How to become an au pair and work from anywhere

Last Updated on April 26, 2022


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Have you ever wondered how amazing it would be if you got paid for playing board games all day, watching the television, helping a kid with their homework, or playing a bit outside, all while having plenty of time left for quenching your thirst for artistic pleasure and travel?

In fact, this can be a reality if you become an au pair!

Yes, people are paid to spend time with and take care of children of others, travel a bit, and learn a new language.

This is the job of an au pair.

Aw-pair. Say it.

You might think it is just a fancier word for being a nanny, but let me burst your thought bubble because it’s not at all the same as being a nanny.

How many nannies have you met who got paid for not only taking care of someone but traveling a bit, learning a new language, or making some friends?

None.

The chances are not slim to none. They are zero.

Why?

Because the job of an au pair is very different. More about that later, let’s discuss why you should consider becoming an au pair.

If you have had an ambition of traveling the world one day, but your wallet would disapprove of that, then becoming an au pair could be your call.

An au pair is a person who is responsible for looking after a host family’s children while living under the same roof as them and is paid monthly pocket money to fulfill their traveling goals.

Mainly the job of an au pair is to engage in some form of cultural exchange or learn a new language.

But what better way is there to learn more about a different culture or fall in love with the native language while getting paid for it, and being taken care off as well?

If working with children seems like your call and you cannot wait to step out of your comfort zone just to experience life and a new culture, then this is the perfect “how to be an au pair” article for you.

Learn about the job of an au pair, what is required from an au pair, how to apply to be an au pair and start an au pair contract, and lots of other useful information.  

What is an au pair?

An au pair is the job title for a young person, normally a woman, of foreign status who helps a family with their housework, childcare, and other related tasks, in return for accommodation, food, utilities, and pocket money for personal use.

The job of an au pair might seem similar to that of a live-in nanny, but these two jobs are very different.

Being, or hiring, an au pair requires abiding by certain rules and regulations for both the au pair and the host family.

Moreover, the extent of these rules and regulations are very different compared to a live-in nanny’s job, therefore, both jobs are dissimilar.

An au pair’s job is to travel to a foreign country to live with a host family, to take care of their children, and do some housework while leaving some room for experiencing the culture of a new place.

Mainly the intended purpose of being an au pair is to learn a new language or experience the culture of a new place; therefore, the nationality of an au pair must be different from that of the host parents.

This is also where an au pair’s job differs from that of a nanny.

Differences between a nanny and an au pair

A nanny, more specifically a live-in nanny is supposed to look after the children, do housework, which involves cooking, cleaning, and other tasks as demanded by the employer, which is the family they are working for.

In an au pair’s case, it is considered less of a job, as the duties assigned to the au pair are only within the realm of childcare.

Although there are au pairs that do housework as well and are compensated for that heavily, mainly the au pair is only supposed to look after the children while the parents away.

When the parents are back in the evening, the work hours of the au pair are over and the children are their parents’ responsibility, which is different in a nanny’s case.

Nannies are sometimes asked to do chores and duties outside their realm of work, but this is not the case for an au pair.

Moreover, the weekends are usually free for an au pair, but in most countries, being a live-in nanny is a full-time job and only Sundays are free.

Au pairs have different working hours in each country, and the host family is supposed to respect that.

However, a nanny’s working hours are dependent on the family’s needs and whatever the labor laws in that specific country state.

Even the monetary compensation that a nanny receives is a salary, that is in line with the wage laws of that country, but the money received by an au pair is considered “pocket money” and is solely for personal expenses.

Nannies are not provided any other facility by their employers the way au pairs are.

An au pair is supposed to live with the host family, and this is why the host family is responsible for the au pair’s living costs.

A nanny, on the other hand, is not supposed to live with the family they are working for unless there is some form of agreement that states otherwise.

Other differences between a nanny and an au pair are regarding their age – there is a certain age bracket for au pairs in every country, however, any person, at any age, can be a nanny.

Au pairs are also supposed to participate in some form of cultural exchange or learning a new language, this is kind of their sole purpose of working as an au pair. This is not the case for a nanny.

Lastly, a nanny is an employee of a household, whereas an au pair is more of a guest who has come to visit and would be given pocket money every month for personal expenses.

That being said, being an au pair allows abundant opportunities for learning more about a place, its culture, and meeting new people.

Being an au pair, woman walking with kids on beach
Photo by Iris on Unsplash

How to become an au pair?

Becoming an au pair is easier than planning for a trip, especially if you love being around children, taking care of them, interacting with them, and don’t shy away from doing a bit of housework, though au pairs don’t usually do that.

What are the qualifications?

The first degree of qualification for an au pair is their age.

