have a think about what best suits you and the stage you’re in when you’re thinking about starting to work as a nanny.

Casual Babysitting:
As much as many of us in the nanny industry like to clarify that a nanny is different to a babysitter, in all honesty there is a lot of crossover. Many families are keen to have people as young as teenagers babysit casually when they know them through family or their community. This might initially be sitting in the house while the children sleep when parents go out in the evening, or entertaining the children when the parents are doing some work or chores in the home. 

If you have your own children you might even help out by watching a friend’s child for a playdate to give them the chance to get some errands done or have some kid-free time! Building those connections casually within your community, and gaining that trust, is a great way to start taking on the responsibility of caring for other people’s children. 

Studying Early Childhood:
There is no formal qualification for becoming a nanny in Australia, but if you’re just starting out or wanting to formalise your knowledge of childcare, studying a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care or a higher qualification can be a good start, particularly when you’re coming into the industry young.

Working in a childcare centre can get you solid hands-on experience with children in a supervised/group environment. The expectation of work done in a centre is often very different to the expectation when you work as a nanny, but centre work doesn’t require the level of trust that parents need when hiring a nanny to work alone with their children. This means it can be easier to obtain centre work when you’re starting out. It can be a great stepping stone to enter the nanny world!

Working as an Au Pair:
An au pair is different to even a live-in nanny. The au pair and host family relationship is one that combines childcare with cultural exchange, and is designed for people who want to experience living in a country other than their own. Being in a new place and living with an unfamiliar family can be a challenge even if it’s a delight overall! Au pair work generally also pays a lot less than work as a nanny, but its value in jumpstarting a nanny career can be huge.

Au pair roles should have lower experience requirements than nanny jobs due to the lower pay and responsibilities, but they allow you to gain skills in childcare, working with families, and learning to contribute to running a household. Holding an au pair role for a year or so can be a great early step to gain experience and kickstart your nanny career.

Finding nanny work privately:
Nannies are a big investment, and not all families can afford (or need) to use someone with a ton of experience or qualifications. Many families use the internet to find people to help with their children. If you’re good with kids and passionate about working as a nanny, you can set up a well-written profile/ad online and screen families yourself to find a suitable job.

Facebook groups and We Need A Nanny are places people can look for work as a nanny online for free. It’s really important for those seeking work to at least hold the minimum safety checks/certificates and vital for parents to confirm references and do their own confirmation of documents and background in order to go into an arrangement as safely as possible.

Working with Nanager or another agency:
Most Nanager roles require at least 2 years of professional experience with children (ideally as a nanny) but there are exceptions for some roles. Some families are flexible to welcome people with less formal experience, such as having raised their own children or done significant babysitting. 

Agency jobs are likely to require relevant experience though, because families come to agencies for a certain standard. When applying to a job through an agency you should make sure you put together the best application documents to showcase your suitability for a role. If your experience isn’t traditional, you need to be able to offer something that makes you stand out for the requirements of the role.

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