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Start The Gap Year Job Search with our Top 10 Job Ideas

Written by Jenny McWhirter on 25 / 08 / 2016

Gap Year Advice

It’s been a week since the A level results came in and the gap year plans are looking good. However just to warn you in less than 10 days schools will be returning, and every parent out there will be looking for some sort of routine back in the home. There's no avoiding it, the pressure to “get out and get earning”, to pay for your gap year, will become the new mantra in your household, so it’s time to pack away the summer and start the job search. Sorry to the bearer of bad news.

So, ever helpful we’ve put together our top 10 money spinning ways to help you achieve your financial goals. Some of them are fairly standard, but we’ve popped in a few slightly more ‘off piste’ ideas for those who can’t quite face spending half their year waiting tables or pulling pints.

Have a read and let the job search begin…

1.Bar/Pub/Restaurant Work

A fail safe money-earner for a gapper. Whether you choose to work in the local pub, a bar or a restaurant, the pay is always pretty good and you won’t need much prior experience, if any.

The hourly rate of pay usually isn’t much above the minimum wage, but since these sorts of jobs come with long hours, the money really adds up. Top tip: job search high-end chains where the tips are better.

Pros

Usually no prior experience needed.

Good customer service experience - looks great on the CV.

Quite often you get fed while at work, so will save money on food for yourself.

You’re always busy at work so rarely get bored, and time goes quickly.

Good tips.

Cons

Very long, anti-social hours (you’ll most likely have to serve your friends and family as they come in for a pint at the end of their day!).

Can get some very tricky customers (but that’s all good experience).

2.Catering Companies

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While this is similar to restaurant and pub work, signing up with a catering company is a bit different because it usually involves moving all over the place to cater big events such as weddings and parties.

There are plenty of national catering companies, such as At Your Service, but start the job search with smaller, local ones. Once you’re signed up, they usually contact you whenever they need workers for an event, and often the more experienced you become, the more you get paid per hour.

Pros

Every day is different – different event, different place, different people.

Once you’re on their books, most companies will employ you again during uni holidays, or whenever you have the time, because they always need people to help cater big events. A constant money earner.

Long hours = more money.

Cons

Anti-social hours – most big events will be at weekends and in the evenings, meaning you’ll spend your weekends catering parties rather than attending them.

3.Tutoring

This obviously isn’t a job for everyone, but if you’ve got the patience and have retained enough knowledge from your school years(?!) then tutoring children of all ages can be a great money earner.

There are always parents who want a little bit of extra help for their children either in the holidays or throughout the term-time with homework. Job search will need to be creative - put a notice up in the local schools, community notice boards and on your community Facebook groups.

Pros

Can be a much higher hourly rate than waitressing/catering jobs, depending on the level of tutoring or age of the student.

Great experience to pop on your CV.

Cons

Requires a lot of patience and a high enough academic standard.

Can be fairly sporadic, not a consistent weekly salary.

4.Babysitting

This is a great little money-earner and the best way to job search is via word of mouth or adverts in local schools.

Babysitting requires no specialist skills, although previous experience with children is obviously helpful, and reassuring for the parents. Also, if you really want to win parents’ trust, it’s worth getting a basic first aid course under your belt for their peace of mind.

Pros

Relatively easy money – once children are asleep, you essentially get paid to watch TV!

Can be quite a high hourly rate, depending on how generous the family you’re babysitting for are.

Can fit in around another job giving you a double income.

Cons

Can also be fairly sporadic, not a consistent weekly salary.

Be prepared for some very tricky children who refuse to go to bed when they’re told.

5.Au Pair

One step up from babysitting – this involves moving in with a family (usually in another country) and helping to look after the children and doing odd jobs around the house.

This can be a great way to really experience another country whilst earning money, and having somewhere to live for free. Often, in a non-English speaking country, au pairs also help to teach the children English.

So it's obviously useful to know at least the basics of the language of the country you’ll be living in, but usually, as part of the contract for au pairs, the host family pay for you to study the local language. But if foreign languages aren’t your strong suit, then an au pair job in somewhere like Australia might be perfect. Start the job search by contacting au pair agencies.

Pros

Experience living in a completely new country, while sharing the lives of local people.

Chance to learn a new language.

Combine travel and work.

Free place to live.

Cons

Usually long term placements, (usually 6-12 months) so a large commitment.

Can be alienating – harder to meet new people when you spend most of your days with your host family.

6.Gap Student in a School

A huge number of schools around the UK (and the world) hire gap students for either a term or a whole year to help out around the school.

