Let’s face it: while the bank of mom and dad was once an excellent option for an interest-free loan (*cough* handout *cough*) for traveling the globe, one day you’ve got to stand on your own two grown-up feet.
Ok, we know that all work and no play makes Jack (well, any traveler) a dull boy. Which is why there’s no better way than to fulfil wanderlust and calm those itchy feet than with paid work abroad programs. Yup, you read that correctly: it is possible to work and travel, all while leaving your parents busting with pride, your peers marvelling over your Insta-perfect photos, and your future employers swooning over the new skills etched onto your resume.
But how can you track down these barely believable workplace adventures, aka work abroad programs for adults? Well, my friend, I’m glad you asked. Let me introduce you to the land of work AND play, a place where novice skiers can transform to pros in a season and where a TEFL certificate can get you a teaching job in literally any part of the world.
Paid Work Abroad Programs
While the experience you gain will be worth your weight (x100) in gold, it doesn’t hurt to earn some cash in exchange for putting all of those hours in. That’s why we’ve brought you this shortlist of paid work abroad programs, in Europe, Australia, and beyond.
1. Become a friend to the oceans and get paid to help with turtle conservation.
Few paid work abroad programs are as turtley awesome as this one: working with the little critters on the enchanting shores of Cape Verde, a small archipelago of ten volcanic islands off the coast of West Africa.
Ideally, you should have previous experience and an insatiable passion for tagging, monitoring and practically living and breathing all things turtle. But if not, never fear; instead, check out these volunteering programs where you can lend a helping hand working with marine wildlife and quickly gain all the skills you need to apply.
Ultimately, this is a pretty niche job and one of the paid work abroad programs ideal for anyone with an undergrad in marine biology or an interest in moving into this field of work.
2. Get your hands dirty in the Australian outback.
News flash: it’s not just kids who get all the fun. No, while Australia might be top of the list of places for an adventure travel program abroad, grown-ups can go down under and learn what life’s really like in the outback with a rural work program in Australia.
Don’t worry, it’s unlikely you’ll find yourself reliving the reptile wrestling highlights of Crocodile Dundee; instead, you’re more likely to be working as a ranch hand, driving a tractor around the outback, or galloping through the red dusty lands of the Australian backwaters on your own horse.
This job probably isn’t for anyone who minds getting their hands a bit dirty and who isn’t so sure about getting a bit more up-close and personal with Australia’s frankly bonkers selection of mildly dangerous animals. But if you’ve got a sense of adventure and a desire to get off-the-beaten-track in one of the world’s most popular places for traveling, then this is the ultimate bada$$ work abroad program for you.
3. Say bonjour to a ski pass and a season cooking up a storm in Switzerland.
For most wanting to learn how to work and travel, the hospitality industry is often the most obvious choice, particularly for those with little experience in other sectors and with a desire to work anywhere across the globe.
Sure, the old adage “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen” is true; working in a professional kitchen is certainly not for the faint-hearted. But if you know your way around a stove and can identify a knuckle pounder from a mortar and pestle in a line up, a job as a chef at an international Swiss ski camp is not just a great way to grow your resume but gives you plenty of chances to hit the slopes and, well, cool down a little.
Not quite so comfortable in the kitchen? Call yourself “Soux” and get yourself a role as a hotel kitchen assistant. You won’t be getting rich quick, but with the wages enough to keep you in a ski pass and beer for the season - and plenty of free time to learn how to nollie and powder slash with the best of them – you’ll find that a job in the hospitality industry is one of the most ideal work abroad programs for adults.
But if you’re after more than just a slice of the adventure in the afternoons and weekend, instead hit the slopes for the season, with a season training at a world-class resort in Banff, Kelowna, Revelstoke or Vancouver to become snowboard level one coaching qualified.
While this does require some initial outlay to get you trained, it does come with a guaranteed job offer. So once you’re able to skim down those slopes with the elegance of a swan on skis (well, maybe better), you won’t be looking back!
