From stunning castles to fairy tale worthy scenery, Germany is definitely one of Europe's cultural gems. Way more than just the epicenter of a certain beer festival, Germany has countless attractions and one of the world's highest standards of living. Whether you are an au pair in Berlin or an au pair in Munich, you will get to experience that German city in a way most tourists only dream. You'll return home with more than just the standard souvenirs or cheesy pictures at Oktoberfest - you'll return with memories like exploring the local Christmas market with good friends or enjoying fresh Apfelstrudel baked with your host mom's family recipe. More than just a place you've been to once or twice, Germany will become your new second home.
Choosing a Host Family
Length of Program
Au pair programs in Germany are often 10-12 months, though some can be as short as 6 months. One year is the limit as that is the duration for which a visa to work in Germany is granted.
In most programs, au pairs will work 30 hours a week, with 1-2 days free days per week. Some programs limit the au pair's scope of work to duties related to the children such as taking them to school, picking them up from school, assisting them with their homework and preparing after-school snacks. While others extend the duties to light housework including helping with the dishes, doing laundry and shopping for groceries. Many programs include a note about helping the children keep their rooms tidy being part of the au pair's role as well. Be sure to be very clear about your duties and the expectations of your host family before your arrival in Germany.
The monthly stipend for an au pair in Germany varies, but it is most often between 260 and 320 euros per month.
Planning Your Trip
When and Where to Start Looking
When and where to start looking: Often families start looking for an au pair between one month and four months before they need an au pair. This is very relevant for au pairs looking to get into direct contact with host families via a site such as Au Pair World. For au pairs looking for placements through agencies, the recruitment is done on a rolling basis. And for larger agencies working in many cities, there is a pretty much constant need for au pairs. Note that it takes between 1 to 3 months for the visa to be processed (Immi Help), so plan accordingly.
A well-established agency will be well familiar with the legal requirements and time tables and build in the lead time for the visa into their application process, for example requiring you to apply 3-6 months before you wish to depart. Another benefit of going through an au pair program versus finding a host family on your own, particularly the first time you are an au pair, is that companies offer personalized assistance throughout the application process. An agency will also take care of matching you up with a German host family and provide you with orientation materials you will find handy upon arrival. Most offer ongoing support throughout your stay in the country.
Application process: Most au pair programs have a multi-step application process. The first step in the screening process requires that you meet certain basic requirements. Au pairs in Germany must be single, have no children of their own, have a certain level of German language proficiency (at the minimum at level A1), be no more than 27 years old if they're from a non-EEA country (or 30 years old if they're from Australia, New Zealand or an EU country).
Applicants must also have a valid passport and be at least 18 if they're from a non-EU country (17 if they hail from the EU). Once the initial requirements have been met, agencies typically require references related to previous childcare experience, background checks, the submission of any relevant documents, such as a diploma showing the completion of at least a secondary school education. Phone and video interviews are part of the process and in some cases in-person interviews are also offered. The process, from the initial inquiry to being matched up with a host family, can take 3 to 6 months, so be sure to plan ahead.
Written by Anis Salvesen
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