USA Gap Year Job Guide
There’s much more to the States than corporate America or Hollywood would have you believe. It's hard to comprehend just how diverse the country is. From New Yorkers and Native Americans, Hawaiians and African-Americans to San Franciscans and Alaskans, the variety of cultures and ethnic groups is incredible. The country is a fantastic hotchpotch of communities, many with different languages and dialects, food, music and art.
So whether you fancy hiking and skiing in the Rockies or dodging rattlesnakes in the deserts of Nevada, chilling on the beach in Hawaii or taking in a Broadway show in New York, watching great live Blues in St Louis or paying homage to The King at Graceland, we hope the information we have on gap work in the USA will help to inspire you to get out there and experience it all for yourself.
Holiday work in the USA is a popular option for many students and gap year travellers. But working in America isn't straightforward - you need to sort out your visa, and find a job in advance of arrival, as a general rule. Your gap year in the USA could include some fantastic experiences - working on a summer camp, as an au pair or ski instructor, or even starting an internship with a US-based company. Plus travelling through some of the world's most iconic destinations, but if you want to find work in America for a year, or a summer job in the USA, then you need to get organised.
The most straightforward options for finding temporary jobs in America, if you fulfil the criteria, are summer camp positions and the 4 month J1 visa which enables you to find temporary work and travel around. Both of these are best sorted out using an organisation such as the ones listed on this site, who can help you with the visa application process and with finding temporary or summer jobs in the USA.
Read our comprehensive gap job guide to the USA by visiting one of the following areas:
Companies that can help you find gap work in the USA
Get paid to ski or snowboard and enjoy the ultimate Gap year on snow! EA Ski & Snowboard Training offer the only way you can combine training, instructor certifications and a guaranteed instructor job offer - all in one season! Package also includes lift passes, accommodation and more. (Instructor Internship Programs)
Spend from 2 weeks to 24 months volunteering, working or interning on any continent in the world with BUNAC, the work and volunteer abroad experts.
What Kind of Work is Available in America?
On a J-1 visa, you can do any kind of work in America. But the nature of the programme means that as a student or gap year traveller, you are likely to be looking for the sort of temporary work that doesn't need you to be fully qualified or very experienced. American cities offer plenty of opportunities for paid work with temping agencies or major employers. If you have good office skills then use them to earn some cash while you are in a city. If you have worked in a bar before you can pick up bar work much more easily in cities than you can in the mountain resorts, where everyone is after the same job. Retail work is also easy to find, particularly in the run up to Christmas.
In short, you are not restricted in terms of the type of work that you do, it is just the length of time you have to do it which is limited on a J1 visa. The exception to this is the Au Pair programme that the US government offers, which means that you can work as an au pair in America for 12 months or longer.
The working visas in
How Long Can I Work in the USA For?
The length of time you want to spend there will be a pivotal factor. The J-1 type visas are only valid for up to four months work, with the option of extending by thirty days in some cases to allow for a bit of travelling once your placement has finished. For some people, that may not be enough, but it is a great idea for students wanting to do something adventurous and exciting in their summer break from studying. The other, longer option is an 18-month visa that requires working for a camp, ski resort or company for the duration of your stay. The primary aim of this visa is the work experience that you gain while on your placement, and there are specific requirements for acquiring one of these visas. You also need to take into account that most of these visas have a cap on how many are issued annually, so you need to send your application off early and get looking for a job!
How Can I Find a Gap Year Job in America?
Once you have settled on a visa, you need to think about the actual work that you would want to be doing over there, and how likely it is you will get that kind of work. Work in
If you are of the more adventurous ilk, and you would rather have the freedom to go wherever and do whatever you want in
Overall, finding temporary and seasonal work in America is a challenge, but its something that is accessible to most gap year travellers or students, if they use the right partners to help them find work and sort out the red tape. Use the organisations on this page to help you find gap year work in the US.