Whether you love Korean barbeque or obsess over K-Pop, it's hard to deny that for a small country, South Korea has a powerful impact on pop culture and global cuisine. Maybe you're considering how you can get to know even more about South Korea and move there for a time. One of the best ways to get immersed in South Korean culture is to become an au pair and live with a host family. With many opportunities overseas, you can learn the language, etiquette, and local customs while you help with the children. Becoming an au pair is one of the most culturally absorbing ways to live in another country.
You'll find plenty of websites online that will help you look for the perfect job with the right host family in South Korea. Some of these placements will be through agencies and some can be obtained by contacting families directly. Analyzing your skills and prioritizing your desires will make it easier for you to find an au pair job that suits you best.
Before heading out on your journey, you should prepare by creating a budget for yourself that includes housing and personal costs. Even more important than that is ensuring that you have met all the requirements to obtain an au pair visa. Brushing up on local etiquette can't hurt either!
Finding an Au Pair Job in South Korea
There are many websites where au pairs can search for jobs in South Korea. Some agencies like Carla's Au Pairs and AuPairStory offer placements so you don't have to apply to individual listings on your own. This can be a helpful way to sort through a large number of au pair job listings since the agency will work to help you find the best match.
Though jobs are posted all year round, many families seek an au pair just in time for the academic year, so many contracts begin in August or September. In order to give yourself adequate time to research the available jobs, interview, and plan for a move, it's a good idea to start looking for jobs in the spring or early summer in order to be hired in the fall.
Most ads will include information about salary, the children of the household, and the expectations of you as an au pair. Once you've narrowed down the location where you want to work, it's helpful to decide what kind of work is most suitable for you. For example, you may feel comfortable taking care of two children, but not three.
Another important consideration is language. Some families expect the au pair to speak at least a little bit of Korean. Other families prefer native English speakers, particularly foreign families living in South Korea. You can take this opportunity to learn Korean by choosing a host family that will provide you with Korean language classes as part of your work.
When looking for a job, it's also important to consider how much help you will need with your visa. Many families looking for an au pair are willing to help you with the visa process, particularly if they have been through it before. But some ads explicitly state that the visa is exclusively the au pair's responsibility.
Visa & Salary Info for Au Pairing in South Korea
The most important factors when looking for a job as an au pair will be the visa process and the salary. Here's what you need to know about au pair visas and salaries in South Korea.
Au Pair Visas in South Korea
To work as an au pair in South Korea, you can enter using either the D7 or D8 visa. The difference between the two depends on the income and status of the sponsor, not the au pair. For a D7 visa, the sponsor must have an income three times the national average. For a D8 visa, the sponsor must be an executive in a company. In both cases, the visa process is initiated by the sponsor and completed by the au pair in the Korean embassy of their home country.
When applying, the wait time will vary by country and number of applications. To ensure you will receive your visa by your start date, you should inquire at the local embassy about wait times. Once the visa is issued, the au pair can finally relocate to South Korea.
Au Pair Salary in South Korea
The average wage for au pairs in South Korea is about 800,000-1,000,000 South Korean Won (or about $800-$1,000) per month. The salary depends on whether or not you would be given a place to live, language classes, or any other benefits.
The salary you will earn depends on your experience and education, as well as other potential benefits you will have while working for the host family. Many families provide housing and food for a live-in au pair and therefore, offer a lower salary. In these cases, the cost of housing is a non-cash benefit of the job. For experienced nannies or au pairs, salaries can be much higher, sometimes up to $1000 per week for just 15-20 hours of work.
Benefits as an Au Pair in South Korea
As a live-in au pair, your housing will be covered by the host family. Au pairs that will not live with the host family need to find a place of their own. Many families will provide assistance in finding affordable housing near their house. But for some, having housing and transportation is a requirement before getting hired.
A live-in au pair is usually entitled to one day off a week, typically Sunday. But individual families have specific requirements for the au pair, so you may be able to find a far more flexible schedule. For longer contracts, ranging from 6 to 24 months, it's common to agree on paid vacation time, from one to two weeks. Some families will even offer a travel stipend to help you pay for your ticket to visit home.
Other Tips for Au Pairing in South Korea
Photo by Taylor, CIEE Teach Abroad South Korea Alum
In addition to the important logistics listed above, here are some other topics that it will be helpful to consider as you search for an au pair job in South Korea:
- Most au pairs want to be in the heart of South Korea: Seoul. But there is life outside of Seoul! Many host families are looking for au pairs in Busan and other smaller towns in South Korea like Daegu and Jeju Island.
- Since many of your costs will be covered by your host family in South Korea, the main cost of relocating to become an au pair is the flight there and the visa process.
- Temperatures in the summer in South Korea can be in the mid-80ºFs and as low as 20º-30ºF in the cold winter months. Be sure to pack accordingly. If you don't, you can always find some funky Korean style clothes to add to your wardrobe.
- Even if you're living with a host family that prefers English speakers, it's always good to prepare for your move by learning a little bit of Korean to help you get by. Or, you can also enroll at a Korean language school once you arrive.
- Adjusting to life in South Korea may produce some culture shock. Getting advice online from other expats in South Korea about culture and etiquette can also prepare you for your new life as an au pair.
With all of this info, you're ready to start your job search to become an au pair in South Korea. You'll be ready to handle the culture shock and bond with you host family in no time.