Career Development

Au Pair Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More

Au pairs provide live-in childcare in exchange for room and board. They are generally college students or young adults who come to the United States on a cultural exchange visa.

Au pairs provide live-in childcare in exchange for room and board. They are generally college students or young adults who come to the United States on a cultural exchange visa. 

Au pairs may be given light housework duties, like dusting and vacuuming, but they do not cook or clean on a regular basis. Instead, they supervise children and help with homework.

Some au pairs work for agencies that place them with host families; others find their own host families through word of mouth or the internet. The host family provides the au pair with meals and a private bedroom. In return, the au pair helps care for the children and helps out around the house as needed. They may also provide language tutoring to the children in their care.

Au pairs are cultural ambassadors, providing a cultural exchange between their home country and the U.S. or other countries where they live. 

Au Pair Job Duties

Typical job duties for an au pair include the following:

  • Supporting the family’s children in their daily activities such as assisting with homework and playing games or sports with them
  • Assisting with housekeeping activities such as dusting, cleaning floors and windows, and vacuuming
  • Running errands for the family, for instance picking up food items, cleaning supplies, or picking up dry cleaned items 
  • Providing childcare to children including bathing, feeding, dressing, supervising meals or naps, reading, and putting them to bed
  • Planning recreational activities with the children to help them develop socially and emotionally
  • Preparing and packing lunch boxes for school or snacks, or for outings with the family

Au Pair Salary & Outlook

The median annual wage for au pairs is $25,250. The highest earners make over $60,000. Those earning higher wages tend to work in private households.

The number of au pairs in the United States is expected to grow slower than average over the next decade. This is due to the increasing popularity of other care arrangements that allow families to keep children at home while still giving them daycare options.

Au Pair Job Requirements

The requirements for au pairs are as follows:

Education: Au pairs must have a high school diploma or its equivalent. Some au pairs also complete a vocational school or college program before beginning work. It is important for au pairs to learn to speak the language of the family they will be working with.

Training: Au pairs can complete several different training programs, including those focused on childcare and babysitting. This training gives au pairs the opportunity to learn and practice the skills and techniques they will need to excel in their job.

Certifications & Licenses: Au pairs are not required to obtain any formal certifications or licenses to work in this field. However, many au pairs choose to complete certification programs in order to enhance their skills. The American Red Cross offers several certificates in first aid training and child care.

Au Pair Skills

An au pair must have the following skills:

Interpersonal skills: Au pairs need to be able to relate well to children and adults and show empathy.

Communication skills: Au pairs should be able to effectively communicate verbally or in writing with their host family, other au pairs, and the agency they work for.

Patience: Au pairs must possess patience when dealing with children and may be required to deal with stressful situations or conflict. 

Language skills: Au pairs usually know multiple languages fluently in order to better communicate with their host families and the children they are caring for. 

Multitasking: The job of an au pair involves more than just caring for children. It also includes cleaning, cooking, and running errands. This can be challenging if you do not have the necessary skills to manage several tasks at the same time. 

Adaptability: An au pair must be flexible enough to adapt to different types of situations, such as those involving travel, new languages, and different cultures, as well as unexpected challenges.

Au Pair Work Environment

An au pair works with a host family to provide care for children while parents are at work. Au pairs may live in the child’s home or nearby, often sharing an apartment with other au pairs. The hours can vary greatly depending on the needs of the children; however, most au pairs have set schedules of 10-15 hours per week, including weekends and holidays. Some families want 24-hour care; in this case, an au pair would usually sleep at the host family’s house and be on call throughout the day and night.

The environment is more structured than that of the typical nanny or babysitter, but also less supervised. The job can be stressful, as the au pairs must deal with children of all ages and temperaments.

Au Pair Career Advancement

In most cases, it isn’t possible to advance as an au pair. However, if you’re interested in becoming a licensed child care provider. You’ll want to consider taking a course in childcare or early childhood education in order to get certified and/or accredited. This certificate is offered by the state and allows you to become a qualified daycare provider.

Au Pair Trends

Here are two trends influencing how au pairs work. Au pairs will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

Increased Importance of Cultural Sensitivity

As more people travel around the world, becoming au pairs has become an increasingly attractive opportunity for young adults who want to immerse themselves in a new culture.

For example, it is estimated that over 1 million people were employed as au pairs globally in 2018, representing an increase of over 50% since 2008.

However, the nature of this role means that au pairs need to have a strong understanding of cultural differences, which can be essential for ensuring the safety and happiness of both the host family and the au pair.

Working with Children with Special Needs

As more children are diagnosed with special needs, including autism and Down syndrome, families are looking for specialized services to help them better meet the needs of their children. This includes using au pairs who have experience working with special needs children in order to provide assistance at home.

How to Become an Au Pair

1. Planning Your Career Path

If you’re considering a career as an au pair, it’s important to be flexible and willing to take on any tasks that come your way. In addition to caring for children, many au pairs also perform light housekeeping duties such as tidying up after meals or doing laundry. 

It’s important to have a clear vision of what you want from the experience. Are you looking for professional development or just personal enrichment? Is this an opportunity to travel abroad or gain insight into another culture? Whatever your reason for pursuing this line of work, be sure that it aligns with your long-term goals.

If you want to become an au pair, consider taking a babysitting course at your local community college. This will help you gain experience with children while also helping you determine if this is really the right job for you.

2. Writing a Resume

The best resumes for au pairs emphasize their caretaking and child development skills, and their ability to interact with children and parents. To highlight your initiative, you should describe how you interacted with children in your past jobs or volunteer experiences.

When describing your work history, focus on the responsibilities you had, such as monitoring children’s physical activities, entertaining them with educational games and crafts, and helping them with homework. Detail the ages of the children and any special needs or requirements they had. Also, include any housekeeping tasks that you performed including cooking or cleaning.

Including references from previous employers is a great way to show your strengths. If you have any certificates or attended any training that demonstrates your knowledge of childcare, caregiving, or first aid make sure you list these as well. If you have a driver’s license, it can be useful to include this detail too.

3. Applying for Jobs

The best way to find an au pair job is to do some networking. If you have family or friends that have done this before, talk to them about what they did to find jobs. It’s also helpful to attend language events in your area. 

Check online for organizations that are associated with your preferred country or town so that you can attend local meetings. You can ask the person who runs the organization about any upcoming opportunities for au pairs in the area.

4. Ace the Interview

While interviewing for an au pair position, you will likely be asked about things like your personal and professional background, why you want to work as an au pair, and what you can contribute to the family. Step into the interview with confidence and a smile. Make sure you talk about the skills that set you apart from other candidates. Talk about your experience with children, and be open about why you want to do this type of work.

For an au pair job interview, one of the most important things to remember is that you are interviewing the family as much as they are interviewing you.

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