How to Become an Au Pair
If you’ve been thinking about becoming an Au Pair, then read on. This guide contains essential information such as educational and training requirements, necessary skills, average salaries and more.
What Does an Au Pair Do?
Au Pairs are tasked with performing childcare duties for their host family, including playing with the children, waking the children up for school and preparing the children’s meals. Au Pairs work and live in the homes and countries of their host family, whether that family lives in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand or Ireland.
Along with being excellent childcare providers, Au Pairs must also be able to communicate effectively with the children’s parents or guardians in order to ensure that there is no confusion over logistics, household rules or any other practical detail. Common Au Pair duties and responsibilities include:
- Driving children to and from school, sports practice and lessons
- Cleaning up after children
- Watching children while their parents or guardians are at work
Au Pair Skills
While a love for working with children is an essential trait of any Au Pair, there are several other skills and qualities which are necessary for every Au Pair to have. Since caring for and keeping track of the children’s belongings is an important part of the job, Au Pairs must be organized and tidy, as well as able to quickly clean up household messes. Additionally, Au Pairs need to be able to adhere to a busy schedule with minimal assistance in order to make sure that the children are always where they need to be while the parents or guardians remain as stress-free as possible.
Other key Au Pair skills include:
- Safe driving practices and a clean driving record
- Warm and approachable demeanor
- Excellent time management
- Ability to multitask
How Do You Become an Au Pair?
Education and Training
According to our analysis of online job postings, host families are generally unconcerned with potential candidates’ educational background. Instead, they require Au Pairs to have a valid driver’s license, a safe driving record and a basic understanding of the family’s native language. Additionally, an understanding of English is generally required, regardless of whether the host family lives in a primarily English-speaking country. For example, postings by families from Spain typically needed Au Pairs to be able to speak both basic English and basic Spanish.
When it comes to training, there is usually no need for previous formal training. However, many of the biggest and most popular Au Pair agencies require Au Pairs to complete a short specialized training program prior to moving in with their host family. These programs include online and in-person courses on topics such as child safety and development, program regulations and behavior management strategies.
Whether or not it is explicitly stated in job postings, being certified in CPR, first aid and childcare safety can go a long way towards earning the trust of a host family and making it easier for you to land the Au Pair position you want. To find certification courses provided by the American Red Cross in your area, click here.
Finding a Job
According to data published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for Childcare Workers, which includes Au Pairs, will increase 5 percent. This is expected to result in the opening of an impressive 69,300 new positions between through 2024.
Before you start searching for jobs, make sure you have a professional and well-written resume on hand. Check out JobHero’s library of Au Pair resume samples for fresh ideas and expert-approved guidance.
Next, conduct an online job search to find open Au Pair positions. Don’t start sending of applications just yet, however; first consider writing a cover letter to include with your resume. A great cover letter can convey your personality, reasons for applying, special skills and applicable experience to potential host families. For inspiration, take a look at our Au Pair cover letter sample.
Insights from an Au Pair
To get an insider’s perspective on how to become an Au Pair, we spoke with Kira Maixner, Head of Communications at GetMyBoat.com. She spent nine months as an Au Pair in Italy in the cities of Rome and Livorno.
What should someone consider before becoming an Au Pair?
Being an Au Pair can be a demanding job. The number one thing to consider is whether or not you want to spend most of your days with children, and if so, the age you’d most like to care for. Babies take a lot of care from diaper changes to bottle feedings, but they sleep a lot which is great for getting personal stuff done (e.g. planning weekend adventures). Older children can be a bit more challenging in that they are more active, but that means you get to spend a lot of time outside exploring and playing.
What type of person excels in this job?
Outgoing, creative and adventurous people excel at being an Au Pair. The more creative you get, the more enjoyable the job will be. Children are curious creatures and love to do new things, explore and play. If you are open to going to the park, museum, zoo, aquarium, etc. you’ll have a lot of fun.
What are some of the most important skills for Au Pairs to have?
Being clean, creative and organized are all skills that I found helpful in day-to-day duties. I was responsible for tidying the playroom and bedroom of the kids I took care of. After I took them to school in the morning, being organized made it easier for me to clean, plan my day and prepare to pick my charges up after school.
What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of being an Au Pair?
I was really lucky to have a host family that viewed me as one of their own children so I basically got another, Italian family out of the deal. I also think that living in another country as an Au Pair is very rewarding in that you get to learn the customs and everyday lifestyles of a totally new culture and country.
How Much Do Au Pairs Get Paid?
Depending on how long they’ll be staying with their host family, Au Pairs can be paid on either an hourly wage basis or a yearly wage basis. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly wage for Au Pairs is $9.77, with the lowest-paid earning $8.12 per hour and the highest-paid earning $14.78 per hour.
Top Ten States for Au Pair Salary
Au Pairs in the following ten states make the highest median hourly wage in the U.S.
- New York: $12.24
- Massachusetts: $12.01
- Alaska: $11.80
- California: $11.61
- Colorado: $11.47
- Washington: $11.31
- Vermont: $11.25
- District of Columbia: $11.06
- Minnesota: $10.81
- Connecticut: $10.77
Au Pair Resources
We compiled this list of resources to help you keep researching your career as an Au Pair.
Au Pair Blogs
AuPairCare Stories – This blog posts new content every few days, and includes advice, activity and meal ideas, insights into the lives of Au Pairs all over the world, contests and community news.
Cultural Care Au Pair Blog – This blog publishes several articles per month, and focuses on insights from Au Pairs, accounts of how Au Pairs found their perfect host family, features on popular Au Pair destinations and yearly awards.
Au Pairs on Twitter
@Aupair_World – Features lists of essential vocabulary to help overcome language barriers, photos of Au Pairs in various locations worldwide and interviews with Au Pairs.
@aupairinamerica – Features photos of Au Pairs with their host families, ideas on how to celebrate national holidays and the benefits of becoming an Au Pair.
Au Pair Books
Elevating Child Care – This comprehensive guide is useful not only for Au Pairs, but also for parents and childcare professionals of every kind. Includes advice for dealing with the behavior and milestones of children of all ages as well as tips for initiating independent play, changing diapers, encouraging creativity and more.
150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids – This extensive collection of low-cost activities is perfect for Au Pairs who will be spending extended amounts of time with the children in their care. Includes step-by-step instructions as well as full-color photographs.