How to Become a Nursery Nurse: A Complete Career Guide

“A child is a beam of sunlight from the infinite and eternal, with possibilities of virtue and vice, but as yet unstained.” Layman Abbott

Who doesn’t love kids? They are like little angels walking around us. What if you could choose a career in which your primary responsibility would be to take care of kids? This blog will show you how to become a nursery nurse even without a college degree.

Nursery nurses work to make sure young children grow up happy, healthy, and flourish as they develop into adults. Besides all the fun and love from the kids, they can also make a smart living out of the profession. It can be a part-time or contractual job, and you may also be called a nursery assistant, early years educator, pre-school assistant, playground assistant, childcare worker, etc.

You need to be patient and get the required skills to become a nursery nurse. In this article, you will learn what responsibilities are involved in this job, is it the career you are looking for, how to become a nursery nurse, and how to acquire the skills you need that seem resemblances to a parent.

What Does a Nursery Nurse Do?

A nursery nurse looks after young children, and it’s their job to make sure they grow up safe and happy in an environment that will help the healthy development of the kids. They take care of small children, usually from 6 months up to 5 years old to develop and learn in a safe and supportive setting.

The majority of nursery nurses work with healthy kids, caring for them on a daily basis. However, some specialized professionals work with children who have disabilities, learning difficulties, or mental issues.

It will be your responsibility to ensure the physical care and safety of the children you are accountable to. You will engage them in various games and activities throughout the day that will help them develop both socially and educationally.

Nursery nurse jobs

Duties and responsibilities

The duties of a nursery nurse vary, and it depends on where you work and who you work with. For example, responsibilities, when you take care of a ten months infant, would be different than a four years old kid. In nurseries, a nurse often looks after a variety of different aged children at a time.

Typical duties and responsibilities include:

  1. Planning lessons and engaging children in different fun and educational activity
  2. Supervise activities like art and craft, music and cooking
  3. Helping children to learn numeracy and language skills through games
  4. Taking part in singing, role play, and storytelling
  5. Taking children on local outings
  6. Watching children, ensuring their safety, hygiene, and manner
  7. Feeding and changing babies
  8. Playing with children to learn and develop a frame of mind, observing them and make notes to write reports
  9. Preparing healthy meals, snacks, and drinks; ensuring all dietary needs are met
  10. Speaking with parents, carers and other nursery workers
  11. Successive nursery sessions for parents with their children on diet suggestions, physical and mental development
  12. Keeping complete records of the children and their families

Skills and Qualifications You Need to Become a Nursery Nurse

Nursery nurse skills

As you will be working with children, you have to love them, but that’s not all! There are other qualities and skills you must acquire. Nursery nurses need to be hard-working, good with children, tolerant, and able to multitask efficiently. These skills are what employers will often be looking for, and nursery nurse interview questions are also developed based on these skills and qualifications.

Parents will want to rely on whom they are leaving their children. So, it’s also important to develop strong communication skills along with other skills that make you a good nursery nurse.

Nursery nurse skills

You will need these skills and knowledge to become a successful nursery nurse:

  • Sensitivity and understanding
  • A patient, caring, calm in stressful situations, yet assertive and responsive nature
  • A passion for working in the childcare and educational institutions
  • The ability to work well with others
  • A flexible and curious mind with a sense of fun and excitement
  • The ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • Excellent verbal communication skills
  • General fitness, as you’ll be on your feet and moving around with kids most of the time
  • Observational skills might help you to identify health and development concerns, the symbols of negligence or abuse
  • Problem-solving skills which will help you to solve difficulties in an effective way
  • Customer service skills
  • Thinking and reasoning skills
  • Ability to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Qualifications and requirements

To become a successful nursery nurse, you must fulfill some requirements. You’ll need one of the following qualifications:

  • CACHE Level 2 / Level 3 Certificate in child care and education
  • NVQ Level 3 Certificate in childcare, learning, and development- you may need to arrange a relevant work placement
  • BTEC National Diploma in childcare, learning, and development
  • Accredited Level 3 online diploma
  • Or you may start the career with an apprenticeship

Along with the required training and certification, you have to pass enhanced background checks that ensure you do not have any criminal cases. To specialize in specific areas of nursery work, like taking care of children with special educational needs or disabilities, you will need to do specialized courses.

How to Get Started?

How to get nursery nurse job

Knowing how to become a nursery nurse is the first thing needed to get started. You can start by doing courses in a college or online platform to become a nursery nurse or to specialize in specific areas of nursery work. To become a qualified nursery worker it’s important to get necessary degrees/training from authorized and accredited institutions.

