How to Become an Au Pair for an American Family

New Article for Au Pairs on
By tesora

Below is part of a new article found on To see the entire article click here.

Step 1
Study English. If you will be living with a family in the United States you will need to be able to understand and speak basic English. Most American families do not speak a second language. Even if the parents do speak another language, it is likely that the children you will be caring for do not. Take a class, listen to English language tapes or CDs, and practice speaking English with your friends. Your English does not need to be perfect. It will improve dramatically during your au pair year.

Step 2
Obtain childcare experience. You will need to document at least 200 hours of childcare experience. The childcare experience cannot be for family members. You can obtain childcare experience by working or volunteering at an orphanage, a preschool, a camp, or some other program that works with children. Make sure to obtain a letter of recommendation from the adults that supervise your work. The agency that you work with also will have forms that they will ask you to have your supervisors complete.

Step 3
Gain childcare experience with younger children. If you want to work with infants then your childcare experience must be experience working with children under the age of two.

Step 4 
Care for children independently. Try to get childcare experience where you are the person responsible for a child without the assistance of another adult. Caring for children with the assistance of other people is easier than being the sole person in charge. Childcare is hard work.

Step 5
Get a drivers license. Americans expect their au pairs to drive the children.

Step 6
Learn how to cook simple meals. Many families expect their au pair to be able to prepare meals for the children. Children tend to like simple foods. You do not need elaborate cooking skills. You should, however, know the basics of cooking and learn how to make a variety of simple foods that children may eat. You also should have a willingness to learn how to cook new foods.

Step 7
Learn basics of caring for children. You should read up on some basics of childcare, such as how to give a bath to a child, how to trim nails, how to discipline a child without hitting or yelling, and how to entertain a child.

Step 8
Apply to an approved au pair agency. Because the program is considered a cultural exchange program it is regulated by the United States Department of State. There are currently 12 agencies approved by the State Department to bring au pairs to the United States: Agent Au Pair, American Cultural Exchange doing business as (“dba”) goAuPair, American Institute For Foreign Study dba Au Pair in America, Au Pair Foundation, Au Pair International, AuPairCare, Cultural Care, EurAu Pair Intercultural Child Care, Expert Group International dba Expert Au Pair, InterExchange Au Pair, and USAuPair. If you are dealing with a different agency then you are not dealing with a legitimate agency and your stay in the United States will likely be illegal. The current list of designated au pair sponsors (agencies) can be found on the U.S. Department of State web site at:

Step 9
Finish your secondary school education. You will need to have your studies complete before you leave for the United States. You can apply to be an au pair before your studies are complete, but you cannot leave for the United States until you have earned your degree.

Check out the entire article at

Do you have more tips or advice for young adults hoping to work as au pairs in America?


  1. First of all I think be the best nanny newsletter writes better articles than this one (even though you edited it to make it better). I think three of the steps (3, 4, 7) are redundant.Next, can you imagine a nanny being hired with merely one month work experience with children???The points listed are correct that those wanting work as an au pair should learn english, to drive, and gain childcare experience. But, 200 hours does not make a reliable and confident childcare provider.The article does not point out the age restrictions. The program does not allow adults into the cultural exchange program after mid 20's.Parents are allowing mature teens into their homes with au pairs rather than mature educated and experienced adults when hiring an au pair rather than a nanny.Proving once again, you get what you pay for. You may get a nice person as an au pair but the minimum requirements listed are lacking in regards to childcare experience and education. If parents want a long-term experienced and educated at-home caregiver they will need to dish out the cash to hire a nanny.Francine, Richmond Virginia

  2. For Francine:Your comments are so generalized. Obviously there are great au pairs. The article lists MINIMUM requirements. There are plenty of wonderful caring experienced au pairs in America.

  3. I did not mean to say there aren't some qualified au pairs. I just feel if parents can afford a more experienced, educated caregiver parents ought to hire that person since experience and education do affect care of child. Nannies will also have longevity which au pairs typically only stay one year. I do not doubt that specific au pairs, like Debbie, can be great caregivers.Francine

  4. An au pair can be a wonderful exchange experience for families with healthy older children who have parents that do not work many hours. If a working parent is single they need a caregiver that can work as many hours as the parent does. If any child has special needs, then parents need to hire an educated caregiver with experience with special needs.If parents have kids in school full-time then an au pair is an afordable way to have an adult to help out with the kids.Parents I know say that after all the fees to agencies and room and board are covered the parents often do not save much money in hiring an au pair instead of a nanny.Longevity is obvious. Au pairs are restricted to how many months they can live and work in America, while American citizens can negotiate long term employment.

  5. Debbie is right about the fact that there are many great au pairs. Just because they are an au pair does not mean they are not educated in child development or education. Nannies can scold parents for hiring au pairs instead of qualified nannies but nannies cannot judge the au pairs. You have to judge the specific individual, not their profession title.Patricia, Harrisburg PA

  6. Families select their au pairs from available au pair applicants. They may select someone with some babysitting experience. Or they may select au pairs who have degrees and apprenticeships or experience in teaching, pediatric nursing, medicine, early child education and development. Each family is different and has unique needs. One size does not fit all.As for cost, the agencies vary greatly in program fees, from as low as $5500 to as high as $7600 for a regular au pair. The program fee plus the au pair weekly wage averages between $320 to $340. Plus the program fee includes medical insurance for the au pair. Some agencies charge higher fees for professional au pairs (degreed in a field related to children). Of course, there are soft costs related to room and board, use of automobile and other expenses. Au pairs are non-resident aliens and therefore not subject to some of the federal tax reporting requirements. While nannies can hit the deck running, au pairs do require an investment of time and resources to adjust to their new environments. Items like bank accounts, local driver license, social security number, enrollment in classes usually require assistance from the family. There are benefits for each. Families should review their child care needs and select the best option that meets those needs.

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