Are you responsible, adaptable, patient, and great with kids? Can you help with preparing meals and doing school work – all while working in a foreign country? If you’ve answered yes to most of these questions, you could consider becoming an au pair.

First, let’s take a look at what an au pair is. An au pair is a person, usually a young woman, who takes care of children in a foreign country. Families hire au pairs to look after their children, either at home or while they are away on holiday. In South Africa, local working parents might also employ au pairs to look after their children while they are at work.


What does an au pair do on a daily basis?

As an au pair, your responsibilities will be varied and will include tasks related to the family’s children. Your primary responsibility will be to look after children, and to make sure that they are safe and happy. Your day-to-day life will include:

  • Playing with and entertaining the children
  • Preparing meals and snacks for the children
  • Bathing and dressing the children
  • Helping school-age children by packing lunches, taking them to school, and helping them with homework
  • Taking the children on outings, to playdates, and to other activities


What do I need if I’m interested in becoming an au pair?

  • Previous childcare experience
  • Childcare training (this is not always compulsory, but will give you an advantage)
  • First aid skills
  • A sober lifestyle and no criminal background
  • A valid driver’s licence with at least 1 year’s driving experience (depending on the family’s needs)
  • Good health
  • Mature and positive attitude


What are the pros of becoming an au pair?

  • It gives you the opportunity to gain experience in childcare while saving on living expenses.
  • If you work in a foreign country, it allows you to see the world on a shoestring budget.
  • It allows you to enhance your CV by improving your intercultural competence and foreign language skills.


What are the cons of becoming an au pair?

  • You do not become an au pair to make lots of money. Depending on your employer, you may be paid a monthly allowance or an hourly rate. On a positive note, however, you will have few expenses, as your employer will usually provide food and accommodation, and will reimburse you for some or all of your employment-related travelling costs.
  • You are sometimes responsible for household chores and cleaning. Part of the au pair deal usually requires you to help with housework, including doing laundry, preparing meals, and doing light cleaning such as sweeping or vacuuming.
  • You may find it hard to separate work time and free time, as you will be living with your employer.


While being an au pair gives you the opportunity to travel, experience different cultures and learn new languages, it is also a very serious job. Taking care of children requires someone with passion and someone who understands the importance of keeping children safe and helping them learn. It is also a rewarding job and one that will help you build relationships with families that could last a lifetime.


Would you like to become an au pair?

Click here to view the au pair and childcare training courses available at Oxbridge Academy.


Please note: This article was originally posted on 13 October 2014, and has been updated for relevance and accuracy.