People in the 18 to 26 age bracket are eligible to work as au pairs, and though men and women both can take up this job, it is generally preferred by women.

There is not a specific degree or academic qualification that one requires for becoming an au pair, but generally, you are expected to have some sort of sound academic background, especially a high school diploma, if not a college degree.

Some au pairs do study courses and get certifications in childcare, and teaching, both of these skills are necessary for an au pair to have.

Though not crucial for becoming an au pair, it shows that you have a theoretical understanding of dealing with children.

It would also be far easier for you than for a person who has neither experience in dealing with children, nor some background in teaching.

Experience

Families prefer to hire those as au pairs who have worked with children before and are familiar with ways to take care of a child and a house.

Though every family is different, most would prefer someone with experience.

Moreover, some host families also ask for references which is completely normal as they want to perform their complete check and make sure they have the right person coming to their house to look after their children.

The crux is to make sure you include every experience that involved working with children in your application for an au pair’s job.

Other requirements

Having a sound educational background, experience a vast skillset are the primary aspects that families would look for in an au pair.

However, other facts are important as well like the lack of a criminal record, driving and cooking skills, and a commitment to work for at least six to twelve months.

Some families desire that au pairs must be in good physical and mental health and have no destructive habits like smoking, though this may not be the case with every family.

Apart from the vast skillset that an au pair is expected to have, this job requires some other attributes that cannot particularly be distinguished as “skills”, but are crucial.

The first one is the art of storytelling and narration.

As we all know from our own experience of being mini-adults or kids once, every child loves a good story – the one that helps them fall into a deep sleep, or even keep them up dreaming at night.

Therefore, as an au pair, you must be well-versed in storytelling, whether it is a story cube you’ll be using or making up something form your imagination.

Not only will the children be more drawn towards you as a caregiver, but it will help enhance their creative thought process.

Next up, as an au pair, you must be good at managing your time effectively.

Since you would be working with children from the start of the day till its end, and things can get out of order and messy with them, you must manage effectively what tasks need to be done at what time.

After all, your organizational skills will help the children become more respectful and careful about time.

You can use a digital or manual planning system, like a bullet journal, or your mobile phone, or computer would also work.

Lastly, one of the most important aspects of being an au pair is to be positive, patient, and open, as you would be working with children who can have mood or temper tantrums.

Since you would be the adult in that situation, it would always be expected of you to be more understanding and sometimes even the mediator, so if you let your anger or mood get in the way that can be a hurdle at work.

How to become an au pair, pile of currencies from around the world
Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

How much do au pairs get paid?

Every country has a different set of rules and regulations when it comes to labor hours and salaries or wages.

In some countries, the job of an au pair is not analogous to that of a nanny, therefore, work expectations and work hours are very different.

In Europe, au pairs are expected to work 25-30 hours per week, with only one day off, mostly a Sunday.

Though this figure can differ depending on the family you would be working for or the au pair agency you applied through.

In the USA, au pairs are expected to work for 40-45 hours per work with only one day off. You also need a special kind of visa, a J-1 visa, to work as an au pair in the USA.

Working as an au pair in the USA has more restrictions than in Europe as you cannot work without a tourist visa or an au pair visa. It is also illegal to work as an au pair without an au pair agency in the USA.

Compared with the USA, working as an au pair in the UK is far less daunting and tiring. The work hours are less than 40 and you might get two days off in a week.

In both regions, the pay is sufficient to cover personal expenses and have a good journey and cultural exchange experience.

According to Global Work and Travel, you can start working as an au pair in the UK for 80 – 85 GBP per week, $200 per week if you are in the USA, and around $330 per week in Canada.

Though this pay might not seem enough to live abroad, considering that you would not have to pay for food, accommodation, and other living expenses like utility bills, this is a good opportunity to earn some cash while being allowed to travel wherever you want.

How to find au pairs jobs?

There are two routes to finding jobs for an au pair.

You can either connect with a host family directly, without the integration of a third party, or you can choose from a wide range of agencies and websites that connect au pairs with host families.

Some of these websites are

Au Pair

Au Pair World

Global Work and Travel

The advantage of applying for an au pair’s job through a site or third party is the promised safety.

When you use trusted platforms like the ones mentioned above, there are fewer chances of getting scammed, as established businesses like these have carefully picked families and au pairs that they would like to work with.

The process works in this way: you would find an agency that seems best for you, we recommend Global Work and Travel, and you would pay that agency a small fee for finding a trustworthy and reliable family for you.

This agency will help you in planning regarding which country to choose, which family and it will also help you in contacting them before the trip.

That way you and the host family can get to know each other before you depart from your home country.

