What is a career break?

Career break trees and sunshine

A career break is your chance to do something new and exciting. Whether you're bored out of your brain at work, or quite like your job but fancy doing something different for a bit, a career break is a chance to get out there and see the world.

Why take a career break?

Many people take career breaks simply because they can. You might be fed up with work or home. You might have missed the chance to take a gap year when you were younger, and now seems like a good time. You can even use the break to change career, or simply figure out what you want to do.

What can you do?

Pretty much anything you want - as long as it's constructive, you're doing something different and you are stepping out of your comfort zone. Career breaks fall into five broad categories:

  • Paid work abroad
  • VolunteerĀ (usually abroad but you can do full-time volunteering in the UK)
  • Learn (language, sailing or instructor courses, for example)
  • TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language)
  • Travel

There are literally thousands of career break opportunities across these categories, so the really difficult part is deciding what to do! Most career breakers end up doing a combination of things.

What's the difference between a sabbatical, career break and adult gap year?

Snowboarder on a career breakNot much. The word 'sabbatical' is often used when your employer is keeping your job open. A sabbatical or career break is usually unpaid and there is no legal entitlement to it - you have to agree it with your employer. Many career breakers choose to quit their job and find a new one when they return.

A gap year (whether adult or not) is not necessarily a year. In fact, for adults, they tend to last around 6 months, although anything from a month to 2 years is counted as a career break. Constructive experiences (eg volunteering abroad) less a month are called mini career breaks.

Want a career break but don't know where to start?

Start by looking at this search facility where you can find a project to suit your interests. If you're in a rush, you can use this information ordering service (guaranteed spam free).

And remember - a career break can and will change your whole life. Good luck!