Babysitter Jobs: They're Not Just For Teens Anymore

babysitterNoelle Zeiger-Kochek started babysitting when she was 11 and hasn't looked back, using her skills to take care of children throughout the years to supplement her income and as a part-time job. "I was one of the richest kids on the block from all of the babysitting," Zeiger-Kochek, now 32, says of her early career.

What some may consider a teenage job to earn some extra bucks for clothes and spending money, many others are now turning into part-time jobs with better pay, and even some benefits, than they received when they were starting out as a babysitter and needed a parent to drive them to work. Older babysitters can demand higher pay because they have more experience, may have first-aid expertise, can cook meals, have their own car to get to a parent's house, and are mature enough to leave their boyfriend at home.

The website reports that it is expecting an 80 percent increase in holiday sitter jobs over this time last year. It recommends starting now to either find a sitter or become one. Sittercity offers free registration to sitters, who can list positive experiences and parent reviews on their profiles. The more complete a sitter profile is, the more positive parent reviews, and the more active a sitter is on the site, the higher they will appear in the parents' sitter search results. Care providers must be at least 18 to join, although the average age of care providers is 29. Most providers work in child care, but the site also offers care for elders, pet sitters, dog walkers, housekeepers and tutors.

Zeiger-Kochek said she earns $15 an hour and works 15 to 20 hours a week through Sittercity. She works for five families, but because her husband works full-time, she no longer needs to work holidays or Saturday nights.

"I don't really need to work," she said. "It's something I enjoy doing."

Alicia Chapman, 36, hired a nanny on Sittercity a year ago for her twin girls, and pays her $14 an hour for 40 hours a week, and time-and-a-half for 10 more hours per week. Chapman, who lives in a suburb of Chicago, said she was overwhelmed with 100 applicants, and narrowed it to four to interview in person. After interviewing nurses and someone with dual masters' degrees, she hired a 28-year-old woman who worked for seven years for another family and had worked at a day-care center.

She expects to keep the nanny working for her until her girls, now 15 months old, are of school age. Although benefits aren't required for the job, Chapman and her husband are giving their nanny paid time off.

The other finalists for the job, which included a special education teacher, are Chapman's backup babysitters. High unemployment helped add to the labor pool, she said, since local schools were laying off teachers and area hospitals have cut workers' hours. But Chapman said she doesn't think that the economic recovery, whenever it comes, will lessen the pool of excellent babysitters.

"I think even when the economy turns around you're still going to find people who that's what they want to do -- take care of children," she said.

Tips for sitters

Along with registering early as a sitter, Sittercity recommends these tips for becoming a trusted babysitter during the holidays and becoming the family's go-to sitter in the future:

1. Be flexible

The more available you make yourself, the more likely you will be to land the job. Be available at peak hours when parents are looking for help, such as:

  • November: during the day
  • December: Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings
  • New Year's Eve: overnight, so parents don't have to worry about getting home soon after the clock strikes 12.

2. Be competitive

Base your compensation on what the going rate is in your city (you can use a rate calculator to find out). The national average hourly rate is between $10 and $13/hour. For New Year's Eve, Sittercity has found that parents are willing to pay an additional $10 over the going rate. Also for New Year's Eve, if you are spending the night, parents will add anywhere from $40-$100 to the normal rate.

Putting someone's child to bed on New Year's Eve isn't the most romantic way to ring in the new year, but a $100 tip from thankful parents is a good start to making it a profitable one.

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