Working & Living in the US

Click on a section heading below to be taken to the corresponding text further down the page.

  1. What Sort Of Jobs Can I Apply For?
  2. Jobs You Can't Do As A Work & Travel USA Participant
  3. Housing
  4. Obtaining a Social Security Number
  5. Taxes
  6. Participant Support

What Sort Of Jobs Can I Apply For?

The type of job is up to you. Some suggestions are:

  • Resort Work - Resorts provide many summer jobs and some winter jobs, and depend heavily upon students seeking seasonal work. The most common jobs in resorts are waiters or waitresses, dishwashers, chambermaids or other hotel work. Though your duties may not be very exciting, you are being paid to work in what is often a beautiful and peaceful work environment where you can befriend many Americans.
  • Hotel Work - Hotel work is similar to resort work, and the jobs are often low-level. Most are for chambermaids, but there are also positions as bellboys and valets, at the front desk, in the hotel laundry, in restaurant facilities, hotel maintenance, etc. The salaries for most of the jobs are lower as you are expected to improve your wages by earning tips.
  • Restaurant Work - Restaurant work is easy to find. It might be tiring to do, but you come into contact with different types of people, and can make good money through tips. Expensive restaurants have greater competition for jobs, which usually offer better salaries and larger tips. In coffee shops and diners, counterpersons or waitstaff are needed. Large restaurants need bussers to clear the tables, and kitchen and dishwashing staff. Most restaurant jobs are found by walking in and speaking to the restaurant manager.
  • Theme Parks - America has many theme parks, such as Disney World, Six Flags, and Busch Gardens, which all hire a lot of students each summer. The work opportunities vary from operating the amusement park rides to selling popcorn and candy, to working in various souvenir shops.
  • National Parks - Jobs in the National Parks may interest you, not so much for the jobs themselves, but for the opportunity to live in some of the most beautiful and remote areas of the US. Most of the jobs will be in the small towns around the perimeters of the parks or in lodging centres within the parks. Some of the most interesting are Grand Canyon, Rocky Mountain, Yellowstone, Yosemite and Great Smoky Mountains. Get more information at:

Jobs You Can't Do As A Work & Travel USA Participant

There are thousands of jobs to choose from and just a few that are forbidden:

  • Au pair / nanny / babysitting / domestic labour.
  • Camp counselor / teacher / coach
  • Medical / veterinary / pharmaceutical services or any job that requires direct patient contact or dispensing of medication
  • Adult Entertainment Industry Jobs
  • Crew member on ships or aeroplanes, or as pilots
  • Sales jobs involving purchasing sales merchandise to resell (e.g. door-to-door sales)
  • Employment through staffing agencies


Short-term Housing

For the first few nights at your US arrival destination, you may need short-term accommodation before settling in to your longer-term housing. You should make a reservation before you arrive at your final destination to ensure a bed or room upon arrival.

There are many low-cost motel chains throughout the US. Motels are good for small groups, as you will usually pay for the room, not per person. Most rooms contain two large beds. If you have an ISIC card, you will get discounts at budget motel chains across the US, Canada, and Mexico. Consult your ISIC handbook for more details, or visit STA's website.

Once you have settled in you may like to secure longer term accommodation. Check local newspapers for accommodation options. The following links below provide some suggestions.

Accommodation: Hotels, Hostels

Accommodation: Longer-Term

Local US Newspapers

Local Area Info


Obtaining a Social Security Number

Click here for more information on obtaining a Social Security Number.


Click here for more information about taxes.

Participant Support


300 Fore Street 
Portland, ME 04101 USA 
Tel: 1-888-268-6245 
Fax: 207-553-5000 

General Questions & Non-Emergencies

Tel: 1-888-Council (1-888-268-6245)

Business Hours

9:00am to 5:00pm Monday through Friday

24 Hour Emergency Line

1-888-Council (1-888-268-6245)

What is not an emergency?

  • General information about jobs and housing
  • Social Security and tax problems
  • Employee/employer concerns
  • Loss of DS-2019 form and/or I-94 form
  • Loss of passport
  • Basic legal information
  • Change of flight - contact airline directly
  • Homesickness
  • Disliking job

What is an emergency?

  • Death
  • Medical Mental Health emergency
  • Victim of a crime
  • An arrest


Call 911 for the police, fire department or an ambulance. Make sure you answer all questions clearly and carefully. Do not be afraid to approach the police at any time. If you are lost and see a policeman nearby, ask for directions. They will more than likely be able to assist you. When dealing with the law authorities, CIEE will provide verification of your status to law enforcement officials, but you will be expected to pay any fines or face any charges you have incurred. To avoid problems, take the time to learn the state and local laws for the city in which you are residing, e.g., minimum drinking age, traffic regulation, and drug enforcement policies. If you are accused of having committed a crime, the best advice in most circumstances is to talk to CIEE or a lawyer before you answer any questions.