How do I Become an Au Pair?

N. Madison

The requirements for a person who wants to become an au pair may vary, depending on whether she chooses to find work through an agency or seek opportunities independently. Generally speaking, an aspiring au pair should be at least 18 years old and have experience working with children. A person who wishes to secure an au pair opportunity may also need a high school diploma, a driver’s license, and a background that is free of criminal activity.

To become an au pair, a person typically needs some experience with children.
To become an au pair, a person typically needs some experience with children.

An au pair is an individual who travels to a foreign country to provide live-in childcare for a family. Au pairs care for children in exchange for the chance to live abroad temporarily. Often, au pairs enjoy the chance to learn about a foreign country’s language and culture. Some even have the opportunity to attend college while they’re living abroad.

Au pairs may have to deal with the emotional challenges of a child separated from their parents.
Au pairs may have to deal with the emotional challenges of a child separated from their parents.

Au pairs are usually at least 18 and but not older than 26 years old. They are typically required to possess a high school diploma or its equivalent. Some au pairs have already started college when they sign on with a family, but a college education isn’t required. An au pair is usually expected to have a driver’s license, as she may need to apply for an international license in order to drive while abroad.

An au pair may help children in their care with school work.
An au pair may help children in their care with school work.

Typically, an individual needs some experience with children in order to become an au pair; this may include babysitting, working in a childcare center, or assisting with recreational activities at Sunday school. While au pairs need some experience with children, they aren’t expected to be childcare professionals. This means they do not need many years of experience to secure a position. Some agencies do require au pairs to have many hours of experience, however. For example, an agency may require 200 hours of babysitting experience.

Most families and au pair agencies require au pairs to submit to background and criminal record checks. Some agencies may require psychological testing as well. Often, au pairs must have medical examinations and complete health forms prior to traveling to begin a work assignment.

If an individual fits the requirements and wants to become an au pair, she may contact an au pair agency and apply. These agencies screen prospective au pairs and families, matching au pairs with families abroad. Sometimes au pairs choose to contract with families on their own. In such a case, an individual who wants to become an au pair may respond to ads on au pair Web sites and in related publications. There are even some online databases that allow au pairs to post profiles for families to see.

Au pairs might want to study different methods of discipline for disruptive children.
Au pairs might want to study different methods of discipline for disruptive children.

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