Across the country, there’s a growing demand for quality child care professionals. It’s a great profession. Working with children provides a rewarding career path, rising wages, and flexible hours. Researchers say automation will affect 47 percent of American jobs in the next 20 years — but child care jobs will not be among them.
And there’s plenty of opportunity in the field. In state after state — report after report — the song remains the same: Parents are having difficulty finding care for their children. Over the past 40 years, the number of families where both parents work has doubled. The era when one parent stayed home with the kids is long gone, and the supply of child care just can’t keep up with demand. About half of all Americans live in what’s called a “child-care desert“: a place where the demand for child care exceeds the supply of in-center care spots by three to one. In some states, like California and New York, more than 60 percent of residents live in child care deserts.
This may be frustrating for working parents, but it’s also an opportunity for qualified in-home child care workers, such as nannies and babysitters. In a recent study, Care.com looked at these child care deserts and found a “job oasis”: 66 cities with a high demand and high salaries for in-home child caregivers.
Some of these oases exist in unsurprising locations. In New York City, for instance, caregivers make an average of $18.85 per hour. But the study also found that a child care job oasis may sprout up where you least expect it. Some of the places with high demand for caregivers, high pay rates, and growing wages are Hartford, CT ($19.05/hr average caregiver earnings), Springfield, IL ($17.11/hr), and Sunnyvale, CA ($17.77/hr). In 23 out of 50 states, in-home child caregivers can now make more than $15 per hour. In nine of the job oasis cities Care.com studied, the average wage for child care workers is double that city’s minimum wage.
This trend is likely to continue. Nationwide, the weekly rate for nannies has risen by more than $100 over the past five years. Families will pay even more for caregivers who bring more to the table, according to additional Care.com research. For instance, nearly three in four families will pay more for a nanny with an early childhood education degree, and 64 percent will pay more for nannies with the ability to teach children a second language.
If you are considering entering the child care field, here are four tips to make the most of your opportunity:
1. Networking and Marketing Matter
Once you know you’d like to become a nanny or babysitter, let friends, family, and neighbors know by putting a notice on community boards located in places frequented by parents, such as local shops, libraries, and pediatrician offices. Reach out to experienced caregivers to get advice. You can also find jobs in your area through online sites, like Care.com.
2. Share Your Passions and Skills
Do you have skills in math? Do you play sports? Are you CPR certified? Make sure you include those in your resume. These attributes are part of your brand and could be just what a family is looking for. Families are looking for people they can trust, so knowing what to do in emergency situations can make any nanny or babysitter stand out from other candidates. If you have positive references from previous families you’ve worked for, make sure to include them. As noted above, families are willing to pay more for quality caregivers who have additional skills, so make sure to stress all the value you can bring to the table.
3. Be Prepared
Show off how professional you are by responding promptly and arriving on time, whether you’re responding to job posts, interviewing for a job, or arriving for your first day. This shows you respect the parents’ schedule, you’re reliable, and you’re serious about the gig. Whatever you do, don’t cancel at the last minute.
4. Go the Extra Mile
Being organized and informative — like telling parents how your time with their children went and anything they might need or want to know about it — is a surefire way to make sure a family will call you again. Over time, you can show the parents that you’re really invested in the job by showing up with activities you know the children will love or by offering ideas for future outings.
Connie Fong is vice president of brand for Care.com.