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How Much Do I Pay a Babysitter

College Degree Means More Babysitter Pay?

Most industries will pay employees more if they have an Associate's degree or higher. The same is true for babysitters.

If you are a babysitter with a college degree in education, early childhood education, or a related field, you can expect a higher babysitter compensation. If you have completed coursework toward an early childhood or education degree, you can also receive more pay than someone without those qualifications. Many parents feel reassured by having an experienced and educated person caring for their children.

If you have more than two years of experience and a college degree, expect to receive a salary on the higher end of the pay scale.

If you have special knowledge or skills that you can impart to your charges, you may command higher pay.  For example, if you have a degree in Slavic languages, and your employer-family has a child that they adopted from Russia, they may be willing to pay more to have a babysitter who can teach their child some of the child's native tongue.  Another example:  if you possess a degree in fine arts, with emphasis in visual arts, and your employer-family wants their children to learn creative expression, your creative skills (painting, scultpure, etc.) may net you higher income. 

If you posses a college education that generated a certificate or licensure rather than a degree, job-relevant certificates and licensure through colleges may also translate to increased income on the job.  For example, if you obtained your CNA (certified nursing assistant) through your local community college, and your employer-family has a child with medical concerns, you may receive a higher pay rate.

Of course, other factors affect babysitter pay rates as well:  how many children are to be attended to, what the ages of those children are, what additional responsibilities will be tasked to the babysitter (cooking, driving, etc.), in what country/state the babysitting is occurring, and your ability to promote your qualifications and negotiate your pay rate.

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Full-time Live-In Babysitter Pay

If you are looking for a full-time live-in babysitter position, you may wonder what the compensation may be for your work.

Live-in babysitter compensation varies from state to state:  the average is a range of $250 to $850 per week. If you are working as a babysitter in a state with a higher cost of living, you should receive a higher compensation.

Babysitter compensation also varies based on the number of children to be attended to, the ages of those children, and whether you will be expected to perform peripheral job tasks (cooking, cleaning, driving, handling medications, etc.).  The larger the number of children you will be watching, the younger those children are, and the greater the number and complexity of the peripheral tasks asked of you . . . the more your base pay will likely be.

Live-in babysitter compensation will usually be less than live-out babysitter compensation since your living expenses are paid for. Many parents will take the cost of your room out of your salary. This matter can be discussed with the parents at the job interview.

Live-in babysitters are usually salaried (paid based on days or weeks worked, not based on hours worked).  Live-out babysitters are wage-earners (paid based on hours worked).

Your ability to "sell" yourself by effectively marketing your knowledge and skills, and your ability to negotiate your starting rate of pay will also affect your income.  If you aren't comfortable with the babysitter compensation being offered to you, attempt to negotiate with the parents.  If the pay rate is non-negotiable (from the parents' perspective) and unacceptable (from your perspective), don't sign the contract to work for that particular family.  Resume your job search for a family that will meet your expectations.

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Negotiating a Babysitter Pay Rate

When you are hired as a babysitter, you have the option of negotiating your pay rate, even if you work with an agency. The babysitter agency will place you in a position, but you are free to negotiate your work schedule and pay with the family. You will not want to sign a contract until you have come to an agreement concerning your compensation.

Remain calm during the negotiation. You may be inclined to feel hurt or defensive because you think that the parents are trying to minimize your value, but in reality the parents are trying to be conservative with their money. Both parties to the negotiation are likely approaching the negotiation from the perspective of what is best for their own financial condition.

If you have very little experience, the family may offer you less pay than you feel you deserve. Don't hesitate to explain why you feel you deserve a bit more pay.  You may emphasize your good work history or references from people who know you well and can speak of your character and work ethic. If you have a lot of experience, provide references from former families or share references from people in the community who know you as a babysitter. You might also want to share your school transcripts that will show your education. Any of these things can be used to negotiate a higher salary or wage as a full-time babysitter.

Approach the negotiation from an informed perspective.  Know what the average babysitter compensation is in your area and to what degree variables such and the number and ages of the children in the home increase the expected babysitter income in your locale.  If you can present the family with a document from a respected source (the Chamber of Commerce, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, etc.) which supports your expectation of babysitter compensation rates, that will be to your advantage.

