Be an Au Pair
By Eric Hammer
While it may sound like a very fancy title, an au pair is
in essence just a nanny - someone who cares for the children,
generally of someone who is rather wealthy or at least well off.
The term au pair comes from the French language and often refers
to someone from a foreign country, though you don't necessarily
need to be from a foreign country in order to become an au pair.
Here's what you need to know:
In essence, the big difference between an au pair and a nanny
is that most nannies tend to be people who maintain their own
homes and they may also be married and even have their own children
to care for. By comparison, an au pair is invariably a live in
position which is commonly taken by a woman in her late teens
or early twenties, though men can be au pairs as well.
The job basically involves being a kind of surrogate parent
or older sister to young children. Typically, you'll work for
parents who are rather busy and simply don't have the time to
care for their children adequately on their own. You'll need
to know how to drive as you'll often need to drop off and pick
up the kids from school and you'll need to help kids with their
homework and other general lifecycle needs.
How Much Can You Make?
Most au pairs are paid more than minimum wage, though not
a great deal more. Typical salaries can be in the range of between
$10-$15 with the highest paid au pairs sometimes making as much
as $25 per hour. However, given that the job typically also includes
room and board, it's usually a fairly decent deal.
Ways to Make More | Related Opportunities
It goes without saying that you need to love children and
be able to balance their needs with the need to be the adult
in the relationship. This is often difficult for an au pair because
you are a relatively low paid person who works with the children
of the wealthy, children who are not always ready to submit to
your authority. Thus you need to walk a kind of tight rope where
you care for the kids while at the same time winning them over.
You should also be someone who has a lot of patience and who
is fairly intelligent as you will often be called upon to help
the children with their homework and studies. Looking presentable
when you meet with the parents is also useful.
This job is particularly well suited to people from other
parts of the world or from other parts of the country who want
to experience life in a large American city since the job is
usually a live in position. Typically, you should expect the
job to last no more than a few years, though on rare occasions,
au pairs may stay with the family for many years.
Qualifications / Requirements
There are no formal requirements to become an au pair, however
it's generally a good idea to love children and have some experience
in caring for children.
Start by taking on some babysitting jobs and helping kids
with their needs. This will be good training for you to become
an au pair. Then, look online for openings for an au pair.
Check out these helpful resources to learn more about becoming
an au pair:
Care - A website devoted to becoming an au pair as well as
hooking you up with a job as an au pair.
Au Pair Association - A professional organization for au
pairs from all over the world.