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How to Become a Certified Nanny

How to Become a Certified Nanny

A nanny is someone who takes care of kids during the day when their parents are at work or someplace else. The CareerStint article below will tell you how to become a certified nanny.
CareerStint Staff
"One of the signs of a good nanny is a background in early childhood education. That kind of shows of something about what your field of study is, actually where your love and your passion lies." ― Vonda Dennis, Certified specialist and trainer in parenthood and childcare
An increase in the expenses and the general standard of living has led to circumstances wherein both, the husband and wife need to work in order to supplement income. For couples having children, especially infants, a major problem is to find someone reliable to take care of their kids. Here is where a nanny steps in. It is his/her responsibility to see to the needs of the children, see to it that they eat/sleep/play on time, are healthy, and if they are sick, it is his/her duty to give the kids basic first aid. However, it is not as easy as it sounds, you cannot just knock on someone's door and say, "Oh hi, I am good with kids, can I take care of your kids while you are at work and could you pay me well for the same?" This sounds as melodramatic and idiotic as it can get; moreover, I am sure no one plans to do something like this either. And yes, no couple will hire a nanny unless she has a proper background, a kind nature, and references. This is why a certification is necessary. A certified nanny not only gets better work, but is recommended by trustworthy agencies and you can be sure that she is serious about her job. The following paragraphs will elaborate on what you need to become a certified nanny.
Job Profile
  • In the simplest of words, a nanny has to 'take care of children'.
  • To elaborate, she has to undertake the entire responsibility of the child - right from bathing, brushing, grooming, playing, eating, sleeping, teaching, nursing, and on and on (Phew!).
  • She has to be patient with the infant's periodic bathroom needs, tantrums, and crying fits.
  • For a slightly older kid, she will be responsible for the tutoring as well.
  • Besides, in some contracts, she may be responsible for some housework too - doing the dishes, the laundry, ironing, cooking, and cleaning.
  • Her main job, however, is to be responsible for the intellectual growth of the kids.
  • She should also be quick enough to judge their moods, know what makes them happy, what irritates/angers them, etc.
  • This is essential because if the child spends almost the entire day with her, he will need to develop his emotional well-being too, which the nanny must provide.
  • If and when the child falls ill, she must give him the necessary first aid - take his temperature, give medicines or injections (if required), tell him stories, dress his wounds, etc.
  • She will be responsible for his safety and protection, and overall development.
Requirements
  • Patient
  • Kind-hearted
  • Hardworking
  • Gentle and caring
  • Very active
  • Professional
  • Having good communication skills
  • Having a presence of mind
Education
  • There is no formal training required to be a nanny.
  • However, there are lots of certifications and courses available.
  • After high school, one can opt for an associate's degree in early childhood education or childcare.
  • Besides, there are many certifications you might want to take in order to become legally certified and obtain a license.
  • There are many nanny schools, which offer a variety of courses.
  • The specializations available in these schools include leadership skills, developing a routine, toddler potty training, child care nutrition, basic child care skills, coping with temper tantrums, reading, cleanliness, organization, crafts, emergency requirement, child health and safety, and many, many more.
Additional Certifications
There is a list of certifications that would help a nanny get certified and get better job offers. They are:
  1. CPR
    • It is very essential for a nanny to be certified in CPR, especially infant CPR.
    • This is because you will be caring for very small children, and they are prone to injuries and health scares.
    • In fact, most families will list this as a mandatory requirement.
    • Your certification needs to be periodically updated, as it lasts only two years.
  2. First Aid
    • This is again of vital importance.
    • In cases of emergency, you should be able to administer the basic first aid and understand the safety precautions.
  3. Basic Skills
    • This exam is offered by the INA (International Nanny Association) along with another important certification, called the INA Credential exam.
    • These certifications will give you a certain standard and help you get recruited by reputed agencies.
    • The Basic skills exam is for those people who have not had a degree/course in child care.
    • The Credential exam is one step further; it is a 90-minute exam that covers topics related to professionalism, nutrition, child safety, temperament management skills, etc.
    • You need to have a year or more of experience though, to qualify for this exam.
    • Your eligibility details, and later, your test details will be delivered to your proctor.
    • You will receive a certificate after passing. You can give the exam again after paying the reapplication fees.
  4. Water Safety
    • This certification is required if you are working for a family near the beach or who has a home in the vicinity of a lake or pool.
    • In case the kids drown or are in trouble, you should be able to act immediately.
    • The certification will be provided by the ARC (American Red Cross).
    • It is a life-guarding course, so it might even help you secure a post at the local swimming pool.
  5. Newborn and Infant Care
    • Of course, this certification is necessary for you, if you are hired for newborn babies.
    • It is not easy to deal with infants; while some will have the sweet disposition of angels, some might be rather fussy and colicky.
    • You should know how to deal with their crying, what they demand when they cry, etc.
    • This certification is all the more important if you have had no experience.
    • You can obtain training through local schools, pediatricians, nursing homes, etc., but if you need the certification, you will have to obtain it through the NCSA (Newborn Care Specialist Association).