If the family tells you that they cannot afford the pay rate that you seek, you may wish to negotiate benefits in lieu of compensation.  For example, if you seek $14 per hour, and the family states that they cannot afford to pay more than $12.50 per hour, then you may respond by saying that you will work for $12.50 per hour if you get an additional two weeks of paid vacation each year.   Also; think about negotiating the responsibilities of the job.  For example; instead of doing the family laundry, you will just be in charge of the children's laundry.  

Just remember: everything is negotiable in your job as a babysitter. If you feel you deserve more of something, present a counter-offer with the reasons in support of your counter-offer.  You may need to be patient as some families need to give careful consideration to your counter-offer before they respond to it.  If the family ultimately states that they simply cannot meet your compensation and benefits expectations, you will need to determine whether you need to walk away and seek employment elsewhere or if you should accept the position even though it is not compensating you as you had hoped.

In sum, as you enter negotiation, know what you want, what you will accept (even though it may not be all that you want), what your selling points are (your skills, local market statistics, etc.), and negotiate calmly and professionally.   With each negotiation, you will become more proficient at the task. 

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Part-Time Babysitter Pay

While a full-time babysitter position can be a lucrative job, part-time babysitters don't do so bad themselves!

Many times, part-time babysitters are paid hourly instead of receiving a salary. With a part-time position, you may not have a set schedule. For instance, you might be needed from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. one day and the next day, you will work 8 a.m. to noon. It's important to record your hours each work day and tally them up at the end of the week.

If you are looking into part-time babysitter work, you can expect to be paid between $6 and $18 per hour, depending on the area in which you work, the number and ages of children that you are to attend to, and the number and complexity of any peripheral job tasks (cooking, driving, etc.) that will be expected of you.

You can negotiate the cost of your services at the interview.  Information on negotiating pay can be found at Babysitters4hire.com as well.

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Pay for Experienced Babysitters vs. New Babysitters

Just like with other jobs, the longer you've been in the field, the better you'll be compensated.  Babysitters are no different.

If you have been a babysitter for less than two years, you should expect to be in the lower end of the pay scale.  If you have been a babysitter for 10 or more years, you should expect to be in the upper end of the pay scale.

On average, you should expect to make between $250 and $400 per week as a less experienced babysitter. If you have an educational background related to childcare or another job-relevant field, you may be able to receive higher babysitter pay even with less experience.

If you are a babysitter with many years of childcare experience, don't hesitate to ask for more pay. Generally, a babysitter with a lot of experience should average between $350 to $800 or more per week, based on a variety of factors such as the number and ages of children to be attended to, the market rates for babysitters in your locale, the number and complexity of peripheral job tasks (cooking, driving, etc.) that will be asked of you, and your ability to market yourself and negotiate your pay.

If you are just starting out as a babysitter, don't be discouraged by the pay for babysitters. No matter what job it is, we all have to begin somewhere and work our way up . . . and the joy of the relationships built and helping children become adults is one of the best job perks around!


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What Will Affect Your Babysitter Pay

There are many factors that can affect babysitter compensation. Here is a brief listing of the most significant of those factors:

1.  If you are a babysitter in an area with a strong job market and/or a high cost of living, you might see a higher babysitter pay rate.

2.  Since the average babysitter salary is based on caring for two children, you should expect to make more if you are a babysitter for a family with three or more children.

3.  The younger the children are, the more your compensation will likely be. 

4.  You may also experience a wage increase or decrease depending on how many hours you work. If you aren't required to babysit for more than 40 hours per week, you may be paid as a part-time babysitter instead of a full-time babysitter.

5.  You may also see an increase in your babysitter wage or salary depending on how much peripheral work you do.  Peripheral work includes preparing food for the children, cleaning the house, doing laundry, driving the children to their various appointments, and medicating any children will illnesses.

6.  The more job-relevant special skills or knowledge that you have, the more you can expect to earn.  For example, if you have a degree in Slavic languages, and your employer-family has a child they have adopted from Russia who they want to learn her native tongue, you will likely receive a higher income for your knowledge of that Slavic languague and your willingness to teach it to their child. 

7.  The more experience you have as a babysitter, the larger your compensation will likely be.

8.  The better your ability to market your job skills, the better you will do in negotiating your starting rate of pay.

Of course, other factors can affect babysitter compensation as well.  However, if you have a firm grasp of each of the eight foregoing factors, you should have a sound general understanding of the subject matter. 

