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

Service Year Stories

Learn what it’s like to complete a service year from actual corps members.

Brie Gamer
Corey Benjamin
Siddika Degia
Stephen Wheadon
Crystal Simon

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.”

Siddika Degia

Catholic Charities USA

“I do think it’s important for people to work across different backgrounds. I think our country would be a better place, because people would be open to new experiences and be able to see and hear other people’s perspectives.”

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.

Crystal Simon


“I feel like every child deserve access to the arts because they are just as important as literacy and math. Through the arts, they can learn skills like self-discipline and civic engagement. It provides them an opportunity to take a risk, step out of their shells, and allows them to explore their voice in a different way.”

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.