Salary of Childcare Services

One of the hot topics mentioned these days at blogs.wsj.com/juggle is the salary of childcare services, particularly babysitter services. One of the working moms recently blogged: “Many parents know the frustration of paying a babysitter nearly $15 an hour to watch TV… if parents want a night out, the cost can start at $45 even before setting foot out the door.” Is the average salary of childcare workers, including babysitters, getting out of hand? Granted, most babysitters have not graduated high school, but they are still responsible for your child's life for a few hours.

For babysitters in Columbus, Ohio, babysitter pay averages out at $7.00 per hour, with a high end of $8.50. Let’s compare the pay rate of those who care for your child to those who care for your car. A beginning auto mechanic salary in Columbus, Ohio, is $12.75 an hour, with a high-end of $19.00, assuming the mechanic and the babysitter each have 1-4 years of experience. The average salary of childcare providers does catch up some, if they are full-time nannies or au pairs: hourly pay is $9.00 an hour with a potential of $14.00 per hour in Columbus.

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Average Salary of Childcare Providers in Maryland

As we continue our look at the typical salary of childcare services, an experienced Maryland daycare provider earns an hourly wage of $11.00 (up to $14.00) for caring for children. If we compare that pay rate to auto accessories installer hourly pay - the guy putting a subwoofer in your car - the installer earns an average hourly wage of $14.75, with a potential of earning $16.75.

Certainly, it takes a degree of training to install a radio or CD player in your car, but if something goes wrong with your car, you’d be far less upset than if something happened to your child (unless you really love that car!). That said, not all states require a rigorous amount of training (if any) for day care providers, although the owners of such facilities may have to meet state standards. At this point, you might be wondering, Is the average salary of childcare providers any better in other parts of the country? Are there any childcare related jobs that pay well?

What is the salary for social workers in Florida?

The higher minimum wage up in the Northwest does not help much, with Oregon daycare providers earning an average hourly wage of $11.00, with a high-end of $13.00. If we compare that pay rate to someone who cares for a lawn, the average Oregon gardener earns an hourly wage of $14.00 per hour. Ouch! Which shrub is getting the priority here? Yes, vegetation needs to be watered and cared for, but a child’s diet is probably a little more particular (unless we’re talking about a delicate Coral Tree).

Looking at social work jobs in Florida, we find a child social worker salary to be a respectable $36,700 per year, with a high-end of $42,500. Even with that Masters Degree, a child social worker will earn about the same as a journeyman plumber salary. The plumber earns an average hourly wage of $19.00 per hour, up to $25.00 (based on a child social worker and the journeyman plumber with 5-9 years of experience).

Nothing against plumbers, we’d be up the creek without them (literally), but it does seem that childcare workers are getting the short end of the plunger, err, stick.

Childcare Salaries: Unions and Tax Breaks

Because of the low salary of childcare services, Alternet.org reports that unionization in this profession is becoming more widespread: “More than 350,000 child-care workers are affiliated with SEIU (Service Employees International Union), the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the United Child Care Union and its sponsor, AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. The SEIU represents 49,000 home-daycare providers in Illinois and 10,000 in Washington who joined last year.”

While WSJ bloggers and other parents may cringe at the idea of their babysitter turning into Norma Rae, the truth is that childcare workers are consistently at the bottom of the wage scale in the United States. Looking at the thousands of jobs held by millions of people in our PayScale salary database, only retail cashiers are paid lower wages.

Let's hope the non-monetary benefits of the job, like playing with two year-olds instead of putting up with a boss who acts like a two year-old, make up for the low annual salary of childcare workers.

For parents who wish they could pay more, there is some relief via the IRS. At finance.yahoo.com, tax specialist J.K. Lasser says that parents may be eligible for a special tax credit to defer the cost of childcare salaries, “If you hire someone to care for your child so you can work, full-time or part-time, you may qualify for a tax credit. Also, if your employer offers a flexible spending account (FSA) to cover dependent care costs, you can agree to have a portion of your paycheck added to this account.”

Could you afford to place a portion of your paycheck in a FSA? Crunch the numbers with our salary calculator.

Cheers,

Dr. Al Lee

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