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All About Seasonal Employment: What It Is, Where to Work and More
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Kayla Heisler
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What is seasonal employment?

Seasonal employment refers to short-term job positions that are needed only during specific times of the year. Many seasonal work opportunities take place around the winter holidays or during the summer, though there are various opportunities to find seasonal employment during other times of the year as well. Seasonal jobs provide employers with additional assistance during times when workloads temporarily increase.

How many hours can a seasonal employee work?

As long as the employee is over the age of 16, there are often no restrictions on the number of hours they can work. Seasonal workers may work full time or part time, depending on their schedule as well as the needs of their employer. Like regular employees, seasonal employees are entitled to earn time and a half if they work overtime. 

However, according to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, seasonal employees are defined as being employees who work 120 days or less for a specific employer. This distinction matters because like folks who work part-time, seasonal employees are not entitled to receive healthcare coverage from their employer.

Seasonal jobs and industries

When searching for a seasonal job, it’s important to keep in mind that you need to apply to places that demonstrate a specific need. A few examples of places where seasonal employees often work include:

Event venues

Many concerts, festivals, and outdoor events take place during the summer and spring. During warmer months, venues may hire additional employees to make sure that these events run smoothly. Seasonal positions can include anything from customer service to maintenance and custodial positions. Perks include getting paid to listen to awesome bands without having to shell out major cash for tickets.

Summer camps

Many parents take their children to summer camps each year, making summer camps one of the most popular options for seasonal employment. If reconnecting with the great outdoors is on your summer to-do list, working as a camp counselor can provide a chance to venture into the wilderness and pick up extra cash.  This could also work as a great test environment for those who are considering a full-time job working with children in the future.

Amusement parks

When children get out of school for summer vacation, the amount of visits amusement parks receive skyrockets. Ride operators, custodial staff, character actors, game conductors, and kitchen staff are a handful of seasonal positions that someone may hold in an amusement park. 

Winter sport lodges

When there’s snow on the ground, assisting at a winter sports lodge is a great option for seasonal employment. Those who have the skills applicable may teach others how to ski or snowboard. For those less athletically inclined, working at equipment rental counters or lodge dining halls are possible options.

Gift wrapping stations

Those who have the gift for gift wrapping may choose to monetize their talents during the winter holiday seasons. Working at a station at the local mall can be a quick way to pick up extra cash for a few months out of the year.

Retail

If you live in a beach town, tourists can flood outdoor shopping areas during warmer months. No matter where you live, malls typically become crowded during winter holiday seasons as people come out to search for perfect gifts for their friends and families. The influx of customers leads to many shops increasing staff during these times.

Pools + beaches

During spring and summer, many people flock to beaches and pools, increasing the demand for lifeguards. Those who have undergone proper training can spend warmer months working in the sun at recreational facilities, condo complexes, beaches, summer camps, waterparks, or hotels.

Who works as seasonal staff

People from many walks of life take advantage of seasonal employment opportunities. Seasonal employment can be the first introduction to the working world for high school college students once school lets out in the summer. College students and recent graduates may also find employment after classes end. Likewise, some professors or teachers take on seasonal positions to help supplement their incomes while class is out of session.

Those who work in creative fields may take on seasonal positions during certain times of the year and working on their practice during other months. People who have retired may also pick up seasonal positions to earn extra money and get out of the house. People who work in industries that are negatively impacted during certain seasons may pick up extra work in industries that are positively impacted. For instance, because restaurants tend to be less busy during colder months, restaurant workers may pick up part-time seasonal work gift wrapping to help earn more money when the volume of customers is lower. 

Typical pay

There are a number of factors that determine the wage a seasonal employee will earn, however all seasonal employees are required by the Fair Labor Standards Act to earn either the federal minimum wage or the minimum wage set by their local jurisdiction—whichever amount best benefits the employee. You can find more information about the Fair Labor Standards Act on the U.S. Department of Labor website.

As with any position, the maximum earning potential will vary depending on factors such as an employee’s location, level of experience, and industry. Some positions like serving in restaurants pay a tipped minimum wage. For some jobs, like ski or surfing instructor, pay can increase as the level of experience increases. For example, rookie ski instructors earned an average of $15 per hour while experienced ski instructors earned an average of $20 per hour in 2018 according to snowskool.com.  

Other things to keep in mind

  • Start looking early, even a season before. Many organizations want to get a jump on hiring early, so start searching as soon as possible. 

  • Keep an open mind. Work performed seasonally could lead to a bigger calling, so going the extra mile could pay off down the road.

  • It’s a great opportunity to network. Because people from all walks of life turn to seasonal employment, you get a chance to cross paths with people who you otherwise wouldn’t in a professional capacity.

  • Ask for recommendations. If you’re looking for a way to earn extra cash or if you are experiencing a career transition, ask around to find places that come recommended from friends or colleagues. 

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