Last updated on November 15th, 2021
So you’re interested in becoming an au pair? I think that’s fantastic! It’s honestly such a rewarding job, with so many potential travel opportunities. But just how does one become an au pair? This ultimate guide to becoming an au pair will give you all the details!
The Ultimate Guide To Becoming An Au Pair
How To Become An Au Pair
It was around when I was around 18 that I first heard of au pairs. A few of my friends from high school became au pairs in Australia, and soon, other friends of mine were becoming au pairs all over the world.
I knew I wanted to travel, and since I loved kids I decided to take the plunge and become an au pair myself!
Are you interested in becoming an au pair? If so I would definitely recommend it because it was one of the best experiences of my life so far. But this job isn’t for everyone.
Do you have childcare experience?
I can’t count how many times I’ve seen people become an au pair or nanny thinking that this is just some easy job that requires no skills. It’s very easy to turn on the tv and play on your phone while the kids are distracted. But that’s not what this job is about!
It’s about the kids. It’s about giving them the life skills they need to succeed, but having fun while doing it.
It’s about having close bonds with them, and teaching them how to become amazing people. And it’s especially about keeping the kids safe!
Not everyone who wants to become an au pair is cut out for it, so before dedicating yourself to a family in a different country, try babysitting first! You may not actually enjoy babysitting, and if you don’t, then you shouldn’t become an au pair.
Kids truly want to spend time with adults when they’re little, so make this experience fun for them! You will be their big best friend throughout your contract, and hopefully even after, so be a great big best friend!
My Experience Becoming An Au Pair
I have a younger sibling, and spent my teen years babysitting both my younger sister and working as a babysitter for others.
I also volunteered at the local library in high school to do my community service hours (I’m from Ontario, Canada and in high school we were required to do so many hours of community service to graduate). I tutored children in reading and ran the arts and crafts workshops for children as my volunteer hours.
I now work as a full time nanny, so clearly being an au pair was the perfect fit for me!
How Au Pair Companies Work
I can only speak for the company that I went with and what I’ve heard from au pair friends, so let me tell you about the interview process that I experienced. This process is very similar to what other au pairs that have used agencies like this have gone through. If you go through a website that just allows you to pay a fee and search profiles, it will be much different!
I went through a company that several of my friends had used called Scotia Personnel. It’s for Canadians, but there are many other companies in other countries just like them. Are you Canadian? If not, you can learn more about different au pair companies with this post here!
I looked through their au pair programs and requirements for each country and eventually settled on Australia. The reason I chose Australia was because I already had two friends do that same program previously and I knew they both loved it. I had wanted to become an au pair in New Zealand, but the taxes I would have had to pay were more than I wanted to give up! Everywhere sounded so amazing though!
There was an interview process. I spoke to a woman with the company several times about the different programs they offered and about what might work for me, what I was looking for, how long I was interested in going, and what I was wanting from a host family.
After a few of these phone calls and deciding I was interested in going through this company, I had a Skype interview with the owner Marilyn, who interviews everyone (or at least she did in 2014!). The interview was about 40 minutes and we just talked about my experience and previous over seas travels (I had none for overseas, but it was okay).
She approved me, so we then filled out a questionnaire for the host families to read so that they could get to know me a bit.
My profile was then sent to the Australian sister agency where host families can read your profiles and send you theirs if they think they would be a good match.
Once I received the families profiles I would read them, reply to them whether or not I was interested in an interview (because I think it’s just polite to let the host family know either way), and then we would set up a Skype interview if I was interested.
I loved reading family profiles and seeing what each family was like and what they were looking for in an au pair, in fact, it was my favorite part of the process!
I had a few interviews before matching with the family I ended up with.
Then Scotia Personnel helped me with travel insurance and getting my visa, and I regularly would have Skype calls with my host family before arriving.
Depending on your company that you choose to find work through, they may or may not help you with your visa and travel insurance. Some even help with your flight! Make sure you know what your company will help you with and what you have to do on your own.
Be Thorough Before Deciding
One thing I do want to say though is to make sure you speak with the family about everything before choosing to move across the world to live with them. I thought I had, but when I arrived my host family were not who they seemed to be on paper, and the job wasn’t as expected.
I still had an amazing time and would do it all over again, because the bond I made with the kids was priceless, and I made tons of friends and had lots of travel time; but I left earlier than expected because of the actual job duties, lots of them I didn’t agree to before going, and then suddenly new duties were expected of me once there.
That hindered my experience.
If I were to be an au pair again, I would make sure I had long, thorough talks with the host family, and make sure everything is perfectly clear on both sides.
Once You’re There
Once you arrive in your new country, it’s time to get settled! I would recommend spending a day or two with your host family getting to know them, and spending lots of time with the kids. It’s important to bond!
Learn what your new routine will be, and get comfortable with your new family.
Once you’re settled in, I would recommend joining Facebook groups for au pairs in your new city. Melbourne had lots of different Facebook groups for au pairs and expats, and there were always activities going on!
This is my ultimate guide to becoming an au pair. I hope it helps you out if you are considering becoming an au pair, or are even just curious about what it’s like to become an au pair!