Becoming an au pair is certainly one of the most profitable and beneficial ways to travel or take courses abroad. Indeed, working as an au pair allows you to earn some money while enjoying free time to take classes, go out, visit the city… In addition to this, you will be provided with accommodation and meals and receive a salary. But how do I go on an au pair assignment? Are there any special conditions? Which organisations will help you to facilitate your search to become an au pair?
What is an au pair?
An au pair is a person who joins a host family abroad and takes care of the children and some household chores for a remuneration considered as pocket money because there is no contract. The au pair takes care exclusively of the children of the family, she is not a cleaning lady. Therefore, she takes care of getting the children up and having breakfast, then she accompanies them to school, picks them up from school at 4.30 pm and takes care of them until about 8 pm (homework, meals…). In the evening, the au pair has to have dinner with the whole family and she has to do two evenings of baby-sitting per week. The rest of the time, the au pair can do what she wants, go out, take language classes, visit the city…
The au pair is paid about 80€ per week and has to pay for her return flight ticket if she decides to become an au pair in Europe. For an au pair trip to the United States, the host family will pay for your tickets. Concerning your language courses, the host family can pay you half of it but it is not an obligation.
To become an au pair, you have to be between 17 and 30 years old, but in general families prefer to hire adults. Of course, you must have a driver’s license, a clean criminal record and experience in childcare.
Finding a host family through au pair organizations
Of course, it is quite possible to become an au pair and find a host family on your own, but since there is no contract for this type of job, you may come across a scammer. By choosing this option, you will have to be more than vigilant.
The best way to become an au pair is therefore to go through a specialized agency. To choose your agency, make sure that it is part of the Ufaap (French Union of Au Pair Agencies, a group of agencies specialized in au pair placement in France and abroad) because it proves their seriousness and their qualities. These agencies are there to accompany and advise you. They will put you in touch with other au pairs so that you will not find yourself alone in the chosen country. Other agencies such as Unosel and Office are relatively serious. Of course, these agencies are not free of charge and the fees will be between 150 and 400€. When you sign up with an agency, make sure you check the rules and regulations to make sure that you are reimbursed if your application is unsuccessful.
The advantage of using the services of this type of agency to become an au pair is that it is the agency that takes care of putting you in touch with host families that match your profile. The agency even organizes telephone interviews with the chosen family to see if you get along well before your departure. An example of an agency that specialises in au pair stays in English-speaking countries is Let’s Go Pair.