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Where You Live Matters

Where you work and live can be an important factor when it comes to what you earn. This holds true for babysitter salaries as well.

Typically, large metropolitan areas have higher costs of living and therefore, pay rates are higher.  If you live in a large city on the East Coast, such as Boston, you can expect to receive more pay as a babysitter than you would in a rural Massachusetts town. It costs more for a person to live in the city than it does to live in the suburbs and therefore, they must be compensated appropriately.

Regional differences in average pay rates can also be found.  A babysitter in the Midwest should not expect as much pay as a babysitter living on the East Coast. It is more expensive to live on the East Coast than it is to live in the Midwest.

If you live and work in an area in which there is a labor shortage, you can expect to earn a higher income.  If you live and work in an area in which there is a labor surplus, you can expect to earn a lower income.

These are some things to keep in mind when discussing a babysitter salary or wage with a potential employer. You want to make sure that you are paid enough to live a comfortable life wherever you reside.


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Navigating Babysitter Taxes

Babysitters4Hire does not advise on any personal income tax requirements or issues. Use of any information from this site or any other website referred to is for general information only and does not represent personal tax advice either express or implied. Many variables can affect your tax issues and tax laws change frequently. You are encouraged to seek professional tax advice for personal income tax questions and assistance. Some links to professional tax agencies are also provided for your convenience.

Why pay taxes? 
Many parents believe that paying a babysitter "under the table" will save everyone a lot of time and paperwork. This is not only a misperception, it's also illegal.  Employers pay taxes as a federal and state legal requirement, to provide you with greater financial security (i.e., Social Security, etc.), and because it fosters loyalty and confidence in integrity between employer and employee.  Additionally, the cost of non-compliance can be steep, thus rendering the risk of non-compliance not worth it.

Which taxes?
Payroll taxes include:  income taxes, Social Security and Medicare taxes, and federal and state unemployment taxes.

How much must be withheld for each of these taxes is based on the employee's income level, the year in which the income was earned, and (for unemployment taxes) for the employer's "experience rating" (a statistic that relates to staff turnover).

Who pays these taxes?
Income taxes are funded through payroll withholding, so they are funded by the employee.  Social Security and Medicare taxes are paid by both the employer and the employee, equally.  Half of Social Security and Medicare taxes are funded through payroll withhold (thus paid by the employee); the remaining half is paid by the employer as a tax on total payroll.  Federal and state unemployment taxes are paid by the employer as a tax on total payroll.

How Are These Payments Made?
The employer is responsible for collecting and remitting these funds to the government.  When an employer submits its quarterly tax forms to the IRS, these taxes will be tallied and submitted pursuant to the tax forms.

What tax forms need to be filed?
To report a babysitter's wages, calculate taxes owed, and submit those taxes to the government, the employer-family will need to complete certain tax forms.

In completing the tax forms, the family will need to know its Employee Identification Number (EIN).  If the family does not have an EIN and does not wish to have an EIN, the Social Security number (SSN) of one of the parents may be used, but disclosing a parent's SSN on tax information that is seen by third parties (babysitters) comes with some risk of identity theft.  (While no one would ever hire a babysitter that is perceived to be of the sort who would commit identity theft, people generally are well advise to err on the side of caution when handling SSN's.)

If a family does not have an EIN but wishes to have one, the parent(s) may apply to receive an EIN through the IRS website, www.irs.gov.

All tax forms that are needed for the employing of a babysitter should be available on that same website (www.irs.gov). 

Tax Credits Are Available
A tax credit reduces the amount of taxes that an employer owes. Many families find that their tax liability can be greatly reduced by tapping into available tax credits.  These tax credits vary year to year in what they cover and how much they reduct tax liability.   Information about employer tax credits can be found at the IRS website (www.irs.gov).

There are also tax reductions available to employees.  Pre-tax flexible spending accounts (aka "cafeteria plans") allow employees to contribute a certain amount of their pre-tax income to an account which can be used to reimburse the employees' expenses associated with qualifying healthcare and childcare bills.  The portion of the premium that is paid by employees for employer-provided group health insurance can also reduce the employees' total tax liability.

Need Assistance?
Does navigating federal and state taxes sound like more than you are willing to deal with?  GTM Associates provides payroll and tax advice specific to employing babysitters and similar childcare positions.  GTM Associates can be found on the web at  http://www.gtm.com/gtm_household/household.html

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