Wages for This Side Gig Are Soaring — Should You Cash in?

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A woman babysits a toddler
Maria Sbytova / Shutterstock.com

Wage growth has largely languished since the Great Recession. In fact, American workers have actually seen their inflation-adjusted wages drop, despite low unemployment and businesses fighting to attract qualified workers.

Still, a few jobs seem recession-proof. Employees in the health care sector, for example, are among few who received significant raises last year. And then there’s the baby-sitting sector.

Yes, baby-sitting. Over the past six years, baby sitters’ wages have increased nearly twice as fast as the pay of the average American.

According to Care.com’s annual baby sitter survey, the national average baby-sitting rate in 2016 was about $13.97 per hour — an increase of about 26 percent since 2010, when the average rate was $11.11.

By contrast, Americans’ average hourly earnings increased by about 14 percent over the same period. According to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the average hourly earnings of all private-sector employees rose from $22.76 in December 2010 to $25.98 in December 2016.

If you’re considering baby-sitting to bring in some extra money, know that Care.com found that baby sitters with flexible schedules and certain qualifications can command higher rates.

Joyce Hodel, data scientist at Care.com, explains:

“Parents are increasingly paying more for a baby sitter. What surprised us is that parents are also willing to pay even more in certain circumstances. … We’re seeing that this is a baby sitter’s market, with parents recognizing that sitters have a huge responsibility and are providing a priceless service.”

Specifically, Hodel says parents are willing to pay more for a baby sitter who:

  • Will help parents get through the chaotic hours before and after school
  • Accepts last-minute requests
  • Has additional skills, education and training

The qualifications valued by the largest percentages of parents are:

  1. Safety training (such as CPR and first-aid certification)
  2. Early education degree
  3. State-level child care certification required for preschool teachers
  4. College degree
  5. Infant care certification

If you’re curious what kind of rate you can command as a baby sitter, check out Care.com’s baby-sitting rates calculator, which also considers your location. Regionally, average baby-sitting rates range from $16.68 per hour in San Jose, California, to $11.81 in Youngstown, Ohio.

If you already baby-sit, consider asking for a raise. Care.com’s survey found that 77 percent of parents would give their favorite sitter a pay raise if the baby-sitter requested it.

What’s your take on baby-sitting as a way to bring in extra money? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

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