Nursery nurse job description

Nursery nurses provide care for babies and young children in a safe, supportive and nurturing environment, such as nurseries, family centres, schools and hospitals.

They work to meet children’s daily care needs, coordinate and supervise a range of social and educational activities and keep development and observation records of the children in their care.

This complete guide includes a full nursery nurse job description and covers all the key information about nursery nurses, including typical salaries, requirements, opportunities for progression and more.


Guide contents

  • Nursery nurse job description
  • How much do nursery nurses earn?
  • What does a nursery nurse do?
  • Requirements, skills and qualifications
  • Who employs nursery nurses?
  • Which junior jobs progress to nursery nurse roles?


Nursery nurse job description

Nursery nurse | Kidzone Nursery


About Kidzone Nursery

We run five nurseries across Greater Manchester and Cheshire and aim to deliver the best childcare in the area. By delivering exceptional care and education, we’ve been trusted by families to provide early years childcare for the past 25 years and have won several awards in the process.


About the role

We’re looking for a full-time, qualified nursery nurse to provide great quality childcare in our growing Wilmslow centre. Reporting to the nursery manager, the chosen candidate will care for, nurture and teach children with an overarching goal of giving them the best early years experience possible.



  • Tend to the basic needs of children when required, such as toilet training, feeding and washing
  • Plan and coordinate a range of rich learning opportunities that support the development of children’s numeracy and literacy skills
  • Ensure the health, safety and welfare of children in line with our ‘keeping everyone safe’ policies and procedures
  • Act as a support system to children and offer warm and friendly guidance, support and advice when needed
  • Manage children’s behaviour and support them to effectively manage their own behaviours
  • Liaise with colleagues, parents/guardians and carers to meet the individual needs of each child in our care


Location & commitments

  • Full-time role based at our modern daycare facility in Wilmslow, Cheshire
  • 40 hours per week with varying shifts between 7 am and 7 pm
  • Monday–Friday role – no weekend working
  • Occasional overtime may be required


Candidate requirements


  • Full level 3 qualification in childcare
  • A good standard of numeracy and literacy – GCSE English and Maths at grade C
  • Enhanced DBS check (or willing to undertake one)
  • Paediatric First Aid trained (or be willing to train with us)
  • Sound understanding of the early years foundation stage and safeguarding practises
  • Able to work in a very fast-paced environment
  • A great deal of empathy and compassion in dealing with children with complex needs


  • 6 months+ experience of working in a nursery setting


Contact us to apply

If you’d like to join our vibrant team of nursery nurses, then apply today! Send your CV and a short cover letter across to our Kidzone Wilmslow nursery manager, Alison Williams, at


How much do nursery nurses earn?

On average, a full-time nursery nurse in the UK earns £19,000. However, overtime is often available, which can offer a boost to the basic salary. Additionally, with experience and promotions, salaries can increase.


Nursery nurse salaries in the UK

  • Low: £18,579
  • Average: £19,000
  • High: £21,000

Source: TotalJobs


Nursery nurse salaries vary depending on:

  • The type of employer – As nursery nurses can work in both the private sector (eg privately owned nurses) or public sector (eg hospitals and schools), pay can vary. For example, NHS nursery nurses are paid at band 3 or 4 of the Agenda for change system, which sits slightly above the average salary listed above.
  • The specialism – Training as a nursery nurse in a specific area of care (for example, special needs, physical disabilities or mental health) can positively impact the rate of pay.
  • The candidate’s level of experience – Trainee nursery nurses will earn significantly under the average figure listed above, while supervisory and managerial roles generally pay more.

For example, a newly-qualified nursery nurse working in a private nursery will normally earn slightly less than a nursery nurse working in the NHS at band 3. Additionally, a trainee nursery nurse in the private sector is likely to earn significantly less than a qualified nursery nurse working as a supervisor in the same nursery.

However, do bear in mind that these are average figures taken from a range of job advertisement samples and therefore do not include extra benefits such as overtime, bonuses and non-financial benefits such as staff childcare discounts.


What does a nursery nurse do?

