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How To Become An Au Pair

How To Become an Au Pair was last updated on February 6th, 2024. This post may contain affiliate links which means that if you make a purchase through one of my links I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you!

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Are you looking for an exciting opportunity to explore a different culture, gain valuable life experience, and have the potential to develop your language skills while immersing yourself in a foreign country? If so, becoming an au pair might be the perfect adventure for you!

As an au pair, you have the chance to live with a host family in another country, providing childcare and receiving room, board, and some pocket money in return. This unique cultural exchange program allows you to become a part of a new family, forge lifelong connections, and create unforgettable memories.

In this guide, we will explore the steps you must undertake to become an au pair, helping you embark on the adventure of a lifetime!

Me leaning down to pet a kangaroo that is crouched over eating grass
Meeting this little buddy on a weekend trip to Sydney

How To Become An Au Pair

When I was 18 is when I first learned about au pairs. One of my friends from high school became an au pair in Australia, and soon it seemed that I knew people living and working abroad all over the world. I found this to be very appealing since I knew I wanted to travel. I had originally planned to study abroad for my third year of university, but by then I had a job and lots of friends that I didn’t want to leave behind. But once I graduated university seemed to be the perfect time to do it!

Since I loved kids I decided to take the plunge and become an au pair myself! I looked through other work abroad jobs, but working with children really appealed to me, so I knew that becoming an au pair would be the perfect fit for me.

So how exactly does one become an au pair?

Me in snorkeling gear underwter, holding a license plate sign saying Cairns
Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef was stunningand the perfect way to end my time in Australia

Understand the Au Pair Program

Before delving into the process, it’s crucial that you really understand the au pair program. The au pair program is designed to facilitate cultural exchange, offering young adults the opportunity to live abroad and participate in the daily life of a host family.

As an au pair, you typically provide child care and light household duties for a set number of hours per week, while your host family provides you room and board, as well as some pocket money. The pocket money really isn’t much, so the au pair program is more to gain experience living and working abroad. It’s important to note that the exact responsibilities, working hours, and program duration can vary depending on the country and agency involved, so make sure to look into this.

Research and Choose a Destination

The next step is to research and select the destination you want to move to. Au pair opportunities exist in quite a few countries worldwide, each offering a unique cultural experience that is specific to that country. Consider factors such as language, culture, lifestyle, and the specific requirements and regulations for au pairs in different countries. It’s essential to thoroughly research the host country’s visa requirements, living conditions, and potential language barriers before making a decision.

For example, me living in Australia was relatively easy because they speak English. If you’re moving to China to become an au pair you’re required to take language classes. Not everyone wants to spend their evenings in language classes.

Me in a black shirt standing beside a tree with a koala in it at the Australia Zoo
Another weekend trip to the Australia Zoo!

Meet the Basic Requirements

To become an au pair, you must meet certain basic requirements. Typically, these include being between 18 and 30 years old (age limits may vary by country but 18-30 is the norm), having a high school diploma or equivalent, possessing basic knowledge of the host country’s language, and having a genuine interest in working with children. Other common prerequisites may include a clean criminal record, a medical certificate, and the ability to provide references.

But I want to really focus in on “genuine interest in working with children”. Not everyone who works in childcare really enjoys being around kids. Being an au pair provides you the opportunity to have a truly loving and special relationship with the kids you care for, so I don’t think anyone who wouldn’t love spending the majority of their week with kids should do this job just to travel abroad.

Find an Au Pair Agency or Match Independently

Once you have chosen a destination, you can either seek assistance from an au pair agency or attempt to find a host family independently. Au pair agencies act as the go between for you and potential families, connecting you with host families, assisting with the visa application process, and providing support throughout your au pair journey.

Research reputable agencies and compare their services, fees, and reputation to find one that works for you. Alternatively, you can try to find a host family independently through online platforms, social networks, or personal connections. In this case, you will need to navigate the visa application process on your own.

I personally used an agency because I wanted to make sure I had the support through all steps of the way, but this did come at a cost to the agency. I have friends who found host families on their own through websites such as AuPairWorld and had success, so either way works.

View of Loch Ard Gorge on the Great Ocean Road
A HUGE pro to being an au pair are the weekend trips, like this trip I took to the Great Ocean Road!

Complete the Application Process

The application process typically involves filling out detailed forms, providing personal information, and submitting supporting documents, such as a copy of your passport, references, a personal statement, and possibly a medical certificate, country depending. If you are applying through an agency, they will guide you through the necessary steps and requirements. Pay attention to deadlines and be prepared to undergo interviews, both with the agency and the potential host families.

A tip for every job interview I’ve done for childcare is this; you are interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you. You need to find the right fit for you, so ask all your burning questions, it’s important!

Obtain Your Visa

Obtaining the appropriate visa is a crucial step in becoming an au pair. Each country has its own visa requirements and procedures, so make sure you find out what that looks like for your chosen country. Some countries offer specific au pair visas, while others may require you to apply for a cultural exchange or work visa.

Prepare for Departure

Congratulations, it’s time to go! Once you have secured a host family and obtained the necessary visa, it’s time to prepare for your journey as an au pair. Arrange your travel plans, inform your family and friends about your upcoming adventure, and make sure you have the necessary insurance coverage. Begin your flight search by using my favorite flight app, Skyscanner!

Additionally, familiarize yourself with the host family’s expectations, discuss any concerns or questions you may have, and establish open lines of communication to ensure a smooth transition into your new cultural experience.

In Conclusion On How to Become An Au Pair

Becoming an au pair is an exciting opportunity to immerse yourself in a different culture, forge lasting connections with those you’ll meet along your way, and develop valuable life skills. Get ready to embrace new experiences, build lifelong friendships, and broaden your horizons while providing valuable support to a host family and creating unforgettable memories along the way. This experience will change you in ways you won’t expect, but I think that travel does that to us. We leave a piece of ourselves everywhere we go and take back with us new lessons.

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4 Responses

    1. I know some au pairs who loved their host families and have a lifelong relationship with them. Unfortunately that didn’t happen with me, but I’m still SO happy with my experience

  1. Brooklyn – strange question and maybe too personal, but what were some of these jobs they wanted you to do? Did they want you cleaning the house or something?

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Brooklyn standing in front of the pyramids of Giza

Brooklyn Murtaugh

travel blogger

Hi! I’m Brooklyn. Like many, I thought my purpose in life was to go to university, settle down and have kids. But that is not me. 

My aim is to inspire you to travel as much as you can while you can, whether that be through au pair work, or on your limited vacation days. It CAN be done. This world is incredible, let’s explore it!

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