This post will discuss numerous facets of the childcare and VIP nannying industry and, for those interested in working with children, will address all of the questions that we are most commonly presented with.
So without further ado and beginning at the beginning...
Why work with kids?
People’s initial motives for working with children are varied.
Many enjoy the rewarding aspect of childcare. It is true that the fulfilment in seeing children grow and the impact you can have on their development is unparalleled in other careers.
Some like the hours associated with childcare. For those working with older children the opportunity to have free time during the day when their charges are at school can provide a lot of freedom.
Many jobs include travel with the family. A chance to see the world whilst working (making money as opposed to spending it) can also be attractive! The option of working outside the office environment and instead spending time around a family home, taking care of the school run and going on trips to parks and local attractions, is a draw for others.
As well as this freedom, numerous nannies and child carers enjoy the opportunity to be creative. Working with children can entail arts and crafts work, music, sports and (as is generally the case for governess jobs) language learning. This variety and flexibility can be compelling.
Some nannies are parents themselves, and enjoyed raising their children so much that they have decided to follow it as a career. Some want the practice for later in life!
And some just love kids.
It is undeniable that the children’s honesty and wide-eyed viewpoint of the world is both refreshing and extraordinary. The curiosity of young minds is, for many, something to be valued and nurtured. The energy children can bring to your life means that working with them can truly make a difference to your life, as well as the other way round.
So what different childcare jobs are available for me?
If you’ve got your heart set on working with kids - we have good news for you. Jobs in Childcare features a variety of roles related to childcare, teaching and household staff work. Of course, you will need to understand exactly what kind of childcare or educational position you are most interested in. The most common types of positions are detailed below:
A professional nanny’s role is to take care of a child’s wellbeing, health and daily routine (such as clothing, nutrition, wake up and bedtime). A nanny generally works in the family home of the child or children she is caring for. He or she attends to the charge’s physical needs and also supports the child’s mental and social wellbeing. The nanny may also spend time playing with the charges, organising both indoor and outdoor activities and helping with reading. Nannies often engage in ‘Learn through play’ to promote their charge’s speech and learning. For nannies working with children of school age, helping with homework and the ‘school run’ may also be on the list of duties.
At work, a nanny or manny should strive to provide a constructive learning environment, one which caters to the child’s best interests. And some nannies also include playing sports, arts and crafts, music or even foreign languages in their childcare repertoire.
Nannies may also be specialised: in maternity care, Special Education Needs or sometimes the teaching of foreign languages. Nanny schedules are widely varied according to the terms required by the employer.
A governor or governess aims to develop a child’s education (and sometimes also their extra-curricular skills) through interesting and diverse lessons and experiences. Usually, a governess’s primary duty is planning and giving classes; often language lessons. The other duties that the governors or governesses tend to be tasked with include managing extra-curricular activities (and sometimes accompanying their charges to these activities), and the planning of days out and free-time.
As a kind of general summary, the governess’s role is to prepare the child for adulthood with particular regard to education, behaviour and social etiquette.
The governess’s other chief task is that of language teaching. Parents desiring that their children learn to speak English, French, Spanish, Chinese or other languages fluently may employ a governess, usually a qualified teacher with native-level fluency in the target language, to work with their kids.
A governess may also be required to coordinate with the charge’s school teachers to ensure that the education the child receives at home complements that given at school. This is another way in which governess is able to help push the charge closer to his or her full educational potential.
The governor/ governess role is generally a full-time one, but schedule and salary will generally depend on the timetable, the candidate’s experience and qualifications and local conditions.
You may also be interested to read about the experiences people have had working as a governor or governess on the JIC website. Click on these links to view our popular articles ‘Working as a British governor and tutor in Russia’ and ‘Why I quit teaching to escape overseas’.
A tutor’s role generally relates to subject-specific education. Tutors tend to be highly trained and qualified and specialise in the tuition of one or more subjects. The tutor’s work may supplement the child’s school education or assist the child with learning an extra-curricular subject or language. Children who are struggling in particular areas such as English, French, Maths, Science or Economics can benefit from the services of a tutor. The tutor may also work to support a child (or indeed an adult) in preparation for particular exams or school entrance tests.
The tutor typically assists the student with their academic learning of their subjects on a part-time or hourly basis, but may also work in a full-time or even ‘travel’ capacity. For example, sometimes international business people wishing to learn English may require a full-time tutor to travel with them and slot English classes into their free time in a push towards fluency in English.
Usually the salary of a tutor is calculated on an hourly rate as defined in their agreement with the employer, but schedules and salaries vary widely depending on the working conditions and the tutor’s own ability and experience. The most common types of tutor positions advertised on Jobs in Childcare are language tutor jobs.