Typically, a nursery nurse job description will include the following duties, tasks and responsibilities:

  • Planning learning activities – Planning and supervising a range of fun and educational activities, such as stories, songs, arts and crafts, games, drawing, lessons and outdoor play
  • Teaching literacy & numeracy – Helping children to develop their numeracy and literacy skills through informal lessons and play
  • Coordinating & supervising trips – Coordinating day trips and outings for children, ensuring that parents give their full permission and that the children will be safe
  • Feeding & supervising eating – Preparing food, coordinating meal times as necessary and making sure that all children eat and drink
  • Reassuring and supporting – Supporting and comforting children when they are distressed, upset or ill
  • Cleaning & tidying – Regularly cleaning and tidying the nursery and ensuring all toys and equipment are cleaned after each use
  • Helping with toilet training – Liaising with parents to deliver toilet training and changing nappies if necessary
  • Washing and changing – Helping children to wash and clean themselves, as well as teaching and encouraging general hygiene
  • Making observations – Consistently observing and recording each child’s personal progress
  • Monitoring health and safety – Ensuring children are safe and well at all times and that the environment they are in is safe
  • Writing reports – Writing reports on children’s progress and completing any necessary admin and paperwork
  • Meeting with parents – Arranging and attending regular meetings with parents to discuss their child’s needs and development, as well as any concerns


What do nursery nurses need?

candidate requirements

In order to provide the best standards of care to children, nursery nurses need a range of skills and knowledge. Depending on the level of the role, certain qualifications may also be required. Here’s what is typically needed:



Trainee nursery nurse/nursery assistant jobs are typically open to candidates without any prior experience. However, any form of childcare experience, such as informal babysitting or looking after a younger sibling, can be an advantage during the hiring process.

Nursery nurse roles vary in terms of experience requirements. More often than not, roles will be open to any candidates with the required childcare qualifications. However, some employers will expect some form of previous experience, such as a completed placement or experience as a nursery assistant.


Nursery nurse skills

A job as a nursery nurse is a position of great responsibility, with parents putting full trust in employees to care for the children. For this reason, the following skills, qualities and attributes are highly-sought after:

  • Patience: Responding and dealing with difficult and overwhelming situations and behaviour calmly
  • Communication: Explaining things in a way that young children can understand, listening attentively to children and communicating effectively with parents and colleagues
  • Empathy: Answering children’s questions and worries and calming their nerves in a kind, reassuring and empathetic manner
  • Physical stamina: Spending shifts largely on foot, running around after children and taking part in outdoor activities
  • Basic numeracy & literacy: Confidently supporting children to acquire basic numeracy and literacy abilities
  • Organisation: Coordinating day-to-day activities and ensuring that activities, lessons, and meetings stay on track
  • Decision making: Confidently making effective and timely decisions during emergencies and difficult situations
  • Leadership: Providing guidance and confidently taking charge of large groups of children


Nursery nurse qualifications

In order to gain employment as a nursery nurse, certain childcare qualifications are required by law.

With that said, many trainee positions are available, which offer those without the necessary qualifications to gain work experience whilst they study. For these positions, employers still expect a good standard of general education, such as GCSEs in Maths and English.

The following qualifications are normally required in order to gain a qualified nursery nurse job:


Level 3 childcare qualification

To qualify as a nursery nurse, a recognised childcare qualification at Level 3 or above is required by law. These include:

These qualifications are offered at most local colleges and take around 180-200 hours to complete. Some colleges also have distance learning options. Each college will state their own specific entry requirements, but generally, the only strict requirements are GCSE at grade C+/4+ in Maths and English.


Paediatric first aid

Within three months of permanent employment, all nursery nurses must gain a paediatric first-aid certificate by law. This certificate covers all the bases of helping an ill or injured child prior to taking them to emergency services. Employers generally sponsor this training on-the-job.


Enhanced DBS check

As nursery nurses work in direct (and often unsupervised) contact with children, employers have to request an enhanced DBS check from the Disclosure and Barring Service before offering employment to candidates. This check reveals any arrest, warning or convictions made against an individual by the police or law enforcement agencies.


What is expected of nursery nurses?

