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How to Become an Au Pair: A Career Guide

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By Julia Bashore

how to become a certified au pair

Are you interested in learning how to become an au pair? Wondering what certifications or special training you need? Trying to figure out if becoming an au pair is even worth it?

You’ve come to the right place.

Now that pandemic travel restrictions are mostly behind us (hooray!), many people are eager to start exploring the world again.

International travel is one of the most rewarding experiences a person can enjoy, but it can be costly.

If you’re someone who has experience with children, then becoming an au pair is an excellent way to see the world while working in a field you love.

Au pairs are typically young people who provide childcare for a host family in another country.  Au pairs may also assist with other household tasks, such as errands or cleaning.

Most au pairs receive a weekly or monthly stipend and are encouraged by their host family to partake in the local culture and sights.

Almost like an exchange student, an au pair is given the chance to become fully immersed in another country while providing household or nannying assistance.

If au pairing sounds intriguing, read on to learn more about the benefits of this unique role, and the best ways to get started!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost for you, we might get a commission if you click the link and purchase.

Why Become an Au Pair?

Being an au pair means accessing some unusual – and highly valuable! – job perks.

One of the biggest advantages to this job is the opportunity to live overseas without breaking the bank.

Some of the most popular places for au pairs include the UK, Northern and Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Asia.

By living with and working for a host family, you’ll also be exposed to real life in another country.

Au pairing means getting out of your comfort zone and actually experiencing a new place the way a local would.

Instead of only seeing well-known attractions and touristy restaurants, an au pair is able to get to know a new city and country on a deeper level.

Depending on where you’re placed, you may also have the chance to travel to nearby cities or areas of interest, too.  An au pair in Italy might be able to take a weekend trip to France or Spain, for example.

Travel experience isn’t the only upside of the au pair lifestyle.

You’ll also gain valuable experience for your resume, especially if you plan to work in a field adjacent to child care.

Whether you plan to become a teacher, counselor, curriculum designer, or another role in the education world, having global experience with children is a huge plus.

Knowing a foreign language is also a huge asset for any field you might consider, so depending on where you go, this is a chance to brush up on those speaking skills!

In fact, any employer is bound to appreciate the initiative and accountability that being an au pair requires.

Aside from being able to travel, learn a new language or city, and gain important work experience, an au pair job is also highly customizable.

Whether you wish to work for a summer, a semester, or a year, there are various options available to suit your plans.

If all of this sounds perfect, it’s time to get started!  Read on to discover the steps you can take today to make your au pair plans a reality.


How to Become an Au Pair

Dreaming about a new job overseas is very different from doing the planning, research, and organizing necessary to make it actually happen.

It can be overwhelming to consider all of the visa and travel requirements necessary for an extended stay abroad.

Finding a good fit for your host family might also feel like a difficult task, especially if they are non-native English speakers.

Thankfully, there are many ways to go about checking all of the boxes needed to become an au pair, from employment agencies to YouTube channels.

One of the easiest and most informative ways to jump into the experience is by taking an au pair certification course, like the one offered by the International Open Academy.

Certified Au Pair | International Open Academy Certified Au Pair | International Open Academy

In this internationally accredited online course, you'll learn all the ins and outs of how to become an au pair. By the time you finish the program, you'll be able to confidently apply for and secure a position as an au pair.

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The International Open Academy, or IOA, offers a variety of certifications across a wide range of professions.

Whether you’re seeking continuing professional development qualifications or certification in a brand new skill, IOA’s courses are designed to provide intensive knowledge in a stress-free remote environment.

The IOA course on becoming an au pair covers everything you’ll need to know to make the experience a success.

Upon successful completion of the course, you will also have the opportunity to obtain an official certificate from the International Council for Online Educational Standards. The course is also Continuing Professional Development (CPD) certified, letting you earn CPD points and order a CPD certificate when you successfully complete the course. This certification is a great way to demonstrate your knowledge, skills, and experience, and is required by some professional body memberships.

This official documentation not only proves that you know your stuff, but also adds value to your resume.

Read on to learn more about what the course offers as you figure out your ideal au pair experience!


6 Steps to Au Pair Success

If you’re ready to become an au pair, there are some important tips you should know to set yourself up for success.

1. Understand what being an au pair is all about

It’s important to have realistic expectations of being an au pair.

You need to know what is expected of you in terms of childcare and household responsibilities, as well as the duties you’ll be responsible for, such as cooking meals or running errands.

The first set of lessons in IOA’s Certified Au Pair course takes an in-depth look at what the job can offer.

You’ll learn the basics of what a typical au pair job requires, as well as all of the wonderful benefits you might want to explore.

The introduction module is the perfect jumping-off point for folks who think au pairing is right for them but need a solid roadmap to get started.

This first section will also introduce you to the structure of the course, which revolves around completing modules and passing quizzes.

After completing the introduction, you’ll be ready to start getting into the specifics: namely, where you might like to work!


