Nursery Nurse


As a Nursery Nurse, you will provide care and education for children from birth up to eight years old. You'll plan and supervise play and work activities, to help children learn and develop. You will work in places like day nurseries, infant or special schools and hospitals.

Also known as

  • Early Years' Specialist

Video: - Jeanette: Nursery Nurse

Work Activities

As a Nursery Nurse, you will provide care and education for young children. You'll play an important part in the early development of children in their care. You will encourage children's concentration, creativity, imagination, ability to solve problems and general sense of discovery, and many other skills and qualities.

Your duties vary depending on the age and number of the children you care for. Nursery Nurses who look after babies and very young children are responsible for dressing, feeding and changing them, and comforting them when they are upset.

As children get older, you will be actively involved in their development. This includes supervising play and encouraging activities that challenge and educate.

Activities include:

  • reading
  • number work
  • singing and music
  • cooking
  • drama
  • computer work

You will monitor and record each child's progress, fill out registers and write reports.

It is your responsibility, as a Nursery Nurse, to be aware of any changes in the children in your care, such as withdrawal from social activities. In such cases, you might work closely with parents, carers or guardians to find out if there's a problem.

Nursery Nurses increasingly work with other professionals, such as Doctors, Health Visitors, Speech Therapists, Social Workers and Psychologists.

Personal Qualities and Skills

To become a Nursery Nurse, you need:

  • stamina and a lot of energy
  • patience and tolerance
  • a sense of fun
  • good communication and interpersonal skills
  • creativity and imagination
  • to be understanding and able to give encouragement
  • an understanding of children's physical, social, intellectual and emotional development

The work involves lifting, bending and other physical activity, so you will need to be physically fit.

Creative skills in art, music or dance are useful, and you must enjoy helping children to read. Some knowledge of computers is useful.

Pay and Opportunities


The pay rates given below are approximate. NHS employees are paid on a rising scale from the Agenda for Change.

  • Starting - Band 3: £18,813 - £20,795
  • With experience - Band 4: £21,089 - £23,761
  • Senior Nursery Nurses - Band 5: £24,214 - £30,112

Hours of work

Nursery Nurses normally work between 35 and 40 hours a week. Shift work is likely.

Nursery Nurses often benefit from school holidays, and weekend work is not usually involved. There are part-time and job-share opportunities.

Where could I work?

Opportunities for Nursery Nurses occur throughout the UK.

Employers of Nursery Nurses are nurseries, infant or special schools, day nurseries and family centres, hospitals and crèches.

Mudiad Meithrin is a voluntary organisation and is the main provider of Welsh-medium early years care and education in the voluntary sector

Where are vacancies advertised?

Vacancies are advertised in local newspapers, on employers' websites, at Jobcentre Plus and on the Find a Job website. Vacancies are also advertised on job boards, such as the nurseryjobs website.

Entry Routes and Training

Entry routes

To work directly with children, you will usually need a level 3 qualification,

Various vocational qualifications are available and could help you to get into this career - see below for more details.

An Advanced Level Apprenticeship is a great place to start. Take a look at our information article 'Apprenticeships – How do I apply', for more details about applying for apprenticeship positions.

Some nurseries will take on trainee Nursery Assistants who then work towards relevant work-based qualifications.


The CACHE diploma in child care and education and national diploma in children's play, learning and development are both two-year full-time courses (some study centres offer them part-time).

You will learn how to care for and educate children and how to work closely with parents, carers and other professionals. Work placements are an important part of these courses.

The Care Council for Wales has a List of Required Qualifications to work within the Early Years & Childcare Sector in Wales.

However, if you would like some more training, then there is a level 3 certificate in children’s play, learning and development. This course has core units and optional units that you can take as part as your qualification. These units include:

  • child development
  • play and learning
  • health and safety in an early years setting
  • working with parents and others in early years
  • safeguarding in early years
  • observation, assessment and planning
  • supporting children’s speech, communication and language
  • the early years foundation stage

Other courses could be available in your area.


Nursery Officers manage teams of staff and may have a more general management role within the centre. To become a Nursery Officer, you may need to complete a higher qualification.

Work Experience

Previous experience gained in childcare would be really useful for this career.

Rehabilitation of Offenders Act

This career is an exception to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974. This means that you must supply information to an employer about any spent or unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands or warnings, if they ask you to. This is different from other careers, where you only have to reveal information on unspent convictions if you are asked to.


Qualifications are not always needed for trainee entry.

However, the following vocational qualifications could help you to stand out from the crowd:

  • CACHE diploma in childcare and education (early years educator)
  • BTEC level 3 qualification in children's play, learning and development
  • City & Guilds level 3 qualification in early years practitioner
  • City & Guilds and BTEC qualifications in health and social care

To get onto an Advanced Level Apprenticeship, you'll usually need 5 GCSEs at grade C/4 or above, including English or Welsh (first language) if planning to teach in a Welsh Medium school, and maths, or to have completed an Intermediate Level Apprenticeship.

Adult Opportunities

Age limits

It is illegal for any organisation to set age limits for entry to employment, education or training, unless they can show there is a real need to have these limits.


Skills and abilities gained in childcare are an advantage and can enable you to complete a recognised training course in less than the usual time.

Colleges usually consider adult candidates who don't have the regular entry requirements. Check the admissions policy of the college that runs the course you're interested in.

Some courses in nursery nursing are organised on a flexible basis at local colleges of further education. Others are available on a part-time basis.

The Council for Awards in Care, Health and Education (CACHE) offers a suite of relevant childcare courses, which can be studied on a full-time, part-time, weekend, work-based or open learning basis. A list of training providers is available from the CACHE website.

Edexcel offers relevant BTEC qualifications, available at some colleges by part-time study.

Further Information


Local government vacancies


myjobscotland: Scottish local government vacancies

Scottish enquiries



Council for Awards in Care, Health and Education (CACHE)

Address: Apex House, 81 Camp Road, St Albans, Hertfordshire AL1 5GB

Tel: 0845 3472123



Early Years

Irish enquiries

Address: 6c Wildflower Way, Apollo Road, Boucher Road, Belfast BT12 6TA

Tel: 028 9066 2825



Skills for Care & Development (SfC&D)

Skills for social work, social care and children's services

Address: 2nd floor, Westgate, 6 Grace Street, Leeds LS1 2RP

Tel: 0113 2411240



Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC)

Scottish enquiries

Address: Compass House, 11 Riverside Drive, Dundee DD1 4NY

Tel: 0845 6030891



Aquestion Of Care

This site is a 'Skills for Care and Development' initiative


Children & Young People Now

Publisher: National Youth Agency (NYA)


Guardian Society


Careers Wales - Welsh Apprenticeships

Tel: 0800 028 4844


Social Care Wales

Address: South Gate House, Wood Street, Cardiff CF10 1EW

Tel: 0300 30 33 444



Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol

Information on Higher Education courses and scholarships through the medium of Welsh



Welsh Government Education and Skills Department



Mudiad Meithrin



People Exchange Cymru (PEC)

Public sector recruitment portal for Wales



Croeso i Gyrfa Cymru

Dewiswch iaith


Welcome to Careers Wales

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