No - fluency is not required. However, you will need to know some basics before you go. This will help you settle in and communicate with your host family, as English may not be their first language.
Au Pair Overseas
What is an Au Pair?
An Au Pair is a childcare worker living with a host family in a foreign country. Au Pair programs are a hugely popular way to travel for international students, as the Au Pair arrangement is mutually beneficial.
Au Pairs receive major benefits, as they earn pocket money, as well as having food and accommodation provided, in exchange for childcare and moderate household chores.
Why Become an Au Pair?
It's a low-risk, high-reward way to work and travel.
Integrating with a family and looking after children in a caring home environment is as personal as travel experiences come. It's an incredible opportunity to develop close relationships in a cultural exchange setting - to put it another way, it's a way to feel at home when you're halfway across the world.
It's also an impressive checkmark on a CV - if you're responsible and courageous enough to move around the world, care for children, and help teach them the English language, you'll be a great addition to your desired workplace.
Au Pairs have a chance to explore new places, gain exposure to new cultures, improve language skills, and obtain valuable skills and experience.
About Au Pair Programs
You can have the best of both worlds - Au Pair jobs overseas are the best way to feel at home when you're abroad. You'll have a home away from home, a close relationship with your host family, and time off to travel.
It's a great way to get out of your comfort zone - because you'll discover a brand new one.
What to Expect from Au Pair Jobs Abroad
Your Responsibilities as an Au Pair Abroad
Being willing to help will go a long way. In general, these are the 3 main things you're responsible for:
Assisting with Childcare:
This may include preparing simple meals for the children, taking them to and from school, helping with homework, tidying their things, and in most cases, assisting them with learning or improving their English language skills.
Au Pairs are responsible for their own cleanliness and general hygiene. Taking a reasonable role in helping to keep common areas such as the kitchen and bathroom clean, as well as helping out with day to day household chores will make sure you have a great relationship with your host family. A conscious effort to minimize your own mess is always appreciated.
Au Pairs are responsible for paying their own travel expenses to and from the country they'll be living in, as well as any expenses incurred while exploring during their free time. On average, Au Pairs work around 30 hours a week, with lots of spare time to explore, either on days off or on the holiday time each Au Pair is entitled to.
What's Not Your Responsibility
Make sure you know what is and isn't required of you.
Au pairs shouldn't be required to do household chores. Your assistance might be required for some tasks, but in general, you're there to help take care of the children. Some host families might employ someone to take care of certain duties such as cleaning or yardwork, and some of them are even live-in staff.
It's important to remember - the role is about providing assistance with childcare, as much as you're able to. Open communication with your host family about what you are and aren't comfortable with doing is the best way to ensure a happy relationship - and you may even be invited back.
What's Required of Your Host Family
You're not a hired hand - you're a part of the family.
The Au Pair programme is intended to be a cultural exchange experience. The host family should welcome the applicant as a family member, not as an employee or boarder. They provide the au pair with food, pocket money, and full accommodation in a private room, 7 days a week.
Host families need to live in an accessible area, so that Au Pairs have the opportunity to take a language course to improve their skills, as well as having a social life. While not required, host families are encouraged to provide access to transit, either through access to a family vehicle, or with transit tickets.
Why Au Pairs are In Demand
Host families want cultural exchange experiences too - and some help with their kids.
Many families choose to host a foreign au pair because they need extra help caring for their children. Although it's expensive to host an au pair, the family receives the added benefit of improving their language skills and learning about another culture.
They feel that it's preferable to have a responsible caretaker in their home on a permanent basis, rather than send their child to a day care centre, or have varied part-time carers come into their home.
Au pairs are often also invited to join the family on their holiday destination - so you may have extra paid travel opportunities, or extra time off.
Why Travel with an Au Pair Agency?
Why going with an Au Pair agency is the safest decision you can make:
Applying to be an Au Pair:
International Au Pair agencies carefully design their programs, to ensure that the Au Pair and the family are both happy with the arrangement.
Au Pair agencies make sure that Au Pairs are going in to a loving family that has been thoroughly vetted and interviewed, and take maximum precaution to ensure the safety of both the Au Pair and the host family.
Thorough vetting process:
Both sides are required to provide a minimum of two childcare references, a police background check issued within the last 6 months, and a declaration of full health. Agency representatives also visit with the host family in their home, to ensure that the accommodations are suitable, comfortable and safe to host international Au Pairs.
Your Au Pair coordinator will ensure that everything is set, and that you're fully prepared for your trip. You'll receive a comprehensive pre-departure guide, as well as any other advice and orientation necessary.
Your guide will contain useful information about your new country - how to get around, how to deal with culture shock, how to find language classes, and safety. It’s a complete manual about what to expect, especially for your first weeks when everything is brand new.
Au Pair community:
Many Au Pair programs will also have a thriving community, either in-person or online, where you can get in touch with other program participants in the same area. It's a great way to kick-start your social life in a new place before you even arrive.
Expectations of the host family:
It's intended to be a cultural exchange travel experience, so Au Pairs should also have time to themselves. Agency placement teams ensure that the Au Pair's well-being and free time are taken in to account and respected. Au Pairs should have time to study for and attend a language course, as well as time for exploring the area and a social life.
24/7 support and assistance:
Au Pair agencies have years of experience coordinating Au Pair jobs abroad. If you have any questions or concerns, or need any assistance, your coordinator will be able to help you out.
If anything does go wrong while you're overseas, you'll have somewhere to go, and an agency that will stand behind you to support you however you need it.
Au Pairs will be assisted whenever necessary during their stay by the agency staff. It's worth noting that if placements with host families do not work out, due to differences in lifestyles, views, or any other reason, your agencies will help set up an alternate arrangement. This may include finding a new host family for the au pair, ensuring that they have a pleasant stay.
Go with an IAPA Approved Agency.
IAPA is the global leader as an Au Pair and cultural exchange trade association.
World Au Pair Travel Guides
Au Pair FAQ's
The placement process could take up to 12 weeks. It's important that both the Au Pair and the host family find a suitable match, so it can take up to 12 weeks to find the right host family for you.
Absolutely! In fact, we can't encourage this enough. Once you have been matched, it's a good idea to email or call the family a few times before you depart, so you can get to know them before you arrive.