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USA Gap Year Job Guide

New YorkThere’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

EA Ski & Snowboard

EA Ski & Snowboard Training

Want to work as a ski or snowboard instructor? EA Ski & Snowboard are now recruiting intermediate to advanced skiers and snowboarders to join them on one of their instructor internship courses. Choose from more than 30 locations across Canada, Japan, USA, Switzerland and New Zealand to learn, earn and play this winter. Get a guaranteed paid job offer, gain an international qualification and receive world-class training. If you’ve been thinking about a gap year in the mountains, a career break, or looking to fast-track your snow sports career, we have a course to suit you. Visit our website to see if you qualify for an EA course and start planning your next adventure.

Find out more Visit their website


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 America consist of four categories, for residents of the UK. The most common that applies for students looking for work in America is the J1, but even this has sub-categories. These relate to what type of work you would want to do while on your gap year in the USA, for example the Au Pair US Visa for those specifically wanting to do Au Pair work. You will need to carefully consider the work that you would want to do as there are different options for different work in America.

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 America isn’t easy to come by, as there will be stiff competition from other students wanting a similar job. The jobs that you will find easy to access will be jobs tailored or created specifically for students, such as summer camp jobs and resort jobs. This way you will have more success in applying than you would if you were applying for a run of the mill office job, where a native of the USA would take priority. They are a great idea for some students looking for an adventure, but with the added security that such organisations offer. A lot of them offer accommodation and food, and a salary or pocket money at the end of your placement within the camp. There are many different opportunities available inside the camp as well, if you would like to teach horse riding, archery, or football or something more like looking after people with special needs or are underprivileged, there are literally hundreds of things you could do in a camp, but only so many applicants are successful. These may be your quickest and simplest route into the US of A.

If you are of the more adventurous ilk, and you would rather have the freedom to go wherever and do whatever you want in America, you would still need to apply for a J1 visa if you are going to be doing any kind of work while on your working holiday. You would need to bear in mind, though, that the kind of work would be limited and the pay less favourable than if you went with a more recognised organisation or way of getting a job. You may need to lower your expectations and do some less engaging and exciting jobs if you attempt to pay your own way around. Your chances of finding holiday work in USA will be much slimmer without getting a feel for the opportunities available before you head across the pond.

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.