How To Become a Babysitter in College

How To Become a Babysitter in College

Babysitting/Nannying is one of the best jobs to have as a college student. From flexible daytime hours to steady pay, this is a great job to have in college.

You don’t have to be earning a college degree in early childhood education to become a babysitter. There are very few barriers to entry and minimal training required to become a certified caregiver, depending on where you work.

I have worked in both a daycare setting and as a full-time nanny for one family in college, and I loved both jobs. How did I get started? It just takes knowing one person to land the job.

Utilize Who You Already Know

Almost every job I have ever gotten was because I knew someone. Now, I won’t go through my entire resume and tell you how I got every job, but your network is almost more powerful than your resume. This goes for every field, but especially for taking care of children.

The word of mouth of a trusted friend more can carry more weight than your resume. If you are just starting college or in the workforce in general, your resume might only include a club or award you received in high school.

If you do have to cold apply, you can still ask the people you know for reference letters. Ask a few people you know who have seen you working with kids to write you a short paragraph on your behalf that you can use as a reference.

Highlighting Your Experience

If this is your first time seeking out a babysitter job, you might be running into the roadblock of having “no experience.”

If you are interested in taking care of children, you have most likely been around children in your immediate family, distant family, or even a friend’s family. This experience is totally acceptable to mention in an interview or on your resume.

Come up with a list of duties you have performed for these family members, even if you’ve just done it one time. For example, I had previous experience watching my nieces for a few hours here and there, and I had only changed a max of two diapers in my entire life. Most importantly, show you’re willing to learn how.

By sharing my enthusiasm for taking care of the children in my family, I proved that I was willing and able to learn all of the rules at my first childcare job.

The first childcare job I got was at a local daycare in my hometown; this is how it went.

Day Care Work

The summer between my freshman and sophomore year of college, I was like many broke college kids with lots of time to kill in my hometown and no money. Businesses are not always interested in college kids, in my experience, because training takes longer than the few months you are home for the summer.

I asked my friends and family to see if they knew anyone in need of a hard worker for the summer, and one of my local daycares I used to go to as a child had a spot open for substitute teachers!

After I was hired, I started out at minimum wage because I had no experience, and this was my first job in chilcare. This is totally normal!

All daycares have specific rules and regulations they must follow every day to ensure that all children are cared for. A background check and training courses are required as part of employment at a daycare.

All caregivers must participate in the same training in the safest procedures and what to do in case of an emergency for your daycare location.

Your supervisor should provide you with all training information, but you can ask ahead of time what courses are required for their location. These courses are typically available to go through.

Babysitting/Nannying

Many associate workers at the daycare I worked at that summer had babysitting jobs on the side. Through working at a daycare or a child care program, you not only spend up to 10 hours per day with the children, but you get to meet the local families as well.

Because the parents trust you and the other workers to watch the children every day, parents will sometimes seek out extra care from the workers outside of regular hours of operation. This is a great way to start getting into babysitting for one family.

Another way to snag a babysitting gig is to ask people you already know, the same way you could get a daycare job or a job at an after-school program.

For example, I was looking for a job with a steady income my junior year. One day I was checking my sorority group message and saw that one of the girls knew of a family in need of someone to pick up their kids from school every day and watch them for a couple of hours after school.

All I had to do was get in touch with the parents and meet up with them one evening. We met in December, and as soon as school started back up, I watched the kids every day after school!

Every family is different and has different needs and house rules. The children I watched were both in elementary school, so they really just needed a snack and entertainment after school. Some families have much younger children and need more assistance or may require “light house-cleaning.” Some households may have three or more children of all ages and may need a babysitter from time to time only.

Your job may change from time to time as the children grow up, which seems like a no-brainer. My role as a nanny changed from two hours after school to full-time 5 days a week and the occasional weekend as summer rolled around. As the year progressed, one of the kids moved up from elementary school to middle school, so I then began picking them up from two schools instead of one.

These are just some factors to consider when thinking about accepting a babysitting/nannying position.

Finding Babysitting/Nannying Jobs Online

If you have asked around to everyone you know in person, on the phone, or through social media and haven’t found a daycare or a babysitting job in your area, hit the web. I just typed in my cell phone “babysitting jobs” and clicked on my location, and more than 35 results came up on Google alone.

The best babysitting job listings I have found are on Care.com, SitterCity.com, and even Indeed.

Many of the people posting these job listings are in a bind, need childcare last minute, and only require that you are 18 and older and have a High School Diploma/GED equivalent.

Apply for the ones that you think are the best suit for your schedule and abilities, but don’t be afraid to apply for ones that may be out of your comfort zone.

If you are applying for more than three or four babysitting jobs, start a list of where you applied, their basic information, and a contact number if one is listed. In the following days, call and ask if the position is filled and make sure your application has been received. This is typical advice for any job as well.

Meeting the Family

Once you have asked around or applied online to be a caregiver, now it is time to meet the family and the kids you will spend time with. Meeting face to face is the best way to tell if you and the family will be a good fit. This is the time when they will share their needs and see if you can meet them.

If you are nervous (like I was) about meeting your prospective family, remember that you are capable of taking care of the small children in your family you have spent time with.

Most nannying roles require you to be a non-smoker and pet-friendly, as well as light house-cleaning and meal preparation. Don’t let this scare you away as too much work! That just means helping pick up the children’s toys from time to time, fixing lunch, and getting them snacks.

