Home > Guide > Au Pairs vs. Nannies

Au Pairs vs. Nannies

An Au Pair Vs. Nanny: What's The Difference?

Are you weighing au pairs vs. nannies to hire? It’s a good idea to get informed about both your options before you make your choice. Both types of childcare have pros and cons and it’s important to weigh your decision carefully to figure out what option works best for your family. Here are a few things to consider when you’re weighing an au pair vs. nanny.

  • An au pair is a foreign young person who comes to the United States to work in exchange for housing under a prescribed set of guidelines and weekly stipend.
  • A nanny is a broader term to refer to anyone a family employs to look after a child or children in the household.
  • Nannies are typically residents of the United States.
  • Nannies can be live-in or live-out, while all au pairs must be live-in childcare providers.
  • Au pairs may or may not have prior childcare experience, so it’s important to check with the agency if a candidate has worked with children before.
  • Nannies can provide full-time or part-time childcare for your family, depending on your needs.
  • Au pairs typically provide up to 45 hours of childcare a week.
  • Both au pairs and nannies can provide household upkeep services. If you’re working with an au pair agency, it’s important to find out exactly what services an au pair will provide. If you’re screening a nanny, you can discuss individual job duties with an applicant.
  • If you’re looking for an au pair, you must find one through one of the approved U.S. Department of State agencies.
  • If you’re hiring a nanny, you have a range of options. An online database, such as NannyLane.com, word of mouth, nanny agencies, and job boards are all places you can find a nanny.
  • Au pairs may speak little English causing a language barrier.

An Au Pair: What Will It Really Cost You?

If you’re considering an au pair for your household, the good news is that the guidelines for how much you should pay her are pretty clear. However, there are other fees besides the stipend that you have to pay an au pair. And these fees will vary from agency to agency. To give you an idea of how much it will cost you a year for an au pair, we’re showing the current fees and costs of Au Pair USA, whose fees are in line with a number of other agencies.

For 2007, the fees for Au Pair USA include a $250 application fee, a $2,500 placement fee, and a $3,900 program fee. The application fee covers the processing of the paperwork. The placement fee covers the cost of recruiting and screening an au pair. The program fee covers the cost of the au pair’s visa, partial travel expenses, her coordinator, and training program.

In addition to application fees and expenses, you also have to pay a stipend to your au pair. An au pair caring for children over 2 years of age should be paid $130.05 a week. An au pair caring for children under 2 years of age should be paid $164.05 a week. The current educational supplement, which is applied towards your au pair’s education is $500.

Benefits Of Hiring A Nanny Over An Au Pair

Weighing in on the decision over whether a nanny or au pair works better as a childcare solution for your family isn’t easy. If you’re looking for reasons why hiring a nanny is better than an au pair, read on.

  • Childcare isn’t a decision to make lightly. When you decide to hire a nanny, you can meet an applicant face to face in an interview and see how that person interacts with your child.
  • If you decide to hire a nanny over an au pair, you can limit your search locally. Friends, neighbors, and other family members all make excellent places to start looking for a nanny. You can also use an online nanny database, such as NannyLane.com, get a list of approved childcare providers through your local college or university or post an ad in your local paper.
  • When hiring a nanny, you can be more flexible about the qualifications you’re looking for. Whether it’s a certain number of years of experience, CPR certification, or the ability to work part-time hours, you’re not limited to a prescribed search criteria set up by an au pair agency. Nannies do not necessarily have limitations in terms of duties, hours, commitment period, schooling, etc. as au pairs do.

How Au Pair Agencies Work

One way to get childcare help is through an au pair agency. Au pair agencies in the United States must be a program run by the U.S. Department of State. There are now 12 au pair agencies which provide au pair services to families looking for childcare. Each agency varies somewhat in the way an au pair is selected for a family.

However, typically, you can contact one of the au pair agencies by phone or through their Website. A coordinator will get in contact with you and inform you how their program works. The coordinator will then match you with an au pair based on your time frame and requirements. Or you could receive a list of au pairs to choose from. Some of the au pair agencies you can choose from include Au Pair in America, Cultural Care Au Pair, and Au Pair International.

Understanding the Au Pair Program

If you’re a family in need of more affordable childcare for up to 45 hours a week, the au pair program is a viable solution for your needs. An au pair program matches your family with a screened childcare provider who will live in your home in exchange for a monthly stipend. Typically, the au pair is young person who wishes to live in the United States for a time period while watching a family’s child or children. An au pair may reside in your home for just the summer or for up to two years.

Au pairs must have their own room, the provision of food, one and a half days off every week, and a full weekend off every month. Part of the expense of paying an au pair includes an amount towards the au pair’s educational expenses. An au pair has proficiency in conversational English and typically has a minimum amount of childcare experience. Au pairs have a standard weekly stipend that the host family pays.

When An Au Pair Might Be The Right Choice

Hiring a nanny isn’t necessarily right for every family situation. Sometimes, an au pair does make a better childcare choice. Here are some situations where an au pair makes better sense:

  • If you want temporary childcare just for the summer, an au pair could work out best. Au pair programs provide temporary childcare during the summer months.

  • You’re comfortable with a live-in situation and want to welcome a foreign student as part of your family. If you’re interested in offering your home as a host family to a young person from another country so that you can have childcare, an au pair might be better for you.

  • You’re looking for an affordable option and are comfortable with having an au pair agency screen an applicant for you. Nanny wages can vary widely. However, on the whole, an au pair is affordable option. The monthly stipend can be less than some nanny wages when you compare the cost of a live-in nanny.