What is a service year?

A paid opportunity to develop real-world skills through hands-on service. It’s an extraordinary year that transforms your life and your community. It’s not your typical path; it’s an experience for A Better You. A Greater Us.

No Two Service Years Are Alike

Whether you’re figuring out what’s next after high school or college, searching for an opportunity to find a new path, looking to gain skills and experience for a job, or wanting a career change — a service year may be just what you’re looking for.

There are over 65,000 opportunities in America, that offer varying lengths of commitment, issue areas and geographic locations. All service years share one thing in common: they provide a paid, life-changing experience.

Issue Areas

Education, environment, health, public safety, and more


Most are 10-12 months, but some may be shorter or longer


See other parts of the US, or serve in your own community

Team vs Individual

You can serve alongside others, or find a more individualized opportunity

How does a service year compare?

Service Year
Gap Year
Study Abroad
Duration No Cost to Participate Earn Money Independence Problem Solving Leadership Teamwork Academic Credit Health Insurance Student Loan Forbearance Earn Education Scholarship Award Stronger Citizenship New Ways of Seeing the World Positively Impact a Community
Usually 10-12 months
Usually a year
Semester/ Academic Year
Summer/ Semester

Meet our Service Year Alums

Brie Gamer
Corey Benjamin
Taylor Dawn Hicks
Katrina Bitanga
Stephen Wheadon

Brie Gamer

Community HealthCorps

“I would definitely encourage my friends to do a service year. I think that it's a great opportunity to take what you've learned in school and apply to real world experience.”

Corey Benjamin

Public Allies

“Service empowered me to realize that I--we--can make a real, large, and tangible  difference. We have the ability to be change agents in the world.”

Taylor Dawn Hicks

Reading Partners

“I am doing a service year because I wanted to positively impact someone in the community.”

Katrina Bitanga

City Year

“It is a great honor to serve and give back to the larger DC community. I am a firm  believer that no one individual can make it through life without being inherently tied  to others.”

Stephen Wheadon

City Year

“This experience has changed my life in ways  I could have never imagined and I am forever grateful to have done a service year.”

I served in an under-resourced middle school to help get students on track to graduation.The service year experience was challenging, but knowing that I was making an impact on the lives of others made it so empowering.

Ready to serve?

No matter when you decide to do your service year, the experience will transform your life and the community you serve. Join now or use the chat icon to get your questions answered by service year alums.