Guide to au pair jobs
Au pairs live with a host family abroad and provide childcare services in exchange for room, board, and a stipend. Becoming an au pair abroad is a popular option for young people who want to travel, experience a new culture, and improve their language skills while working and living with a host family.
Where to au pair abroad
Picking a country to work as an au pair abroad can be tricky. Maybe you’ve dreamed of la dolce vita in Italy for years, or maybe you’re open to going anywhere new and exciting.
To help get you started, here are some great countries to work as an au pair overseas.
Germany is a favorite country for au pairs to search for jobs due to the good conditions and numerous cultural events. Germany is known for its festivals and lively atmosphere. It is also a welcoming and inclusive country where au pairs from all backgrounds can feel at home.
England is a great place for au pairs who want to experience a different country and culture without the stress of a language barrier. Whether you want to au pair in bustling London or a quaint and historic northern village, England is a fabulous first stop for new au pairs.
Switzerland is one of the best-paying au pairs countries in Europe and is also one of the most expensive to live in. Fortunately, au pairs are provided with room and board, giving you the ability to use that high stipend to explore the local area and fully enjoy Swiss culture.
France is a sought-after destination for Francophiles keen to wander its famous museums, enjoy a coffee in tucked away cafes, and sample its haute cuisine. Living in Paris is also an attainable dream given the free room and board you’ll receive.
Read more: The Complete Guide to Au Pair Jobs in Europe
Australia’s sunny climate and laid-back attitude draw au pairs from all around the world. Au pairs in Australia are paid the minimum wage so you can expect to bank between $135-$170 USD a week after a small amount is deducted for room and board.
China may not be among the top destinations for au pairs, but it’s a fantastic opportunity to engage in an exciting cultural exchange. China is huge and varied in language, cuisine, and culture. Wherever you au pair in China, you’ll be able to pick up some of the Chinese language, while learning about the fascinating history of this vast country.
How to find jobs as an au pair
Finding and securing an au pair job abroad is easier than you think! Follow these 6 steps on how to become an au pair to start living and working overseas.
1. Define your criteria
To make your search easier, first, determine your list of wants and preferences. Think about how many children you’d like to work with, their ages, and the kind of daily duties you’d like to perform.
Also, consider the location. Would you rather live in a big city or a small village? Do you want a warmer climate or do snowy mountain hikes strike your fancy? Narrowing your search down to one or two countries will make it easier to further hone in on the perfect location.
Be flexible, but don’t compromise on the things you deem most important to you.
2. Meet the country’s requirements
Each country generally has a minimum list of requirements that au pairs must meet to qualify. Some typical requirements for au pairs include:
- Be between the ages of 18 and 30
- Be unmarried and have no children
- Have a certain level of fluency in the local language
- Have enough money to get to and from the host country
- Have a clean criminal record
- Be able to stay for the minimum amount of time required by the country
3. Polish up your CV and write your “dear family” letter
Most agencies and websites ask prospective Au pairs to write a “dear family” letter. This letter is the best way for you to attract great host families. Let your personality shine, be detailed and most of all, be honest.
Explain your family and educational background, your motivations for becoming an au pair, and your reasons for moving to their country. Don’t forget to discuss the childcare experience that makes you qualified. Be sure to include any of your hobbies, interesting talents, or any other personal stories that will make your letter memorable.
4. Start your search
There are two main ways to get a job abroad as an au pair: agencies that match au pairs with families and au pair platforms that allow you to search for hosts through their website.
Program providers or agencies work with you directly to match you with families. After providing them with information about yourself and your preferences, they connect you with families who sound like a good fit. They tend to offer more support throughout the process and can advise on things like legal matters and visas.
AuPairWorld and Aupair.com are two major au pair platforms where prospective au pairs can create a profile and search for and connect with families. These types of websites facilitate au pairs finding families but they don’t act as recruiters and have no part in the matching process.
Both have pros and cons and it’s totally acceptable to use the two methods simultaneously to broaden your search efforts. The most important thing is finding a great family!
5. Interview with the host family
The interview is essential for feeling out your potential host family. It is recommended (and totally standard practice) for you to come to the interview with a long list of questions about every aspect of their lives.
Try to get a sense of all their personalities and interests. Be prepared to answer the same kinds of questions about yourself! You’ll be living with these people for a WHILE after all—everybody should know what situation they are getting into.
Our number one piece of advice is to go with your gut! The vibe you get from a family is the prime indicator of your future happiness. If something feels off, it might not be the best family for you, even though they seem great on paper. Trust your instincts!
Read more: 5 Reasons You Should Au Pair Abroad
6. Get your visa
Getting the correct visa is the final and arguably the most important step to securing your position as an au pair abroad. Having a proper visa and contract covers you legally in the event you run into any issues. Even though the majority of families hosting au pairs are lovely people, there may be a few bad apples who want to take advantage of their au pair. Knowing your rights is key to a fair experience.
