Everyone wants to earn fair compensation for their work, but many people are uncomfortable talking about money. To make things more complicated, wages for Nannies and Sitters vary greatly across the United States. The 4R’s (Reflect, Recognize, Research, and Reasonable) can help prepare you for this important salary conversation.

1. Reflect on your goals.

What types of childcare positions interest you? Do you want to care for children as a Sitter for a few hours during the weekend or find a full-time position caring for multiple children? Do you want to work with infants and toddlers or care for older children after school? Are you interested in earning more as a Family Assistant or do you prefer to stay focused only on childcare duties? Are you interested in Overnight care? Do you want to be responsible for pet care? Will you need to care for your child while also caring for additional children? Once you have determined what you’d like to do, you will be better able to find employment opportunities that suit your preferences.

But reflection doesn’t stop there. In addition to deciding the types of childcare positions you are interested in, it’s also important to prioritize your employment goals. Do you want to work for a single-family or with several families as part of a Nanny share? Is a high hourly rate the most important factor or do you want some weekends off? Are you interested in household management duties such as light cooking and cleaning to earn a higher wage? What benefits are most important to you?

2. Recognize your skills.

List the qualifications and experiences you have in childcare. Do you have formal training such as a professional nanny certification from the US Nanny Institute or early childhood development classes? Are you certified in CPR and First Aid? Are you new to childcare or do you have paid childcare experience? Do you have specialized experience such as working with special needs, providing routine medical care, or volunteering to lead group classes at church? Have you taught a child any unique skills such as sign language or how to play a musical instrument? Are you fluent in another language? Do you have professional references, both written and former employers who are willing to speak with families seeking to hire you?

3. Research local pay rates to determine an appropriate range.

Many websites offer information on local Sitter and Nanny rates and some professional salary sites, such as payscale.com and glassdoor.com also provide this information. Check several sites to determine the average for your area. According to the 2017 INA (International Nanny Association) Nanny Salary & Benefits Survey, the average hourly rate is $19.14 per hour for Nannies and 57.7% of nannies are paid time and a half when they work overtime.

Before you begin negotiations, you should know the average rate for your area and what it represents. For the most part, the average wage often requires supervising 1 to 3 children with childcare only duties. For jobs that have additional children, meal preparations, and other duties, the salary may be higher. Keep this in mind when you are evaluating job opportunities.

4. Reasonably negotiate with a goal to ensure both sides are comfortable with the job requirements and compensation.

By evaluating your skills, job responsibilities, and wages in the local area, you are ready to thoughtfully discuss wages and benefits. Share your training and certifications as well as previous experience when seeking higher than average pay. Share the results of your research on pay for additional responsibilities such as caring for groups of children or taking on family assistant or household management tasks. Remember, live-in nannies may have a lower hourly wage, but the compensation includes room and board as part of the overall compensation. Finally, be willing to listen and remember the goal of negotiating is to clearly understand the job requirements and ensure the family and childcare provider are comfortable with the compensation.

There can be a lot to discuss during a salary negotiation and work agreements or employment contracts can be used as a tool to help cover all the topics. A free 30-minute class, as well as work agreement templates, can be found at AmsleeInstitute.com/courses.

To learn more about Nanny and Sitter wages, a Negotiating Compensation course is available with enrollment in any Nanny Institute program at USNannyInstitute.com.

About the Author. Sara Olsen is a certified Global Career Development Facilitator and has a Master’s degree in Counseling and Psychology from Troy University. Sara has worked in career services for nearly 5 years as well as in the childcare industry as a Child Services case manager, babysitter, and tutor. Sara is an adjunct faculty member of Amslee Institute.