Waiting Tables is a Popular Working Holiday Job in the UK
So you’re off to the UK for a working holiday and you plan to get a job. You are probably wanting to know what job types are available and how you will get a job, right? In this post I will cover the most popular working holidays jobs in the UK and how you can find one. Let’s get into it!
Where will you Work in the UK?
Before I get into the most popular working holiday jobs you can do as a working holiday maker in the UK, you might want to know where the work is. Check out my map following for a quick overview of what is available and where. Most people on a UK working holiday set themselves up in London. London offers the most opportunities and has a working holiday infrastructure of employment agencies set up. But don’t forget the other capital cities of Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast. Also other major cities of York, Liverpool, Manchester or Aberdeen as you could find work there too. Even in the countryside, in the villages jobs become available in a variety of fields.
Map of UK Showing Where the Working Holiday Jobs Are – reproduced from Live Work and Play in London and the UK ebook
How to Find a Job in the UK?
Most working holiday makers to the UK find a job via a number of ways. The most popular ways are through newspapers and trade magazines, travel brochures, recruitment websites such as Seek, Facebook groups, fellow travellers, hostels and the most popular option, recruitment agencies.
Have a Copy of your CV, Qualifications and References Available
To get a job you will need to apply, and any future employers will want to see your CV, qualifications and references. Ensure you have copies of these available, preferably electronic copies so you can easily email them. Employers will also want to see your working holiday visa or any other visa allowing you to work in the UK and require your bank details to pay you.
Popular Working Holiday Jobs in the UK
Please note, the following jobs are listed in alphabetical order and any agencies listed are mentioned because they are happy to place working holiday makers into jobs. So these are the most popular jobs that working holiday makers find. Just because your profession isn’t listed doesn’t mean that type of work doesn’t exist, it does and if you want to find work in the same field you are currently working in, there would be a recruitment agency available for you to register with.
Accounting, Banking and Financial Jobs
The first on my list of popular working holiday jobs in the UK are accounting, banking and financial jobs. London is the heartland of the UK’s financial services centre and working holiday makers with accounting, banking and financial backgrounds are in demand. In fact, if you have overseas qualifications (which are recognised) you are often sought after. The majority of employers are based in two areas – the older ‘City’ and the modern glass towers and skyscrapers of the Docklands. However, there are a number of other locations in and around London. There are jobs also in the home counties (those around London). In addition, some of the UK’s other major cities have vibrant financial districts including the historic Scottish towns of Edinburgh and Glasgow. Most working holiday makers find a job through specialist recruitment agencies such as Goodman Masson, Hays Personnel, Michael Page and Robert Walters Associates. Pay rates are good and depending on the job you are doing expect to receive £15+ per hour
TIP: Dress conservatively. Males will need to wear a suit and tie (with a bowler hat and briefcase optional! Kidding). Some offices have a no-pants policy for females so either a skirt and shirt or a corporate suit should be worn. Work clothes can be bought once you arrive.
If you’ve heard the saying ‘there’s a pub on every corner’–well, it’s true. And this is why it is one of the most popular working holiday jobs in the UK. Even if you haven’t pulled a beer before the guv’nor (the owner or manager of the pub) may take you on (maybe only on a trial basis) to see how you cope with serving crowds, using the tills and eftpos machines and how well you interact with customers, especially the locals.
Many working holiday makers (singles and couples) find a position in London however, positions can be found all over the UK – as every town has a pub or two. Live-in bar work is popular and is great for working holiday makers as it takes care of finding somewhere to live and work at the same time. The hours can be long and often hard but it is a great way to meet people. You will receive a small wage, free or subsidised accommodation which might be your own room or you may share it with another employee and meals (usually only while you’re on duty). Live-in employees can expect to receive a wage of about £250+ per week in London and about £20 less in the rest of the UK. Some pubs pay an hourly rate of around £10+ per hour. You may also get tips on top of your wage.
To get a job in a pub you can walk in and ask if any jobs are available or contact agencies such as Live-in-Jobs, London Pub Co, UK Live In Jobs and Walkabout which is a chain of Australian pubs. Many working holiday makers work and travel their way around the UK by doing stints in pubs in different areas.
TIPS: Beers are not served with much of a head so practise pouring them this way. Also, ice isn’t put into drinks automatically, so ask the punter if they would like ice. Use a clean glass for each drink unless the customer hands their old glass back to you which you may refill–check with the supervisor about this.