I used to fix one of the kids I watched lunch while I was on zoom meetings for class. It is a pretty mindless task and nothing to be worried about.

Advice to Remember After Accepting The Job

I am about to share my best advice I have learned over the hundreds of hours I have spent watching kids. The most important thing is to keep them alive. This sounds pretty obvious, but it is just a reminder not to sweat the small stuff.

Children can be messy and clumsy, and loud because they are still growing. You have to remember that you are watching children that are not your own and take the best care of them, but if you make it to the end of the day and they still have all ten fingers and all ten toes, you can go home and relax knowing you did your job. If you have a rough day, it doesn’t mean you aren’t a good babysitter.

I have this listed in my resume description as “Keep them alive.” I find it’s a great way to break up the mundane tasks listed and be realistic with the reader.

After School Care/Before School Care

If you are looking for a daycare/childcare job in your college town and are unfamiliar with the area, you could maybe try to find an after-school program to work at. All schools in the area had a before and after school program around where I attended college, and I knew many people who worked there across various elementary schools.

The hours are not as long as a daycare because it is just after school, and you will still have plenty of flexibility in your schedule if you have to take that night class once a week or an 8 am three times per week.

If you prefer to work with older kids, this is a great option to consider.

How To Set Your Own Hourly Rate

Let’s talk money. You might not start out making a killing as a babysitter. This job can bring you more financial freedom and a steady income, though. Some things I was able to do with my babysitting job were:

  • Get another part-time job.
  • Save up for a music festival ticket.
  • Pay rent.
  • Save up for a MacBook Pro.

I achieved all of these within six months to a year after I started my job.

Depending on your experience, you need to set a base rate and stick with it. Over time, you can raise your rates as you get to know the children more.

You might not even need to be paid by the hour. My family paid me by the day. I received one amount per week for picking up the kids from school, and if I watched them all day, it was doubled for the week. If I had a day off, the daily wage amount was subtracted for that week. This is just to give you an idea of our arrangement and to show that every family is different.

According to Sittercity, Nannies make more per hour than a babysitter because babysitting is considered part-time work while nannying is regarded as full-time work. Sittercity also lists the average hourly wages in cities near you and different factors to consider based on the number of children being watched and additional responsibilities.

Summer Care Programs/Summer Camp

There are also summer care programs in your area that you can look for run by the city or county alongside the school system. This is a perfect summer job for a college student, meals are usually provided, and most of your days are planned out for you, such as trips to a local pool or amusement park.

Another awesome summer job option is working for a summer camp. I had so many friends in college that worked for summer camps, and they loved it! If you love the outdoors as much as you love working with kids, this is the perfect summer job for you.

Depending on what camp you apply for, schedules may vary, and the amount of time on and off may vary. If you work for a sleep-away camp, you may have to be gone for several days in a row up to a week or more. Talk with the summer camp about availability to see if this would work with your summer schedule.

Additional Training To Set You Apart

In my experience, all training required in my work was given after I landed the position. However, if you want to seek out a babysitting course to help set you apart from the rest, you can check out The American Red Cross website for a list of babysitting training courses. In addition to their Babysitting Basics and Advanced Childcare training, they also recommend First Aid Training and CPR certification. Not only does First Aid certification and CPR certification set you apart as a babysitter, but it is also essential knowledge for everyday life. Also, by taking these safety courses, you will gain confidence in your babysitting/nannying job.

How To Add Babysitting/Nannying Experience To Your Resume For Your Next Job

If your days in college are coming to an end and you are ready to take the next step in your career, it’s time to update your resume.

Most employers want you to prove that you will be a hard worker and have some experience doing what they want you to. How does my babysitting job from college show that?

One of the biggest things I emphasize on my resume is the amount of time I spent in my nannying job, which was about a year and a half and ended a little after college. The amount of time spent at a job can show that you can commit to them through the training process and after.

Depending on what field you want to work in, you may highlight the same skills required as a nanny differently.

For example, when applying for jobs in the marketing/sales fields, highlight how many days per week you worked, showing your dedication to your job.

Some special skills that come with babysitting are the ability to multitask and utilize time management.

Multitasking is also an essential skill that employers look for. This does not always mean balancing a plate on your head while juggling oranges, but maybe you prepared the children’s snacks while answering a phone call. If you can successfully do that while a dog is barking in your ear, put multitasking down on your list of skills.

Children follow a pretty regular schedule, whether they know it or not. The structure is good for them and keeps them on track. However, specific tasks need to happen throughout the day, like picking up a room or reading a book. If you completed these tasks most days before the parents returned, you would exhibit exceptional time management skills.

Here is what I put on my resume:

Caregiver/Nanny

For First Name and First Name Last Name | 01/2019 – 07/2020

  • Transported children from school every day.
  • Responsible for their care every weekday in the summer.
  • Entertain the youngest boy with games and small outings.
  • Keep them alive.

Remember, your resume is a sales pitch. You do not have to list how many meals you made or how many messes you cleaned up because it is probably too many to count. What skills did taking care of tiny human beings teach you, and how can you take these skills with you to the next job?

That’s It!

Overall, babysitting, nannying, or other childcare professions are a great way to get started in your career, earn some extra income throughout college, and teach you valuable skills to take with you throughout your career. No matter what path you’re taking in college, all you need is your high school diploma and enthusiasm for helping others to get started.

Hannah Greene By Hannah Greene