There are many different types of childcare jobs abroad and the specific ones that apply to you will vary depending on your skills and experience. The most popular type of overseas childcare job is working as an au pair. There are many reasons for someone to do this job overseas and especially in Europe, where the job has been highly regulated.
What is an Au Pair?
An au pair is essentially a nanny that lives with the family and does all of their daily required duties like cooking, cleaning, taking care of the children when the parents are not available. This used to be a very popular domestic profession prior to the Second World War. However, after the war ended, it became very popular for women (women are typically the ones acting as au pairs however it is not a profession that discriminates against me) to get an education and a career that was outside of the household. As a result of this cultural shift, there are more jobs available as an au pair for foreign workers who are either looking to permanently immigrate to a different country or just get a temporary job working abroad to help fund their travels. For more information on what you can expect as an au pair, please read this article.
There are plenty of reasons why working as an au pair is a great idea for a job overseas. First of all, the families that you would be working for would more than likely provide free room and board on top of your weekly salary that you would earn. While the weekly salary is not typically a large sum of money, if you factor in the idea that your accommodation and your meals would be paid for, this starts to look like a good idea. Furthermore, you tend to get a lot of free time as an au pair. While the au pair is definitely encouraged to participate in some family events, there will definitely be some times where the family will want alone time and the au pair is asked to go out with friends or hang out in their room. This is your own personal time and you can do with it what you like.
As mentioned, the au pair profession has become highly regulated in places like Europe. They wanted the profession to be seen as a viable career choice for women and men and felt that the previous title of “nanny” or “maid” was somewhat demeaning. The au pair is meant to be treated as an equal in the family and as a result, is no longer required to wear a uniform or an outfit.
What to Do to Find an Au Pair Job
Due to the increase of regulations surrounding the au pair profession, families and agencies usually diligently check backgrounds and references for those who are prospective workers. There are numerous certifications that are usually preferred such as CPR certifications. It is essential that applicants have great references and usually need some form of childcare experience previous to applying. Obviously if someone is going to allow an essential stranger to live in their house and care for their children, they want to be absolutely sure that they are comfortable with this person.
On the other hand, applicants should be very selective in the au pair job that they select. While families may be concerned with having a stranger live in their home, but the prospective worker should also be concerned about living in a stranger’s home. There are always many overseas childcare jobs that are advertised but it is strongly recommended that you do ample research on the specific position before accepting any job offering.
Firstly, learning a lot about the prospective family’s culture, language and heritage can help both your application as well as ease your concerns about moving into their home. If you can show that you are genuinely interested in their lives prior to even living with them, this will put the parents at ease and it will show you are responsible and engaging. It will show them that you care enough to learn about their culture and that their children will be watched by someone who knows about their background.
If you apply through a recruiting agency, many of them actually require you to take a foreign language class in the language that you will be supplying your services in. Conversely, if you already speak an additional language prior to applying to an agency, you tend to get interviews and find work a lot quicker. It is ideal for the au pair to be completely fluent in the language spoken but realistically, having a solid working knowledge of the language is good enough to get a job. Once you actually start working abroad and you are immersed in a different language, you will be able to pick it up quite easily.
For some more tips on getting a job abroad, please read this article.
There are a few other reasons why you should consider using a recruiting agency or an international company that services these types of jobs. Firstly, it protects the applicant from problem positions and job postings that appear to be a scam. In order to connect a family with an au pair, an agency will typically put prospective families through a vetting process to make sure that they are not only a safe family to put someone in but also that they have the financial means to support an additional member of the household. Some agencies go one step further and actually check out the background of the family to make sure there are no credit concerns or previous convictions. This makes the applicant feel a lot safer when they start to look at prospective families.
You should consider talking with the family you are considering working for a few times before you commit to working with them. This is as much an interview for you as it is for them. It is important that both of you not only feel safe but that your personalities are a match and that you would be able to comfortably live in the same house together.
Becoming an au pair overseas is a great opportunity for someone to gain valuable experience and immerse themselves in a different culture and language. Hopefully you have learned a bit about the profession and you are comfortable with which steps to take next.