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Guess how much mall Santas earn — it's definitely more than you think

But the cost of being Santa is high, too.


By Sean Dennison, GOBankingRates

There isn’t a harder-working human being than your local mall Santa.

NORAD might be tracking Santa’s global whereabouts, but these Santas stay seated for hours at a time, surrounded by hundreds of shoppers on the hunt while at the mercy of Christmas-amped kids who could throw a tantrum on Santa’s lap at the slightest provocation.

So, how much do these seasonal workers earn for being the primary representation of the Christmas season? Keep reading to learn just how much mall Santas make.


Santa’s Hourly Rate: Up to $800

It can be difficult to find a solid pay rage for becoming Santa, especially because so much of it depends on the individual. Some Santas charge $150 an hour while other Kris Kringles fetch as much as $800 per hour to spread Christmas cheer. A recent Vox article gives mall Santa salary figures ranging from a total of $7,000 a year to $20,000.

“The guys who do it for pay, some of them really need and want the money, and it changes their lifestyle to make an extra $10,000 to $20,000 a year,” Ed Taylor, aka Santa Ed, told Vox. “But a lot of them are just like, ‘I just love being Santa! I can’t wait till Christmas comes again.'”

Those four- or five-figure paychecks only go toward high-end Santas, or what Santa Ed refers to as “premier Santas.”

For the vast majority of Santas, pay can range as low as $12 per hour. The most recent hard data available for Santa’s hourly wage is an average of $30 an hour, according to a 2006 PayScale study.

Being Santa can be a lucrative business. Although many Santas get their start at the mall, that gig can metamorphize into corporate events. And according to Glassdoor, the hourly wage of a seasonal worker is in the neighborhood of $10, so you could do a lot worse than playing Santa.


The Cost of Being Santa

If being a professional Santa sounds lucrative, there’s some overhead to consider: The suit itself can cost as much as $1,800 to have made, depending on how far you’re willing to go for the look. Speaking of which, more hirsute fellas might find themselves at a distinct advantage. If you can grow a robust beard, essential to the look, you probably just saved thousands on a high-end synthetic beard: Designer beard sets start at $1,800.

“Santas may make $7,000 a year or up to about $20,000 if they’re real high-end, which might sound like a lot over the course of five or six weeks, but if you look at wardrobe and travel and expenses, it’s not that much,” said Santa Ed.

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Career Magazine: Guess how much mall Santas earn — it's definitely more than you think
Guess how much mall Santas earn — it's definitely more than you think
But the cost of being Santa is high, too.
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