How Long is a Sabbatical? [Survey Data From 235 People]


I’m lucky enough to have thousands of people visit this site a month who are planning to take or have taken a sabbatical.

I was interested in how long an average sabbatical is so I ran a poll to get some data.

Here’s what I found out:

An average sabbatical lasts around eight months with the most common length of sabbatical 9-12 months, and a 3-6 month sabbatical the second most popular length. 28% of people surveyed said they went on a 9-12 month sabbatical, 23% for 3-6 months and 17% for 8-12 weeks. 51% of people took less than six months.

This is based on using the upper threshold of each category and making an assumption the the people who voted for ‘greater than a year’ averaged 18 months away.

how long is a sabbatical voted on

This is the biggest data source on sabbatical length I’ve seen anywhere on the internet and it will continue to grow as the poll continues to run, so I hope you find the data useful.

If you wish to reproduce any of this information, there is a section at the bottom of the post that tells you how

Below are some common questions about sabbaticals that link to more useful posts around the site.

How Long is a Sabbatical? The Data Broken Down

From the graphic above you can see the following:

  • The most popular sabbatical length is 9-12 months (28% of people)
  • The least popular is less than a month (3%), I assume because this is little more than annual leave
  • Taking the upper limit of each range and assuming those who voted for ‘greater than a year’ the average sabbatical length is 8 months and 13 days.
  • 51% of people surveyed took less than six months for their sabbatical

The Results Surprised Me

There was something big that surprised me about the data.

I was expecting the most popular sabbatical length to be 8-12 weeks.

My rationale was that many companies limit the amount of time an employee can take off without breaking service.

For example, one of the biggest retailers in the UK offers two types of sabbatical – a ‘lifestyle break’ or a ‘career break’.

A lifestyle break is anything up to 12 weeks and, whilst unpaid, allows you to keep all of your long service benefits such as annual leave accrual. It’s a great option for 3 months off and then returning to work in the same capacity with the same benefits.

Anything above 12 weeks and the career break kicks in. This is treated as a break in service, so your benefits are reset. In many ways it is similar to handing in your notice but they do guarantee you a job on your return. You can be on a career break for anything up to 5 years, so a great option for someone who wants to take an extended break but have a guarantee of a job on their return,

How Long Should I Take for a Sabbatical?

How long you take for a sabbatical will largely come down to two things:

  1. How long your company allows you to have
  2. How much you can afford

Allowances for unpaid leave vary from company to company. Three months is a fairly common sabbatical amount, and one that generally allows you to keep your accrued benefits, though some companies allow you to build up long service leave that will make it easy to take a sabbatical that’s even longer than this. Beyond three months and normally it becomes a break in service and accrued benefits such as holiday and sick pay reset.

Want To Know How Much a Sabbatical Costs? >>> CLICK HERE <<<

Using This Data

If you are a news sources or website who wishes to use the data from this article, I am happy for you to so so as long as you link back to this post as the reference.

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AUTHOR – BEN REEVE

Reeves Roam, is a first-hand travel blog. The Reeves have lived in the UK, South Africa and Australia and have travelled extensively in Europe and Southeast Asia.

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Thanks – Ben, Becca and Gracie

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