Remember that Jobs in Childcare also features household staff roles, including PA vacancies and jobs for housekeepers, house managers and butlers, drivers and private security staff.
What qualifications are required to work with children?
So if you have decided that you want to work with children in a professional capacity - be it as a nanny, governor or governess, tutor or maternity nurse - what’s next?
For most serious agencies and employers - experience alone will not be sufficient. Those hoping to work in childcare as a full-time professional nanny, governess or tutor need qualifications. And the question of exactly which qualifications you obtain depends on a number of factors.
Firstly, you should understand exactly what type of role interests you. A maternity nurse’s qualifications will be very different to those of a governess or a professional language tutor for children. Candidates working full-time with small children could be required to hold a variety of qualifications issued by EDEXCEL, CACHE, BTEC or other governing bodies, whilst a language tutor may have a degree in languages or a CELTA or TEFL certificate - a totally different end of the spectrum. Pinpoint exactly what kind of role it is that you are looking for and research which qualifications employers generally command of candidates applying. You can look on current positions and see the individual requirements for various positions to get an idea.
Other important factors about which qualifications you study for will include your availability, location and budget for studying. A full-time undergraduate degree in childcare will naturally require more money, time and commitment than a quick (even online!) TEFL course. If you live in a small or remote area, there may be limited educational faculties. Equally, if you are ultimately looking for a nanny job in London, variety will be abundant.
When you have pinpointed what exactly you want to study, try to figure out how much time and money you can commit to your studies and find a location that offers the necessary training near to you. If no nearby institution offers what you are looking for, you may wish to relocate or commute to study further afield.
You can find more information on qualifications for child carers and Early Years specialists. You can also read our interview with a Norland Nanny for tips and experiences on getting started and studying nannying from a specialist.
Where can I work as a nanny or governess?
Location is perhaps the single most defining factor in whether or not a childcare job is suitable for you. Before you start your job hunt, take some time to think about whether you are prepared to move or travel for work, or if you are only ready to consider jobs a commutable distance from your current location.
Bear in mind that different jobs are suited to different locations. If you are looking for a part-time nanny job or an hourly tutor position, your workplace will need to be somewhere close to your residence.
For full-time nanny jobs, VIP roles or governess positions, it is worth considering whether you are ready to relocate in return for the higher salary. In this situation, you should be aware of the allowances families make for transport costs and accommodation, and how they affect your viewpoint. If the role is overseas, make sure you research the local culture as well as passport and visa requirements before applying for the position.
Rota nanny jobs are a little different. A rota nanny job generally requires you to work a week, 10 days, two weeks or even a month working all day every day, followed by the equivalent amount of time off. Provided your employer agrees to take care of your visa, return transport and accommodation, the location of a rota nanny job can be wherever you feel comfortable. Rota jobs are commonly located in (but of course, not limited to) Moscow, St Petersburg, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Switzerland and large cities across Europe.
Of course, childcare is in universal and perpetual demand, but some locations have more jobs than others (typically capital cities), some locations are suited to international positions (jobs in Russia, France, the US, UAE, Spain and Singapore are currently popular on our website), and some locations fit well for summer jobs. Summer or ‘travel’ nanny and governess positions are often located in France, Italy or other holiday destinations for the summer seasons. You can find out which roles are available under the seasonal nanny jobs heading.
To read more about nannying in various cities in the UK, please click on the appropriate link below:
How can I write a childcare CV?
When you have defined the type of role you believe is right for you, decided which locations you are ready to consider working in and had an opportunity to study for the necessary qualifications, you will need to compile this information into a resume for submission to agencies and potential employers.
Please be aware that most serious employers will demand a CV. It is generally not enough to explain your qualifications on the phone or sum them up in a short email. Top candidates who wish to be taken seriously almost always have their qualifications, skills and working background explained in a resume.
Other information to include in your CV is your contact information, your studying history and specific details about any previous employment you have that is related to the role you are applying for.
You can easily find a CV template online or simply write your own from scratch. Once complete, your CV can be submitted to employers and they will consider you for suitable positions. You can also upload your CV to the Jobs in Childcare database.
How can I use photographs in my nanny job application?
Another part of your application for a nanny or governess job that you may wish to focus on is photographs. Please be aware that the use of photos in an application varies from country to country. In some locations, including photos is not recommended or can even transgress discrimination requirements, so tread carefully here.
However, seeing as a nanny or childcare specialist will generally spend time working (and possibly living) in a family home, parents often wish to see the person they are considering working with, and in many jurisdictions photographs are therefore accepted as part of an application.
