How to Become an Au Pair in China

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If you’re fascinated with Chinese culture and history, then you need to pay a visit to explore its magnificence first-hand.

China’s history spans five centuries, and its socio-political and economic prosperity in the global arena is intriguing enough to be experienced.

Whether you dream of strolling along the Great Wall of China, visiting the beautiful ancient Buddhist pagodas, or cruising across the Yangtze River, you would be deeply in awe of China’s beauty and cultural significance. 

Don’t have funds to finance your traveling expeditions in China? Well, there are plenty of jobs in China for foreigners and being an au pair in China is one of them.

Being an au pair means a great opportunity not just travelling to China but earning a steady income and exploring the culture in a unique way.

Not only will you be able to experience a lifestyle in China as a tourist and as a normal citizen, but earn a living on the side. 

Just like other jobs for foreigners in China, Chinese au pair programs are also centred on uplifting cultural exchange.

Because of the differences in their cultures, au pair positions are especially popular as jobs for Americans in China.

While working with children and looking after a loving and caring Chinese family, you can truly immerse yourself in Chinese culture and tradition.

You would be able to learn conversational Chinese in a short period while making everlasting memories. 

Whether you want to explore the best things to do in Beijing, climb to the top of the Great Wall of China, or eat tons of delicious authentic Chinese food, you’ll love being an au pair in China.

What is an au pair?

If you’re new to this blog, or just have no clue what an au pair (aww-pair) is, then let’s start with an introduction to what this job is about. 

An au pair is an occupation, normally taken up by women, though there are a lot of men who work as au pairs too.

Au pairs travel to a country, different from their ethnic orientation and nationality, to help a family with childcare and minimal housework.

All of this is in exchange for free living space, food, basic utilities and some cash for fulfilling personal needs and expenses. 

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The job of an au pair is mainly about taking care of children while their parents are away.

It can involve looking after their basic needs like food, schooling, engaging in playful activities and just looking after them. 

An au pair has to be a foreigner for the family they would be working for, or else it would not be possible for the au pair to learn something from a new and unknown culture. 

Though it might seem like an easy role, there are a few rules and regulations that must be met if you intend to become an au pair.

Some guidelines are specific to the country you want to work in as an au pair like the duration of stay, specific requirements like documentation etc. We’ll discuss rules for China in a while. 

Although an au pair’s role seems very similar to that of a live-in-nanny, there are quite a few differences.

Being an au pair, woman with two kids on the beach at sunset
Photo by dylan nolte on Unsplash

Difference between an au pair and a nanny

A nanny’s job is quite different from that of an au pair. Nannies normally work full-time and do more than just look after children.

Nevertheless, it is a demanding job and there are no obligations like a cultural exchange or learning a new language for nannies, unlike an au pair. 

Since there are no formal rules set for a nanny’s job, and this depends on the family they are looking after, their workload can vary.

Duties can be anything from taking care of children, driving them to school, helping them with homework, cooking, cleaning around the house and doing anything that their employers ask for. 

On the other hand, an au pair is only supposed to look after the children when their parents are gone, often busy at work.

Au pairs are responsible for taking the children to school, tutoring them at home if needed, looking after their dietary needs and sometimes managing the household.

Not all au pairs are supposed to do housework, but this is something that you can discuss with your host family before settling on an agreement. 

An au pair’s duty ends when the parents are back home, whether it is looking after the children of the house. This isn’t the case for a nanny.

Nannies are supposed to take care of the kids and the house even when parents are back home. 

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Nannies are also counted on to handle tasks outside the domain of household and childcare, something an au pair is never expected to do. Au pairs have such laxity that their weekends are off.

However, even on Sundays, or the day off, nannies might have some work assigned or mild childcare responsibilities. 

Au pairs have varied work ethics and duties, depending on the country they are in.

In China’s case, au pairs are not expected to do any housework, they are simply working as role models for the children in domains like working on their English language. 

In terms of salary, nannies have a fixed wage that is in line with the laws of their country.

The cash given to an au pair is not considered salary, but pocket money for personal expenses during their work-stay in their host country.

These personal expenses can be anything from shopping to trying out food or attending events.

