How to become a Nursery Worker
They say that you’re only as old as the company you keep! If you love children and you’d like to work as part of a close-knit team, then nursery work could be a great option. If you’re ready to get in touch with your inner child, then read on to find out how to start your journey today.
What do they do?
Nursery Assistants and Nurses work with babies and children up to the age of five in nurseries, which may be run by schools, community groups or private businesses. Their key responsibility is to make sure that every child in their care is safe, happy and can learn about the world around them. They may do this by:
- Supervising games and activities to engage children and keep them entertained. Activities could include things like arts and crafts, cooking and music.
- Supporting and encouraging children’s development in a range of different areas e.g. helping them develop their literacy and numeracy skills, as well as their social and emotional skills.
- Offering support to parents and carers with the parenting of their children.
- Feeding and changing babies.
- Writing reports based on your own observations of the children, which usually includes keeping a record of any accidents.
- Organising and/or supervising trips and days out.
- Ensuring internal nursery policies and procedures are adhered to, and follow Ofsted and Government guidelines. Continually working with other colleagues, parents/carers and other professionals to meet the needs of every child and ensuring a diverse and inclusive approach is maintained at all times.
- Having lots of fun…laughter is key!
Nursery Nurses may have extra responsibilities, including:
- Planning the nursery’s daily routine.
- Observing, assessing and evaluating children to support their development.
- Supervising other staff members.
- Offering public health and parenting advice where appropriate/necessary.
What skills do they need?
The right person will:
- Enjoy working with babies and/or young children.
- Have a caring, compassionate and empathetic nature.
- Have good reasoning skills.
- Be able to remain patient and keep calm in high-pressure situations, for example if a child becomes injured or unwell.
- Have the ability to work well within a team.
- Have basic IT skills, to do things like log reports and send emails.
What will I love about the job?
- The chance to help shape the first few years of a child’s life, as this can be incredibly rewarding – and chances are, you’ve got plenty of life experience, that will be invaluable in helping you to educate and inspire young minds.
- It can be great fun. Where else would you get to go back to your childish days of finger paint and playdough?!
- It’s a role that many people are able to do in their local area, meaning that you could spend less time commuting.
- Drinking imaginary cups of tea and baking invisible cakes…
What are the challenges?
- Babies and children can be hard work, both physically demanding if they need lifting but also mentally exhausting. It can help that you’ll nearly always be working within a team, but you can count on your days being pretty full of activity.
- Some children have complex needs e.g. learning and/or behavioural difficulties, and finding the solution to these issues is not always straightforward. Most nurseries tend to have procedures or guidelines in place which can help with this and you may also receive support from external professionals like nurses, psychologists and social workers.
How much will I earn?
As a Nursery Worker, you could earn an annual salary of anywhere between £14,000 and £24,000 depending on location and experience.
Are there opportunities to progress?
Nursery Assistants sometimes go on to become Nursery Nurses. From here you will have the option to progress through the ranks into senior or managerial nursery roles.
How do I get started?
If you’re interested in getting started in a role within a nursery setting, then the most straightforward route is to apply for a role as a Nursery Assistant. Some employers will take candidates on with little or no nursery experience, as long as they have experience of looking after babies and children and can demonstrate the right attributes.
You will often have a significant advantage if you already have some experience working in childcare (either paid or unpaid), which could be in a nursery setting or could also include experience such as childminding in a home setting. If you don’t have any experience of working with children, then it’s worth contacting your local nursery to see whether you can help out on a voluntary basis for a few days a week. This is also a great way to build your confidence in childcare and decide whether working with children is something that you’d definitely like to do – you’ll probably find that they’ll be grateful for the support!
You may also have an advantage if you have a qualification in:
- Level 1 or equivalent in childcare. Colleges and adult education centres often run a one-year course that will teach you about the growth and development of young children and how to create and run activities that will help with their development. You’ll also gain a greater awareness of equality, communication and health and safety. To find out more about which courses may be available near you, it’s best to contact your nearest college or adult education centre.
- Paediatric First Aid. St John’s Ambulance offers a two-day course – in various locations across the country – which meets the Ofsted Early Years and Childcare Register requirements, which could increase your confidence when caring for children and may boost your chances of getting hired. Once you land a job as a Nursery Assistant, you will often be able to complete further training and qualifications alongside your work, to help you qualify as a Nursery Nurse, if this is something you’re interested in.
If you’re looking for somewhere to start, then Bright Horizons are currently recruiting Nursery Assistants across the country. They’re the UK’s leading childcare provider and are advocates for age diversity in the workplace.