Au Pair in America-Some Things You Should Know



If you’re thinking about applying for a job as an Au Pair, here are some things you should know:

  • You earn US$200 a week. It’s not much, but you’re not paying for rent, groceries, utilities etc. However if you want to travel, you’ll need to control your spending.

 

  • The program is for one year, and you can then extend either six, nine or twelve months. When you extend, ask your counselor about the flight home and if it will be completely covered by the company. I extended for nine months and recently found out that I have to pay $360 towards my flight home. If I had extended for twelve months this would have been waived.

 

  • Au Pairs get two weeks vacation a year. You choose a week, and your host parents get to choose when you take the other week. Your host parents may ask if you want to join them on their vacation. If they do; make sure you ask if this counts as your vacation. Generally speaking, if you’re on vacation and not working, you can bet they’re counting it as one of your weeks. Make sure you find this out in advance so you can decide if you would like to go with them or go traveling with your friends.

 

  • You have to go to college. The good news is that your host parents have to pay $500 towards your education requirements each year. If you don’t complete six credits in the first year you won’t be able to extend, and there’s nothing the program can do to help you since it’s a visa requirement that you complete the education. You can study anything though-some of my friends did surfing and kayaking classes.

 

  • Before you choose a family, ask how many Au Pairs there are in the area. Obviously the more Au Pairs, the more potential friends. You don’t want to get there and find out there’s only six Au Pairs and you all live twenty minutes away from each other- the friends you make will be your lifeline.

 

  • If you’re not if you want to choose a family, ring or email them and don’t be afraid to ask the “awkward questions”: will I have the car for personal use?, do I have a curfew?, will I have to work weekends? etc. These are all questions that you’re going to wish you had asked. Make a list and remember it’s better to ask before you get there, than to wait and get a nasty surprise.

 

  • When you first arrive in the States you’ll have Orientation for three days. I found it to be pretty useless-everyone’s pretty jet-lagged and the foods terrible, but it’s a good way to meet Au Pairs from your area.

 

  • You will have a Community Counselor who will get in touch with you during your first week, and she will probably come to the house to meet you. You’re supposed to go to your counselor if you have a problem with the family, but really you should do everything you can to solve it with the parents first. Involving the counselor can actually make the situation worse-your host parents aren’t exactly going to be thrilled to have a meeting with the counselor. Also, the counselor is supposed to be impartial but realistically the parents are the ones paying the program thousands of dollars a year, so ultimately the counselor is going to take their side most of the time. It’s unfair but it’s life.

 

  • You’ll know in the first week if the family is a bit cray-cray, and while I’d try to stick it out for at least a month, if it’s not working out you can always rematch. In Orientation you will be told that it’s not good to rematch and you should try to stay with the family but I would estimate that around half of all Au Pairs go into rematch at least once. It’s your year, so don’t get stuck in a horrible situation.

 

  • You will have monthly “cluster meetings” with the other Au Pairs and your community counselor. These aren’t mandatory for Au Pair America but some of the companies won’t allow you to extend if you miss more than three meetings. For some reason the community counselors like to make you play Bingo, and dress each other up in foil. I’ve only been to one and that was enough for me, but if you have a counselor that does interesting activities they can be good. It’s a good idea to go to the first couple so that you can meet the other Au Pairs from your cluster.

 

  • Don’t be afraid to speak up. If you’re not happy about something, talk to your host parents about it. They’re busy people and they’re not mind readers. There are also some host parents out there who will take advantage of girls who are young and don’t speak English as a first language. I’m not trying to scare anyone, but the fact is, you need to be your own advocate. No one is going to stand up for you if you won’t stand up for yourself.

 

  • It’s not your job to do the parents laundry, clean the car, or stay home with the pets while they’re away on vacation. And if they’re making you work over 45 hours a week, either ask for more money, or tell them you won’t do it. I’ve seen so many Au Pairs who are afraid to stick up for themselves-I couldn’t talk to my host dad properly for a year! And when I finally got upset and yelled at him, I was embarrassed that I acted so immaturely. Put on your big girl panties, and open your mouth.

