About Au Pair
What is an Au Pair ?
The au pair program is a unique cultural exchange experience for both the au pair and the host family.
The actual term “au pair” means ‘on par’ or “equal to” in French and that is exactly what being an au pair is all about – becoming an equal member of your host family during your placement.
Looking after children and integrating with your host family in a caring home environment gives you the incredible opportunity to learn about a different culture while also sharing your own. Au pairs also have the possibility to study alongside childcare hours.
The regulations around the au pair program differ from country to country, but in general an au pair should meet the following criteria:
- An au pair can be both male or female
- Usually an au pair is between the age of 18 and 30
- Depending on the country you can be an au pair between 3 – 12 months
- Have childcare and/or babysitting experience (references) depending on your host country regulations.
- Provide a clean Police Record
- Be in good health
- Basic language knowledge
The only European Agreement on Au Pair Placement was signed in 1969, and came into effect in 1971. The latest European directive from 2016 mentioning au pair clearly defines it as cultural exchange experience as well:
“Au pairing contributes to fostering people-to-people contacts by giving third-country nationals an opportunity to improve their linguistic skills and develop their knowledge of and cultural links with the Member States…”
The US Department of State defines au pair similarly:
“Through the Au Pair program, participants and host families take part in a mutually rewarding, intercultural opportunity. Participants can continue their education while experiencing everyday life with an American family, and hosts receive reliable and responsible childcare from individuals who become part of the family.”
Good to Know
Becoming an au pair offers the chance for an enriching, life changing experience abroad.
However before you take the leap, there are a number of things to consider ensuring you have the right expectations of what’s ahead.
Where do you want to go?
You can obtain information from IAPA member agencies in your country on the different options available to you to go abroad as an au pair. Remember that every country has different programme rules and conditions. Not every country offers an au pair programme and there can be restrictions regarding certain nationalities.
You can find a list of IAPA member agencies in your country here.
Is being an Au Pair right for you?
Be sure to check the following criteria:
- Age restrictions
- Expected experience in child care
- Time frame (minimum /maximum)
- Language skills
- Health requirements
- Visa restrictions
- Driving skills
What should you expect?
Make sure that you receive information about:
- Hours that you help the family
- The kind of work that is expected from you (ie household chores)
- The amount of free time and holidays that you have
- The pocket money you will receive
Don’t forget there are costs involved. Possible costs are:
- Application fee
- Placement fee
- Flight or other travel costs
- Insurance fee
- Language classes
Do you want to become an Au Pair?
If you would like to apply to be an au pair consider these 8 important questions to help you decide:
- Do you like spending time with children?
- Do you have first hand experience with children?
- Childcare can sometimes be tough, do you have the patience and commitment it takes
- Are you open minded, motivated, communicative and flexible?
- Will you be prepared to help out in the daily family household routine?
- Do you have a basic knowledge of the language spoken in your host country?
- Are you willing to integrate into your host family and adapt to a new way of life
- Would you like to learn the language and absorb the culture of your host country?
Did you answer YES? Then you are ready to apply as an au pair!
Why Use an Agency?
When you choose to find a placement through one of our IAPA member agencies, you are choosing our community’s experience, professionalism, reliability and quality.
At IAPA we strongly recommend only using a legally registered au pair agency in your home country. There are too many potential risks involved with finding a placement on the Internet or in a newspaper advertisement. While they may seem acceptable and inexpensive, the reality is sadly often very different.
When you choose an IAPA member agency you benefit from:
- Thoroughly screened au pairs and host families
- Clearly defined conditions of your placement in a written agreement
- Agencies with years of experience (2 years minimum)
- Agencies with proven financial stability and professional standards
- Agencies that follow strict IAPA guidelines as well as those of their own country.
- Verified documents and interviews. No scams.
- Support with travel insurances.
- Local support during your stay.
- Agencies dedicated to understanding Visa and national au pair regulations.
Watch our video for the top 5 reasons to use an IAPA member agency:
If you are an IAPA member and want to use this video on your website, send us an e-mail and we will provide you with the required information.
How do you become an Au Pair?
Are you ready to apply to be an au pair? The process is simple and straightforward.
At IAPA we bring together a worldwide network of reliable, trusted member au pair agencies to help you find an au pair placement with your ideal host family.
Your next step is to either:
- Review the list of IAPA members and contact a member in your country directly.
- Fill out our information request form. This will automatically be sent to the members in your own country and they will contact you directly. *
*The details you submitted will be provided to relevant member agencies only and can be used for future research purposes. IAPA will NOT distribute your details to any third parties.
No IAPA Members in Your Country?
- Contact the relevant governmental department in your country of residency and ask them to provide you with a list of reputable au pair agencies.
Note: it is important to check the reliability of any non-IAPA member agency.
- Contact an IAPA member in the country that you would like to go to as an au pair. It is possible that our IAPA member agency has a partner organisation in the country where you are located.