Learn About Being a Babysitter
What does a babysitter do?
Babysitters care for children of all ages. These child care providers typically oversee play, help children with school assignments, prepare meals and perform simple household management tasks. They are also responsible for the following:
Engage and play with children
Babysitters take charge of planning and overseeing activities for children. They often play games inside and take children outdoors to keep them active and engaged while parents are away from home.
When babysitters care for children after school, many supervise homework and ensure that children complete their assignments. Babysitters may also provide basic help with homework or help children solve challenging problems.
Prepare meals and snacks
Since babysitters often provide care for multiple hours or entire days, they frequently prepare meals and snacks. In most cases, they follow parents’ instructions and prepare basic meals or they can heat specific foods for children.
Babysitters often transport children to and from school, appointments, play dates and other activities.
Do basic household management
Because babysitters serve as authority figures in the absence of the parents, they also handle basic household management. Babysitters often answer doors or phones, sign for packages, retrieve mail and take messages for parents. They may also clean, care for pets and perform other household tasks as requested.
Advise parents about issues or concerns
When they return home, parents rely on babysitters to report household issues or concerns with the children. They may request updates on the children’s activities, eating habits or homework progress. When serious illnesses, injuries or other problems arise during an appointment, babysitters are typically responsible for contacting parents immediately by phone or text.
Many babysitters work part-time jobs or as freelance contractors, but some work full-time hours. Their experience, education and location often impact their hourly wages.
- Common salary in the U.S.: $13.94 per hour
- Some salaries range from $7.25 to $27.03 per hour.
Most babysitter jobs require a minimum age, some essential certifications and key soft skills.
Rather than an education requirement, many employers require babysitters to be at least 16 or 18 years old. It is also common for employers to require references from babysitters. Whether these references are from personal acquaintances or former employers, they typically reflect on the candidate’s responsibility and capacity to care for children.
Since each employer has unique needs, babysitters typically get on-the-job training. They generally receive instructions about the children under their care and demonstrations for complex tasks before starting a babysitting shift.
Babysitters generally need first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certifications so they can care for injured or ill children. They can pursue these certifications from the Red Cross and other local organizations, which often offer the two together. Getting these certifications usually requires completing online coursework and taking a hands-on class to master skills. Most first aid and CPR certifications last for two years, so babysitters have to renew them regularly by completing additional coursework.
Many babysitters also need a driver’s license, especially if they will need to transport children to activities and appointments. To get a driver’s license, you usually begin by taking a written test to obtain your learner’s permit. Then you’ll need to take a driver’s education course and practice driving. Finally, you’ll need to take written and driving tests, complete a driver’s license application and pass a vision test to get your license.
To excel as a babysitter, you will need the following skills:
Babysitters need excellent verbal communication skills so they can discuss appointment details with clients over the phone and understand instructions regarding the children they will be caring for. They also need strong written communication skills so they can read and process written instructions from their clients.
To entertain and engage with their charges, babysitters must be enthusiastic about caring for children. These child care professionals often use their energy and excitement to interest children in activities and to help their charges feel safe in the absence of their parents.
Since babysitters work closely with adult clients and young children, they need strong interpersonal skills so they can build relationships with families. Using these skills with clients can help babysitters receive more job offers, and using these abilities with the children in their care can help them build a rapport.
Because babysitters take care of both children and homes, they must have a strong sense of responsibility. To care for children to the best of their abilities and instill trust in their clients, babysitters must follow the families’ routines and rules.
Because they often participate in physical activities and work with energetic children, babysitters must have physical stamina. They may spend multiple hours per day walking and running with children, and they must also be able to lift babies, small children and their supplies.
Babysitter work environment
Babysitters generally work in private residences and care for children in their own homes. They may prepare food in the kitchen, entertain children with activities in the family room and make sure children are sleeping by their bedtimes. Babysitters may also care for children outside of the home, especially when they transport children to school, activities or appointments. These child care professionals often need to drive to perform their duties.
Although some babysitters work regular schedules, many provide child care services on demand. They may work during the day, in the evenings or on weekends.
How to become a babysitter
To become a babysitter, consider the following steps:
- Meet minimum age requirements. First, make sure you meet the minimum age requirement for most babysitter jobs, which is usually 16 or 18 years old.
- Complete essential certifications. Earn your first aid and CPR certifications, which you can typically complete in one or two days.
- Consider a driver’s license. If you want to pre-qualify for a wider range of jobs, consider getting your driver’s license so you can transport the children you’re caring for to appointments, school or activities. Keep in mind that getting a driver’s license can take a year, since you will need to take a class, study and practice driving first.
- Get references. Ask some people you trust to serve as a reference for you. Consider asking a neighbor, a supervisor or an acquaintance from a volunteer group to discuss your sense of responsibility and other skills with potential employers.
- Create a resume. To apply for jobs, create a resume that shows your certifications and any relevant experience, training or education.
Babysitter job description example
Our family is seeking a babysitter with at least two years of experience to care for a six- and a 10-year-old after school hours. The ideal candidate will be at least 18 years old and will have a driver’s license. The successful candidate will pick up the children at school and take them home to supervise homework, provide snacks and oversee playtime activities. In some cases, we may also request that you care for the children in the evenings or on weekends. If you are an enthusiastic and responsible babysitter, we would like to talk with you.
If you are interested in babysitting children, you can also consider one of the following related careers: