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Gap year

Thinking of taking a gap year?

You may want some 'time out' to travel and undertake work experience in the UK or abroad. You may just want to have some fun. Whatever you do, make sure you develop skills, abilities and experience that will enhance your career prospects.

Future employers will expect you to have made good use of your time. Even if you 'just travel' in your gap year you will develop maturity and independence, increase your self awareness, and learn about what career possibilities are options for you.

With thanks to CareerPlayer - your online career video library.

Examples of gap year options


Using recruitment agencies to find temporary paid work can enable you to experience short-term employment in different types of jobs and organisations.

These experiences can develop your work competencies and capabilities, build up a network of contacts, and could also lead to permanent job offers. Search for recruitment agencies by industry and geographical area using a tool produced by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation.

Voluntary work experience in the UK

There are online volunteering opportunity databases you can search. But you can also find fixed term programmes of voluntary work in jobs sectors that include heritage, conservation, social and community. For a selection of useful resources, see the volunteering section of CareerBox.

Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL)

With a TEFL qualification you could find work with a language school in the UK or teach English abroad. Some organisations offer exchange teaching programmes, and opportunities can be found in Japan, China, the Far East, Middle East, parts of Eastern Europe and Spain, Italy and Germany. A lot of people use TEFL to fund gap year travel.

Employment overseas

If you are keen to find paid work while you travel, a good starting point for identifying sources of vacancies is the database of 'Country Profiles' compiled by These career articles include information about a country's jobs market, tips on finding work experience and further study, and advice about visa and immigration issues.

If you are interested in working your way across the world have a look at which matches volunteers to hosts.

Voluntary work experience abroad organised by charities

Projects can be in areas of conservation, environment, community education, teaching etc. Some programmes require participants to contribute towards costs, so you may need to plan and fundraise well in advance of your trip. Be careful, and do your background research. There are some disreputable organisations out there.

Visit CareerBox to access online resources for further research into gap year options, organisations, and opportunities.

Page last updated on Thursday 10 March 2016 at 9.30am.


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