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.


What defines skilled or unskilled?

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” (


What are semi-skilled jobs?

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.


Nannies can be skilled or unskilled

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 are certified professional nannies work for high profile and/or high net worth families and find themselves extremely desirable within the nanny market.