Finding Work as an Au Pair
A staple job for young women (and the occasional man) looking to live abroad and experience a new language or culture. Plenty of agencies exist to match au pairs with a global parental demand for cheap childcare.
All Year. Many jobs are for a minimum period of six months to a year, but this can be reduced to a few months in the summer.
Western Europe, the USA and Canada are the traditional markets for au pairs but we are increasingly seeing childcare wanted adverts from the middle classes in countries such as Russia, Turkey, China and the UAE. The Au Pair in America programme is one of the few legal ways to work in the States.
Your duties will include about five hours work a day. This will probably consist of looking after the children and some light housework (ie hoovering, dusting etc). There may also be some babysitting in the evenings. In return you can expect one full day off plus study time and other time by arrangement.
The minimum age is 17 (18 in some countries) and the max is usually 27 but sometimes a few years higher. You must be single, able to do general domestic duties and like children. For the Au Pair in America scheme, applicants must be 18 to 26 with childcare experience and a full driving licence. Non smokers are preferred.
In Europe, expect pocket money of around £60 to £100 per week living as a member of the family. For the Au Pair in America program expect around $200 per week, full board and lodging, money towards part time study at a nearby college, work visa, free return flight and medical insurance.
There is no shortage of agencies specialising in placing au pairs with families. Though they can charge a fee (most don't), they can be useful if things go wrong, help you meet with other au pairs in the area and offer advice. Other options including using the web to match with a family or ads in newspapers and magazines. The Lady, a British weekly, is a popular choice for childcare specialists seeking work.
Practice your childminding skills with younger siblings or neighbourhood kids before applying for a role that requires lots of responsibility.
The Au Pair and Nanny's Guide to Working Abroad lists hundreds of agencies and offers detailed advice on all aspects of the job.
The latest edition is available from amazon.co.uk
Image courtesy vastateparksstaff