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How To Work Abroad - an Introduction

When people talk about wanting to work abroad, they could mean any one of many different things. Some people want to work for a summer in Europe, maybe finding a bar work job, or work in a holiday resort. Other people may want to find voluntary work abroad to get work experience or help a charity out in a developing country in Asia or Africa. Then there is summer camp work in the USA, ski jobs in Canada, or internship with a business sector you want to have a career in. All of these are valid options, and things that companies on this site can help you with. There are so many different options you need to consider them carefully to work out what is best for you. To help, you can ask yourself the following questions:

Why do I want to work abroad?

  • Because I want to do something, and go somewhere, different
  • Because I want to earn some cash
  • Because I want to get work experience

If you want to just go somewhere different, you need to narrow down your options - as the world is your oyster! If you want to find temporary or seasonal work abroad, and you are from the UK or another EU country, you can work in any European country which is an EU member. If you are from the UK and want to find a job farther afield, in say Australia or New Zealand, you will need to get a working holiday visa. If you want to work in the USA, your choices are limited to the J1 visa, where you can only work and travel in America for a few months. If you need to earn cash, you need to be realistic. Few temporary jobs offer high rates of pay. Working in a bar, hotel or restaurant will pay your way, but not much else. If you speak another language fluently you may be able to find something more highly paid, but not if you are only planning on working for a few months. Be realistic - would you be better off staying at home, working at home and saving money so that you can afford to travel for longer and take whatever work comes your way? If you are looking for work experience in a specific field, there are plenty of organisations who can help fing you placements, some of which will require a financial commitment from yourself, particularly if they are involve volunteering in more far flung places such as Central America or India. The experience you get from placements like these more than compensate for the cost however, as they can add amazing experience to your CV.

How much can I expect to earn working abroad?

It depends what you want to do, but make sure you do your research in advance. They type of backpacker jobs available to travellers looking for temporary or seasonal work do not generally pay much above the minimum wage, and in some cases, like fruitpicking, pay below minimum wage levels (some sectors in some countries are allowed to do this by law).  If you find work as a teacher of English as a foreign language (TEFL) you may earn a better hourly rate, but the work is unlikely to be full time.

The minimum wage for adults in the UK is £6.08p per hour (from October 2011). In France it is 9 Euros per hour. In Spain it is 641 Euros per month for a full time job. In the Netherlands the minimum wage is 322 Euros per week. These differences mean that you need to budget carefully when you are planning to find a job abroad. How much will you realistically earn as opposed to how much will it cost to live there? The cost of living in capital cities such as London or Paris will make it very hard to make ends meet while you are working temporarily. The key here is to be realistic, and not expect to return from your travels quids in. If you are lucky, your work abroad will cover your cost of living while you are away. 

How much money will I need to support myself while I am looking for a job in my destination?

We recommend that you take enough money with you to cover your rent and living costs for at least 3 weeks while you are looking for work. You should never just arrive in a place without funds to support you, expecting to walk into a job. As a rule, you should treat fnding a work abroad in exactly the same way as you could do at home. If you can't get a job in a pub in your local town, why would you be more likely to find bar work in Ibiza? Thousands of people do find work abroad every year, so it isn't impossible, but you do need to have some cash to support you while you are away in case you can't find work straightaway, or the work you do find is low paid or only casual.

How can I find a job in advance?

You can use the organisations on this website to book accommodation, sort your visas out, get insurance and find work or a voluntary placement. Do all your prep work here, and save yourself a lot of hassle when you arrive in your dream destination. The more preparation you do now from home, the more likely you are to find work abroad.

 
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