2. Get your documents in order

One of the most daunting aspects of moving overseas is making sure you have all the documents you need. Depending on where you go, you may need to get visas or permits, and there can be a lot of paperwork involved.

It’s critical to be thorough and well organized here, so that you don’t run into any issues that can keep you from pursuing your au pair dream.

International Open Academy’s Certified Au Pair course takes the guesswork out of figuring out what each country requires.

It breaks down all the visa paperwork you’ll need depending on where it is you want to go, from the UK to Germany to Korea to Chile.

This section will be helpful in narrowing down the locations you’re most interested in visiting.

After all, traveling abroad means going to places with different cultural norms and expectations.  It’s important to choose a country that offers what it is you’re looking for.

By completing this module and doing your research, you can find which locations will be a good match for your personality and experience.


3. Make a plan

Now that you’ve researched what the job entails and which countries you’d most like to see, it’s time to get into even more detail.

Are you hoping to learn a new language, or would you be more confident in a placement where you’ll be fluent?

Are you dreaming of an urban, suburban, or rural experience?  Do you want to see nature, beaches, museums, or city life?

What age group are you hoping to work with?  How many kids will you be comfortable caring for each day?

Are you able to provide language instruction for the kids in your care?  What about sports skills or recreational activities?  These can be big selling points!

The third module in the IOA Certified Au Pair course is designed to help you start putting your au pair plans into action. It walks you through all of these factors and choices as you build the ideal resume for the au pair experience you hope to have.

This module also provides a whole lesson on nailing your host family interview – a huge part of becoming a successful au pair!


4. Learn how to set up a contract

Once you’ve found a great family in an exciting new country, it can be easy to get carried away and forget to set up some of the essentials.

You have to learn how to set up a contract between yourself and your host family. You’ll need to know the different types of contracts, how to negotiate effectively with your family, and what items should be included in the contract.

What will your hours be?  It’s important to be realistic about how much time you’ll be able to devote to your host family.

What are your specific responsibilities?   You should get clear about what you’ll be expected to do for your host family.

What are the rules of the house?  Every family has different expectations for their au pair, so make sure that these are laid out clearly and agreed upon before signing a contract.

How much will you be paid? This is one of the most important aspects of a contract, so make sure you negotiate a fair salary that works for both parties.

What other benefits will you receive?  Aside from salary, there may be additional perks such as vacation time or health insurance that can be included in the agreement.

That’s where the Certified Au Pair program can help.  It includes a set of lessons all about setting up key expectations ahead of time.

The course also walks you through how to set up a successful job contract, with examples of what an average au pair’s week might resemble.

There are lessons on determining a fair wage based on the country where you’ll be living, which is a necessary step for any employment opportunity.

Having a clear, well-written contract ahead of time can help you avoid conflicts down the road, so this is an invaluable step in your au pairing journey!


5. Prepare to adjust to life abroad

Life abroad as an au pair can certainly be exciting, but there’s also a lot of adjusting to do. As thrilling as it can be to move overseas, such a big change can also present some unexpected challenges.

Even the most seasoned traveler isn’t totally immune to a little culture shock and the occasional moment of missing home.

From knowing what to pack to how to establish your role within your host family, there’s a lot that a new au pair needs to consider before taking off.

Many of the lessons in IOA’s Certified Au Pair course focus on how to set clear boundaries and maintain open communication with your host family.

These factors can make or break an overseas experience, so it’s important to devote some thought to them ahead of time.

After all, you want to provide great service for your host family, but you also want to be able to enjoy the beautiful things your new country has to offer, too.

Enjoying life as an au pair is all about keeping a healthy work and life balance as an au pair.

The Certified Au Pair program will help you prepare for what to expect based on where you’re headed.


6. Saying Goodbye

As an au pair, it’s only natural that you’ll build a strong connection with your host family over the course of your stay.

It can be very emotional to leave a host family, even after only a few months. Not only that, but making sure you leave the right way can be important for future references.

Simply put, you want to make sure you leave on the best terms possible, for both personal and professional reasons.

The Certified Au Pair program will provide you with guidance on how to do this in the most respectful way, ensuring that your stay with them is a positive one.

Whether you’re reviewing your contract or even forced to break your contract, these lessons are designed to give you an exit strategy from your au pair placement.

After all, you may want to stay in touch, build a network, or even return later on down the road – so knowing how to wrap up your loose ends is important!


Final Thoughts on How to Become an Au Pair

Becoming an au pair is a big commitment, but with the right preparation, it can also be the experience of a lifetime.

Thankfully, there are some great resources out there to help you feel more assured as you embark on this exciting career path.

International Open Academy’s Certified Au Pair program is a great way to learn more about the ins and outs of being an au pair and how to successfully navigate the process from start to finish.

From learning how to best find and secure placements, all the way through to wrapping up your contract and bidding farewell with grace, this program covers it all.

Click here to learn more about this exciting online class.

Have any questions about how to become an au pair? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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