You'll Never Guess How Much the Average Mall Santa Makes

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  • Mall Santas earn pretty competitive salaries, though they sometimes have to contend with long shifts.
  • Some malls hire Santas directly while others work with event and photo companies.
  • The mall Santa season lasts from early November until Christmas, so start looking right away if you're interested in this side job.

This seasonal job is way underrated.

Seasonal jobs crop up everywhere this time of year. You've probably heard of retailers hiring extra cashiers to keep up with increased demand or people with a flair for gift wrap to help the wrapping-challenged among us. But that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Some people take jobs masquerading as Santa Claus himself and they actually make pretty good money doing it. If you've ever thought about becoming a mall Santa, here's everything you need to know.

What a day in the life of a mall Santa is like

You probably already have an idea what a job as a mall Santa would be like. Eager children come up to sit on your lap, take a photo, and tell you what they want for Christmas. Some skeptics may also want to question you about life at the North Pole or tug on your beard.

It's not the job for you if you dislike children. But if you're happy to stay in character and strong enough to lift the kids onto your lap, it can be pretty rewarding to see all those smiling faces.

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You do need to prepare to put in some long hours, though. Most malls aren't willing to take the risk that some eagle-eyed kid will spot the fact that the Santa whose lap they're sitting on isn't the same one who went off for a break a few minutes before. So they don't like to swap Santas. Many mall Santas work shifts between six and 12 hours, according to Monster, though this varies depending on the mall in question.

How much a mall Santa makes

The average mall Santa earns about $22 per hour, according to ZipRecruiter. That adds up to $264 in your bank account over a 12-hour shift, and some malls pay even more. Some employers may require you to bring your own Santa suit as part of the deal, but many provide their own, so all you have to do is show up.

How to get hired as a mall Santa

Some malls hire Santas by posting ads on job boards, just like they would for any other position. But a lot of malls hire their Santas through partnerships with photo and event companies. So working with one of these could improve your odds of success.

If you're interested in becoming a mall Santa, you should start looking for a position ASAP. The mall Santa season usually runs from the beginning of November until Christmas, so there's only a short window of time when you can find this work.

Pay attention to each mall's job requirements. Some prefer Santas with real beards while others are happy to accept those with fake beards. And while the traditional depiction of Santa is an old white guy, the number of opportunities for those of all backgrounds is growing. When in doubt, it doesn't hurt to inquire about the job to see if the mall is willing to work with you.

And if things don't work out for this year, you can always keep it in mind for next year. A lot of these positions start opening up in October, so if you get moving quickly in fall 2023, you might have a better chance of success. And remember, there are plenty of other seasonal jobs available this year if you're in need of some extra cash.

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