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What is a Career Break?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 29 November 2016
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A career break is a period of time taken away from being employed. The break is not taken to work at unrelated paid employment; that would be considered a career change. Rather, the planned leave of absence from a job may be for paid work experience in the same or a related field, or it could be taken to pursue a volunteer opportunity. Personal reasons such as raising children or traveling to pursue work-life balance may also initiate a person's wanting to leave employment. There is no set term for a career break, or sabbatical, but typically, it is thought of as being anywhere from a month up to two years in length.

Some companies, as well as many churches and educational institutions, offer paid employee sabbaticals, or career breaks. These may only be a few weeks in length though. Most other organizations don't offer any type of paid career break, but they may agree to an unpaid sabbatical in addition to a regular vacation.

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People who chose to take a career break for personal reasons are typically able to pay their expenses other than by being employed. For example, a parent who chooses to take up to two years to raise his or her children may have a spouse who works to bring home the family's income. This type of family situation may involve cutting expenses in order to allow the break from one parent's career to work out. A financial advantage is that childcare costs can be saved when a parent chooses to take a sabbatical from work to be at home to look after his or her children.

Travel is a popular reason for many people who want to take a break from their career. Traveling to destinations where the cost of living is less expensive and where they can learn about different cultures are common goals for people who want a travel type of career break. Rather than waiting until retirement to travel, the goal is to take a "mini retirement" or "gap year" at a younger age. Taking training to learn new workplace skills or participate in a related paid work opportunity may be part of a career break for some people, while others may want to pursue passions such as sports or writing a novel.

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