Since nannies are full-time employees, they don’t have a privileged work-life like au pairs. Au pairs get to live with their host family, rent-free, and their food and utilities are taken care of.

A nanny is expected to pay for their food and accommodation as they are a resident of that country. Nannies don’t get any pocket money other than the salary they are obliged to get.

Other differences between an au pair and a nanny are age. If you want to work as an au pair in China, then your age must fall within the bracket of 18-29 years.

The criteria for age differ for every country so be sure to check it out. Nannies, however, don’t have any specifications in terms of age.

A nanny is a full-time employee for a family, whereas an au pair is a paid live-in tutor and is treated as a guest.

An au pair has much more freedom and opportunities to explore the country they are in and be part of a cultural exchange like no other. 

How to become an au pair in China?

Becoming an au pair to work in China doesn’t require a lot other than a passion for learning about Chinese culture and the thrill to work with children.

Other than some visa and country-specific requirements, there isn’t a lot required to become eligible for getting the au pair visa.

Become an au pair in China, skyline of Shanghai lit up at night
Photo by Li Yang on Unsplash

What are the qualifications?

Generally, people looking to apply for an au pair’s job must be between the ages of 18-29 years, have citizenship from a country that is eligible under Chinese law to grant the visa and be free from criminal evictions in the past five years.

Though men and women both apply to be an au pair, it is preferred by women because of the nature of the role. 

Though there are no formal academic qualifications to be met, it is still expected that you have completed your high school diploma, or better yet have a college degree.

A college degree would just amp up your profile for prospective host families. Many au pairs do have specific degrees or certifications in education, teaching or childcare, as these are helpful for the role.

It is better to have an understanding of how to work with children and how to tutor them, as that is the main point of this entire job.

As an au pair in China, you would be expected to teach the host family’s children English.

Therefore you must have a sound grasp of your English language and have the ability to deliver your knowledge of the language effectively. 

Other requirements

Other than the mandatory visa requirements, you must have proof of prior childcare experience to work as an au pair in China.

Since this role involves teaching English, you must be a native English speaker. 

You must also provide proof of medical examination that you haven’t suffered from a serious mental or physical ailment in the past couple of years.

Au pairs are also discouraged to smoke. And, since we just got through the pandemic, you would also be expected to provide a COVID-19 vaccination proof before arriving in China. 

Apart from the technical skills required for an au pair’s job, you must also know how to drive, cook and look after a house.

It is also important that you carry an international driver’s license to work as an au pair in China. 

The host family would also expect you to be good at activities like storytelling, teaching, and narration.

Though it is a language tutoring role, au pairs essentially work with children so you must know how to keep them engaged. 

Having good organizational and time management skills is also key for this job as you might have a lot on your plate – looking after children, the house, and doing your fun travel activities on the side.

If you are more manageable with your time, only then would you be able to make the most out of it. 

Lastly, you must be single, without any dependents or children of your own.

Also, be mindful to have an open and positive mindset for this job as children are just tiny adults with unpredictable behaviour and you’d have to be the bigger adult.

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Visa Requirements

China doesn’t grant an au pair visa or a caregiver visa. There is an F-Visa that is for travel and an X-Visa for students. Initially, you would be granted the F-Visa and this is valid for six months.

It would allow you to stay in China and become a part of cultural exchange, take Chinese language courses, go on study tours and explore China as a tourist. 

Since most au pairs live in China for a duration of three to twelve months, in case your stay extends six months, you need to upgrade to the X-Visa.

The X-Visa is for students so that they can attend study programs or work as interns. 

Au pair in China, Pile of currencies from around the world
Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

How much do au pairs get paid in China?

Working hours for au pairs differ from country to country and also vary from family to family. As an au pair in China, you would not be working for more than 30 hours per week.

The role of babysitting is also a part of this work routine, though it is better to discuss and clear things out with your host family before you arrive in China.

Make sure your workweek leaves plenty of room for you to explore China, learn the language classes and feel like a tourist. 

In terms of pay, au pairs receive anywhere between 700 and 2000 yuan per month. Again, this depends on your agreement with the host family so discuss it before you start working.

You must also discuss if overtime is paid or would be added as a holiday in the future and whether there are any bonuses.

