Six figure salaries and benefits galore: Why Ivy League grads are opting for nanny gigs over finance jobs

Modern day Mary Poppinses are flying higher and higher. 

A year ago, the going rate for New York City nannies was $20 to $25 an hour — now childcare professionals are commanding $30 to $45, according to local nanny agencies. Nationwide, nanny rates rose by a less dramatic but still significant 11% from 2021 to 2022, according to a survey conducted by UrbanSitter — easily outpacing inflation. A shortage of available nannies means families have to pay more — and often offer benefits, such as ample time off — to hire help, while the rising wages are luring talent away from adjacent fields. 

“We just placed someone with an Ivy League education,” said Florence Yazdanpanah, the owner of Manhattan Nanny and Staffing Agency in Midtown. She notes that the gig paid six figures, making it an attractive option for someone with such a pedigree. “They’ve probably spent hundreds of thousands on their education and now they’re being a nanny and it’s paying as much — if not more [than] — working for a corporation.”

Lynn Perkins, the CEO of UrbanSitter, an online service for babysitters and nannies, said she’s seeing people nannying who might have once had more lucrative opportunities in adjacent fields. 

“People are leaving daycare centers, elementary school teaching and nursing jobs for nannying gigs,” said Perkins. “[We’re] seeing these very qualified professionals come into the new category and they’re able to charge higher rates … People are realizing that nannying is both a good fit for their lifestyle and also, it pays well.”

Families are demanding childcare professionals with more schooling, and they’re willing to shell out for them, especially after years of virtual learning. Should there be another pandemic and a return to home-school, there’s a desire for nannies who can help with algebra worksheets and history term papers.

“[Parents] want highly educated nannies now, especially because of COVID,” said Perkins. 

Yazdanpanah notes that it often doesn’t matter to her clients if a potential nanny has studied education or childhood development. 

“A mom said to me the other day she just wants someone who’s educated [and] who puts importance into being educated, and can talk to her kids about that,” she said, noting parents with school-aged children tend to request at least a bachelor’s degree before interviewing a candidate. 

Catherine Walpole, a 28-year-old who has been working as a nanny and babysitter for a decade, didn’t think she would stick with being a nanny after getting a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Hunter College, but “the pay is hard to match.” 

Thanks to her psychology degree — and the increase in demand for in-home childcare because of the pandemic — she now commands as much as $50 an hour, plus benefits. 

“Many families [are] suddenly offering fully covered health care, paid transportation, the option (and not requirement) to live in, extensive paid vacation time off, and the list goes on,” she explained, adding that families who can’t pay more will offer a lighter schedule.

Jazha Cabrera recently stopped working to care for her own family, but before that, she was making $105,000 per year, plus overtime, caring for two children. 

“The rates have increased not only because of supply and demand, but [because families] want so much education,” said Cabrera, who has a degree in criminal justice. And, she said, “nannies are no longer putting up with [low wages].”

Perkins agrees. 

“Now the nannies have more of a say,” said Perkins. “[There’s been a] dynamics shift all of a sudden.”

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