By Julie Chickery
If you are considering work camping, one of the first questions that comes to mind is how much money can you really make? The answer is: It depends. You might be aware that there are “volunteer” jobs where you exchange work for an RV site. However, there are some typical work camping positions that provide a wage as well as other benefits.
Campground work camping jobs
Many work camping jobs at privately owned campgrounds offer a full-hookup site and wages for hours worked. The work can include office, housekeeping, and maintenance. The larger the campground, the greater number of work campers to perform the workload. The wages for these positions is typically minimum wage, but it can be higher if you have relevant experience. The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour and some states have minimum wages higher than the federal rate (up to $15.00 per hour). Visit the U.S. Department of Labor Minimum Wage page for more information on minimum wages across the country.
When discussing compensation with a prospective campground employer, be sure to clarify if the RV site and electricity are included. Also, ask whether or not you have to “pay” for the site with a certain number of hours.
National park work camping jobs
Many work camping positions in national parks fall under the “volunteer” category, where you don’t get paid. However, there are still quite a few paid jobs in national parks. For example, Delaware North manages 12 general stores inside Yellowstone National Park. Work campers are typically expected to work 32 hours per week and pay starts at $9.50 an hour. While RV sites are not provided free with your employment, they are highly discounted and start at about $32 per week plus electric, which is deducted from your pay pretax.
Another option is with Xanterra, the largest operator of lodges, restaurants and other concessions at national parks across the U.S. Pay will vary based on the state’s minimum wage, as discussed above. Check out their website to explore your options.
Event-related work camping jobs
There are several short-term events throughout the year that are popular among work campers. One is spring training in Arizona managed by Aramark. Work campers typically work part-time and have to pay for their RV site on their own. Chris and Barbara Kay of MidLife Journey made $3,746 for one month of part-time concession work, but they had to pay $650 for a campground that month.
Annual work camping jobs
There are a few work camping positions that people go back to every year because they can make more money in a short period of time. Two of these are the sugar beet harvest and Amazon CamperForce.
Sugar beet harvest
Thousands of work campers travel to Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, and North Dakota, to work the sugar beet harvest each fall. While the typical commitment is 30 days, the weather impacts how many hours you’ll actually work. Many days will be 12-hour shifts, and others you won’t get called in to work at all. For Chris and Barbara, this meant they worked a total of 16 days and grossed $7,200 (combined) plus a 5% bonus for staying the entire month. Their full-hookup campsite was provided free and did not come out of their hours. Returning workers get bonuses, so you could make more if you go back year after year.
Holiday season at an Amazon warehouse is another way to earn a decent amount of money in a short period of time. Compensation is $15.00 per hour plus an additional $.50 per hour for night shift. Work shifts are 10 hours and on the fifth day, all hours are overtime and pay an additional $1.00 per hour. Amazon also has bonuses for staying the entire holiday season as well as for returning workers. Finally, they provide a $550 stipend towards an RV site. This meant Chris and Barbara only had to pay $50 out of pocket each month.
Many other opportunities
These are just a few of the work camping opportunities available. Sign up for a free account with Workamper.com to start browsing your options.