Nursery Nurse Career Profile

What is the work like?

As a nursery nurse, you would work with children from birth to around seven years of age, helping them to develop and learn. You would work in settings such as local authority or privately owned nurseries, Sure Start Children's Centres and nursery or primary schools. In some jobs you could be known as a nursery practitioner.

Your day-to-day tasks would include:

  • planning and supervising activities such arts and crafts, music and cooking
  • helping children to learn number skills through activities like counting games
  • reading stories and providing other activities to develop language skills
  • taking children on outings
  • helping children to learn skills such as dressing and using cutlery
  • feeding, bathing and changing babies
  • observing children and writing reports on their progress
  • being aware of health and safety and making sure children are safe
  • sharing information on children's' development with their parents
  • reporting any concerns such as signs of abuse.

You could specialise in working with children with physical disabilities, learning difficulties or mental health problems.

Hours

Your working hours would usually include shifts covering early starts and late finishes to meet the needs of parents. Working in a nursery can be physically demanding and noisy.

Income

The starting salary for junior or trainee nursery nurses can be between £10,000 and £12,000 a year, depending on age.
Qualified and experienced nursery nurses can earn between £14,000 and £18,000, depending on responsibilities.
Nursery managers can earn between £25,000 and £38,000.
Figures are intended as a guideline only. 

Entry Requirements

You do not always need academic qualifications to start training as a nursery nurse. However, course providers and employers may prefer you to have a good general standard of education, possibly including three or four GCSEs (A-C) or similar qualifications.

Before you can begin working with children you will need Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) clearance.

Skills and Knowledge

  • a warm, caring and patient nature
  • good communication skills
  • a sense of responsibility
  • a consistent and fair approach
  • a sense of humour
  • creativity
  • an awareness of safety and hygiene
  • the ability to work in a team.

Opportunities

Vacancies are advertised in the national and local press, through specialist agencies' websites, and in publications and websites such as Nursery World and Children and Young People Now .

You could also choose to work as a nanny or maternity nanny. As an experienced nursery nurse you could progress to room leader/senior nursery nurse, nursery officer or manager.

You could also become a community nursery nurse, or complete further training to move into related areas of work, such as nursing, teaching or social work.