Au pairing has evolved into a full-blown career in South Africa, in response to a consistent increase in the demand for qualified childcare professionals, according to a new report by CareerJunction and Oxbridge Academy.
“With the growth in the South African middle class, and the increasing number of households where both parents work full-time or where there is only one parent, many people are seeking out the services of au pairs to take care of their children, from babies and toddlers to high school learners,” said Oxbridge’s Nomawabo May.
She noted that although there has always been a demand for babysitters and nannies, South Africans have begun to seek out dedicated au pairs for their children, demanding a minimum level of competence and qualification, and are prepared to pay accordingly.
Additionally, professional au pairs often make it clear in their CVs that the field is not a side-job or an additional income generator, but a dedicated career choice, said May.
How much they earn
According to May the increase in demand for qualified au pairs has led to the growth of an entire supporting industry, with au pair placement services and online support systems, and even apps, blossoming across the country.
As a result, salaries vary depending on qualifications, experience, the specific placement, and working hours, she said.
“An au pair working 8 hours, Monday to Friday, can expect a salary in the region of R13, 000.”
“Regular hourly rates are around R80 per hour during the day, and around R160 per hour for overnight care, while driving duties are remunerated at about R110 per hour. If tutoring is provided, the au pair is remunerated at about R155 per hour.”
May says that although au pairs are unlikely to earn extravagant salaries in their careers, the satisfaction of the work, and the opportunities to broaden one’s horizons on a shoestring budget, are attractive drawcards.
“But very important for anyone considering making child’s play their life’s work, is to ensure that they do so professionally and work only with reputable agencies once qualified. Doing so increases one’s earning capacity and reputation, and supports the development of the industry as a whole,” she says.
May noted that while parents and caregivers are increasingly looking at appointing an au pair to assist in their homes, they have become much more discerning when considering which candidates to interview.
Most parents will now expect au pairs to have:
- A relevant qualification, such as an au pair or Educare certificate
- A driver’s licence (if driving is required)
- First aid training
- A sober lifestyle and no criminal background
- A mature and positive attitude
- Ability to facilitate a structured programme, such as tutoring for older children or engaging in educational activities for younger ones.
“Educare qualifications are also proving to be a particularly popular choice,” said May.
“This isn’t altogether surprising, because for au pairs who wish to earn more than just an au pairing qualification, and who are using this line of work as a stepping stone towards a career in early childhood development, there is the option to study the N4 – N6 national qualifications.”