For ranch hands, cooks, retail clerks and tour guides, summer is the time when short-stint job opportunities swell.
You'll be competing with students on their breaks from the books. But don't worry — there's ample opportunity for the 50-plus set to grab a gig, too. Generally speaking, it's best to start your hunt a few months ahead of time. But for some positions, it's never too late. Here are five great summer jobs to go for.
1. Ballpark team player
The nitty-gritty: If you're a baseball fan, working at the stadium can be a dream. You may get free tickets to games when you're not on duty and free team-logo shirts. Major League Baseball teams and their vendors around the country hire ballpark tour guides, box office attendants, cashiers, groundskeepers, ushers and ticket takers. There are openings, too, for suite attendants, in-seat servers and concession stand workers. Some positions require standing for long stretches and enduring the unpredictable elements that Mother Nature tosses out.
Pay range: $8 to $11.50 an hour, generally. Food and beer vendors who work the stands might pull in a minimum of $8 an hour, with tips and commissions possibly taking it to $25.
Qualifications: Training is usually provided. But remember that even though this is a sporting event, it's entertainment. So hiring managers look for people who are personable, enthusiastic and at ease kibitzing with fans. Background checks may be performed.
Job hunting tips: Tap into your hometown team's website for openings. Team-by-team contact information can be found at baseballjobs.teamworkonline.com. Also, look for your city's team-sponsored job fairs, which typically are held early in the year. Minor league teams also hire for the summer and have job fairs. Check out PBEO.com, the official employment service of Minor League Baseball.
2. Amusement park worker
The nitty-gritty: Amusement and theme parks are for the kid in all of us. There's an array of positions — from ride operators and ticket takers to waiters and souvenir T-shirt vendors. There are also openings in security patrol, custodial work, repair and grounds upkeep. If you have a flare for show biz, you might even score a role as a dancer or storyteller. Drawbacks: the summer heat and hours on your feet.
Pay range: $8 to $15 an hour. Employees typically can get free tickets for friends and family. There may be discounts on food and beverages, merchandise and hotel stays.
Qualifications: Hiring managers seek experience in the jobs being sought. That said, your upbeat personality will be a vote in your favor. Plan for background checks and drug tests.
Job hunting tips: Look for job fairs sponsored by the theme parks in your region and visit their websites. For example, Kings Dominion in Doswell, Va., has a list of openings such as first-aid helper, games attendant and theater usher. You can also search web sites such as JobMonkey and CoolWorks.
3. Pet concierge
The nitty-gritty: Pet owners are heading off on vacation — and they need you. If it's a canine client, you'll do walking and maybe ball tossing, so fitness is a requirement. Some dog owners look for people to stay at their homes or take the pooch into their own homes. Cats and smaller charges usually require a daily visit for feeding and litter cleanup.
Pay range: The charge for a single visit to a pet ranges from $10 to $22. A daily half-hour walk typically runs $20. Expertise with administering medications pays a bonus.
Qualifications: While there are no required certifications, a love of animals and experience with pets is essential. That said, if you're interested in getting certified, you can. The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (NAPPS) offers an at-home certification course online. If you're going to turn this into a regular business, you may want personal liability insurance and possibly business insurance and bonding coverage, too. Associations such as the NAPPS, Pet Sitters International and Pet Sitters Associates offer access to plans.
Job hunting tips: Pitch yourself on your neighborhood listserv or on TaskRabbit. Local pet shops may allow you to post a notice in their store. Play your cards right, and work may expand. For Ilene Wellner, it's grown into her own pet care service called Dog Gone Walking in Wynnewood, Penn., a Philadelphia suburb. She's got a team of 10 to 13 dog walkers overseeing 30 to 50 dogs a day. Her employees include chefs, musicians, writers, nurses and plain old animal lovers and pet owners.
You can also consider signing up with a national franchise operator like Fetch! Pet Care. Or look for local pet-sitting services in your neighborhood newspaper.
4. Resort town worker
The nitty-gritty: Resorts from the Puget Sound to the Jersey Shore fill all shapes and sizes of jobs as they ramp up for the summer months. You might find work ranging from ranch hand to concierge, massage therapist to front desk agent, parking valet to room cleaner. Be mindful of the physical demands of some service jobs.
Pay range: Anywhere from $7 to $15, generally, plus tips or discounts and other perks.
Qualifications: Experience and licenses are requisite for particular jobs (such as yoga instructor or boat mechanic). But skills needed for entry-level positions (such as retail sales or slicing and packing pounds of fudge) can be picked up swiftly.
Job hunting tip: If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. These businesses typically have higher-than-average turnover, according to the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. An employer that did not hire you initially might need more workers a few weeks later. Search where others do not. Behind-the-scenes jobs often are not as sought after by teen job seekers. Offer to work evening shifts.
5. AmeriCorps VISTA summer associate
The nitty-gritty: This position gets you involved with the needs of your community. You'll engage in projects such as tutoring at-risk children or managing a volunteer network.
The VISTA summer associates program in Indiana, for example, matches you for work with nonprofit organizations, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, Mother Hubbard's Cupboard and United Way. The summer associates project in Florida operates summer camps for at-risk kids in kindergarten through eighth grade.
Pay range: VISTA summer associates receive a biweekly living allowance cumulatively totaling about $2,200 and varying by location. At the completion of service, you may elect to receive either a $1,230.69 education award or a cash stipend.
Qualifications: There is no maximum age. Skills in communications, community organization, leadership and teamwork are valued. All applicants must be U.S. citizens or legal permanent resident aliens. Expect a background check.
Job hunting tips: Go to my.americorps.gov to search for AmeriCorps VISTA opportunities. Under service terms, check the summer box. You can also find postings on Indeed. To learn more, go to nationalservice.gov/programs/americorps/join-americorps.
Kerry Hannon is a career transition expert and an award-winning author. Her latest book is Getting the Job You Want After 50 for Dummies. She has also written Love Your Job: The New Rules for Career Happiness and Great Jobs for Everyone 50+: Finding Work That Keeps You Happy and Healthy … and Pays the Bills. Find more from her at Kerryhannon.com.