It’s that time of year when a warmer locale beckons. You may be scouting potential areas in the Southwest or the Sunbelt for a future full-fledged retirement move, or simply want an escape from freezing temperatures and icy roads for the winter season. But just because you are changing locales for a few months, doesn’t mean you are going to be in vacation mode the entire time.Mavis Rush got antsy a week after arriving in Naples, FLa., from Alexandria,Va. “I knew I wanted to be someplace where I wasn’t cold anymore, but I couldn’t stand playing leisurely golf and tennis,” she says.
Truth is, Rush, 74, has never taken tennis leisurely. For a dozen years before she retired, she was the director of tennis for Worldgate Sport & Health, a large sport and health club in Herndon Va., outside of Washington DC.
So it’s not all that surprising that when Rush retired, she wanted to stay active — –even after hip replacement surgery. When she heard about possible openings at the Ritz-Carlton Resorts of Naples from a friend, she applied and was hired as a fitness attendant.
She wears lots of hats. She might teach a tennis lesson, dole out restaurant recommendations or take a guest out on a catamaran for a sail. But her primary position is in the fitness center, where she commands the front desk.
She greets sleepy exercisers at 5 a.m., five days a week. She books appointments for guests with a personal trainer, makes sure they have peppermint-scented cool towels and makes sure there is plenty of water within arm’s reach. “I hope I brighten their day right from the start,” Rush says.Her pay: $13 an hour, plus tips and benefits. “It’s not about the money, though” she says. She has retirement savings and lives modestly. “I do it for the mental and physical engagement. I couldn’t just sit around. But best of all, I make friendships, and I’m putting something in someone’s life.”On a typical day, Rush signs out around 12:30 p.m., and heads home, two miles away, where she pedals off on a bike ride to unwind. “My job is about great service and making people happy,” she says.
Rush hasn’t lost her competitive edge either. When she was younger, she competed in singles and mixed doubles in national tennis tournaments in her early adulthood and bumped up to contending in the Senior Olympics in both tennis and race walking. She even ran the Marine Corps Marathon when she was skimming 60. Now, she’s looking for more challenges to tackle on and off the job.”I’m ambitious. I like to make at least two new friends a day. My next job I want to bag groceries at Publix … Look at all the people I’ll meet.”There are plenty of great warm weather jobs out there for you, and there’s always the potential to extend beyond the peak season. You might even be able to take your own business with you on the road.
Here are five to consider. Pay ranges, which will vary based on factors such as experience and where you live, are primarily derived from U.S. Department of Labor data.
1. Resorts and HotelsThe nitty-gritty: When the snowbirds land in town, resort and hotel staffing expands to meet them, sometimes even doubling rosters. There’s a broad sweep of jobs that might be up your alley. These can range from greeting diners at restaurants with a warm, welcoming smile to bartending, waitressing, housekeeping, valet services, front desk staff and more. The work, for the most part, demands a smooth, outgoing personality. Expect to spend time on your feet. A calm, take-charge attitude will come in handy when complaints must be dealt with quickly and professionally.
The hours: Part-time and full-time positions are typically available in all shifts, Weekends and school spring breaks are peak periods, when extra hands are needed.
Median pay: The pay scale is $8 to $15 an hour, plus tips, but varies widely by type of establishment, size and location.
Qualifications: Communicate with people in a pleasant way, basic computer knowledge, and seamless phone manners are top of the list. In general, these are hospitality positions, so restaurant or service is a plus. The tourist metro areas around cities such as Sarasota, Orlando and Naples in Florida, or Tucson, Ariz., and Taos, N.M., in the Southwest are likely to have the most openings. First stop on your job hunt: Large hotel chains such as Marriott, the Ritz-Carlton and Westin Hotels and Resorts. Your catchphrase: Welcome to paradise. What can I do for you?
Next: Love spending time on the open water? Read on. >>
2. Cruise LinersThe nitty-gritty: If you’ve got your sea legs and are up for a little adventure, a cruise line job can be swell. Some cruise ships hire married couples, so if you’re escaping the cold with your partner, you both can set sail. Leading cruise lines such as Princess Cruises and Carnival Cruise Lines hire across a full array of jobs, including host and hostesses, cruise directors and staff, disc jockeys, performers, swimming instructors and shore excursion staff. Also needed: pursers, photographers and videographers, waiters and waitresses, bartenders, cabin stewardesses, cooks, bakers, cleaners, gift-shop attendees, beauticians, medical staff, massage therapists, fitness instructors and engine room technicians. Tight quarters for accommodations can be a squeeze. If you’re solo, you may share a small cabin and a bathroom. Plus, you will be afloat in all types of weather. If you suffer from severe sea-sickness, perhaps you can land one of the liner’s landlubber jobs.
The hours: Long hours can be a drawback — 12 or 14 hours a day, 7 days a week, typically for a period of six months.
Median pay range: Tipping personnel like bartenders and wait staff, can earn $1,500 up to $4,000 per month (including the tips), according to CruiselineJobs.com. The non-tipping personnel earn from $350 to $500 per week. You get free accommodation and food and book some great gratis travel to boot.
