A career as a nursery assistant is rewarding and involves nurturing young minds. As a nursery assistant, you play a vital role in supporting the development and well-being of children, providing a safe and stimulating environment for them to learn and grow. This role is perfect for individuals passionate about working with babies and young children. To be fit for the role, you need the patience and creativity to engage with children daily.


The journey to becoming a nursery assistant involves acquiring specific qualifications, gaining hands-on experience, and developing a range of essential skills. This article will guide you through each step of the process, offering insights into what is required to become a nursery assistant. 


Whether you are just starting out or considering a career change, understanding the pathway to becoming a nursery assistant can help you make decisions and prepare for success in the field of early years education. 

What is a Nursery Assistant?


A nursery assistant works in childcare settings such as nurseries, providing care and support to children aged from infancy to five years old. Nursery assistants work under the supervision of nursery nurses, ensuring that young children receive the care and education they need during their critical developmental years. 


As a nursery assistant, you will have a range of responsibilities, including: 


  • Assisting in planning and delivering a range of activities that promote learning and development. This can include storytelling, arts and crafts, singing, and outdoor play. 
  • Supporting activities that develop fine and gross motor skills, such as drawing, cutting with scissors, and physical exercises. 
  • Ensuring a safe and clean environment for children. This includes supervising play areas, maintaining cleanliness, and following health and safety regulations. 
  • Assisting with the preparation and serving of meals and snacks, and ensuring that children follow proper hygiene practices, such as washing their hands before eating. 
  • Comforting children who are upset or anxious. 
  • Communicating with parents and guardians, providing updates on their child’s progress and addressing any concerns or questions they may have. 


Read our nursery assistant job description

Steps to Become a Nursery Assistant



1. Gain Relevant Qualifications


Nurseries often require assistants with Maths and English GCSEs at grades A* to C – or equivalent qualifications. Functional skills qualifications in English and Mathematics are often required to ensure you can communicate effectively and perform basic calculations, which are essential in a childcare setting. 


To become a nursery assistant, many people don’t need a formal childcare qualification. However, if you do have certifications, you will be able to find a job quicker. If you are looking to upskill and stand out from other applicants, here are some qualifications and pathways you can consider: 


  • Level 1 Award in Caring for Children: This qualification encourages an understanding of the knowledge and skills needed to care for young children. It covers children’s growth, learning and development. It’s a good starting point if you want to pursue further training. 
  • Level 2 Certificate for the Children and Young People’s Workforce: Many nurseries require their assistants to hold a relevant Level 2 certification. This qualification is designed for those new to the field of childcare and early years education. It covers the basics of working with children and young people, providing a solid foundation in understanding child development, safeguarding, and health and safety. 
  • Level 3 Diploma in Early Years Education and Care (Early Years Educator): This more advanced qualification is aimed at those who wish to deepen their understanding of early years education and take on more responsibility in their roles. It is often required for those seeking to progress to nursery nurse or early years teacher positions.  


Having a relevant childcare qualification is the best way to find employment as a nursery assistant as it ensures you meet the minimum criteria and ensures you can demonstrate your knowledge. These qualifications ensure that you have the foundational knowledge and skills necessary to provide high-quality care to young children. 

2. Acquire Experience


Practical experience is an important step in becoming a nursery assistant. Here’s how you can gain relevant experience:


Trainee jobs:

Some nurseries will take on individuals with limited experience as long as they have GCSEs in maths and English and are passionate about working with children. This will allow you to build your experience and skills as you learn on the job. 



Volunteering at a local nursery is an excellent way to gain experience and learn more about caring for children. You’ll support nursery staff with daily activities and care for children. You might be able to turn your volunteering experience into paid work, depending on availability. 



You can become a nursery assistant by completing an Early Years Practitioner Level 2 Intermediate Apprenticeship or Early Years Educator Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship. Click here to find out more. 

3. Develop Key Skills


To be an effective nursery assistant, it’s essential to develop a range of key skills that will enable you to provide high-quality care and education to young children. Here are some skills that make a successful nursery assistant:


Verbal Communication:

Clear and effective communication is vital when interacting with children, parents, and colleagues. Nursery assistants need to explain activities, provide instructions, and offer reassurance to children in a way that is understandable and comforting. 


Non-Verbal Communication:

Children, especially younger ones, often rely on non-verbal cues. Being able to use and interpret body language, facial expressions, and gestures is important for understanding and responding to their needs. 