Barista Jobs are Popular Working Holiday Jobs in the UK
Tea is king in the UK, but coffee is queen! Everyone loves a good coffee in the UK which means there are jobs for baristas. Plenty of coffee shops have international working holiday makers making coffees so if you’ve got the skills, then why not get a barista job. This type of job is very portable as positions can be available throughout the UK, and beyond! It one of the most popular working holiday jobs in the UK.
You do not necessarily need to be qualified, experienced or female to undertake care work. As long as you are caring, patient, honest, reliable, have a first aid certificate and an up-to-date police check you should be able to secure work. You may also be asked to apply for a DBS Check (Disclosure and Barring Services). This checks your details against the Children’s and Vulnerable Adult register.
Care work ranges from being a companion to someone providing personal care. Nurses who don’t want to go through the registration process often take care work. Positions can be live-in, so you will have your accommodation and meals provided. The daily rate is anywhere between £90 and £140 but the rate you receive is set according to the hours of work, the experience required by the client and your qualifications. Positions can be found from advertisements in The Lady magazine. Agencies to contact for a care work job include Aunt Jessica Cares, Christies Care and ENA Care Agency.
Chefs, Cooks and Kitchen Hands
Everybody’s gotta eat right? And people in the UK are no different. This is good news for chefs of all levels and specialities, cooks and kitchen hands. With the array of eateries ranging from local cafes to Michelen star rated restaurants you shouldn’t be without work for too long! Even better news is you can get a job anywhere in the UK because there are many cafes and restaurants throughout. So if you want to work and travel your way around the UK, finding a job as a chef, cook or kitchen hand is a great option. Many find a job by walking into an establishment and asking if any jobs are going. Plus many jobs are advertised in Tuesday’s Evening Standard in the section known as ‘the menu page’. There are many agencies you can register with as well including The Admiral Group, Chef Centre and Towngate Personnel.
TIP: Chef’s may need their own set of knives. Either take them with you or budget to buy some on your arrival in the UK.
Fruit and Vegetable Picking
Picking Fruit is a Popular Working Holiday Job in the UK
Jobs can be found picking fruit and vegetables in different parts of the UK. What a great way to discover parts of the UK you may not have considered visiting. If you have never done this kind of work before, the first few days will be a big learning experience as you adapt to working outside in all sorts of weather conditions. Jobs can differ greatly from picking root vegetables to climbing in fruit trees. Before you take on a fruit or vegetable picking job confirm what is included like accommodation, whether you need your own equipment such as secateurs and the hours you will be working. And most importantly, how much and how you will be paid. Rates of pay can be calculated either by an hourly rate or on how much you pick.
If you are interested to pick fruit and vegetables in the UK you can find positions advertised in Farmer’s Weekly and Farmer’s Guardian. You could register with a recruitment agency such as Fruitful Ltd and Picking Jobs.
TIP: Dress for the weather you will be working in. Fingerless gloves and a waterproof jacket will be your best friends.
There is a demand for skilled tractor drivers, machinery operators for operating the larger farm equipment. Also semi-skilled workers for operating the smaller, less complicated equipment. Non-seasonal work you could find includes working with livestock – dairy farming, sheep, beef, pigs and chickens. General farm work includes feeding animals, grooming horses, shepherding and general assistance in the running of the farm.
Knowing when to pitch your talents is a good place to start so following is a rough guide as to what is available and when.
Year round: fruit and vegetable picking, grading potatoes and onions, tree planting, milking, fencing, general farm work.
Spring: lambing assistants in Scotland and Wales from January to April, calving, tractor drivers to plough the fields. Shearers are required May to July.
Summer: harvest time, baiting hooks for salmon fishers, stalkers for deer and pheasant shoots
Autumn: planting next seasons crops
Winter: turkey plucking for Christmas. Beef farming expect work between February and May.
Hostel and Other Accommodation Jobs
There are many hostels and other types of accommodation where you could get a job while on your UK working holiday. Accommodation options, particularly hostels, B&Bs and budget hotels are often staffed by working holiday makers. Jobs that need filling are on reception, cleaning and housekeeping of rooms, maintenance and preparing and serving breakfasts. Many of the positions are live-in which takes care of finding somewhere to live and a job at the same time. One of the best ways to find such work is to ask where you are staying or walk in off the street and ask if any jobs are available. Or check out the HostelWorld website. Even though this site is for booking a hostel, you can use the contact details to directly approach the hostel for work.