In addition, you would also get a two-week vacation period during your stay in China and in case your host family is travelling, they might ask you to accompany them.

You must clear out beforehand if that travelling period with the host family includes work-related tasks and is it paid or not to avoid any mishaps in the future. 

Also, you will not be paying for the language courses from your pocket, your host family would do that. Make sure to discuss this with your host family before you begin working.

It is good to have a clear picture of your work schedule as an au pair before you arrive in China so that you know how much time you would have for activities outside the job.

flights to Beijing
Photo by Ling Tang on Unsplash

How long do au pairs stay in China?

Au pairs can stay in China for three to twelve months. If you plan on staying for longer than six months, you will have to upgrade to the X-Visa.

If you plan on visiting Hong Kong or Macao, you would require a double-entry visa. It is always a good idea to discuss your travel plans with your host family before finalizing anything. 

How to find au pair jobs?

There are two ways to find work as an au pair in China.

You can either find a host family on your own, get a letter from them and apply for a visa or save yourself from this hassle and register with a trusted au pair agency like Global Work and Travel.

Use code ANITA50 at checkout to get $50 off your first time with Global Work and Travel

There are other agencies too, but I think Global Work and Travel offers the best advice and perks for anyone looking for a volunteer and travel opportunity. 

Working as an au pair in China, traditional Chinese homes with red lanterns sitting on a river
Photo by Iris on Unsplash

Why use an agency to find work as an au pair in China?

Finding a host family can be a hassle in itself if you’re not registered with an agency.

It can also be unsafe and you might expose yourself to potential harm or danger by providing sensitive information about yourself to scammers online.

Thus, it is better to work with an agency as they are experienced in connecting travel enthusiasts like you with volunteering opportunities. 

For me, the safety and authenticity of such agencies are a huge factor in why I trust them.

Global Work and Travel has a transparent process where they connect you with a potential family, prepare you for the trip and assist you throughout your journey.

All you have to do is get your documents ready and let them do their thing. 

Why work an au pair in China, Great Wall of China in autumn
Photo by Hanson Lu on Unsplash

Working as an au pair with Global Work and Travel

Global Work and Travel does the family search for you. You would create an online profile on their portal and wait for them to connect you with a few potential host families.

The first stage is about connecting with people you like through virtual interviews and knowing where you fit best.

In any case, if you don’t feel comfortable with your host family after landing in China, Global Work and Travel takes full responsibility for relocating you to a different home in China.

They would also be fully responsible for taking care of you throughout your stay.

All you have to do is pay a deposit fee, choose the type of trip you want and your au pair journey with Global Work and Travel will begin.

Once you’re matched with a Trip Coordinator, they will inform you everything you need to know about working as an au pair in China.

After that, they would prepare your documents, get your tickets and you’ll be set for departure. 

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Global Work and Travel also provides access to an online au pair course that you can complete before you go so that you know the ins and outs of your au pair journey.

It also has a certificate of completion that you can use for future work as an au pair. They also provide transport to and from the airport in your host country.

Apart from that, you also get a personal travel concierge to help you schedule flights, insurance or any other tasks during the trip. 

The best part is that Global Work and Travel offers a five-night stay at any hostel in China during your trip so that you can take some time off and enjoy yourself as a tourist. 

Use code ANITA50 at checkout to get $50 off your first time with Global Work and Travel

Is being an au pair in China Right for you?

If you’ve always been fond of travelling to China and experiencing its breathtaking culture, and love working with children, then this is your sign to explore how to be an au pair in China.

All you have to do is check if you meet the requirements for China, register with a trusted agency to apply to be an au pair!

You can choose between Beijing, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Hong Kong, where you want to spend your next year working and travelling.

Frequently Asked Questions

✅ How do you become an au pair in China?

You can either find a host family and apply for a visa with a letter from them on your own, or you can use an au pair agency such as Global Work and Travel who will do all the legwork for you.

✅ How much do au pairs get paid in China?

If you’re still deciding which country in which to become an au pair, China au pairs usually receive anywhere between 700 and 2000 yuan per month.

✅ What is the age limit for an au pair?

This varies slightly from country to country. In China, the au pair age limit is between 18-29 years old.

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