Nursery Nurse

The Job and What's Involved

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.

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.

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 and Nursery managers can earn between £25,000 and £38,000.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

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.

Education and Training

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 GCSE's (A-C) or similar qualifications.

You will need to have Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) clearance to work with young people and other vulnerable groups.

Nursery Assistant - You could begin your career by working under supervision as a nursery assistant. You can prepare for work as a nursery assistant by completing the Level 2 Children and Young People's Workforce Certificate.

Nursery Nurse - To qualify as a nursery nurse you will need to complete the Level 3 Children and Young People's Workforce Diploma. If you already have a level 3 qualification such the following this will still be recognised:

  • CACHE Level 3 Diploma in Child Care and Education.
  • BTEC National Diploma in Children's Care, Learning and Development.
  • NVQ Level 3 in Children's Care, Learning and Development – you may need to arrange a relevant work placement.

You may be able to find work in a nursery as a trainee and attend college part-time to work towards qualifications.

You may also be able to get into nursery work through an Apprenticeship scheme. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work, Careers Wales; and for Northern Ireland contact

Check the Children's Workforce Development Council (CWDC) website for information on careers in pre-school childcare.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Once you are working as a nursery nurse you can develop your career by completing further qualifications, including:

BTEC HNC/HND in subjects such as Advanced Practice in Work with Children and Families, or Early Childhood Studies
a degree or foundation degree in, for example, Early Years or Early Childhood Studies.

Early Years Professional Status (EYPS)
The Government aims to have an Early Years Professional in every full day care setting by 2015. With experience, qualifications and support from your employer (or local training provider) you may be able to work towards EYP status.

There are four pathways to achieving EYPS. The route available to you will depend on your qualifications and the amount of experience you have of working with children up to the age of 5. With EYPS, you would support and mentor other practitioners to help improve the quality of early years practice. For more information, see the Children's Workforce Development Council website.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A nursery nurse needs:

  • 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.

Your Long Term Prospects

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.

Get Further Information


National Day Nursery Association

Council for Awards in Childrens Care
and Education (CACHE), Apex House,
81 Camp Road, St. Albans,
Hertfordshire AL1 5GB
Tel: 0845 347 2123

Childrens Workforce Development Council (CWDC)

City & Guilds
Tel: 0844 543 0033

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