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Compensating for Childcare
Date night is getting expensive. Babysitting fees have risen substantially since you were a teen sitter, which is good news for the responsible high schoolers on your block, but maybe not so great for your budget. Depending on where you live and who you hire, hiring an experienced sitter will generally set you back between $12 and $15 an hour. Like any hiring situation, a bit of negotiation is normal.
The Going Rate
On average, sitters earn between $10 and $15 per hour—but there's a ton of fluctuation between cities and more rural areas, and between what teens are paid compared to what adults with extensive child care experience can command.
In general, the higher the cost of living in a city, the higher the going rate for babysitters. In an expensive city like San Francisco or New York City, many sitters charge between $15 and $17 an hour for one child. Some sitters charge a higher hourly rate for multiple kids, or if their employers ask for services like cooking, cleaning or tutoring in addition to child care.
Prices drop outside major cities. In wealthy suburbs, sitters can earn big-city wages, but in most suburbs and rural areas, parents can generally hire sitters for $10 to $15 an hour.
The age, experience level and popularity of the sitter also affects what she can charge. A 16-year-old who's just starting out probably won't expect $15 an hour and may think that $10 or even a little less is appropriate. In contrast, a 16-year-old who has been sitting for years and has a reputation as the neighborhood's best sitter has the leverage to charge $14 or $15 if she wants to.
Babysitters who have first-aid training, CPR certifications and education in child development can command a little more than sitters who lack those credentials. Educational experience in the field is useful, but not essential. CPR and first-aid training are a must for any sitter you hire.
Setting Your Rate
You can settle on an hourly rate that seems fair to you. Whether your chosen sitter is willing to work for that rate, however, is up to her. She might have a set rate that she'll expect you to meet, or you may opt to start the conversation by offering the rate that you're prepared to pay. If you're hiring a teen, it's more likely that you'll be able to set the price. An experienced adult sitter is more likely to name her own rate.
If you hire a sitter who you know personally, you can mention the rate in your first conversation. Say something like, "Would you be interested in sitting for us? We pay $12 an hour."
When hiring a sitter through an online site, local candidates may post their rates in their profiles. You still can try to negotiate for a slightly lower rate, but the best sitters are in high enough demand to be choosy about whom they work for and how much they earn. Alternately, you can post an ad describing the type of sitter you're looking for and state the rate you intend to pay. Only sitters who agree to that rate should contact you.
If you have any budgetary flexibility, take a look at a highly paid sitter's qualifications before deciding to go with a cheaper candidate. It may be worth paying $2 more per hour for a sitter who has 10+ years of experience, a long list of glowing references, and a reputation for organizing engaging activities for her charges.
Kathryn has been a lifestyle writer for more than a decade. Her work has appeared on USAToday.com and Indeed.com.