22 comments on “Au Pair in America-Some Things You Should Know

  1. Sasha May 3, 2012 @ 4:28 pm

    I love your blog, im seriously thinking about doing Au Pair in America next year and your blog has given me alot of things to think about. I do have 1 question (it may be a little personal so if you dont want to answer you dont have to) but I am wondering how much money you would recommend to take over, after all the company costs, flights, insurance etc. Because ive been told that i dont need much, but i dont wanna be stuck in everyweekend cause i dont have any money. Any indication would be huge help. Thanks :)

    • onetravelsfar May 3, 2012 @ 10:04 pm

      No problem I don't think it's personal at all, in fact I'm planning a post that will address some money questions soon :)
      I only had about $600 USD when I first arrived in the states, you'll be able to do a little bit of shopping when you have time off at orientation, and you might have to pay for the night tour of New York, and then you'll just need to pay for snacks, baggage etc in the airports before you get to your host parents.

      You don't really need too much money to start out with, but you'll want to have at least a few hundred in case you get time off in your first few months so you can travel with your new friends.
      You won't be stuck in every weekend-you're still getting $200 a week and you won't need to pay for food, rent etc so that will be enough to go clubbing, shopping, eat out etc, but you'll want to try and save some of it so you can travel.
      Even if you save $50 a week, that's still $150 to spend on whatever you want which is usually enough to have a pretty good weekend :)

  2. kristy October 27, 2013 @ 5:13 pm

    I am currently in the the process of becoming an au pair in america and wondered if your interviewer contacted your doctors after the medical report had been completed?

    • Stacey October 28, 2013 @ 7:56 pm

      Hi Kirsty

      To my knowledge they didn’t contact the doctor. I had no problems with my medical though, so if you had something on there that they needed clarification about they may have contacted them for more information?

  3. Nessa November 2, 2013 @ 4:01 pm

    I am currently in the process of registering and hoping that by next January i will be able to find a family and be on my merry way. I read that the host parents provide $500 towards your education. How much more did it cost you to take your 6 credit course?

    • Stacey November 3, 2013 @ 7:22 pm

      I took two 3 credit courses, anthropology and logic. Take my advice and take something fun like surfing. All of my friends did and I had to study heaps! I don’t think I paid any more because I went to a community college for mine. It all depends on where you go, $500 should be enough for your education component I think.

  4. Emma Martin March 4, 2014 @ 4:47 am

    Hi. I’ve been considering Au Pairing abroad and the company Au Pair in America has made my decision up :-) I was just wondering what your opinion was of this company?

    • Stacey March 7, 2014 @ 7:11 pm

      Hi Emma

      I went with Au Pair America. They were ok, basically all the companies are very similar. I didn’t have any issues, but when my friends did the company typically sided with the parents-all the companies will do that though, since the parents are paying the fees. Just make sure you take your time choosing a family and don’t just grab the first one. Talk to a few and make sure it’s a right fit, and find out how many other Au Pairs are in your area so you’ll have plenty of people to hang out with :)
      Stacey recently posted..Two Weeks of Bad Luck in Beijing

  5. Danielle March 9, 2014 @ 3:20 pm

    Do you get to pick your family? My friend and I was going to do it do you think we could be put in the same place? Just so we know someone!

    • Stacey March 13, 2014 @ 10:59 pm

      Hi Danielle

      Basically what happens is your resume, video, photos, reference letters etc all go up on a website that prospective host parents can see. If they’re interested they then contact you, and you can choose to speak with them if they sound like a good family.
      You don’t have to choose the first family, and can speak to a few before you narrow it down.
      If there are two families needing Au Pairs in the same area then you could definitely be close together, but don’t forget that you’ll also make tons of friends while you’re there. Flights are also really cheap so if you’re on the same side of America you could still meet up and travel together or go away for a weekend.
      Stacey recently posted..Two Weeks of Bad Luck in Beijing

  6. Becca September 16, 2014 @ 4:05 pm

    Hi Stacey,

    Apologies for commenting on an old post! You said you went with Au Pair in America? I was wondering if you had to pay for flights, and if so how much? Because the website simply says the costs will be shown once you are matched and I’m worried the flights will be extortionate! Thanks!

