Negotiating Your Hourly Rate: How Much Should I Charge As A Nanny?

An adult sitting on the couch taking a call

You click with the parents and feel almost magnetically drawn to the kids. The hours are perfect, and you’re on the same page about routines and discipline. You’ve found your forever family—you just know it!

There’s only one step left – and it’s a biggie. How much should you charge? How do you negotiate an hourly rate with the family?

To confidently ask for your salary, consider the family’s requirements and budget. Next, calculate your needs as a nanny. When you walk into the conversation with the family, you should feel confident negotiating for your hourly rate.

Knowing nanny rates in your area 

How much does a nanny make on average? It depends on where you live. A nanny living in Seattle might make $19.50 an hour, while a nanny from San Antonio, Texas, earns $13.50 on average. 

You’ll also want to factor in how many children you’ll be caring for and their ages. 

Taking care of four kids is a much larger responsibility than being responsible for just one child. Likewise, a colicky infant requires more care than an eight-year-old who’s at school all day. 

Understanding how much other nannies are charging will help you negotiate for a wage that matches the market.

Calculating your needs

Think about your monthly costs: what do you need to cover expenses like rent and food and still save? Make sure the hourly rate you ask for meets these needs. 

Now that you’ve calculated your ideal rate decide the lowest rate you’re willing to take. An hourly range gives both families some flexibility. As new information comes up in later interviews, you’ll be able to adjust your fee.

For example, you might assume the job requires housekeeping. However in the second interview, you learn that the family has a cleaner, so you lower your rate to fit the job. Or you discover there’s a new baby on the way and increase your rate with the added responsibilities.  

Whatever numbers you come up with, write them down so you don’t forget them in the heat of the negotiation.

Getting the inside scoop on nanny laws & regulations  

Being a nanny lives somewhere between the personal and the professional. Nannies are unique as they're seen as both an employee and a family member. 

Most families focus on treating nannies like family. They're often unfamiliar with nanny laws and regulations. It’s important to remind families of the basics of employment laws and expectations.

For example, did you know that most nannies get paid by the hour versus a flat salary? Or that you’re entitled to time and a half (at least) for any hours you work over 40 in a given workweek? 

Learning the employment laws and expectations helps you better understand what you deserve. You can make it clear that laws like overtime pay are not negotiable and focus on the conversation on the hourly rate and other benefits that are negotiable.

Some families use a gross rate on the job offer, while others use a net rate. Gross pay is the rate your family pays you before taxes. Net pay, also called take-home pay, is the amount you deposit into the bank minus taxes. 

Ask the family if they’re using the net or the gross rate to reduce confusion when negotiating your hourly rate.

Consider using a nanny tax calculator to determine what your take-home pay will be. It helps prevent unwelcome surprises and lets you plan for the future.

Learning to advocate for yourself

When negotiating a pay rate, nannies are at a distinct disadvantage. Unlike other professions, there’s no human resource department to make sure the employees are fairly paid. As a nanny, you’re flying solo, which can be scary.

It can be tempting to take the families' suggested rate. If it’s their first nanny hire, they genuinely might not know how much to pay a nanny. But when you put your own needs last, nobody wins.

Being your own cheerleader can be especially tough for women. Holding your ground despite the discomfort will come in handy the next time you’re looking for a job.

To make it easier, try using words like “we” rather than “I”. Ask “How can we make this work?” or “What can we do to meet both of our needs?” It reminds everyone (including yourself) that you’re a team and that they need your expertise. 

If you need space, ask for a five-minute break or to continue the chat tomorrow if required.

If the family can’t match your rate, discuss other benefits like paid vacation time, paid sick days, or commuting costs.

Remember: You’re a skilled professional. Asking for what you deserve reflects your experience as a nanny. This family would be lucky to have you!

Being prepared to walk

Looking for a job is stressful and time-consuming. 

If you’ve come this far with a family, it’s natural to want to make it work. 

But if they can’t meet your needs, you have every right to walk away. It’s not personal, and you’ll both be better off for it.

Building a good foundation with a contract

As the kids grow, your job as a nanny changes. Be sure to schedule a yearly review to discuss a raise of at least $1 per year. You can also negotiate an annual bonus in place of a raise. 

If you’re a full-time nanny, your bonus should equal about 1-2 weeks of your salary. Be sure to include both terms in your nanny contract.

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