Although rules on qualifications have tightened up in recent years with Ofsted requirements, not all roles require you to have prior qualifications before applying -- only an obvious interest in children’s development, a caring nature and a childcare provider willing to invest in its workforce.
Early years settings such as nurseries and pre-schools who appoint you as a Trainee Childcare Practitioner or Nursery Assistant may put you through a nationally recognised level 2 or 3 Childcare qualification. These are usually apprenticeships and/or on-the job distance learning qualifications and will mean your salary will reflect this.
Alternatively, if you already have a relevant qualification and experience, you may wish to push yourself by becoming a Room Leader or Deputy Room Leader.
Expect to work Monday-Friday with a mixture of early-ish starts and later finishes and some providers even offer half days as part of your contract. Bundles of patience, enthusiasm and a willingness to develop children using the Early Years framework are a must.
If you are considering contributing to make a difference to the more disadvantaged children within your society then working within a residential children’s home may be the answer for you. Expect to be working for either a Local Authority of privately-run establishment in fun, caring – and challenging environments.
You will be working with children and young people who require additional support in their lives. This may be in the form of behaviour or emotional support, and an ability to remain patient and empathetic to their circumstances. Strong resilience is a must for any candidate looking at this area of childcare.
Some children may be in full time care who have severe and complex needs requiring round-the-clock care and support. Some may be having respite care to give their parents a rest.
Expect shift work to be the norm in this area. Early starts, late finishes and weekend working with an expectation for sleep-ins to qualified staff.
A residential environment can be stressful for the residents, so expect to work within a fun culture where putting smiles on the children’s faces is the most important. Days and trips out, as well as everyday activities will happen as the norm.
Schools are always on the lookout for Teaching Assistants. So, if you have a passion for learning and supporting children within an educational classroom environment this may be your calling.
Relevant childcare experience is usually necessary but not always the case. Expect to provide additional support to children on a 1-1 or small group basis.
And you get school holidays off!
Becoming a Nanny usually requires you to have at least 2 years’ experience in the field of childcare. But this depends on which route you take. If you go through an agency, this is usually the case, but if you go privately, this will depend on the family in question. Having a personality to match the family’s expectations may be all they require in order to employ you.
And if they do employ you, they are responsible for your payroll. Not you. Whether they do it themselves or they use an outside agency to process it, it is their responsibility. They may also request you become registered with Ofsted.
Being a Nanny gives you the unique responsibility of looking after somebody else’s children in their own home. So, expect to be a pro-active type of person. You will be expected to plan everything from table-top activities, mealtimes, to exciting days-out. Access to your own car is usually a must – but some families offer use of theirs.
And if you really want to push the boundaries and you already have childcare qualifications, you may consider becoming a travel nanny or an overseas nanny/ governess. These kinds of roles tend to be full-on and intense, possibly including relocating to a different country, which is reflected in the high salaries on offer. You can find out more about working as a governor or governess in Russia here.