Nursery nurses will be expected to commit the following:

  • Full or part-time hours – A range of part and full-time nursery nurse roles are available, offering anything from around 10 to 40 hours of work per week
  • Shift work – Nurseries are open early until late, so early morning and evening shifts are to be expected
  • Overtime – Overtime is common and, unfortunately, sometimes unpaid for salaried workers
  • Uniform – Nursery nurses are normally required to wear a uniform, which is provided by the employer
  • Location – Based at a nursery, school or hospital
  • Occasional travel – Travel to day trips and activities is to be expected, but overnight stays are uncommon


Nursery nurse benefits

Benefits packages will inevitably vary between nurseries and sectors — but generally, nursery nurses can expect the following perks:

  • Pension scheme
  • Generous annual leave
  • Sick pay
  • Career progression support
  • Ongoing training
  • Childcare discounts



Who employs nursery nurses?


Nursery nurses are required in any environment where young children and babies are being cared for on a commercial basis.

With a recent workforce survey revealing that private and voluntary nursery employers are struggling to recruit level 3 staff (nursery nurses), there’s no shortage of jobs within the industry.

Employment is available across the public and private sectors and, due to the ongoing need for childcare all over the country, there are no geographical restrictions. 50.8% of nursery nurses work part-time, while 47% work full-time, meaning a varied range of contracts are available to suit individual needs.

Typical nursery nurse employers include:

  • Privately owned nurseries and playgroups
  • Children’s centres and childminding facilities
  • Public and private schools
  • Public and private hospitals, hospices, gyms and health clinics


Which junior jobs progress to nursery nurse roles?

Stepping stone jobs

Aside from nursery nurse or childcare apprenticeships (which are increasingly common), the following roles provide a good grounding of experience for progression into nursery nurse roles providing candidates also achieve a level 3 childcare qualification.


Nursery assistant

Nursery assistants help qualified nursery staff to take care of young children, which includes tending to children’s personal needs, supervising activities and cleaning and tidying the premises. As nursery assistants are not allowed to work unsupervised with children, they are not required to by law to have as many qualifications or background checks. Many nursery assistants undertake their level 3 qualification alongside their job and eventually qualify as a nursery nurse, after months of shadowing a nursery nurse.


Babysitters work directly with families, or for an agency, to look after children whilst their parents or guardians are busy. As the position requires taking complete responsibility for the health, safety and welfare of children, the experience is highly transferable to the role of a nursery nurse.


As some employers require some form of relevant work experience with children, volunteering alongside study is a great way for aspiring nursery nurses to bolster their CV. This might be volunteering at a children’s sports, activity or youth club or offering support to local children’s charities.


Which senior jobs do nursery nurses progress to?

In order to gain an increase in salary, most nursery nurses eventually seek progression into senior-level roles. While a wide range of opportunities are available within the childcare sector, some of the most common progression routes include:


Nursery nurse manager

Nursery nurses with significant experience can eventually progress into assistant nursery manager and nursery manager positions. Staff in these roles take overall responsibility for the running of a nursery, including recruiting new staff and developing the nursery team. They are generally less hands-on with more office based work, such as managing budgets, writing management reports and maintaining children’s records.

Early years teacher

Some nursery nurses decide to undertake further study in order to become an early-years teacher (teachers who work in the primary level of schools and preschools), which can offer significant increases in salary. To gain early years status, a degree in an early childhood-related subject is required. Sometimes they may gain experience as a teaching assistant whilst they train.

Specialist roles

Often, nursery nurses decide to specialise in a specific area of care, for example mental health, physical disabilities or learning disabilities. These types of roles commonly appear in hospitals, schools and social services. Depending on the area, additional qualifications may be required — but salaries do generally increase with these niche skills.


Nursery nurse job description – conclusion

A role as a nursery nurse can be physically demanding and sometimes challenging. But for those who love working with children, it’s also highly rewarding and can be a lot of fun.

Qualifying as a nursery nurse requires a level 3 qualification in childcare, which can be gained at local colleges across the country.

While pay is on the low side, plenty of opportunities for progression within the childcare sector are available, though many do require additional training and qualifications.