Qualifications: Experience in the hospitality industry is essential for many of these openings. If you have an expertise in a particular area, say personal finance and investing, or are an author, journalist or college professor, you might be able to land a gig as a lecturer. Most employees will be required to pass a course on work safety and first aid. However, the most important job qualification is good language skills — you must speak English effortlessly; if you’re multi-lingual, even better. Your passport must be current. When applying, it’s best to target a specific job. Check out the cruise lines web site career sections for more details; apply directly to the cruise line by following the instructions on the web-site for the specific position being offered to avoid scams. Bon Voyage.
Next: Are you handy and don’t mind doing a few chores? >>
3. Second Home Property Manager/ConciergeThe nitty-gritty: In general, you prepare homes for their owner’s arrival and close them up when they go back. The duties may include: grocery shop to stock the pantry, check on the condition of the home’s interior, inspect for pests, run water in faucets, check that all the kitchen appliances are in working order, flush toilets, test smoke detectors and air -conditioners, open the pool, check the condition of screens. You set the house temperature and pool heater to desired temperature just prior to the snowbird’s arrival. You can accept UPS or FedEx packages they send in advance. You might open the home for house cleaning services, pest control services, and maintenance workers. You also provide end of season house cleaning and shut-down. This is one for entrepreneurial self-starters. You can extend your undertaking to provide a variety of handyman chores from plumbing to electrical and painting projects throughout the months. You might offer your services as an errand runner or airport driver to ferry guests to and from the airport. This is not a job for slackers, you’ll need to be in reasonably good physical condition and adept at fixing things fast, or know who to call who can. And don’t forget the fresh flowers on the table — always a nice touch.
The hours: If it’s your own business, you can call the shots, but it will depend on your client’s needs. Part-time schedules for condo, townhouse or retirement community maintenance vary. Some employers might prefer to have a handyman on call for emergencies, while others might like to have you on-site and available to residents during specific hours.
Median pay range: $10 to $20 an hour mostly, but can be $60+, depending on the area.
Qualifications: Be knowledgeable in home repair, have your own tools, be self-motivated and have good customer-service skills. To build this business will take some salesmanship on your part. Word-of-mouth will be your best means to drum up customers. This is a referral business, after all. You might start with pitching your services to your neighbors in your winter haven, or market to northern connections who have second homes. Some real estate management firms, retirement communities and time-share communities hire part-time workers to take on this advance prep and handle routine maintenance during the winter months. You will probably need to be bonded and have liability insurance. Some clients who don’t know you personally may require a background check. Laws vary by state. Clients who vouch for your dependability are the keys to opening doors.Next: Can you cut hair like nobody’s business? >>4. Hairdresser
The nitty-gritty: Who doesn’t dread leaving their hairdresser for months at a time? Why not go south with your clients? If you can nab some referrals in the area, maybe you start a seasonal business. The essence of the job is shampooing, cutting, coloring, and styling. Ready for a new look?”
The hours: Variable. Evenings and weekends are part of the mix
Median pay range: $7.76 an hour to $19.97 and up, plus tips. A typical cut and color can easily top $120 per appointment.
Qualifications: All states require hairdressers to be licensed. Qualifications for a license vary by state, but generally a person must have a high school diploma or GED, and have graduated from a State-licensed barber or cosmetology school. Some states have reciprocity agreements that allow you to transfer a valid cosmetology license. State licensing board requirements and a list of licensed training schools for cosmetologists may be obtained from National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences. Background checks are the norm. Good listening skills and stylish flair are your calling cards. Word-of-mouth marketing makes or breaks your success as a hairdresser. You may work out of your own home space. You may also find part-time work in a salon or a spa, hotel or resort. Many communities have full-service salons that rent chairs for a fee by the week or the month to freelancers. Employment of hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists will increase by about 20 percent from 2008 to 2018, which is much faster than average occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Why? Baby boomers are hip to hair coloring and other sophisticated hair treatments, spurring the demand, according to BLS. Can you say, cut and color?
Next: Show off your sense of style and love of fashion. >>
5. RetailThe nitty-gritty: Big chains and boutiques add part-time workers during the “season.” You may have to open or close cash registers, count money and separate charge slips, coupons and exchange vouchers. In addition, you may stock shelves, mark price tags, take inventory and prepare displays. While there are a variety of retail positions that can be as basic as greeting customers and folding sweaters, most have a physical aspect to them. You need to be prepared for bending, stretching, lifting and walking around without plopping down in a chair for long periods. Plus, customers can be demanding, so cool demeanors come in handy. The underlying incentive: discounted merchandise. Sweet sale-o-rama.
The hours: If you’re willing to work evenings and weekends, you might find more opportunities to flesh-out schedules with year-round staffers.
Median pay range: Pay can range from median hourly wages, including commissions, of less than $7.37 to more than $19.14 an hour. Upscale shopping areas will usually pay top dollar.
Qualifications: Previous sales experience helps. If you’re new to the game and eager, on-the-job training is standard fare. Each store operator has their own way of selling and running things from security procedures to customer service peccadilloes, so even old hands have a learning curve. It helps if you have a passion or familiarity with the goods you are selling. Enthusiasm is infectious and opens wallets. Top-notch people skills are the underlying ingredient to making this a good fit for both you and the employer. Employers might run a background or credit score check on you, to make sure you’re trustworthy. Practice saying: “Did you find everything you were looking for?”
Kerry Hannon is the author of What’s Next? Follow Your Passion and Find Your Dream Job.