Getting into this job is possible through:

  1. A college course
  2. An apprenticeship
  3. Online diploma course
  4. Volunteering

College course

There are courses for those who want to work with children and young people offered at local colleges. You can take a college course before looking for work in a nursery. Courses include:

  • Level 2 Certificate in Childcare and Education
  • Level 3 Diploma in Early Years Education and Care
  • T Level in Education

A Paediatric First Aid Diploma course will be very helpful because you may need to respond to emergencies any time but it’s not mandatory.

Entry requirement

Entry requirements vary depending on the course level and institution. You may need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grade 9 to 3 or equivalent for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grade 9 to 4 or equivalent for a level 3 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grade 9 to 4 or equivalent including English and maths for a T level


An intermediate or advanced apprenticeship could also lead you into this profession as an entry-level practitioner or educator. You need some basic qualifications to start an apprenticeship under the supervision of a senior nursery nurse.

Entry requirement

  • Some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent for an intermediate apprenticeship
  • 5 GCSEs at grade 9 to 4, or equivalent including English and maths for an advanced apprenticeship

Online diploma course

Online diploma courses can be a good alternative to a college degree in 2020. The benefits of an online course are you don’t need to attend a class every day on time and complete the course within a limited timeframe. Besides, there are quite a lot of accredited platforms now who provide quality courses at a reasonable price.

These are some accredited online platform you can choose from to get a Level 2 or Level 3 Diploma in Nursery Nurse:

  1. Reed
  2. One Education
  3. John Academy
  4. Janets
  5. Adams Academy


By volunteering at a local nursery group or after school club you can get experience and this may lead to paid work, where you could get training on the job. Applying directly for a job also works sometimes if the candidate has experience of working with children and qualification on childcare.

Suitable Online Courses and What You’ll Learn

Nursery worker online course

There are plenty of courses to choose from on online platforms:

  • Nursery Nurse Diploma Level 3
  • CACHE Level 3 Diploma in Childcare and Education
  • BTEC National Diploma in Children’s Care, Learning and Development
  • NVQ Level 3 in Children’s Care, Learning and Development
  • SEN Teaching Diploma Level 5

Most of the online courses give year-long access to the course material, so the students can study at a suitable time and at their own pace. The Nursery Nurse Diploma Level 3 course would be everything a beginner needs to become a professional within the shortest period of time.

Online courses cover a wide range of topics and you may expect to get all the skills required to become a professional nursery nurse from it. Common courses from the accredited platforms cover:

  • An introduction to early learning
  • Childcare and child development from birth to age 8
  • How to meet a child’s individual needs
  • Learning through play
  • Inclusion of special needs
  • Understanding the framework, regulation, and legislation
  • Promoting learning and development
  • Paediatric first aid
  • Safeguarding children etc.

Nursery Nurse Salary

Nursery nurse salary

In 2020 the starting salary of a trainee nursery nurse, or who has very limited experience is around £12,000 to £16,000 but that varies depending on location, experience, specialism, and the nursery you work in. But with experience and skill, the salary will increase rapidly. Once qualified, the average wage is around £17,00 to £22,000 with nursery officers or managers earning up to £32,000 per year.

Many people in this career earn themselves additional salaries by doing overtime hours or private part-time jobs. If you work in an institution there are promotional opportunities as soon as you get qualified.

Working Environment

Kids Outing

Nursery nurses mostly work indoors except when they take the kids for outings. You could work in local childcare settings, private nurseries, children’s center, and reception classes in primary schools. Some nursery nurses also work in the community and look after the children in their own home.

The average day of a nursery nurse starts early in the morning to accommodate parents who have to go to work. Workers in a nursery also need to come early to ensure it is set up before the children arrive. Some nurseries will open 7 in the morning to give the parents enough time to go to work after they drop their kids and it will close based on the needs of the working parents, but that will be usually around 6 in the evening. Shift work will sometimes be needed.

Typically they work 38-40 hours per week and you could work on the weekends too. Nursery nurses working in an institution may need to wear a uniform.

Career Path and Progression

career growth

The more experience and skills you gain in this profession, the more senior roles you can apply for. The salary will increase as well.

With experience it is also possible to specialise in specific areas like working with children who have learning difficulties, physical disabilities or need support with their mental health.

While working as a nursery nurse you could get the following qualifications to progress to room leader, senior nursery nurse or center manager:

  • CACHE Level 3 Certificate of Professional Development (CPD) in work with children and young people
  • BTEC HNC/HND in subjects such as Advanced Practice in Work with Children and Families
  • A Level 3 Early Years Educator qualifications.

You could also study towards a higher education qualification in the early years of child development. It’s possible then to move into a managerial position or start a teaching profession in primary schools.

Closing Note

Now as you know all about being a nursery nurse, you could easily choose the right courses, get some experience, and take the first step towards your dream. For an apprenticeship contact local nurseries and childcare facilities. To learn more you could take the following course from Coursegate.

September 9, 2020

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