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Carnival is one of the most celebrated events in countries all over the world. For one week a year, the young and old dance to the sound of ethnic music as they indulge in culture, history, games, fun, and food. Wouldn’t it be nice if your job could be like this all year round?

State of the Amusement Park Industry: Employment data tallying total number of individuals employed by amusement parks in the United States reaches in excess of 175,000. The industry consists of roughly 400 attractions located across the country, with top employers like Cedar Fair Entertainment Company and The Walt Disney Company leading the way in terms of available amusement park jobs and potential for lasting, meaningful careers. Combined, U.S. theme parks generate close to $60 billion in annual revenues.

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Working Environments: Theme parks culture highly unique work environments, with dozens of occupations available in various capacities. Interested applicants may find jobs as basic ticket booth associates or retail cashiers as well as kitchen cooks, ushers, security personnel, ride maintenance workers, or team managers. The logistics of theme parks require employees to work independently and as part of teams in order to carry out responsibilities. Amusement parks entertain close to 300 million visitors each year. Applicants must feel comfortable working in loud, crowded environments and should expect some minor patron interaction occasionally.

Earnings: Amusement park industry worker salary options vary depending on specific job title. Entry-level positions in food retail, fashion retail, guest services, or sanitation may pay anywhere from $9.00 to $11.00 per hour, with median hourly wages for all occupations falling at $10.15. Salary options generally hover around $30,000 for careers in advanced positions. Ride engineers and other behind-the-scenes positions may yield significantly larger annual salaries.

Amusement Park Job Descriptions

Ride Host – Also called a ride operator or attractions attendant, a ride host prepares guests before the ride begins. Key duties include informing guests about safety guidelines and providing assistance when ride-goers need secured into seats. Safety remains the top priority at every amusement park, and workers need to follow ride procedures and guidelines at all times. Ride operator jobs also require standing for long periods of time, frequent bending, and constant verbal communication. Candidates typically need to possess enthusiastic, energetic attitudes and willingness to help others. As an entry-level amusement park job, the position of ride host may start out paying around minimum wage before wages climb to about $9.00 an hour. Hosts typically work part-time shifts with varying days and hours.

Food Stand Attendant – Often given the general title of concessions or food service worker, food stand attendants carry out common cashier duties. Food service attendants may need to work on POS and non-POS register systems to process customer orders and give change. In addition to ringing up orders, food service attendants commonly prepare and dispense food. As with any food-related positions, food service workers need to maintain a sanitary, well-organized working environment to ensure health and safety. Restocking supplies represents a common task frequently carried out by food stand attendants, and in some positions, workers may also need to order concessions. Food stand attendants typically start out earning minimum wage. Jobs with greater focus on cooking often pay $9.00 to $10.00 hourly.

Actor/Costume Character – As live entertainment continues to gain popularity at amusement parks, the need for actors and characters shows steady growth. Live characters bring the park to life by greeting and interacting with guests and posing for pictures. Candidates must show passion for performing and desire to make guests happy. Available positions may set physical requirements pertaining to height. Candidates may also need to meet physical fitness requirements as well, as some costumed work may prove physically taxing. The average pay for an amusement park actor or costume character ranges from $8.00 to $9.00 per hour.

Lifeguard – Many amusement parks include water parks, which require trained, attentive lifeguards to ensure guest safety. In a typical day, a lifeguard supervises activities in a designated area of the water park. As a position of authority, lifeguarding involves the enforcement of rules designed to prevent incidents and injury from occurring. In the event of emergencies, lifeguards may need to conduct water rescues and perform CPR or first aid. Hourly pay for a lifeguard usually ranges from $8.00 to $10.00 an hour. Prior to employment, lifeguards need to obtain CPR certification and complete official lifeguard training.