If you’re fond of caring for young children, you may have come across a few online job boards, most notably one called Urban Sitter. This site earns a 3.5 rating on Trustpilot and has appeared in many news media. The purpose of my Urban Sitter review, however, isn’t about adding more gloss.
Instead, I’m here to give you a realistic approach to what to expect when seeking jobs on this platform and how you can transform your knowledge/skills into something more sustainable. So, make sure to read until the very end.
What is Urban Sitter
Urban Sitter is an online-based service that seeks to connect parents in need of childcare to potential babysitters or nannies. It is used by parents looking to schedule routine sittings or those in need of one-off backup or last-minute, yet, trusted child care service.
The search for a babysitter has been known to be a cumbersome and time-consuming process. But this easy-to-use platform enables parents to search, interview, make an appointment, review, and even recommend babysitters to others. They are also able to make job postings for which sitters can apply. All these features are made accessible to them after signing up on the platform and subscribing to a paid membership plan.
The other group of users for the site is babysitters who are looking to broaden their sitting opportunities. It allows them to gain access to a large number of potential clients and increase the chances of getting hired.
To make this available for them, they are required to sign up and activate their annual membership at a fee. They then undergo vetting through a background check and profile review after which they can be accepted to join the platform, or not.
UrbanSitter is based in San Francisco, but the service covers several other cities throughout the United States. All jobs are offered online that can also be accessible through their mobile app.
How to Search for a Job on UrbanSitter
After being approved and becoming an active member of UrbanSitter, you will then be eligible for sitter jobs. One of the ways to land a job is to receive a booking request from a parent who has come across your profile while searching for potential sitters. Otherwise, you will have to do the hunting yourself.
To do so, click on the page labelled “Job Board” to view available jobs. Here, you can search for jobs that are a good match for you depending on the stated specifications such as schedule, rates, location, and job type i.e. full-time, part-time, or a one-time job.
Once you spot a suitable job posting, click on the “Express Interest” button on the right to submit your job application. When the client looks through your profile and decides that you are a good fit, they will get in touch with you directly.
There are no limits to the number of jobs that you can apply for. The more you apply, the higher your chances of getting hired.
How Much Can you Earn on Urban Sitter?
As a sitter, you get to specify on your profile, a pay range starting from the lowest to the highest price for which you are willing to charge per hour. Hence, when a parent wants to hire you, they can offer an amount that’s within that range or perhaps higher.
Parents are also required to state a pay rate for each job posted. This is usually a fixed price and cannot be negotiated during or after application. Therefore, by expressing interest in a particular job, a sitter will have agreed to the offered pay.
According to Glassdoor, the average pay rate for a babysitter based in San Francisco is about $16 per hour (higher than working part-time at McDonald’s), and an average annual salary of $33,970 is reported, inclusive of all additional compensations.
How much you make is dependent on the hourly pay rate as well as the duration of the job. Your availability will also determine how many hours you put into babysitting and in turn, the amount you earn. Needless to say, the frequency at which you land yourself a job through the site also plays a role when it comes to your earning capacity.
- Work Flexibility – UrbanSitter allows you to come up with a working schedule that suits your availability. You can specify the time within the day or week in which you are committed to the job. This highly favours those studying or working full-time and who want to do babysitting as a side gig.
- More Targeted Clients – Relying on mouth-to-mouth recommendations to get new clients as a sitter can be a slow process. Through UrbanSitter, you gain access to a wider pool of parents in need of specific sitting services and thus, increases your opportunity to land a suitable job.
- Ability to Sell Yourself – The platform enables you to showcase your skills and qualification professionally. The comprehensive profile listing will convince potential clients to hire based on your experiences and potentials.
- Specify Your Rates – As a sitter, you can specify your desired pay rates. This will prompt clients of your charges beforehand and minimize the risk of stirring any misunderstandings when it comes to payment.
- Membership fee – Unlike before where a sitter could choose to remain on a free membership or opt to pay for a background check, they now have to subscribe to a paid annual membership. This means that sitters have to pay (about $70/year) to gain access to job search. This is a deterring factor since one is not guaranteed to get a job or even accepted to join the platform.
- Difficult to Join – One is required to follow several steps before they can fully access the site. This involves paying the membership fee, clearing a background check, and setting up a profile after which it will be sent in for a review. It could take anywhere between 7 days to 2 weeks to have your profile approved. In other words, it takes a while to get your account up and running, that is, if they approve of your application.
- Limited Jobs – The site has accumulated thousands of sitter profiles over the years and as a result, you should expect stiff competition for jobs. If you live in a hot spot, you might have tough luck getting hired compared to those with outstanding profiles and stellar customer reviews.
- Tough for Starters – As expected, parents are picky when it comes to finding a suitable sitter. For this reason, they feel safer going for sitters with better ratings, good reviews, and a large number of repeat families. As a newbie, you are likely to have very few of these, if any. This will make it difficult to get bookings in the initial stages and thus discouraging especially after you’ve paid for the membership.
- The Effect of Bad Reviews – Little can be done when it comes to following up on a bad review left by a parent. Hence, a mere misunderstanding can cost you your reputation on the platform and negatively affect future bookings from clients.
- No Control over Account – Apart from bad reviews, the company reserves the right to ban your account if they deem it suitable to do so. So don’t be surprised if you wake up to a terminated account without any notification in advance.
- Sitter Safety at Risk – UrbanSitter is very keen on ensuring safety for parents by performing background checks on sitters. Contrarily, parents are not vetted making safety a non-guarantee to sitters. Following this lack of precautionary measures, sitters may find themselves in unsound situations as they never know what type of household they are getting into.
So, Should You Sign Up for Urban Sitter?
In many ways, Urban Sitter is a fairly secure platform to search for or get hired for a child-sitting job. People with childcare qualifications can certainly leverage the exposure to get more jobs online and maximize their free hours. While there’s a small fee to pay, you do get to keep 100% of the earnings so consider that a worthwhile investment.
However, I wouldn’t depend on the platform for an income especially during the current pandemic crisis where jobs are scarce and people are wary about having strangers going into their homes. I foresee a downward job trend for babysitters in the next few months to come and who knows when we’ll be able to get back to our normal daily routines, without worries.
If you’re stuck in this kind of situation, it’s time to move out of your comfort zone and do something outside of your skillset. You can work as a barista or deliver for UberEats, but bear in mind the frequency of these jobs is also affected by the current public-health situation in the country.
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