Education and Training Requirements

High School

From an educational standpoint, nannies usually are required to have at least a high school diploma or equivalent (GED). Helpful high school classes include health, psychology, and family and consumer science. English and communications classes also are useful, as they provide skills that will help in everyday dealings with the children and their parents. Nannies usually must also have a valid driver's license, since they may be asked to chauffeur the children to doctors' appointments or other outings.

Postsecondary Training

There are several schools that offer specialized nanny training usually lasting between 12 and 16 weeks. These programs are typically accredited by individual state agencies. Employers generally prefer applicants who have completed an accredited program. Graduates of accredited programs also can command higher salaries.

Two- and four-year programs are available at many colleges and include courses on early childhood education, child growth and development, and child care. College course work in nanny training may also focus on communication, family health, first aid, child psychology, and food and nutrition. Classes may include play and recreational games, arts and crafts, children's literature, and safety and health. Because nannies may be responsible for children of various ages, the course work focuses on each stage of childhood development and the particular needs of individual children. Special emphasis is given to the care of infants. Professional nanny schools may also give instruction on family management, personal appearance, and appropriate conduct.

Other Education or Training

The International Nanny Association offers continuing education (CE) opportunities at its annual conference. The Canadian International Nanny Association also provides CE classes and workshops. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

The International Nanny Association (INA) offers a multiple-choice credentialing exam that allows nannies to demonstrate their expertise in the following areas: child development, family/provider communication, child guidance, multicultural/diversity awareness, learning environment, personal qualities of a nanny, safety, management skills health, nutrition, and professionalism. Earning the INA credential shows potential employers your commitment to the work as well as your level of training. Nannies may also be required to be certified or complete classes in CPR and first aid.

Nannies who have graduated from a nanny school that is accredited by the American Council of Nanny Schools can use the title certified professional nanny. Certification shows potential employers your commitment to the work as well as your level of training. High school graduates or GED holders who have at least five years of work experience as nannies and meet other requirements can apply for the child development associate credential from the Council for Professional Recognition (https://www.cdacouncil.org/about/cda-credential).

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Experience working at a day care center or caring for younger siblings is highly recommended for aspiring nannies.

Nannies must possess an even and generous temperament when working with children. They must be kind, affectionate, and genuinely interested in the child's well-being and development. Good physical condition, energy, and stamina are also necessary for success in this career. Nannies must be able to work well on their own initiative and have sound judgment to handle any small crises or emergencies that arise. They must know how to instill discipline and carry out the parents' expectations.

They should be loyal and committed to the children and respect the families for whom they work. In some cases, this is difficult, since nannies are often privy to negative elements of family life, including the emotional problems of parents and their neglect of their children. Nannies need to recognize that they are not part of the family and should not allow themselves to become too familiar with its members. When they disagree with the family on matters of raising the children, they should do so with tact and the realization that they are only employees. Finally, it is imperative that they be discreet about confidential family matters. A nanny who gossips about family affairs is likely to be rapidly dismissed.