By Robert DiGiacomo
With so-called "staycations" common in these sluggish economic times, Las Vegas, Miami and other tourism spots that cater to out-of-town visitors may not be the best bets for summer employment.
Vegas and Miami rank among the worst places to find work, with seven people on average vying for every job opening, according to Daniel Greenberg, chief marketing officer of SimplyHired.com.
Meanwhile, Orlando, the site of Disney World and many other theme parks, isn't a much better prospect; applicants there on average outnumber job openings by a 5:1 margin, Greenberg says.
It could be a good year to look closer to home to find seasonal work in a local theater, summer camp, beach destination or resort.
Here's what you can expect to make at eight common seasonal jobs:
Median Pay: $8.25 per hour, with a bonus of $98.00 per year
These workers are the "front line" at hotels, motels and resorts for greeting guests and responding to their complaints. Clerk's duties involve checking in guests and fielding queries about hotels services and amenities, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Median Pay: $4.61 per hour plus tips, with a bonus of $141.00 per year
Waiters and waitresses, as the public face of a restaurant, can make or break an establishment. Besides being able to open a wine bottle under pressure, they often have to memorize and deliver a long list of daily specials and featured desserts.
Food servers usually work as a team, to ensure orders are processed efficiently, but the level of service and required skills varies depending on the caliber of restaurant.
Media pay: $7.85 per hour plus tips, with a bonus of $274.60 per year
While bartenders may spend much of their time offering advice to the lovelorn, their main job is to make drinks based on orders from customers or other wait staff. They also are required to be on the lookout for 16-year-olds claiming they can order that Cosmo. A course in cocktail-making or some behind-the-bar training may be a prerequisite to getting behind the bar.
Median Pay: $13.15 per hour, with a bonus of $815.00 per year
When your new swimsuit doesn't arrive on time or the shiny new grill is missing a part, customer service representatives will listen to your troubles and help sort them out. The bulk of their work is done by phone, but some positions may also entail e-mail, fax, written or in-person communications.
Median Pay: $15.91 per hour, with bonus of $375.90 per year
Imagine yourself leading crunches at a health club or splashing your way through water aerobics at your community pool. Fitness instructors teach in a variety of settings, including seasonal resorts and recreational programs. Some facilities may require workers to be certified to teach in a particular specialty, but workers generally have a fair amount of leeway in running their classes.
Median Pay: $17.66 per hour for camp director
If the combo of rambunctious campers, bug bites and sing-a-longs doesn't faze you, then supervising counselors at a camp or other family-friendly tourist spot could be your perfect summer job. The director typically manages a staff of counselors and other workers, and plans activities for guests.
Median Pay: $8.01 per hour, with bonus of $129.00 per year
The chill of an air-conditioned theater may be the best place to hide out in your town this summer. The big perk of this job is catching the latest blockbusters or stage shows, but to succeed you must like people, be able to work under pressure and successfully manage large crowds.
8. Dog Walker
Median Pay: $12.93 per hour, with bonus of $286.50 per year
Although some dog walkers work year-round, they are especially in need during vacation times. Walkers may take out a mutt multiple times a day while its owner is on leave. Each canine encounter likely includes a stop at home to make sure Spot has sufficient water and food until the next visit or the family returns.
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Source: All salary data is provided by online salary database PayScale.com. Pay listed is median hourly wages for employees with 5-8 years of experience, as well any bonuses.