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Around the world in gap years

It can feel impossible to plan out the future when you’re still trying to figure out who you are. As a teenager, imagining life a year from now can feel like a lifetime away. 

Making sure that the end point is one that you’ll be happy in is a great start, but taking those first steps out of compulsory education is tricky for the teens of today.

There are so many routes teens can take, whether that’s an apprenticeship or a university degree or straight into an internship. 

However, after being in education for nearly fifteen years, the idea of signing up for more isn’t always everyone’s first choice.

And who can blame them? With a whole world to explore and self discovery often put on the back burner, taking some time away from structured education can be quite an attractive offer for recent graduates.

So much so that the United Kingdom’s Department for Education and Skills estimated 200-250,000 young people defer their studies a year, taking a gap year instead. 

But what is a gap year?

A gap year is usually a full year or a semester long break from learning. Most people who choose this option take the time to learn more about themselves. 

Taking up new hobbies or exploring the world is a great way to discover what you like outside of education, and can help you feel more confident about what you want to do in the future.

Gap years are also a great way to earn more money, as for most teens education will have taken the top spot in priorities, rather than working. 

As a result, many employers have created job roles, specifically for students who are ready to leap into a new experience and dip their toes into the working world. 

We wanted to take a closer look at what a gap year looks like for students around the world, to see what kind of activities and work are most popular in each country – as well the amount of opportunities that are available to them. 

So we analysed the number of gap year jobs that were advertised across the world, and we can now reveal the countries with the most jobs for young people taking a gap year. 

The USA came in top place when analysing how many gap year roles are available, with a huge 131 jobs offering young people a chance to take a year out of studies.

The Americans were followed by the Australians, as down under is host to 66 gap year job roles.

China placed third in our table of countries with most gap year jobs, with a recorded 64 roles that are perfect for young people looking to take a year out.

Top 25 countries

Location Count
US 131
Australia 66
China 64
Spain 63
France 53
South Africa 50
Costa Rica 49
Canada 48
Thailand 42
New Zealand 40
India 38
Ecuador 35
Peru 32
Nepal 30
Chile 25
England 25
Mexico 25
Tanzania 25
Online 21
Argentina 21
Ireland 20
Kenya 20
Philippines 18
Switzerland 17
Brazil 16


Our analysis found that 90 countries across the world have under 10 job roles on offer that are suitable for young people. 

South Korea has eight roles available, and Sri Lanka offers just seven. Belize, Guadeloupe and Norway all have six gap year jobs advertised. Meanwhile, Denmark has five, Cuba has four and Iceland has three. 

Albania, Bermuda, Malta, Poland and Seychelles are all countries that have just one gap year job role available for young people who are looking for a break from education. 

But what kind of job roles are on offer, and are they really going to provide a new experience for tired, burnt out students?

We analysed what these gap year jobs will have people doing, and can reveal the most common jobs for people taking a year out.

The top gap year option was adventure travel, making up 465 of the 1419 roles available across the world. 

This includes trips such as volunteering in a new country, or touring with an organisation picking up odd jobs along the way.

The second most popular gap year experience is ‘cultural immersion’. These types of years away are great to truly understand a new country and everything it has to offer. Living amongst locals, working to better their community and even learning the language.

Our analysis found 350 of these cultural immersion gap year trips.

This was followed by ‘hands on learning’ with 335 year out trips listing this as an option for young people. Most ‘hands-on learning’ gap year programs teach practical skills such as scuba diving, cooking, massage, or wilderness training. 

It might still be learning, which some gap year takers are trying to take a break from, however it’s a unique environment. These programs are usually in a foreign country that’s well known for the skill takers will be learning. 

Top 15 job roles

Job role Count
Adventure Travel 465
Cultural Immersion 350
Hands on learning 335
Post high school 262
Volunteer abroad 258
Language Immersion 230
After College 178
Au Pair 135
Teach abroad 103
Conservation 71
Sports coaching 66
Instructor 53
Ski Snowboard instructor 44
Arts 43
Religious 40


Other options included ski/snowboard instructor roles, with 44 jobs on offer across the world. Yoga retreats were also available, making up 36 of the options for gap year seekers. 

For the outdoorsy types, camp jobs were available too, with 25 roles. Social justice jobs, drama roles and journalistic work are also options, making up 30, 24 and 17 respectively.

A gap year isn’t always something that works for everyone, but it’s hard to deny the positive impact it can have on students who are looking to shake things up.

Providing real life experience through travel and volunteering, and developing key skills that can be hard to find outside of the classroom. Putting young people onto a path of self discovery is hardly a bad thing, especially if it’s in a tropical country or up high on a mountain.

When it comes to gap year jobs, with the amazing experience that people are gaining, there is the amazing opportunity to also learn or practise a foregin language. We looked at what languages are required the most when it comes to gap year jobs. 

Languages Count
English 363
Spanish 28
Chinese 9
Japanese 3
Italian 3
French 3
Portuguese 2
Swahili 2
Mandarin 1
German 1
Hindi 1
Burmese 1
Wolof 1
Bahasa Indonesian 1
Nepali 1


One of the coolest parts of a gap year can be also the experience of your accommodation. So, we had a look at the advertised gap year jobs and where you’d be living. 

Accommodation Count
Hostel 208
Host Family 157
Guesthouse 129
Apartment 104
Hotel 98
Tent 78
Lodge 76
Cabin 52
Boat 18
Sleeper Train 5
Ashram 5
Camper Van 2
Rondavel 2


A gap year job gives you the opportunity to not only learn something new, earn money, but be able to live in a different country, learn a new language and meet new friends. 

Altitude Futures have analysed Go Overseas gap year jobs listings on the 10th of August 2021. 


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