Being empathetic allows you to understand and share the feelings of the children in your care.



Creative problem-solving skills are necessary for addressing challenges that arise in the classroom, such as adapting activities for different developmental levels or finding new ways to engage a child who may be struggling. 


Time Management:

Managing time effectively is essential to ensure that meal times, nap times, and activity periods, run smoothly. 


Adapting to Change:

The nursery environment can be dynamic, with changing schedules, new children joining, or unexpected events. Being flexible and adaptable helps in managing these changes smoothly. 

4. Prepare Your CV


Creating a well-crafted CV is a crucial step in your journey to becoming a nursery assistant. Your CV should effectively showcase your qualifications, experience, and skills. Here are the sections you should include in your nursery assistant CV:


Contact Information:

Clearly list your full name, address, phone number, and email address at the top of your CV. Ensure your contact details are up-to-date and professional.


Professional Summary:

Start with a concise professional summary that highlights your key qualifications, experience, and career goals. This should provide a snapshot of who you are and what you bring to the role.


Relevant Qualifications:

List your educational background and relevant qualifications, starting with the most recent. Include the name of the institution, the title of the qualification, and the date of completion.

Work Experience:

Detail your work experience in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent role. Include the job title, name of the school or nursery, dates of employment, and a brief description of your responsibilities and achievements.



Key Skills:

List your key skills that are relevant to the role of a nursery assistant. This can include both hard and soft skills.



Additional Certifications and Training:

Include any additional certifications or training that are relevant to the role, such as Paediatric First Aid, safeguarding training, or special educational needs (SEN) workshops.

5. Apply for Jobs


Once you have prepared a strong CV and developed the necessary skills and qualifications, the next step is to start applying for nursery assistant positions. There are several places you can look for nursery roles. Here are a few to consider:


Popular Job Sites:

Websites like Indeed, CV Library, Monster, TotalJobs, EducationJobs, and Reed are excellent places to start your job search. These platforms include listings for a range of education roles and allow you to filter by location, job type, and salary range.


Specialised Nursery Job Boards:

Look for job boards that specialise in education and childcare roles, such as Nursery World Jobs, Eteach, and DayNurseries. These sites focus specifically on roles within the early years sector and often feature a wide range of vacancies.


Nursery Websites:

Many nurseries advertise job openings directly on their own websites. Visiting the careers section of these websites can reveal opportunities that might not be listed on larger job boards.

Facebook Groups:

Many communities have Facebook groups dedicated to local job opportunities. Joining groups specific to childcare and education can provide access to job listings and advice from other professionals.



LinkedIn is a powerful tool for job searching and networking. Follow companies and join groups related to early years education to stay updated on job postings and industry news. 


Career Fairs:

Attend job fairs and recruitment events focused on education and childcare. These events provide opportunities to meet potential employers, learn about different nurseries, and apply for jobs on the spot. 


Recruitment Agencies:

As a leading education recruitment agency, Affinity Workforce offers flexible nursery roles tailored to suit your needs. We work with a wide range of nurseries and early years settings across the country, providing you with opportunities to find the perfect role. Click here to learn more about our nursery roles.

6. Prepare for Interviews


Preparing for an interview is essential to showcase your skills and suitability for a nursery assistant role. Follow these steps to ensure you’re well-prepared:


Research the Nursery:

Familiarise yourself with the nursery’s mission and values. Understand their curriculum, age groups they cater to, and any special programs they offer.


Review the Job Description:

Identify key responsibilities and skills required for the role. Prepare examples from your experience that demonstrate how you meet these requirements.


Practice Common Interview Questions:

Anticipate questions about your experience working with children, handling challenges, and your understanding of child development.


Dress Professionally:

Wear something that is neat, professional, and appropriate for a childcare setting. Ensure you look tidy and approachable.


Arrive Early and Be Prepared:

Aim to arrive at least 10-15 minutes early. Bring copies of your CV, certifications, and any other relevant documents.


Read our nursery interview tips

Becoming a nursery assistant is a rewarding career choice that requires a blend of compassion, patience, and dedication to nurturing the development of young children.  


The ideal nursery assistant is someone who possesses a genuine passion for working with children, coupled with strong communication skills and the ability to create engaging and educational experiences.


At Affinity Workforce, we specialise in connecting passionate nursery assistants with flexible and fulfilling roles across a variety of early years settings. Whether you’re just starting out on your career or seeking new opportunities, explore our latest nursery roles or contact us today. 


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