March 1, 2021

How to Negotiate Your Salary as a Nanny

Jenni Gritters

Taking care of someone else’s children is an important job-- and you deserve to make a living wage while doing that work. Here are some tips to help you prepare for negotiating your hourly rates.

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Whether you’re starting a nanny job with a new family or you’ve been with the same family for a while, you’ll likely arrive at a moment where you need to talk about a topic that can feel taboo: Money.

Taking care of someone else’s children is an important job– and you deserve to make a living wage while doing that work. Money conversations can be tough, but ideally you want to enter into a financial conversation knowing how much you’re worth, what the going rates for nannying are in your area, and how much you need to be paid to make the job worthwhile.

Here are some step-by-step tips to help you prepare for negotiating your hourly rates:

Do your research

Before you start a financial conversation, it’s important to get a sense for how much nannies in your area typically get paid. You can check out nannying websites like care.com to see what other nannies are charging. What do their rates look like for one child? What about for two children? Consider the geographic area, the nanny situation (how much you’ll be working, and what you’ll be responsible for), and the context (for example, hourly rates have increased given added COVID risks). Ask your friends and colleagues what they charge for nanny work. Once you finish this research, you’ll probably have an hourly rate in mind.

Look at your personal finances

Before you set your sights on charging that number, take a look at your own finances. How much do you need to make each month to be able to pay your bills and save? Look at how many hours you plan to work each month and divide your monthly financial needs by those hours.

Ideally, the number you propose for your hourly rate should allow you to meet — and exceed– your monthly needs.

Decide on your ideal salary range

When you’re preparing for a negotiation, you’ll want to keep a range of hourly rates in mind. First, grab that number from above: What’s your ideal rate? That’s the top number in the range.

But you should also define your walk-away rate, or the lowest you’ll go. Write those numbers down somewhere, either on a sticky note or on your computer. You’ll want to have them right in front of you when you negotiate. (For many of us, our brains can go haywire when we’re talking about money, so it helps to have the numbers in front of you.)

Schedule a phone call

Many families will set up a screening call before meeting you in person, and they may ask you about your rates during this first conversation. This is when you should share your rates, because you’ll want to know if their budget matches your needs.

Try saying: “I’d love to work with your family. My typical rate is between X and X dollars per hour. Because you have X number of children, I think X dollars per hour feels fair. How does that sound to you?”

Ending on a question makes it feel like a conversation and suggests that you’re open for discussing the issue further.

If you’re hoping to re-negotiate rates with a family you’ve been working with for a while, propose a conversation. Speaking over the phone can be an ideal set up, because it allows you to get yourself into a good mindset and gives you physical space. If you get flustered in either situation, you can always say: “I’d like to step away and think about that, and will text you a rate that makes sense to me by the end of the day today.”

Get into a good headspace

Negotiating can be intimidating! Set yourself up in an empowering context when you know the conversation is coming. What drink do you need? What outfit makes you feel brave and strong? Can you put on some pump-up music?  You can also practice the conversation with a friend or family member beforehand.

Stand your ground

Typically, negotiation involves some back and forth. You’ll want to propose your salary range to the family, to let them know that you typically charge between X and X per hour. If they’re not able to meet your lower number, consider other benefits you could propose instead: paid vacation, healthcare, bonuses, or something else that appeals to you.

It’s also important to note that if they can’t meet your walk-away rate, you can walk away! There will be families who can pay your rates, and it’s important that the arrangement be a good fit for both of you.

If you’re re-negotiating a nanny contract, be direct with your employer about how much you’re hoping to make, with the raise in mind: “Working with your family is a great fit for me. Since it’s been a year of working together, I was hoping we could discuss raising my hourly rate to X, which corresponds with market rates in your area and reflects my experience as a nanny. Is that something that would work for you?”

Keep in mind that you should also ask for more if the scope of the nanny relationship changes — for example, if the family has another child.

While it can be tempting to list all the reasons for the requested raise and to offer your employer an “out” (“If this doesn’t work for you, that’s okay!”), stay quiet after proposing your ideal rate. Usually your employer will counter your offer or say yes to it, if you leave some space in the conversation.

The bottom line

Negotiating can be tough, but it’s important to ask for more money if your relationship with a family has changed. A raise also reflects your increased experience as a nanny! Do your research, then be direct with the family about how much you charge for this service and why. If they can’t meet your rates, it’s okay to move on! But if they can meet your rates, you’ll feel valued and be able to work toward your financial goals.


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Written by

Jenni Gritters

Jenni Gritters is a freelance writer and editor based in Seattle. She’s written for the New York Times, the Guardian, Outside magazine, and many other places, and co-hosts the freelance business podcast, The Writers’ Co-op. Read more about her work: http://jennigritters.com/

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