How much does an au pair get paid anyway?

Families in need of childcare have more options than ever before. One of the most interesting options is an au pair — a term for a live-in nanny from another country.

Families in need of childcare have more options than ever before. One of the most interesting options is an au pair — a term for a live-in nanny from another country.

Au pairs offer dependable, live-in childcare and a unique, intercultural experience, both for the au pair and the host family. The au pair arrangement originated in Europe but has taken off in the U.S. in recent years. Do you think this option could be right for you?

Let’s take a look at how the au pair program works, as well as how much an au pair wages.

In This Article:

  • What is an Au Pair?

  • Who Can Be an Au Pair?

  • What Are the Requirements of the Program Sponsor?

  • What Are the Requirements of the Host Family?

  • How Much Does it Cost to Hire an Au Pair?

  • How Much Does an Au Pair Get Paid?

What is an Au Pair?

An au pair is a childcare provider from outside of the U.S. who comes here on a J-1 visitor exchange visa, designed for work- and study-based exchange visitor programs. In addition to caring for the children, an au pair can provide intercultural education for the family. For au pairs, the perks are living with a host family, being immersed in U.S. culture, and studying at the post-secondary level. In addition to a salary, they receive room, board, and meals while living with the family.

Au pairs working and living in the U.S. are introduced to host families through U.S. Department of State-designated agencies (called program sponsors).

According to the U.S. Department of State, “Through the Au Pair Program, participants and host families take part in a mutually rewarding, intercultural opportunity.”

Who Can Be an Au Pair?

An au pair must:

  1. Be proficient in spoken English
  2. Be a secondary school graduate or equivalent
  3. Be between the ages of 18 and 26 years old
  4. Pass a personal interview
  5. Pass a physical
  6. Pass a background investigation
  7. Be able to stay with the host family for at least 12 months

What Are the Requirements of the Program Sponsor?

A program sponsor is a U.S. State Department-regulated agency. Program sponsors must:

  1. Screen and select both host families and au pairs
  2. Provide au pairs with training in child development and child safety prior to their placement with a host family
  3. Provide au pairs with an orientation upon arrival in the United States
  4. Post fees, housing, and disclosures
  5. Monitor au pair participation throughout the program
  6. File a program-specific management review to the State Department, so that the Department can regularly review internal controls and program compliance

What Are the Requirements of the Host Family?

Just like the au pair and program sponsor, host families must follow State Department requirements. Host families must:

  1. Pay $500-$1,000 toward the cost of the au pair’s academic coursework
  2. Provide housing and three meals a day for the au pair
  3. Be U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents who are fluent in spoken English
  4. Pay a weekly stipend to the au pair (set by program sponsor)
  5. Give the au pair one complete weekend off each month (Friday evening to Monday morning)
  6. Help the au pair fulfill their post-secondary education goals
  7. Provide a minimum of two weeks paid vacation for each 12-month exchange term
  8. Include the au pair (whenever possible) in on family meals, outings, holidays, and other events
  9. Sign an agreement regarding the au pair’s duties

By the way, there’s no such thing as a live out au pair salary so it’s always safe to assume housing is included.

How Much Does it Cost to Hire an Au Pair?

Most au pair programs carry a fee ranging from $8,000 to $9,000 that must be paid by the host family. This fee includes the cost of travel and obtaining the visa, as well as orientation, training, and health insurance for the au pair.

Families are required to pay an au pair at least $200 per week, an amount set by the federal government based on minimum wage. While a family cannot pay less that the established number, they can pay more. Additional expenses include room and board, as well as car insurance if the au pair is expected to drive the family car.

Most programs also require host families to provide an educational stipend ranging from $500 to $1,000 per year. While these costs can add up to a high annual price tag, the cost of an au pair is comparable to daycare costs for multiple children. Au pairs work can work as much as 10 hours each day (no more than 45 hours per week), and they offer the ultimate solution in convenience because they live in your home.

How Much Does an Au Pair Get Paid?

As an au pair, you’ll be compensated in much more than money. You’ll receive room and board, as well as an education stipend. But for most au pairs, the main benefit is immersion in the U.S. culture and studying in the U.S.

As far as dollars are concerned, au pairs receive a minimum of about $200 per week. Some families pay more. This compensation comes to a little more than $10,000 each year. While this doesn’t sound like a lot, keep in mind that all of your living expenses, including health insurance, are covered by your host family.

What’s more, host families are required to provide two weeks paid vacation each year. This can give you the opportunity to travel within the U.S. and experience more American culture. Many host families bring their au pair along on vacations, so you may even enjoy visiting other parts of the country while away with your host family. While caring for children is a serious job, you won’t be expected to work more than 45 hours each week, leaving you time to pursue personal interests. Being an au pair may not be your forever career, but it could be the right fit if you’re looking for an amazing experience.

In Summary

Becoming an au pair won’t make you rich (though au pair wages are respectable), though being one will provide a roof over your head and an opportunity to travel to, and study in, the U.S.

While the cost of an au pair is significant for a family seeking childcare, the benefits prove worthwhile for many. Au pairs work about 10 hours a day taking care of the children and are treated like family by their host families. Consider becoming an au pair if you like kids, have a yearning for adventure, and want the American experience.