For those who like children or thinking of doing a gap year in the childcare niche, getting involved with international Au Pair jobs may seem like a good starting point. With many countries opening doors to this service, some even consider it as a cultural exchange program.
What are the benefits and limitations that come with the job? Will you enjoy working as an Au Pair? This review aims to explore all aspects of a so-called life-changing opportunity but before that, let’s get to know what the job is all about.
What Is an Au Pair
An international Au Pair is a person who chooses to live abroad with a host family. The primary of this individual is to help support the host family with childcare however some housework duty is also expected in exchange for free accommodation within the family home.
An Au Pair usually resides with the host family for 12 months, integrating with them in a caring family environment. As part of living in a new environment, you get to partake in a rewarding yet challenging role. But you will also get the chance to learn about new cultures, foreign languages and are often given the opportunity to study alongside your childcare and family hours.
The rules and regulations around who can become an Au Pair differ from country to country, however generally an Au Pair should meet the following requirements:
- The applicant can be of either gender, male or female.
- He or she is usually young in age, between 18-30 years old.
- Willing to commit to a certain employment period ranging from 3-12 months.
- Often times, you’re required to have experience within childcare roles and have strong references to prove this.
- You must have no criminal convictions.
- You must be fit and healthy to work.
- You should have a basic understanding of the host language/culture and general work etiquette.
International Au Pair jobs can be found in many parts of the world. Here’s a list of websites that can provide the necessary information and assist in your application to become one.
- International Au Pair Association
- Au Pair World
- Great Au Pair
- Au Pair
- New Au Pair
- Find Au Pair
- Cultural Care Au Pair
If you like to know the nitty-gritty details of becoming an international Au Pair, watch this testimonial video as the reviewer shares her own experience.
How to Join an international Au Pair role
As with most career roles, different countries have their own set of rules when it comes to the application process. When considering becoming an Au Pair in any country, it is beneficial to go through the websites mentioned above as they also act as an agency to help you look for job placement.
They usually charge zero application fees or even if they do, the fees are likely cheaper than having to apply independently yourself which can cost anything up to $200. Once your application has been submitted, you will be required to send in references and medical reports proving that you meet the requirements.
Upon approval, you will be placed on an Au Pair register to match with host families in that specific country you applied for. When a match is found, an interview with the host family will take place.
This allows you to ask any questions you have relating to your role as an Au Pair, the children’s age, and what you’re expected to do on a daily basis. Getting to the bottom of these details can help to determine whether you are a good fit for each other.
If the host family accepts your application, you will then set a time and date to arrive in the host country. The next thing to consider is the visa and flight. Not all countries will require a visa to enter, but if they do, the cost can range between $50 to $500 so make sure you’re well prepared for these expenses.
Many Au Pairs will also be required to provide their own transport to the host families home, so this should be discussed prior to your departure as some hosts will, in fact, cover this cost or collect you from the airport.
The Perks of Becoming an Au Pair
Obviously, if you are family and child-oriented there are many many perks to becoming an Au Pair, especially on the international level. These are some perks that may appeal to you.
- Becoming an Au Pair is the cheapest way to travel abroad for up to a year.
- You can improve on your international language skills.
- You gain a second family and often a lifelong friendship with hosts.
- You get to learn about another culture and share your findings with others.
- It is the perfect opportunity to make money with travel blogs.
- You get to help raise and educate children for a better tomorrow.
- You are helping a family better themselves.
- You are improving your financial future by enhancing your CV.
The Downsides Of Becoming an International Au Pair
While an Au Pair job can be both rewarding and educational, it comes with its own fair share of downsides as well. Be aware of these disadvantages before committing to the job full-time.
- You can be away from your friends and family for up to a year at a time. For some, this can be a lonely experience.
- You have to adapt to another culture even if it means going out of your comfort zone in a strange environment.
- You have to adapt to and tolerate other families’ ways of doing things.
- You need to learn that the host family is your priority during the period of employment.
- Working with other people’s children is always challenging and you need to know your boundaries as a stay-in nanny.
- You will be living with your employer, so you need to be able to divide between work and pleasure time.
- You may earn some weekly stipend throughout the period, but it’s very minimal (way lesser than a McDonald’s part-time job) and only serves to cover some basic expenses. The table below will give you an idea of how much an Au Pair makes in different countries.
Is Becoming an Au Pair Suitable For You?
If you meet all the requirements and are still eager to become an Au Pair despite the challenges, then the job can be quite rewarding and is likely to offer you a lifetime of a wonderful experience. Working with different people and learning from a new culture can mold positive personalities for you to adapt to any situation in the future.
However, if just one single disadvantage puts you off the idea, then becoming an Au Pair may not be a suitable fit for you. This is not a job to be taken lightly as another family is depending on you and if you can’t commit seriously and diligently, then the job is probably not worth your time.
There are other alternatives similar to international Au Pair jobs though – some involve traveling abroad, some are easily accessible within your area and some even allow you to work online. Here are four types of opportunities to explore.
Care is a job listing site that helps US families search for caregivers in child care, senior care, special needs, tutoring, and housekeeping. If you’re qualified, you can earn anywhere between $12 to $18 per hour performing these tasks.
Rover is a site dedicated to helping pet owners find a pet-sitter for jobs like dog-boarding, dog-walking or drop-in visits. The site currently serves the US, UK, Canada, and some European countries. If caring for pets is your kind of thing, you can make anywhere between $18 to $40 per task while having fun with some furry companions.
This site is a lot like Au Pair but instead of caring for children, you’ll be doing pet sitting and/or house-sitting for a family abroad, even in faraway countries like Thailand and Australia.
You render the service for free but in return, you also get to stay in a foreign place for free while exploring nearby locations. The term of service is usually less than a year so it’s possible to travel to a few countries if you can strike a good arrangement.
If you’re an educator at heart, consider teaching English online through the VIPKid program. This site hires native English speakers like you to help young kids in China learn the language in a fun and engaging way.
By committing 25 minutes per session, your base rate starts at $14 to $15 per hour which gradually increases with experience. The best part is, you don’t need to master the Mandarin language and you can work from any part of the world as long as there’s a good internet connection.
All these jobs come with opportunities to do something fun and cultural while paying you slightly more than an Au Pair. However, if you’re more interested in making money during this gap year, then I highly suggest to create a blog and monetize from your passion or skills.
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I hope this review has given you something to think about, or better, spark a new idea. If you’ve any experience or opinions to share about becoming an Au Pair, I would love to hear about it in the comments below.