Some countries like Germany and Switzerland have designated au pair visas while others grant work permits or long-stay visas.
Working holiday visas are also a great way to au pair abroad. Currently, the US has exchange programs with Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Singapore, and South Korea. These programs make it possible to seek work in any industry for a set period of time. In more expensive countries like Singapore, working as an au pair means you avoid big expenses like rent and food while also earning monthly pocket money.
Au pair salary and benefits
Au pair salaries and benefits vary by country (and even by family!) but knowing the minimum of what you’re entitled to is key to finding the right job.
Au pairs are provided pocket money in the form of a monthly stipend in addition to room and board. To get an idea of the monthly rates (in USD) in different countries, we’ve outlined several popular destinations:
- Australia: between $540-$680
- Germany: a minimum of $300
- France: a minimum of $340
- Switzerland: between $550-$770
- Sweden: a minimum of $330
- Canada: between $906-$1,174
- China: between $100-$288
Families can pay you more if they so choose but if a monthly stipend minimum has been legally established in the country, they can’t pay you less. Money matters are uncomfortable to discuss but everything should be understood and agreed upon before signing your contract.
Au pairs are typically entitled to the following benefits in exchange for between 20-35 hours a week of childcare:
- A private room with a door that locks
- Three meals a day
- A monthly stipend of “pocket money”
- Possibility to attend a language course (which may or may not be paid for partially or fully by the family)
- At least one full day a week off
The benefits that must be provided to the au pair are usually legally defined for each country. For example, in Germany and France, host families must pay for the au pair's health coverage. In China, however, this cost is covered by the au pair.
Outside of what’s legally required, some families may offer additional perks like a local SIM card for your phone, a transport pass, or even offer to contribute money toward your plane ticket.
A day in the life of an au pair abroad
Life as an au pair is an adventure every day. Below is an example of the things you’ll do and what your daily schedule could look like.
Au pairs will negotiate their duties with their host family before signing a contract so most situations are unique. However, there are a few common duties many au pairs do daily:
- Picking up and dropping off children at school
- Homework help after school
- Light housework like tidying up the playroom, loading the dishwasher, or doing the children’s laundry
Au pairs should not be expected to do extensive or deep cleaning or to do the majority of the family’s shopping. Au pairs aren’t maids but they are expected to pitch in for family chores and childcare.
In most countries, au pairs have a maximum number of hours they can legally work each week. Most countries cap au pair hours at just 30 hours per week.
For countries that don’t have strict laws governing au pair hours, make sure you are crystal clear with your family in your contract about how many hours you are willing to work weekly.
While there is no “typical” day for all au pairs, you can expect some variation of the following schedule:
- 7 am to 9 am: help children eat breakfast, get them ready, and take them to school
- 9 am to 3 pm: free time for the au pair to attend a language school, run personal errands, or explore the city
- 4:30 pm to 8:30 pm: pick children up, help with homework, eat dinner with family, bath and bed routine
- 8:30 pm to bedtime: free time for the au pair to watch tv, journal, or skype with friends and family
Your daily schedule will vary based on the ages of the children you watch, which country you au pair in, and when the parents need the most help. For example, primary schools in Germany start at 7:30 am but end before lunch. In Spain, depending on the type of school (semi-private and private vs. public) elementary students start at 9 am and may not leave school until 5 pm.
Read more: A Day in the Life of an Au Pair Abroad
Your level of involvement in the family’s life outside of work is something to discuss during the initial interviews. Most countries require families to include au pairs in daily meals but everything else is up to you. Some au pairs travel with their host family, all expenses paid, and may or may not be asked to provide some childcare in exchange. Other au pairs who are more introverted may spend their free time traveling solo or simply doing activities alone in their room.
Talking to your future family about expectations for how integrated you’ll be ensures neither of you will have hurt feelings or miscommunications once you join the household.
Au Pair Jobs Abroad
What qualifications do you need to be an au pair?
Requirements may change from family to family, but generally, au pairs should have previous childcare experience, be between 18-30 years old, and the ability to commit to a 6-12 month contract. Although au pairs jobs have traditionally been filled by women, males are also welcome to apply!Related Content
Do au pairs get days off?
Yes! Laws are generally pretty strict about work hours (no more than 20 - 30 hours in most countries) and most au pairs get at least one day off per week.
How do I get a job abroad as an au pair?
There are a few different options for finding work as an au pair: you can start looking for au pair jobs on Go Overseas, you can look on au pair websites, or you can use an agency that matches au pairs with families.
How much do Au pairs make?
Depending on the location and the workload, an Au pair salary can range anywhere from $100 to $500 per week.