The photos you include in your application don’t just have to be ‘CV style’ identification documents. Photographs of you in previous positions or demonstrating any extra-curricular activities that you may be able to integrate into your working life can be a huge bonus.
Read our guide to successfully using photographs as part of your nanny job application.
What’s the best way to find a nanny job?
Once you are qualified and have put together your CV or resume (with or without photos), it is time to look for a job.
Perhaps the simplest way in this age of the internet is to use a site like Jobs in Childcare which offers you a variety of jobs from a variety of agencies. Simply visit the homepage, select the type of role you are looking for and the location you would like to work in (you can leave this blank if you wish) and click ‘Find Jobs’.
There are a large number of agencies all over the world. Once you are in touch through an agency (if your initial application through Jobs in Childcare was successful the agency will contact you directly), the agency itself will guide you through the rest of the process.
Agencies will generally check your CV, invite you to an agency interview (see below) and verify your qualifications, background check and references. After this the agency will present your application to the family for their perusal, before putting you in touch with the family directly for a ‘family interview’ if you are successful.
Agencies can also be a valuable source of information for job seekers looking for nannying and governess positions. To read our Tips from the Experts blog on finding a nanny job.
How can I give a good childcare job interview?
Once you have applied for and had your CV accepted (and provided the agency you are applying through is professional and reputable), you will be invited for an interview. There are generally two types of interviews - agency interviews and employer interviews.
The first interview you would most likely undertake is an agency interview. This could be online or in person dependent on location, and may be ‘general’ or ‘specific’. The ‘general’ interview would be for you to introduce yourself to the agency, allow them to get a good idea of your personality and work ethic, and hopefully make your way ‘onto the books’ for the agency, where they keep your application on file and are ready to notify you immediately when vacancies suitable to your profile come in.
The ‘specific’ interview would be more similar to a proxy interview on behalf of the family. The agency would interview you for a specific role they have in mind and the interview itself would be tailored to assess your suitability for this particular job.
Following an agency interview, your application can be submitted to an employer or family for assessment and you may then be invited for an ‘family interview’ with the employer. Again, this can happen online or in person; dependent on the role and its location.
In this ’family interview’ you may speak to the parents in the family, other family members, a personal assistant or even a current member of staff. Sometimes, if families have a good relationship with a nanny or governess who is leaving, they may ask the current employee to help with the selection process for their replacement.
Regardless of whether interviews are with the agency or the employer and online or in person, the ‘dos and don’ts’ remain largely the same. Of course, punctuality, presentation and organisation are key. Always be on time, fully prepared and well-engaged. To give yourself the best chance of a successful interview, read the Jobs in Childcare Top 12 Interview Tips.
How can I check my nanny contract?
If a family or private employer wishes to hire you post interview, they will engage you in a contract. Be extremely wary of agencies or employers that try to encourage you to agree to terms verbally. It is important to keep agreements in writing to avoid later discrepancies in things like salary, holiday conditions, severance and other conditions.
Most agencies will provide you with a contract to print and sign together with your employer. It may be that the agency is located overseas or for some reason suggests to proceed without the necessary documentation. We strongly recommend that you insist upon a contract, regardless of situation.
And of course you should be careful with the terms in your contract. Make sure you know exactly what you are agreeing to and what will be expected of you when you begin the position. Do not be blinded by high salary offers - if the working terms are untenable the salary will no longer make any difference.
When it comes to your the paperwork, we highly recommend that you read the Jobs in Childcare 12 considerations for your nanny or governess contract.
What does a nannying or governess trial entail?
Post a successful interview you will most likely be invited to meet the children you are expected to be nannying/ tutoring in the format of a work trial. Naturally, every trial will be different.
If the position is local to you, the organisational aspect of the trial will hopefully be straightforward, and you may be able to travel there by car, bus or train.
Trials for overseas positions may be a little more complicated and require plane tickets, visas and bookings for hotel rooms or other accommodation.
Be sure to communicate well with the agency and the relevant party from the employer’s side to make sure everything is booked in smoothly. You should have a full understanding of what exactly it is you are signing up for with the trial.
A first meeting with the parents may not involve the children at all. You may have the opportunity to meet the children, but just to say hello. You may have a few hours with them or a few days.
Define in advance with the agency and the employer what is going to happen on the trial. Hours, duties, salary and transport are all important things to understand for the trial to progress professionally. Try to define these terms concisely with the family. Be sure not to pester your potential employer, and avoid going back with more and more questions as you think of them, but make sure it gets done. Let the family know in advance about any dietary or medical requirements you have that they need to know about.