On the other hand, when connecting with a family without a third party, you would have to do the searching and connecting with the family on your own.

This can be particularly tiring as you would have to create a profile and do the necessary research on the families on your own, and there is a higher chance of being lied to or getting scammed.

Not having the support of a platform like Global Work and Travel can be a concern particularly because the presence of a third party would have ensured that a mediator is present at all times and in case of an emergency you can be helped out, when abroad.

Ultimately, your safety is more important than a trip.

Why choose Global Work and Travel?

To reiterate, if you want a good way to fulfill your passion for traveling and have a knack for working with children while experiencing a new of living, you should give being an au pair a chance.

Being an au pair is one of the easiest and most fun jobs out there, and with Global Work and Travel, it is even more streamlined and easy-going.

You can become part of a UK household to help the parents look after their children, while you build a close-knit network with the host family and locals in that area.

Being an au pair will allow you to earn and travel simultaneously.

You can spend days taking care of your host family’s children, taking them to school, helping them do their homework, playing board games with them, partying on the weekends, or enjoying world-renowned festivals and visiting amazing landmarks while you are in your host country.

Working with Global Work and Travel means you are in safe hands; they make sure to connect aspiring individuals like you with safe and loving families abroad.

They help with the entire process from the beginning till the very end.

Global Work and Travel allows you to connect with the host family before setting off for the trip so that you can break the ice and know what to expect when you land in the home of your host family.

Communication is undoubtedly one of the most common aspects of being a successful and happy au pair.

Since I have tried and tested the services of Global Work and Travel when I worked as an au pair, you might want to trust me on this whole becoming-an-au-pair thing, as I speak from experience.

I worked and traveled as an au pair in the UK, courtesy of Global Work and Travel.

This experience alone opened new opportunities for me to learn and grow as an individual, understand what my needs and requirements are, and most importantly, realize my love for traveling.

Through this experience, not only was I able to fully engross in a new cultural setting but familiarize myself with exciting aspects of history through visiting significant landmarks, enjoying festivals, devouring exotic food, and building lifelong companions.

Working with the Global Work and Travel gave me the freedom to fulfill my wanderlust dreams without worrying about finances.

This experience also helped me understand myself better as I spent time taking care of a lovely family.

Being an au pair has given me the freedom and opportunity for learning that I otherwise wouldn’t have received.

What countries can you find work as an au pair?

Though the UK and the USA are some of the most common destinations for au pairs, there are other regions of the world with more picturesque landscapes that attract au pairs.

Countries like France, Australia, and New Zealand are also top spots for au pairs.

Rather than the USA, consider becoming an au pair in Canada where you will typically make anywhere from $27,000 to $50,000 per year (that’s Canadian dollars).

You won’t work more than 30 hours and will enjoy a very high standard of living.

For an au pair, Australia is another particularly good option in terms of a memorable traveling experience, and it even pays well.

At 600-900 USD per month, and working only 30 hours per week, you would have plenty of time to walk across Australia’s sandy beaches or visit galleries and museums.

There are also a lot of amazing destinations in Australia you could wind up living in.

Denmark is also a popular destination, as au pairs are expected to work not more than 30 hours per week and make around 650 USD per month.

Similarly, Sweden, Chile, France, China, New Zealand, and South Africa are also among popular destinations for au pairs.

All countries offer good a good earning opportunity as well as traveling experience.

For example, if you want to see Asia as an au pair, China is a great option.

Not only can you eat all the delicious food you want and experience all the best things to do in Beijing and other cities, but from China, you can easily access the Southeast and East Asia countries.

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

So Are you Ready to Become an Au Pair?

The job of an au pair is one of the safest and most frugal ways to travel the world, contribute to the community by helping a family with their children, and just learn a new language or culture.

It is also an amazing option for women who want to travel independently but lack adequate funds.

The job of an au pair will not only provide you with sufficient funds to fulfill your wanderlust dreams but a sense of security and calmness.

I recommend trying the job of an au pair at least once if you want to travel the world but don’t have the means to do so.

It is truly one of a kind experience and helps one learn a lot about themselves!

If you think this sounds like the ideal job for you and you are ready to become an au pair, what are you waiting for? Apply to be an au pair now!

Frequently Asked Questions

✅ How much do au pairs typically make?

It varies from country to country. Canada, Australia and Denmark all have very reasonable wage brackets where you can earn $200-$300 per week, depending on the appointment.

✅ What qualifications do you need for au pair work?

The main qualification is being within the 18-26 age range. Certifications in childcare and teaching can also be helpful in securing work as an au pair.

✅ Is becoming an au pair worth it?

Yes! The chance to live in another country, to learn a new language and culture and get paid to do so is an experience I strongly recommend.


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