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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 April 2006, 12:50 GMT 13:50 UK
Higher salaries 'fuel nanny boom'
Toddler in childcare
Childcare is a major expense
Nannying is booming due to increased salaries and changes in the demand for childcare, according to a survey.

It says the number of UK nannies topped 100,000 for the first time and average living-out salaries are nearly 30,000.

The research by sharingcare.co.uk is based on more than 40 specialist nanny employment agencies around the UK.

It says the salary and other perks are persuading some graduates to choose nannying ahead of teaching and nursing, but other experts question the figures.

Gayle Goshorn, editor of Professional Nanny Magazine, said it was impossible to say how many nannies there were and it was unlikely the figure was rising.

"The 100,000 figure has been around for years but there's actually no way to count nannies because they are employed in the homes and no-one is doing the counting."

Wendy Craig in BBC's Nanny in 1980
The image of nannies has changed

She said their own research in January suggested numbers were stable, as the government expanded childcare provision and competition increased. And the perks were not as good as people thought.

The recent study by sharingcare.co.uk puts the total at 111,484 and suggests two-thirds of nannies look after children from more than one family.

Mother-of-two Rachel Willits, who runs the website behind the research, says that until five years ago nanny-sharing was quite rare but now it is a cheaper option.

"We are finding that the increased demand for nannies has come from families who don't want to send their children to nursery but are happy for their children to be looked after alongside children from another family.

"It means that nannies are able to get very good salaries in much the same way that plumbers started to attract more money because they were in demand.

"With some teachers earning less than 20,000 and nurses on less than 15,000 it means that many girls see a career as a nanny as a better paid option."

And the occasional lure of foreign holidays and the chance to stay in beautiful houses adds to the attraction, added Ms Willits.

Although many nannies live with their employer, the average salary for those who provide their own accommodation is nearly 30,000.

According to separate research, the average wage for those living-out in London is 28,171 and for those living in it is 21,500.

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