You should be well prepared - remember the old maxim; ‘Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.’ It is infinitely better to be over prepared than to not be ready enough for a work trial. Many families will be impressed if you come with a plan laid out and a good selection of books or other working materials. You may even wish to take a little ‘peace offering’ gift for your would-be charges, something productive that you can work on together.
And if your trial is an ‘extended’ trial (ie. lasting more than a few days) or can lead into direct employment upon successful completion, see our tips for starting a new nanny job below.
What tips are there for starting a new nanny job?
From an administration perspective, you will need to lock in the starting terms for the contract (including any ‘probation period’) with the agency and your employer as you begin your new nanny job or governess position. Make sure you understand exactly what is happening with regards to logistics, transport, hours and salary. You can scroll up to the section ‘How do I check my nanny contract?’ for more information.
With regards to the work itself, remember that beginning a new nanny job can be a daunting prospect. If the job is overseas or VIP there is a good chance you will be working under conditions very different to those you have experienced before. And on top of learning the ropes in a new job and getting used to working in a new team, there will also be logistical questions to address. Moving to a new location, sorting out accommodation, and beginning a job in a place where you may not even know the local language can be a shock to your system.
Prepare yourself as much as you can by doing background research. If your job is local, preparing childcare or educational materials, arts and crafts materials, double checking the location and speaking with the family (and reading your contract thoroughly) in advance should stand you in good stead.
If your job is overseas, research the area online. Try to find local Facebook groups or similar to connect with others who will be working in the same area as you. If appropriate, ask to speak to the staff member you are replacing to allow you to settle into a working rhythm faster. As with most things, sound preparation is the key to success.
To find out more about starting a new nanny or governess job, we recommend reading thoroughly through our Top Ten Tips for Starting a New Governor or Governess job (don’t worry, most of the tips are applicable to nanny jobs and tutoring work too!)
What can I do about difficult behaviour in my charges?
Difficult behaviour in your charges can be distressing and can get you down, particularly in a new nanny job or governess role. This can be particularly challenging when working in overseas jobs, where cultural differences combined with your discomfort in relocating and finding yourself in a new and unfamiliar situation can exasperate any stress.
We recommend that you first of all try to bring the family together as a team. With the parents and staff members on the same page of the rulebook, it is a lot easier for children to understand what is expected of them and to appreciate what is acceptable behaviour and what is not. Try to make it clear to both family members and children where there is room for improvement.
It may also be a good idea to introduce a task and reward system - good behaviour and tasks completed properly and on time to be rewarded with extra time outside, meal time treats or trips out of the house, and poor behaviour leading to a loss of privileges or similar. Be sure to encourage and praise good behaviour and jobs well done, whilst ignoring poor behaviour where possible.
Remember that for your charges to love you, you have to love them first, even if their behaviour may make that difficult. And if things ever do get really bad at work, sit down and take a breather. Remember that in a worst-case scenario, you can always give your notice. Doing your best is all anybody can ask of you.
You can read more about dealing with difficult and challenging behaviour.
How can I ensure good nutrition for my charges?
Most VIP nanny or overseas governess roles will not require you to take care of cooking or nutrition, as families often employ their own chefs or even nutritionists. Domestic roles may more likely require you to take care of shopping, cooking and nutrition. Nanny nutrition is an enormous topic, so be sure to discuss requirements and expectations with your employer.
The most important things to be aware of as a child carer are avoiding any allergies your charge might have (and being aware of rashes etc.) and trying to ensure the children you work with have a well-rounded and well-balanced diet.
Naturally, all children’s needs are different and factors such as age and background will have a significant impact on what your charge will and won’t eat. Chuck out our overview on children’s nutrition.
It is also worth bearing in mind that picky charges may respond better to meals that they have a hand in preparing themselves. We have a Top 5 Nanny Nutrition Ideas for Picky Eaters or some child-friendly dishes to make together with your little ones!
And if it’s the end of the day and you just want to have fun with your charges - we have a great, easy recipe to make some homemade ice cream here. Enjoy!
What resources are available for me?
Preparing well is essential to a successful work placement. And luckily for you, the Jobs in Childcare Blog has a huge range of useful resources for those looking for kids’ arts and crafts, activity plans and outdoor games ideas for children.
You can use the links below to browse some of our most popular resource blog posts:
In summary, whilst not always straightforward, working with children is one of the most rewarding things you can do with your time. Prepare carefully, work diligently, commit yourself and have fun, and you will find that a nanny or governess job can really change your life.
Be assured that our blog section will remain updated and a source of useful information. New articles are regularly uploaded and updated, including everything from language teaching ideas for governesses and tutors through to what gifts a nanny can buy for her charges.
So remember to follow us on social media to keep updated with the latest jobs and resources, and good luck in your job hunt!
The Jobs in Childcare Team