Whether you're about to finish high school or college, taking a gap year to work abroad before your next stage in life can be a rewarding experience. Not only will you be able to travel to new places and learn invaluable skills for future jobs, but you can start earning money right away.
Keep reading to learn about the top destinations, the kinds of jobs available, and what salary you can get paid.
Best jobs for gap year students
Here are five of the best types of gap year jobs abroad.
Finding an internship abroad is one of the least stressful ways to work abroad because you’ll have a confirmed job before you ever step foot on a plane. Organizations actively advertise work abroad internships through job boards and college programs. You can find a lot of opportunities right here on GO, too.
Job opportunities range throughout industries like journalism to music to medicine to business, so there’s usually an option available for whatever your interest. And best of all, these gap year programs will usually organize everything from on-the-job training to visas to living arrangements. With all that taken care of, you can focus on meeting new friends and getting the most out of your experience.
Working holiday programs
A working holiday program is a cultural exchange program that allows young people to work and travel abroad in designated countries. Through this program, people under a certain age (usually 30 or younger) can secure a visa to work abroad for a set period of time.
These types of agreements exist between many countries' governments. The US currently has agreements with 5 countries:
- New Zealand
- South Korea
The working holiday visa allows you to seek work in any sector though the most popular fields include hospitality, office work, and tourism.
Teach English abroad
Teaching English abroad is one of the most common ways to go on a gap year overseas, and it can pay big, depending on the location. Teaching during a gap year abroad can provide a steady income, a flexible schedule to travel during school breaks, and important skills to use in your future career even if you don't plan to be a teacher.
For those interested in spending their workday outside, working on a farm is a great option. One popular gap year program is WWOOF, World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, and while it is not paid, it does offer free housing and food in exchange for farm labor on independent and family farms.
WWOOFers do everything from picking crops, mending fences and animal enclosures, and caring for livestock. The jobs you’ll do are specific to the individual farms, giving you the flexibility to choose a meaningful project. Farms worldwide participate in WWOOF so you’re free to country-hop during your gap year!
Au Pair abroad
If you like kids or have experience babysitting, becoming an au pair during your gap year is a great option. As part of the job, au pairs live with their host family and tend to kids before and after school or when the parents are away. This can be a very flexible schedule, leaving plenty of time to explore your city and take weekend trips.
Generally, these jobs don't provide a large salary ($50-$150 per week) since housing and some meals are included. Most countries have strict laws about work hours for their au pairs, but make sure to read your contract and know your rights.
Popular gap year destinations
It’s a big world with almost limitless possibilities for your working gap year. Deciding where to spend your gap year can be tough.
To help, here are some top destinations for gap year jobs:
- The United Kingdom is made up of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland – so take your pick! The UK is great for internships in business, law, and computer science.
- Germany is home to Frankfurt, a major European financial hub, making it a no-brainer for finance students. If you’re interested in art and design, Berlin is a top choice.
- Brazil attracts interns in engineering, medicine, and tourism.
- Australia has a high minimum wage, plenty of jobs in hospitality, and a good vibe that is sure to make your gap year abroad memorable.
- New Zealand has a 23-month visa for US and Canadian citizens, which is more than enough time to explore both the north and south islands as you earn money in the tourism or agriculture industries.
- South Korea is the perfect destination for skilled gappers who are looking for employment in fields like IT, marketing and journalism, and education.
- China is one of the highest-paying countries to teach abroad with opportunities in preschools, public and private K-12 schools, universities, and adult business English. Great benefits include paid housing, health insurance, and flight reimbursement depending on your employer.
- Thailand is much-loved among English teachers for its friendly people, awesome food, and laid-back style of life. A low cost of living makes your salary go much further than in other popular Asian countries.
- Spain is a great destination for college graduates or those needing a break after two years of school. Their North American Language and Culture Assistants Program (NALCAP) is a teaching assistant program that places native English speakers in public schools across Spain. Many participants stay for a school year and then return home to continue with their studies or a career.
- Costa Rica’s tropical climate and “Pura Vida” attitude make farm work here like working in paradise.
- South Africa is the place for you if you dream of spending your gap year on a vineyard.
- Nepal is one of the most stunning backdrops you can find for farming and with a booming agricultural sector, you’ll have a lot to learn.
- Germany has a dedicated au pair visa that makes it super simple to start your gap year au pair job.
- England is ideal for first-time au pairs who want to live abroad without the language barrier.
- Sweden becomes a lot less expensive when you have free room and board. Plus, only working 25 hours a week means you’ll have plenty of time to explore.
How to find and apply for gap year jobs
Finding a gap year job abroad is easy if you know where to look! Follow these 5 easy steps to secure the perfect gap year job (and visa, too!).
1. Decide which role best fits your goals
The first thing you’ll need to do is decide which of the above roles fits your goals and expectations.
- If you want to gain professional experience, training, and mentoring in your chosen field, consider interning.
- If you’re looking for a cultural exchange and a chance to learn a new language, consider au pairing or WWOOFing.
- If earning a considerable amount of money is a priority, consider teaching English or a working holiday.
You don’t have to pick one, though! For example, while on a working holiday visa, you can combine several roles like interning, au pairing, and teaching if you want some variety.
2. Begin your search
Once you’ve chosen your target role, you’ll need to start your job search. There are a few ways to do this.