READ MORE: How to Find a Job in a Hostel
Information Technology (IT)
IT professionals can find contract work in the UK. Positions range from technical, network and help desk support to analysts/programmers and project managers working on everything from main-frame, open system platforms to personal computers. Work is available on a contract basis for varying lengths of time, which will fit in perfectly for those of you who to want to travel between assignments. Positions can be found through the newspapers, employment websites such as Careerbuilder and Monsterboard or through a specialist recruitment agency of which there are many. A couple to contact for a job include Contractor UK and Project People. Many IT jobs are outsourced to remote workers thanks to the pandemic so check out sites such as Fiverr to get a job.
Medical and Health Care Staff
Medical and health care specialists will need to be registered with the appropriate UK body to work in the UK in their chosen field. It can be a long and expensive process to get your registration so many seek jobs in other fields. To find out more about registering check out the following. Once you have your registration you can register with recruitment agencies to find a position.
Nannies, Mannies, Mother’s Helps and Au Pairs
Being a nanny, manny, mothers’ help or au pair are popular working holiday jobs
Having a nanny, manny (male nanny), mother’s help or Au Pair is part of the British way of life. Many UK families find it quite prestigious to have an Australasian who is considered part of the family. You don’t necessarily need qualifications either. Having a caring attitude, a driver’s licence (a manual one is preferred) and childcare-related references matter more. Though a qualification will enhance the number of positions available to you. A police check from your home country is a must. You may be required to get a police check from the UK. More details available at the DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service).
If you are wondering the difference of the names here’s a brief overview. A nanny/manny is responsible for looking after the child/children. As parents are often working professionals, positions can be ‘sole charge’ which means you have total responsibility for the child/children in their parents absence. Duties include entertaining them, getting them up in the morning, dropping them off and picking them up from school. As well as taking them to ballet, music, swimming lessons or whatever, tidying up after them, feeding them and bathing them.
A mother’s help does just that, helps the mother with her duties. These can include looking after the children, running errands, shopping, washing, light housework, cooking and generally helping out.
An Au Pair is usually someone young who has come to improve their language skills while living with a family. In return for food and board and a wage duties will include mostly looking after children and generally helping out where required.
Most nanny, manny, mother’s help and Au Pair positions are live-in which includes your own room, meals, use of the car. Maybe even overseas holidays–but you are usually looking after the children during these holidays. Live-out positions aren’t as common as live-in ones. Live-in salaries can range from £220+ net per week while live-out salaries range from £250+ net per week.
Positions are advertised in the free ex-pat traveller magazines and The Lady magazine available in newsagents. You can register with a specialist nanny recruitment agency such as Empire Nannies, KiwiOz Nannies or Poppy Lane Placements.
Overseas trained nurses are a highly prized species in the UK. You shouldn’t be without work if you have the right qualification and get your UK registration. To practise as a nurse or midwife in the UK you need to be registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). Once you have your registration the choice of work available is wide and varied and can be in either NHS (National Health Service) or private hospitals. Many nurses find a position through specialist nursing recruitment agencies such as BNA Nursing Association, Nurses4London, and Strand Nurses Bureau. Nurses who don’t obtain registration often find a nanny or care work job.
Office Support (Reception, PA, Administration)
Working in an office in the UK is a popular working holiday maker job
Anyone with secretarial or admin skills will find it easy to obtain work. This is especially the case during summer as this is when most British employees take their annual holidays. The skills required for such work are wide and varied. You don’t need them all to secure a job but the more the merrier. Skills required can include audio typing with a typing speed of at least 60 wpm and shorthand of around 80 wpm. If you can use different word processing packages, have a knowledge of spreadsheets, the ability to use a switchboard, have a confident phone manner, can file and photocopy can make and tea and coffee – you should have enough skills to get a job.
Positions can be found in a broad range of areas. Some jobs require specialist secretarial and administrative skills such as medical, bilingual, legal, media, property and banking. Rates of pay range from £12+ per hour for data entry and £15+ per hour for an audio typist/secretary and PA. You should be paid according to the skills you use on the assignment. Specialist secretaries (legal and medical with around one or two years’ experience) can expect to earn £1 or £2 more. And are highly sort after. Recruitment agencies to contact include Office Angels, Drake International and Manpower.
TIP: Dress codes are conservative; the navy suit and string of pearls is alive and well. Many offices have a no-pants (trousers) policy for females. Males must wear a suit and tie. It’s advisable to dress up on the first day, see what the others are wearing and then dress accordingly.
