“I realized the other day that even though I don’t have much experience I am severely underpaid for Seattle” the newbie nanny and I had met up for a play date. We somehow got onto the conversation of pay and she opened up to me. As of lately it seems like most nannies all feel the same way, that they are underpaid.
“What are you making, if you don’t mind me asking”? I inquired, wondering what a new full-time nanny of just under 3 month considered underpaid.
“I make $X an hour for 2 kids. I mean yeah this is my first time as a full-time nanny, but shouldn’t my years as a day care worker count towards experience? I didn’t really know the Seattle market when I moved up here or I would have asked for more. I love my job and I knew what I signed up for so I can’t really complain.”
Can I be really honest with readers? It was really refreshing to hear her take responsibility for her pay. That she recognized that she didn’t thoroughly do her research and she agreed to the pay rate at which she is working at (which in my opinion wasn’t underpaid at all but right on par for her experience).
Hear my heart on this, I am not judging you, disagreeing (or agreeing with you), or hating on you for feeling you are underpaid. I just heard of a nanny making $325 a week taking care of twins. In my book that is underpaid. In someone else’s it might not be.
What I want to do is take a minute and ask you, are you really underpaid? When you hear of the nanny across town making $25 an hour or even $22 it is easy to feel like your $15 or $18 is underpaid. But let’s take a step back and ask a few questions.
- How much TRUE Full-Time nanny experience do you have?
- How much training and/or education do you have?
- What certificates do you have?
- What skill sets do you have that set you apart (bilingual, musical training, sports, etc)?
Truth? I overqualified myself when I started out as a nanny. I thought that all my years of babysitting should count as nanny experience. I thought that all those years as a part-time nanny should count as stronger experience than it did. I thought all my book knowledge and personal development should count as much as an accredited course or class. But it didn’t/doesn’t. All that experience, yes makes me a better nanny. All my years of babysitting helps me understand childcare better than if I hadn’t babysat but they don’t have a thing to do with my resume to make me a more sellable nanny.
Yes I have watched children for over 15 years. Yes I have been a nanny for 9 years (because nothing before 18 years of age is considered professional on a resume in the nanny community). Children are second nature to me. I have been called a baby whisperer on more than one occasion. The natural math instincts that my engineer friends have, I have with babies. But the difference in their pay scale and mine is that they have an education in their field. My engineer friends honed in their natural instincts and went to college, they took classes and studied for years. They paid their dues with internships and lower paying jobs before they worked their way up. They continued to take yearly courses to stay on top of their game.
Back 3 years ago I thought I was worth more than I was. I thought all my unaccredited experience and knowledge should count for something. After turning nannying to a career from a side job I have realized a few things.
The biggest being that to be a professional nanny I need to act like a professional nanny. From everything to furthering my knowledge with classes, training, and personal development to knowing the current nanny industry in which I live. This means stay in touch with other nannies, attending local events and conferences. Being a professional also means knowing a realistic value of what I am worth in my current area. It’s knowing how to negotiate a contract that is realistic, meeting the needs/wants of the family and of you the nanny. It means being willing to have the hard money conversations. Being a professional means I take responsibility for my actions.
Goodness knows that I am not perfect in being a professional. That having those hard conversations still scares me. That I look back at how naive I was 2 years ago and know that in 2 years I will look back to now and see how much I still had to learn.
But that is the difference.
When I started out as a nanny I thought I knew it all and my skill set was totally sell-able. Whereas now I have a desire to grow and learn. I want to learn how to grow my skills and not settle. I want to take courses and classes, read as many baby books as I can. I want to meet and talk to as many nannies as I can. I want to learn from my Mom-Boss and Dad-Boss. I want to keep growing.
I want to know if I ever truly complain about being underpaid it’s because I have so much experience and education under my belt that people can’t afford what I am worth. Speaking of which I off time to sign up for the www.nannyjamboree.com where I am going to meet some incredibly professional and awesome nannies.