Market salary for a housekeeper/cook/nanny is 35-50k/yr

This is just for the people who claim that a grown woman who really was raised with full domestic skills in those things, including household inventory management and orderly cleaning routines and a decent time spent in child caring has zero money-making skills and is completely doomed if her husband dies or leaves.  It’s not the stupid and unhelpful 200k/year of occasional news articles, but it’s the general range of what women get who do this for pay.  Being a housewife is economically fragile these days, but if you were brought up to do it, you probably can perform at a professional level if you have to make money.  And if you have credentials like a basic B.A., you can certainly command more.

Sharing the services of such women or hiring one outright is how quite a few homeschooling Christian SAHMs in my neck of the woods with no relatives nearby homeschool and keep the house from melting into a puddle of soda, pretzels and Cheeto dust.


22 thoughts on “Market salary for a housekeeper/cook/nanny is 35-50k/yr

  1. “Being a housewife is economically fragile these days, but if you were brought up to do it, you probably can perform at a professional level if you have to make money.”

    Absolutely! Let no mom/wife ever sell themselves short. The skills required to run a household are very marketable and will not earn you six figures, but you’ll always have work if you need it.

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  2. I hate to be a bummer, but transitioning from being a housewife into being a professional housekeeper isn’t something that is going to be possible for most people. The biggest issue is geographical. People who hire professional housekeepers don’t live in the same places as stay at home mothers who are vulnerable to divorce. The second issue is that an older white woman is competing with younger Latin American and Asian women, who are more acceptable to employers and have access to ethnic networks.

    The typical divorced and abandoned housewife is just too old for the job, plus what is she going to do with her kids? Now, home dressmaking? That’s actually something that could work, if conservative families made an effort to buy clothes from such women.

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    • I don’t know about “too old”–when we lived in a big city area with lots of nannies, many of the Filipina nannies were in the 45-55 age bracket.

      You’re right about the geography, though–the sorts of areas where domestic workers make solid salaries are expensive coastal areas.

      The high end nannies make a pile, though:


      • Those are nannies with a lot of experience. If you’re entering the market at 45-60, you’re competing with young women.

        And super high-earning nannies are a completely different thing. They have credentials and… um…. class signifiers.

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      • “Those are nannies with a lot of experience. If you’re entering the market at 45-60, you’re competing with young women.”

        A 45-55-year-old woman that has raised her children is experienced and often has a big bag of tricks for dealing with small children (we call these ladies “grandmas”). My grandma was definitely like that. She visited us a year or so back in her very late 80s and it was amazing to see how much kid-craft she had and how she was able to win over our suspicious toddler. Intelligence + experience + love of children trumps good knees. In her early 50s, she could have out-nannied pretty much any 20-something.

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  3. Housecleaners can also make an excellent hourly wage.

    I was once in an online conversation with a liberal female professor who was wringing her hands over the fact that she (an adjunct professor) was exploiting her new housecleaner.

    I did a little math and discovered that the housecleaner was almost certainly out-earning the adjunct professor, even if she was just cleaning two houses a day.

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  4. Being a housewife, doesn’t just translate into having marketable skills as a housekeeper or nanny, there are other things too. Book keeping is common, nurses aids, receptionists, daycare homes, answering phones, managing a restaurant. It takes a lot to be a wife and mother, people really need to look at the skills lurking beneath the surface.

    Age is not always a problem either, many employers are seeking “mature” workers, meaning not having a bad attitude and a belly button ring can be a desired skill set these days.

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  5. I can’t reply directly to AmyP, but look, I know what I’m talking about. Experience raising your own children doesn’t fly on the market. You might be able to get a good job with a family who has different opinions on the matter but it’s not something you want to count on.


    • When we lived in the Nanny Belt (mid-Atlantic), I believe that the local break down was like this:

      –middle aged Filipina ladies (and an occasional middle aged African)–the Filipinas at the park seemed to have an excellent social circle and to have a swell time there
      –very early 20-something au pairs (a lot of the dual income families with preschool/school age children had au pairs)

      The actual career nannies were all at least middle aged ladies. I was never in a position to hire from either category, but I don’t think I would ever want to turn a 0-3 year old over to a young au pair, but they seemed to cope reasonably well with the bigger kids.


      • I mostly hire 18-25 for energy reasons, but am moving more in the middle-aged lady direction as my kids age out of tinyhood. If I wasn’t too sleep deprived to get through the paperwork, I’d have gone the youthful au pair route myself.


      • “the Filipinas at the park seemed to have an excellent social circle and to have a swell time there”

        yeah and your average white homeschooling mom is not going to being accepted there, although the Filipinas will be polite about it. Again I’m not pulling this out of my butt, this is based on experience and observation.

        Starting a new career in middle age is HARD, for social reasons and many others, and nannying/housekeeping isn’t being a SAHM. While I agree with the general principle that domestic work has value, and while it is a great social injustice that women who have run a household for 20 years will be treated on the labor market as equivalent to a 20yo with 6 months babysitting experience, that is the actual situation. While some individual housewives could make a good wage at domestic work in middle age if they needed to, it’s not something people should tuck in the back of their mind as an easy out (kind of like how “we can homeschool!” is the easy out for a lot of related problems).

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        • This is a fair point, for me it’s like homeschool. I support homeschooling for individual families, but I think people should be much more open about the fact that it’s not truly some kind of conservative-bandaid for everything wrong with wider society (which is totally how it is treated among even non-homeschooling conservatives).

          I have seen women make this transition, so I thought I’d put it out there as a path, but it is completely reasonable to note that it’s not an easy or general-purpose one.

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