Today, we're going to tackle one of our most frequently asked questions: What's the difference between working as an au pair or as a nanny?
And from there, we get to, which option is better? How do I know which one is right for me?
Let's concentrate first on defining and analizing the differences between the two roles because, although they both fall within the same category of "caregivers", the approaches are completely different.
In the table below, we can see a summary of the main differences, and even then it can be a bit confusing, so let's take each point one by one, while keeping in mind that regulatory aspects may vary by country, when it comes to things like age, minimum salary, etc.
As a general rule, the au pair is a young person, between 18 and 30 years old, who decides to live in another country for a specific length of time, in order to immerse themselves in that culture and learn or perfect the language. It's a cultural exchange programme, and the au pair should always have plenty of free time to attend a course.
In terms of conditions, they'll be agreed upon beforehand between the au pair and the host family, and will depend on the family (number of children, hours needed, etc.). However, all au pair agreements should meet the applicable regulation in the country. In Spain, for example, au pairs cannot work more than 30 hours/week, and receive an "allowance" (pocket money) which, in the case of au pairs working with Amazing Pairs, will be equal to or greater than 80€/week.
Au pairs don't need specific childcare diplomas or degrees, though they do need to show prior experience taking care of children (through babysitting, volunteering, internships at daycares, etc.). They also need to know they like children, and be patient, responsible, and eager to learn more about the other culture.
When we speak of a nanny, we're talking about a role where the candidate becomes an employee. The cultural exchange (while it can still happen), is therefore secondary. Employment conditions are governed by each country's regulation and the family's needs, always respecting minimum salary requirements.
So, while the au pair becomes a family member during his or her time with the family, a nanny is an employee.
Neither option is better, we always say the decision needs to be based on each candidate's needs and what he or she is expecting out of the experience. If one is looking for a change of airs, wants to explore a new country, perfect a language, make a bit of money while doing so, and knows they like children, becoming an au pair may be the best option.
But, if somebody is looking for a long-term job, that is financially stable (you must still like children, of course!) then training to become a nanny may be a great option as well.