4. Grab your pen and get copywriting in Peru.
If you’re a bit more handy with, well, your hands and a pen, there are plenty of other work abroad programs to strike your fancy. Jet off to Peru for an entry level copywriter position where you’ll write content for various websites, all while attending Spanish classes and getting to know your way around South America’s most delectable culinary city, Lima.
You’ll also find that with weekends free to hop on a plane and head over to the grand Inca citadel, aka Machu Picchu in the south-east of the country or checking out the waves at Peru’s top beach resort, Mancora, you’ll hardly feel like you’re working.
5. Live in Europe’s most magical cities as a summer school director.
Culture vultures will want to sink their teeth into work and travel abroad programs that see you living in some of Europe’s most charming cities: Florence, Barcelona, Milan, or Rome. Not only do you get to dine out on tapas and pizza or swan around the Colosseum at weekends, but you can play an essential part in the blossoming of new minds in a role as a program coordinator or director or instructor as part of a summer program.
Regardless of whether you’re a qualified teacher, graduate student or undergrad hoping to widen their skillset and live in some truly magical cities, this job is the way of spending summer abroad – and earning some cheeky euros along the way.
6. The most versatile work abroad program of them all: teach English anywhere in the world!
One of the most tried and tested ways of finding a paid work abroad program is through a TEFL course: aka a qualification for teaching English that proves you know your salt when it comes to irregular verbs, the tenses, and can at least start to explain why English spelling makes absolutely no sense.
The possibilities of spending a month or even more teaching English anywhere in the world are endless and open to applicants whether they’ve already studied for a TEFL certificate or not (If you’re the latter, check out our huge selection of accredited TEFL courses, read about these TEFL courses that practically guarantee you a job and how to ace those interviews for teaching English abroad).
Expect to pay upwards of $1,000 to study abroad and then watch as the job offers rake in: whether teaching alongside the Pope (well, nearly) in the Vatican City or chowing down on bratwurst and a stein of local bier at any one of Germany’s most lively cities, such as Munich, Berlin, or Hamburg.
How can you make your dreams of working and traveling abroad come true?
We promise you: work and travel abroad are not just the stuff that warm, fuzzy dreams are made of - it is possible to make a wage and see the globe at its finest. But all the best work abroaders follow some simple slices of advice.
Why program reviews matter.
The best work abroad experiences are those where the keen applicant has done his or her homework and so there aren’t any surprises when they arrive. This is where program reviews and chatting to previous participants come into play. Remember, working abroad isn’t just about you working for an employer, it’s the job itself working for both of you.
There are hundreds of reviews available about jobs abroad, so always be sure to check them out and don’t be shy to contact the program to ask to be put in touch with someone else who’s done the program before and can give you the lowdown.
Nail the application.
Firstly, applying for positions that suit your experiences or interests is a sure-fire way of making sure you make a good impression on your employers and enjoy every moment of your time abroad - not just those hours spent outside of work (Psst, you can sometimes even get a job overseas with no experience!).
Take it seriously.
Secondly, don’t be the person who treats a job abroad less seriously than one back in your home country. Prove you’ve mastered the art of adulting and be their star employee. Not only will you be guaranteed some stellar references, but it might even lead to you being asked to come back again next year.
Leave your preconceptions at home.
Finally, leave your preconceptions at home. Arriving with an open-mind to the cultural differences that you’ll no doubt encounter and behaving like an excitable sponge as you soak them all up is the magic sauce for a truly unforgettable experience working abroad.
We’re just getting started with paid work abroad programs! 🎉
Finding work abroad that can pay the bills and give you a wealth of experience might sound too good to be true, but lucky for you, those opportunities are out there. Be diligent in your hunt and match your skills to job availability. Most importantly, be flexible and adaptable — two key skills any expat can surely attest to the importance of. Life abroad doesn’t always go as planned (though we do our best to help plan for potential risks), but it’s always worth the ride. Enjoy!