Snow Jobs in Ski Centres
Many working holiday makers experience a snow season in the Scottish Highlands. There are five main ski centres to find a job – the Lecht, Nevis Range, Cairngorm, Glenshee and Glencoe. The ski season generally runs from November/December to the middle of May. This does depend on the white stuff though. Ski resorts need hospitality staff for their restaurants and cafes and ski and snowboard instructors are in demand on the ski fields. Along with lift operators and maintenance people. Accommodation isn’t usually provided so before you take on a position organise a place to live. Some of the resorts have a work bus to get you to and from the resorts and some resorts are small and don’t have accommodation on the mountain. Positions are sometimes advertised in the newspapers, or you could obtain a ski Scotland brochure to get contact details of the resorts.
READ MORE: How to get a job in a Scottish Ski Resort
Overseas qualified teachers such as those from Australia, New Zealand and Canada are highly regarded in schools in the UK. Positions can be for a day, week or term or more. A good agency will help you acclimatise, educationally as well as socially. If you want to work in London, be prepared to travel as work can be found all over Greater London. It is a good idea to find somewhere to live first, and then approach agencies that can place you in positions in the area you are living.
The school year runs from September to July in the UK and has three terms. The best times for finding long-term teaching jobs are in early September, when the school year begins and March through May. The busiest times for day-to-day supply work in the schools are October, November and January through to March. The end of April to mid-July can sometimes be busy too, though secondary school work tends to tail off once exams are under way at the end of May.
To find work, look in newspapers like The Guardian on a Tuesday, and The Times Education Supplement (this does not come with The Times; it is a separate newspaper), on a Friday. Or contact a specialist teaching recruitment agency such as ANZUK Education, Protocol Teachers and Timeplan.
TIP: Dress is smart/casual–no jeans on the first day. Dress up the first day and then dress accordingly. Your agency should be able to advise you on what to wear. You will come in contact with a diverse range of students and although leggings may be fashionable, they may not be appropriate in Hindu or Muslim schools. You will need to be sensitive to ethnic diversity.
Technical, Trades, Labouring and Industrial Jobs
Jobs in the building industry are popular working holiday jobs
If you already work in technical, trades, general labouring and industrial professions you will know the variety of positions available. Briefly jobs are classified as follows.
Technical (built industry): engineers, draughtsmen, architects, inspectors, tracers, town planners, etc.
Trades: electricians, plumbers, carpenters, welders, boilermakers, etc.
General labouring: labourers, process workers, dock hands, etc.
Industrial: store people, forklift operators, drivers, stock takers, fitters, riggers, etc.
Most positions require a CSCS (Construction Skills Certification Scheme). Once you have this register with an agency for jobs. Agencies such as Eden Brown or Anders Elite for a technical job. If seeking a job as a tradie contact Extraman or Olympic Industrial Staff.
TIP: Bring suitable work clothes, ie. Appropriate shoes, tools (or budget to buy some on arrival).
The last job on my list of popular working holiday jobs in the UK is waiting tables. Waiting tables is a universal profession. With the number of eateries in London and throughout the UK, you should be able to pick up work. The work available ranges from working in fast food outlets, pubs, restaurants, cafes to private parties. Bring full black and whites with you and the waiter’s friend, a bottle opener. Some places, like pubs, provide a uniform (usually a T-shirt) that you wear with a pair of jeans. Positions and agencies are advertised in the papers Some eateries place an advertisement in their window or simply walk in and ask.
Other Jobs in the UK that Pay
Jobs listed above are the most popular jobs working holiday makers to the UK find however, there are plenty of other jobs available too. You could busk, become a bike courier, be a housekeeper, gardener or butler. Maybe work at a gym as a personal trainer or start your acting career on stage. Possibly muck stables on a stud farm, report for a newspaper or walk dogs. Start your own little business and cut hair or provide facials and massages at a spa. Get a job in a summer camp or a travel agency. Teach English or start a side hustle or a business online. More jobs and contact details for landing jobs can be found in my ebook Live Work and Play in London and the UK.
Are you Ready to Get a Job in the UK?
So these are the most popular jobs working holiday makers get while on a UK working holiday. Which will you choose? Will you try to find a job in your current profession or try something new? Whatever you decide to do, know there are work opportunities in the UK for you. If you have worked in the UK or want to ask a question about the above jobs, I would love to hear in the comments following.