    • Stacey September 16, 2014 @ 7:51 pm

      Hey Becca
      No worries! I love comments :)
      As far as I remember the flights were included as part of my program fee. Here’s the thing though: I got told that I was paying for flights, and my host parents were also told that they were paying for them which is a bit suspicious. If I were you I would send them an email and ask exactly how much you have to pay for your program fee, and what is included.
      It may also have changed since I was an Au Pair a couple of years ago now.
      Let me know how you get on and if you have any other questions :)
      Stacey recently posted..How NOT to Find a Job Teaching English In China (Part 4)

  7. Milly November 8, 2014 @ 3:42 am

    Hi, sorry I’ve just found your blog, you’re very honest and relatable! I Just want to say thanks so much for your posts about Au Pair In America, I’ve started my application, but I’ve just got to pass my driving test! Hopefully that will be soon. Do you have any advice on the application process in general and how to make mine stand out? I’m a bit worried about the video, no idea what to put in it… This might be a bit nosey, I’m sorry, but it’s been 2 years since this post, would you or have you been an Au pair somewhere else? And did you go to London? I’ve just been reading the Au Pair posts, but I’ll have to go back on your blog and see where you’ve been. :)

    • Stacey November 9, 2014 @ 10:00 pm

      Hi Milly. No I haven’t Au Paired in London, but I have thought about nannying over there. For me, I would rather take a nanny job in London (higher pay) where I can get a two year working holiday visa, since in the United States working as an Au Pair is one of the best ways to be able to stay for a couple of years without studying.
      As far as the application process goes, I would definitely recommend that you’re upfront and honest about your expectations, and what you have to offer. I did my video in front of the fire with my dog on my lap, and simply spoke about who I was, and why they should choose me as an Au Pair. It doesn’t have to be long, they just want to see what you’re like in person. I personally hated doing the video and it took us quite a few takes since I wasn’t comfortable in front of the camera.
      Let me know how it goes :)

      • Milly November 10, 2014 @ 7:38 am

        Well I’m from the UK, and nannying in London is definitely part of a long term plan for me, however I want to see some of the world first and then I’ll come back home. I’ve always wanted to visit the US, also, I noticed you said you’re from NZ, do you know if it’s a year working visa or two? :) I just want to travel as much as I can. Haha.
        Thanks very much! Yeah I’m scared about the video too, it’s good to know you didn’t do any fancy editing or anything like that. :) hope you’re well, and thanks for replying :)

  8. Izzi May 29, 2015 @ 4:48 am

    I found this blog really interesting and I would love to take part in a program like this. I was just wondering how old you were and how old most of the au pairs generally tend to be – I’m 17, and want to do this next year (after my 18th birthday) is this to young ? Thanks
    Izzi x

    • Stacey June 3, 2015 @ 10:14 am

      Hey Izzi
      I was 21, which was excellent because I could drink in the US (at home our drinking age is 18, but your social life can suffer if you’re underage in the US). I did know some 18 year old Au Pairs, although a lot of families prefer that you’re a little older so you may need to prove that you’re mature in other ways.

      I also did Camp America when I was 18, which was also an amazing experience. Summer camp goes for around 2 months, and you can travel for 3 months afterwards with friends from camp. You’ll make friends with people from around the world and have the summer of your life, and it’s a good option if you haven’t been overseas for a long period of time before.

  9. Amanda May 29, 2015 @ 12:27 pm

    Hi, I was wondering were there any and if yes then how huge expenses prior to starting the programme, like the medical reports and such?

    • Stacey June 3, 2015 @ 10:11 am

      I had to go to my doctor and get her to fill it out using my medical records. I think it only cost me the price of a doctors visit. There are a few things you need to pay, but it varies depending on which company you go through.

  10. Eva June 6, 2015 @ 8:50 am

    Hi Stacey. I was wondering if you knew any further details on the educational requirements. I’m about to leave in 1,5 months and I haven’t done all of my credits since I had to pay already 350$ out of my own pocket.. I don’t want to extend but I was thinking about coming back to the US to study here for a year. I would technically need another visa for that. WIll I get it if I don’t successfully complete the program now ?
    Thank you!

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