Nursery workers work with children from 0-5 years old in settings such as private day nurseries and school Early Years units. Their main responsibilities of a nursery worker are to support and promote the development of the children in their care.


  • A genuine enjoyment of the company of very young children and passion for supporting their development
  • Kindness and patience
  • Ability to listen to feedback and act upon it
  • Enthusiasm and energy
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Ability to plan creative and stimulating activities to develop the skills and abilities of the children
  • A good sense of humour


There are no specific qualifications for a nursery worker, although some employers will require GCSE passes in English and Maths. A qualification in childcare can be a great advantage in finding work, such as the Level 2 Certificate for the Children and Young People’s Workforce. Apprenticeships are available in some nurseries and school settings.

In Scotland, the Scottish Child Care and Education Board (SCCEB) issues Certificates of Registration to nursery workers, and some local authorities require staff to be registered with them. 

DBS check

Before training or working in a nursery England or Wales, you will need to have a satisfactory enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check. In Scotland you will need a Disclosure, and in Northern Ireland a Criminal Record check. This ensures that adults in nurseries  do not have any convictions which would bar them from working with children. Your nursery will apply for and pay for this.

Self Disclosure

Staff working in nurseries also need to complete a self disclosure form, on which you must disclose if anyone in your household has a conviction of a violent crime or a crime against children. In some instances you may be barred from working with children if you live with someone convicted of such an offence.


  • Feeding the children and encouraging them to develop independent feeding skills.
  • Changing nappies and supporting children in toilet training and becoming independent.
  • Promoting social and communication skills by talking to the children and modelling behaviour.
  • Building good relationships with parents and carers in the setting.
  • Liaising with other professionals, such as health workers and school teachers.
  • Completing paperwork.
  • Recording and reporting the children’s progress, and helping to plan relevant activities and resources.
  • Follow safeguarding policies within the setting.
  • Promote equal opportunities and inclusion within the setting.
  • Setting up and clearing away activities.


Nursery Worker salaries start at around £10,000 a year. Qualified and experienced staff can earn up to £22,000.

Staff working in private nurseries generally receive the statutory 4 weeks a year, while those working in schools usually have the school holidays. 

You should have access to a workplace pension, or perhaps a local authority pension if you work in a school.

These figures are an indication only.


Day nurseries are usually open from 7am or 8am until 6pm or 7pm, and staff usually work an 8 hour day within those hours, so be prepared for some early starts and late finishes. There may also be staff meetings and training outside these times.

In nurseries attached to schools, hours are generally 9am-4pm. There is also a requirement to attend staff meetings and training outside of these hours.


Vacancies are usually advertised locally, on general job websites such as and on the nursery’s own website. Jobs in schools are generally advertised in local council jobs bulletins as well.

Nursery World  has a jobs board where nursery vacancies are advertised.

Opportunities may also arise at the nursery where you do your training.  


Nursery staff receive ongoing training and should have opportunities to access relevant qualifications.

Staff working in schools will receive training in line with the staff development policy.  You may also be able to access a level 3 qualification, such as the Early Years Educator Diploma, which is usually delivered at a college or online and assessed at your workplace.


With experience, you can progress to becoming a room leader, and from there onto Nursery Management.

You may also be interested in setting up your own nursery, or training to become a teacher.


The best way to find out if this is a career path for you is to arrange some work experience in a local nursery. This will enable you to get a feel for the work and if you would enjoy it.

The National Day Nurseries Association has lots of information for Childcare professionals –