Becoming a nursery nurse could be a great decision if you’d like to play an active role in child development and prepare them for starting primary school. Nursery nurses enjoy excellent career progression prospects and the opportunity to make a real difference in a child’s life.

The position requires a commitment to learning, putting a child’s needs before everything else and providing an educational environment. In this guide, we’ll explore nursery nurse responsibilities and how you can become one.

What is a nursery nurse?

Nursery nurses are responsible for the daily care, learning and development of children aged up to seven. Many nurses work in preschools or traditional nurseries, while others might look after children in daycare centres.

As a nursery nurse, you’ll monitor each nursery assistant and support the manager in planning and executing learning activities. The varied role also involves helping children learn vital socialisation skills and reporting safeguarding issues to social services.

Some people also support children with learning disabilities, helping them develop vital skills and working alongside early years education specialists.

How to become a Nursery Nurse?

If you’d like to become a nursery nurse, there are many avenues to explore, including going to college and learning on the job. Yes, you will need to dedicate yourself to professional development, but the initial investment means you get to enjoy a highly rewarding career.

All nursery employees must have an enhanced DBS check to prove they have previous convictions and are suitable to work with children. Most employers perform their own checks from the Disclosure and Barring Service, but you can also apply for a basic DBS check alone.

Nursery staff must also have a certificate in Paediatric First Aid, but your employer should provide this for you.

What GCSEs do you need to be a nursery nurse?

Most nurseries and early years education environments expect a minimum of GCSEs in Maths and English at grade 4 (formerly known as C). However, if you don’t have these qualifications, many will accept Functional Skills instead of GCSEs.

Once you have the basic qualifications, you can explore different routes to becoming a qualified nursery nurse.

What are the essential nursery nurse qualifications?

Nursery nurses are professionals; most of their role is supporting nursery assistants with day-to-day activities. Because of the nature of the job, you need qualifications to gain employment as a nursery nurse.

There are three different routes to explore: going to college, taking an apprenticeship or working your way up from an entry-level role.

Investing in a college course

Whether you attend college full-time or explore distance learning, a professional certification gives you the necessary skills and knowledge to become a nursery nurse. The most popular childcare qualifications include:

While you can explore some distance learning options, others require college attendance, so checking which suits your needs is essential.


Apprenticeships are excellent ways to learn on the job and develop professional skills. You’ll work alongside qualified nursery nurses, supporting children while securing valuable qualifications.

Most nursery nurse apprenticeships begin with an NVQ Level 3 in Children’s Care, Learning and Development, but some people might start with a Level 2 qualification and then move on to the advanced course.

Become a nursery assistant

Many nurseries will take on unqualified employees if they have personal experience with children, such as babysitting or caring for their own. Once you gain experience as a nursery assistant, you can explore various courses and get professional certifications.

Skills and qualities of nursery nurses

Working with children can be a stressful job, so passion is a crucial component of your success. You can build the following nursery nurse skills and qualities by working in a nursery or volunteering:

  • Patience: Dealing with temper tantrums and toilet training often requires a lot of patience, as things might not always go to plan.
  • Caring nature: A massive part of your role will be to reassure children that they’re safe and help them learn independence, which means you’ll need to be caring and ensure each child feels secure.
  • Communication: Whether it’s talking to children or giving parents progress updates, communication skills are essential for nursery nurses.
  • Managerial skills: Nursery nurses supervise nursery assistants and promote a child-friendly environment.
  • Health & Safety: From preparing food to supporting child care needs, you’ll need to have health and safety training.
  • Creativity: Many nursery nurses plan activities for children, but if you work under an early years teacher, you might also assist in learning activities.
  • Adaptability: If you support children with special and sensory needs, you’ll also need to adapt to their way of doing things. Children with physical disabilities might also require extra support.

Remember, you can learn all these skills and develop them in a nursery setting, but wanting to make a difference in a child’s life and help them with their developmental journey is what’s going to drive you.

What are the responsibilities of a nursery nurse?

The great thing about working with small children is that no day’s ever the same. Sure, there’s a general nursery nurse job description, but the role offers plenty of diversity. However, the general nursery nurse’s responsibilities include:

  • Supervising activities: Whether learning or messy play, you’ll support children with their learning and social skills through fun-filled activities.
  • Documenting progress: Families want to know how their children are doing, so you’ll work closely with other team members to monitor their progress.
  • Safeguarding: Identifying potential safety issues for young children and flagging up worries about their mental health can protect babies and young children from harm.
  • Teaching children: Many nurseries employ an early years educator, and nursery nurses support learning activities, such as maths and literacy sessions.
  • Caring for babies: Babies also attend nursery and need more care than older children. Typical responsibilities include changing diapers, feeding the child, and meeting their daily needs.
  • Training adults: As a qualified nursery nurse, you’ll also need to provide training and monitor their career development.

The above responsibilities are general duties, as your day-to-day duties depend on where you work. Some qualified nursery nurses work in traditional childcare settings, while others might specialise in working with learning disabilities or in preschool.

What’s the average salary for a nursery nurse?

The salary you’ll receive as a qualified nursery practitioner is between £14,500 and £23,000. The salary depends on where you work and depending on your experience.

However, Check A Salary lists the average earnings between £20,150 and £27,000. You could also invest in further training to become a nursery manager or early years educator.

Simplify finding a nursery nurse job with ABLE Staffing

Many childcare settings are looking for nursery staff, but with ABLE Staffing, you don’t have to trawl through multiple job websites. We specialise in finding nursery jobs for qualified practitioners and support you throughout your journey.

With a range of nursery clients, our specialists can help you find the job of your dreams. Please feel free to search for available nursery nurse jobs or contact our friendly team for more information.