This can be a great money earner as well as a fun job. A lot of gap students work for the autumn term, which usually earns enough money to fund their travels from January on wards.

The best way to job search for this is to contact schools directly. Alternatively, boarding schools usually include accommodation for gap students, so you could find somewhere further afield to work, perhaps even in another country.

Pros

Usually good pay (and often higher rates for after-school hours).

Most often work in a team with people the same age – great chance to meet people.

Fun, different job that will look great on your CV.

Cons

Exhausting (children’s energy levels are never-ending).

Usually some past experience working with children is needed.

7.Life Guarding

This is a seasonal job, but if you are a qualified lifeguard you can take it pretty much anywhere in the world. So while you can spend you summer on a rainy British beach, once autumn hits, you can chase the summer around the world and head to the sunny beaches of Australia or South Africa.

Pros

Follow summer around the world.

Live on a beach or by the pool.

Chance to work and travel at the same time.

Skills for life.

Cons

Long shifts than can be fairly boring if there’s nothing going on.

Can be hard to get work abroad on a tourist visa.

8.Sports Coaching

Much like tutoring, parents and children often want a bit of extra help in the holidays and after school to try and help them improve their sports skills.

This might involve helping them perfect their dribble in football, improve their batting style in cricket or work on their serve in tennis. Whatever it is, you obviously need to have the sporting skills to do this job, if you’ve never picked up a tennis racket, then maybe tennis coaching isn’t for you.

While coaching qualifications are not required, they definitely help you to get a job. For instance, the ECB Level 1 Cricket Coaching qualification is relatively easy to get and will definitely boost your application.

Pros

You get to spend your days playing sport.

If you manage to get a coaching qualification, this will look great on the CV.

Cons

If you get a child who’s better than you at their sport you’re a bit stuck.

Requires lots of patience.

9.Ski/Snowboard or Surf Instructor

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If coaching football isn’t quite adventurous enough for you, then why not qualify as a ski, snowboard or surf instructor and spend the rest of your year either on the slopes or in the water and get paid to do it? Sounds pretty dreamy.

While the courses are fairly expensive, they are qualifications you’ll have for life, and so you can continue to earn money from them forever. Obviously these jobs are seasonal, but if you’re into both, then spend the winter in the Alps and the summer in the surf – what could be better?

In fact, have a look at our 11 week ski instructor course in France.

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Pros

Qualifications you’ll have for life (looks great on the CV!).

Spend your days doing sports you love.

Live in beautiful places with like-minded people.

Cons

Seasonal Jobs.

Expensive courses (you’ll probably need to get another job beforehand to fund your course).

10.Chalet Worker in a Ski Resort

A ski season is one of the most popular ways to spend a gap year, and if you love the mountains and are up for some hard work, then job search 'working in a chalet'. Although you won’t make a lot of money, you get a lot of your costs paid for by the company you work for, so if you’re careful with your spending, you might come out at the end of the season with a bit of money saved. But don't count on that!

Spending an entire season in the mountains is such an incredible opportunity, and working in a chalet either as a chef or a host, means you are mostly only working in the mornings and evenings (if you’re organised), so you get the rest of the day on the slopes.

Job search should start with the big ski companies like Crystal or Ingams or have a look at Gap Year DIY for ski jobs direct to private chalet owners.

Pros

You get to spend about 5 months in the mountains – amazing.

You get the chance to perfect your skiing/snowboarding.

Meet amazing people who will be friends for life.

Have a great job and experiences to put on your CV.

Cons

Hard work – early mornings and late nights, while always needing to have a smile on your face for your guests.

Won’t save a huge amount of money so if you’re planning on travelling more after your season, you may need another job on top of this one.

Start Your Job Search

So there you have our top 10 ideas to kick start your job search.

Once you’ve got the jobs lined up it’s then time to book that trip away to get you through those long hours. Take a look at some of our gap year programmes for a little inspiration.

If you need any help with planning your gap year, or you don’t know how you’re going to fill the next empty 12 months of your life, then get in contact with us and we’ll be happy to help you out.

Your gap year has the potential to be the best year of your life; all it takes is careful planning, a sense of adventure and, sadly, money.

So start the job search and get saving!

Not sure how to plan your Gap Year? Don't panic! Download The Gap Adventure Blueprint Our comprehensive gap year advice guide, which contains several chapters on destinations, fundraising, things to do...

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Check out our gap year programs

We have award winning 'planet saving' programs across Africa, Asia, South and Central America.

Reducing plastic in our oceans, protecting turtles and saving the rhino is just the tip of the melting iceberg.

All experiences include a mix of projects and adventures, travelling with a team and, of course, are risk assessed.

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