  6. Household Management
    • As mentioned before, some nannies are expected to take care of the household duties, like cleaning and the laundry as well.
    • At least, they are expected to do so when the baby is directly or indirectly responsible for the same, i.e, if the baby has thrown up on a bed sheet, the nanny is expected to wash it, or if the baby has dirtied the floor, she is expected to clean it, etc.
    • However, many nannies voluntarily do more work to get better credentials.
    • A certification for the same can be obtained via different household management services.
  7. Professional Nanny Training Course
    • This again, is one of those courses that is required if you have no experience.
    • Many nanny training schools offer these courses, and they are approved by the American Council of Nanny Schools.
    • This certification is a proof of how seriously you have taken your course.
  8. Nutrition
    • Nannies need to be aware of what kind of food toddlers eat, what meals need to be prepared for slightly older infants, and the healthiest baby products as well.
    • They should also be aware of how to cook the food required - neither too hot nor too cold, the right amalgamation of milk and sugar (like, in porridge), the correct composition of oats (in oatmeal), etc.
    • Infants need plenty of rest and good food for proper growth.
    • There are plenty of local community colleges that will offer certificate programs in health and nutrition.
    • You could enroll for those, or even better, obtain a kids' nutrition specialist certification from the NESTA (National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association).
  9. Health and Fitness
    • Isn't it most obvious that parents would want their kids to remain active and healthy?
    • Nannies have this responsibility to engage kids in exercises and other fitness routines.
    • They should know which exercises should be taught to children, you cannot start teaching them anything random.
    • Therefore, a certification from the AFPA (American Fitness Professionals and Associates) would help.
    • This course will contain everything about children's fitness and safety, as well as motivational learning.
  10. Child Development Associate
    • This is again for those people who do not have a background of child development or child care.
    • Knowing the infant's needs will make you a better nanny.
    • Many community colleges and nanny schools offer child care education training.
    • You can obtain a certification from the NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children).
  11. Driver's License
    • You need to have a registered driving license and a flawless driving record to be hired from a reputed agency.
    • If you have to serve an affluent family and they require that you drive the kids to the park every evening, you cannot afford being caught by the police for not having a license or for rash driving.
    • You may also have to run around to buy the kids' stuff from the market, take the kids to the circus or the museum, etc.
    • If you do not have a license, give the exam immediately, and obtain one.
    • If you do not know how to drive, enroll for classes and obtain a valid license.
  12. Child Development Philosophy
    • This is essential because you are the one who will be with the child all day.
    • To be a well-adjusted, good human being, it is important that the child stays away from bad habits and thoughts.
    • It is the nanny's duty to induce an optimistic approach in the child.
    • She should also teach him to be disciplined and sincere, and to understand the importance of being a supportive, caring human being.
    • Remember, this approach cannot be taught by scolding or beating the child, it is a process that has to be done slowly.
  13. Foreign Language
    • The USA is an incredibly large global hub of different ethnicity and cultures.
    • It is not at all necessary that you will get a job in a proper American family, nor is it necessary that the family you get hired for may speak American English.
    • Therefore, it is essential to have a basic knowledge of any foreign language, may be two.
    • Yes, I know it is not a child's play to learn a foreign language that easily, but a spoken course may be considerably shorter.
    • You do not have to be a pro, all you need to know are the basics so that the family as well as the kids understand you.
    • Such courses are available at innumerable language centers.
  14. Special Needs
    • This is an extremely important certification, if you are working for a family in which the kid has certain special needs (autism, for instance).
    • Your role here is not just to take care of the child's requirements, but to understand and connect with him on a personal level.
    • You will need to update yourself about the basic medical information as well as regular training about how to handle such children.
    • You will find many centers conducting workshops on this subject, from where you can obtain a certification.
Job Prospects
  • The BLS has predicted that the growth rate for this field is expected to be around 14%.
  • This is possibly due to the increasing population.
  • The work environment for this job will demand a lot of stamina, as you have to deal with demanding kids all day long.
  • You have to get used to the cries of babies, the different smells of baby lotions and powders, and much more.
  • It would benefit if you are involved in small-time babysitting from a young age. This will give you an exposure to what infants need.
  • You need to be at least 18 years of age to become a certified nanny.
  • Keep yourself physically fit, and be aware of the vaccines and immunizations necessary.
  • You will be required to pass a background screening, which varies according to certifications.
  • This includes checking your criminal records. If you have one, you will be disqualified instantly.
  • You have to undergo a drug and alcohol test as well.
  • You will also need to undergo a health screening, which includes a TB test.
  • Your references, personal records, social security number, and credit score will be thoroughly checked and evaluated.
While certifications are a vital necessity, they may or may not be completely mandatory; this solely depends on the agencies and the clients themselves. If you have been babysitting since high school or you have the reputation of being a kind, gentle person, you will get work nevertheless, through word-of-mouth. More than certifications, however, you would need tremendous patience and a knack of understanding kids.