- Work with a gap year organization: these companies help you with all-around planning, whether you want to intern, teach, or combine several meaningful experiences. You’ll work with someone who will focus on your individual goals and preferences to design a personalized gap year.
- Search job boards: job boards list opportunities across every role mentioned in this article, including internships, positions teaching English, and working holiday jobs.
- Explore program providers: program providers arrange teaching jobs and au pair placements, usually at no cost. Internship program providers generally charge a fee in exchange for setting up interviews with employers and organizing professional development and mentoring.
3. Gather important documents
For most roles, you’ll need to submit several documents. Some of these include:
- Degree certificates or transcripts
- Resume or CV
- Criminal background check
- Relevant certifications such as TEFL
- Copy of passport photo page
If you don’t already have a passport, you’ll need to apply for one well in advance of your planned departure.
4. Complete an application
Completing your application gets you one step closer to your gap year job abroad! Applications may be simply introductory to gather demographic and employment and/or education information or they may also ask for the documents from the previous step.
If you’re applying through a gap year organization, a program provider, or a recruiter, they will guide you through the steps to make sure you cover all the important points.
After completing an application, some roles like au pairing, interning, and teaching English may require an interview.
5. Apply for a visa
Visas are the biggest part of working abroad during your gap year. Tourist visas usually ban paid work for the duration of the stay. If you plan on working abroad during your gap year, you’ll need to research the appropriate work visa.
- Internships abroad: if taking a paid internship, you will usually need to secure a work visa. Some companies work around this by providing a stipend rather than a salary. In this case, you may be asked to apply for a student visa. Some countries have special visas designed specifically for interns.
- Working holiday programs: the US has reciprocal working holiday visa agreements with Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore, and Ireland. If you’re a citizen of another country, you’ll likely have more options. Canadian citizens can go on a working holiday in over 20 countries!
- Teach English abroad: to legally teach English abroad, you will need a work visa. Top countries for teaching English abroad like China, Japan, and Korea make this process simple. If you don’t yet have your degree, there are still options for you.
- WWOOFing: most WWOOFers go abroad on a tourist visa. Due to the mobile nature of this program, many organic farm workers country jump anyway so staying the allotted number of tourist days isn’t a problem. For example, tourists can stay in the Schengen Zone for 90 days. This time limit resets after 180 days.
- Au Pair abroad: many of the most popular and best-paid countries for au pairing have special au pair visas or make it easy for au pairs to secure a work permit. Countries that have an au pair visa include Germany and Switzerland.
Don’t let the visa process trip you up. Whichever program you choose, your future employer or program provider can help walk you through the steps you need to follow.
How to plan your working gap year
Taking a working gap year takes a bit of planning but the time you spend will be well worth it.
Gap year job costs
Even though your plan is to get a gap year job that pays (or at least covers your main expenses), it’s wise to factor the following costs into your plans.
- Transportation: depending on where you spend your gap year, your roundtrip plane ticket could be a few hundred dollars or a few thousand.
- Travel and health insurance: making sure you’re covered in the case of medical emergencies is key. Supplemental travel and health insurance plans can cover both you and your belongings. If you’re teaching abroad, you may be covered by the program.
- Accommodation & food: if your program or employer doesn’t include housing, it’s a good idea to arrive with enough for the first month’s rent, deposit, and an additional month. You’ll need it to get set up before your first paycheck.
- Safety net savings: the above costs aside, it’s a good idea to keep a chunk of money set aside for any emergencies or unforeseen expenses that could arise. Keep that money in savings and try not to touch it unless absolutely necessary!
Benefits of a gap year job
Gap year jobs provide a lot of benefits to those who decide to take an unconventional route after high school or college.
- Work experience to build CV. International experience on your CV shows that not only have you been engaged in paid employment but that you have the independence, courage, and tenacity to do it in another country.
- Earn some money while you travel. Many gap year jobs are perfectly suited for those looking to travel as much as they work. You can work for short periods of time in one place before moving on, using the money you earned to set off on your next adventure.
- Discover new career interests. Teaching English in China during a gap year can spark a love for education, just like a casual job in hospitality in Australia can uncover a passion for international tourism management. You can try out the path you think you want to follow or discover one that’s completely new.
Whatever your motivation for taking a gap year job abroad, the benefits are clear – start planning your working gap year today!
Gap Year Jobs Abroad
How can I take a gap year with no money?
How can I work for a year abroad?
Roles such as English teacher, intern, farm worker, and au pair are great ways to work abroad for a year or more. You can apply for these jobs through a gap year organization, a program provider, or a recruiter.Related Content
Can you work during a gap year?
Yes! As long as you have a visa that allows you to work, you can apply for any job that you are qualified for.Related Content
Where can I work on a gap year?
You can work anywhere in the world as long as you can obtain the proper visa. Popular destinations for working gap years include Europe, Asia, and Oceania.Related Content
How can I make money during a gap year?
Although you can be very creative with paid jobs during your gap year, some popular options include interning, working casually as a restaurant server or barista, teaching English abroad, working on a farm, or caring for children as an au pair.Related Content
How much money do I need for a gap year?
If you’re planning to seek paid employment during your gap year, it’s wise to set off with around $1,500-$3,000 in savings, depending on the location. Wherever you go, you’ll need to cover start-up costs before receiving your first paycheck.Related Content