What is the Difference Between a Sabbatical and a Career Break?

career break sabbatical May 25, 2022

There is a Difference Between a Sabbatical and a Career Break

Oftentimes you'll hear people using these terms interchangeably, indicating they are take a period of time away from work; however, there is a difference.

A sabbatical is an agreed upon absence with your employer, paid or unpaid. Even though you aren't working, you are still employed throughout the duration of your sabbatical with your position being held upon your return.

A career break means you have resigned from your company. You are not employed with that company for the duration of your break. You may choose to reapply to the same company upon return or take a completely different path.

Should I Take a Sabbatical or a Career Break?

While there are certainly benefits to both, a career break is possible for everyone! All you have to do is quit your job. At the time of writing, very few companies offer sabbaticals as an outright benefit and those that do offer them for a severely limited amount of time, though I hope this changes in the future.

Should I Take a Sabbatical?

Whether your company has a sabbatical benefit in place or not, ask yourself the following questions before proceeding.

  • Does this company align with my personal mission and values?
  • Historically, have I been happy at work? Am I challenged enough? Are there sufficient opportunities for growth?
  • Do I feel dread coming to work each day?

Overall, if you enjoy your company and your role and you simply wish for an extended break to travel or work toward a particular goal, a sabbatical may be a smart route. If your company does offer sabbaticals, it is likely that you'll have to wait until you've reached a certain level of seniority to take advantage.

If you are dissatisfied at work and your sabbatical is still years away, a career break may be a wiser option.

If your company does not offer sabbaticals, that doesn't mean you can't ask. I have witnessed sabbaticals being granted successfully in each company I've worked for. The key is to have a plan in place to present to management. The more organized you are with your plan and the more you can prove the long-term benefit for what you'll then be able to offer the company, the higher your chance of a positive outcome.

Should I Take a Career Break?

If you have any doubts about your company and/or you have a personal goal (like travel) that currently feels like a higher priority than going to work each day, then yes, a career break is for you.

Quitting your job to travel sounds scary, but you've done scary things before. 

I assure you, there will always be another job. There will always be another apartment. Whatever you believe you are giving up is just fear manifesting in the form of excuses.

We tend to focus on the things we are "giving up" while forgetting what we are gaining in the process.

The decision to take a career break or a sabbatical is a personal one, but don't forget, there is more to life than your career. There is more to explore than the two or three weeks of vacation you are allotted each year. 

This is your sign to do something different. This is your sign to start living.

Do you have any questions regarding sabbaticals or career breaks? Leave a comment below!

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