Nannies and au pairs are great options when considering childcare. They both fulfill many of the same duties and will become an important part of your family. It is a common misconception, however, that the terms are interchangeable. If they perform the same job and play the same role in the family, why are they different? I’m so glad you asked!
An Au Pair is not a foreign nanny.
An au pair is native to a different country than their host placement and isn’t necessarily experienced in childcare. Most often, these young men and women are right out of school with little to no work history. They agree to work outside their home country as a live-in nanny in order to experience a new language and culture.
A nanny lives and works within the same country and has chosen this work as a profession. It gives a nanny more potential for long-term and in-depth care than an au pair can offer.
There are different regulations for nannies and au pairs.
An au pair is hired through an au pair program with its own regulations in regards to the au pair and host family, whereas a nanny is hired as an employee. The only official guidelines for a nanny are those designated through the country or state’s laws concerning in-home workers.
Some of the regulations that apply to an au pair are approved responsibilities within their host home, completing language and cultural requirements, and obtaining a work visa. Nannies, regardless of whether or not they live with their nanny family, have a more professional role, can undertake more responsibilities, and are protected by legal rights laid out by the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Nannies are paid a salary; Au pairs are not.
Because an au pair is agreeing to work in exchange for room and board, they often receive only spending money from their host family. A nanny is an employee of her nanny family and therefore receives a regular salary.
Au pairs expose children to a new culture and language.
A benefit to hiring an au pair over a nanny is that they can often help your children learn about a different culture and acquire a new language. At the very least, it may spark an interest in the children to explore later on in life. Of course it’s possible for a domestic nanny to speak a second language and have grown up experiencing another culture, but it isn’t customary.
Simply, nannies and au pairs can fulfill a family’s childcare needs but are hired through different procedures and follow their own set of regulations.
For more information, Aupair.com offers a simple chart explaining the differences between a nanny and an au pair. For a list of pros and cons, Care.com shares a concise list that could further help in making the decision between hiring a nanny and an au pair.