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Work camping is a great way to get on the road with your RV while earning money. Not everyone can retire, or even has the means to support themselves after retirement. But, if you like RVing, are flexible and adventurous, work camping could be a great way to finance your travels. This article will help you find the Best Work Camping Jobs for RV Couples and more!
What is a Work Camping Job?
Work camping, sometimes called workamping, can be a lot of things. It is usually a seasonal position where a couple comes to a resort or campground and helps to fill in as part of the workforce for the busy summer, or winter, season. You might take reservations, escort guests to their sites, clean sites or work in a retail store or restaurant on the property.
Work camping jobs can also include being a part of Amazon’s seasonal warehouse camperforce. These jobs are usually during peak times for that company. Workers are located at any one of Amazon’s 27 distribution facilities across the country.
These are located in California, Washington, Arizona, Tennessee, and many more states. The work is not easy, according to Amazon veterans. The job requires a 10-12 hour shift of packing, picking, stowing, and receiving packages. The hours can be long, but the jobs pay well with medical benefits, bonuses, and a stipend to pay for your RV site.
Work campers can also be camp hosts, helping campers at State and Federal parks across the nation.
Work campers can do some unique jobs such as help with the beet harvest in Montana, North Dakota, Michigan, or Minnesota. These positions usually are short-term in or around October and pay well for a short amount of time. They can also be hit or miss as the beet harvest depends on weather and many factors for a good harvest and the need for plenty of workers.
Work campers can provide a workforce for Christmas Tree lots. These are fairly lucrative jobs but also require the worker’s full attention through the holiday season. Along the same vein, you can likely find work selling pumpkins or fireworks during the fall and summer seasons. My husband and I put up high-end Christmas lights in Knoxville, TN, as one of our first work camper jobs.
These jobs usually are in October and November and then could require take-down of the decorations in January. It was somewhat physically draining, requiring some 12-14 hour days. Of course, all the jobs were on site so we often did not get back to the shop until after dark. We did get paid even for the hours it took to get to the job site.
Workers can also tend gates in the oil fields in Texas. These jobs aren’t usually difficult but do require a couple to work opposing 12 hour shifts which could be negative because you would never have time off together. Singles can work these jobs too.
How Much Do Work Campers Make?
How much work campers make depends on the position. Campers can be volunteers with only their site provided for free through the employer. This is a great retirement job if you don’t need to make money to live.
With the current difficulty in finding campgrounds with space available, these jobs guarantee you a spot. Find one in a place you want to visit, and you can have a whole season of exploring that area. Volunteers generally work around 20 hours per week.
Work campers can also work a certain number of hours for their site and then get any other hours paid outright. Some campgrounds only require you to work your site hours while others do have money to pay for more.
If you are working for your site, do this little formula to calculate how much you are receiving based on the worth of your site. Take the number of hours you are required to work and divide that by the site’s monthly rate to get an hourly rate you would be paid instead of working for your site.
Let’s say you are required to work 24 hours a week, 96 hours a month. The site goes for a monthly rate of $1,500/96 which is about $15 per hour. Not bad. We’ve seen some of these calculations that come out to be just $5 an hour or less. That is not really a good deal for a work camper.
Some campgrounds pay all hours worked, provide your site for free and provide other amenities such as electricity, free laundry, and more. The actual pay can be minimum wage and up. Do your homework, as some states minimum wage is much better than others.
Of course, you can find some great work packages too. You just need to begin seeking employment several months in advance. At this time, campgrounds are having difficulty finding people to work so the demand is high and the pay is good. They are pulling out all the stops to recruit workers.
Pay raises during the season and bonuses aren’t unheard of in the work camping world. Some owners/managers pay bonuses to couples who stay until the end of the season. Some offer a bonus should you choose to come back for another season.
How Much Do Campground Hosts Get Paid?
Camp hosts often work at national, state, county, and municipal campgrounds and can be either volunteer or paid positions. Most of the positions are volunteer. To clarify, a camp host provides visitors with information, staff visitor’s centers and museums, provides general housekeeping and maintenance, and any other needed work.
My father-in-law spent a number of years doing this and told me a story about having to capture rattlesnakes in the campground and relocate them to another area. They also made sure the campground was free of trash in general and sites were cleaned for incoming guests. One of his favorite tasks was creating a geocache trail for visitors.
Is an RV Campsite with Full Hookups Included?
As I mentioned earlier, work campers generally get full hook-ups as part of their compensation. They sometimes have to work a certain number of hours to “pay” for their site. Sometimes the cost of the site is free. Electricity is generally included, as well as water and sewer. I’ve heard of some that give a stipend every month for electricity which is paid out and the end of a completed season.
At one of our recent work camping positions, we were fortunate enough to get our laundry free, as well as a professional rig wash every six weeks or so. Our current job allows us to use the resort’s activities for free, as well as discounts for merchandise and food at the restaurant. Amenities with your work package can be a big boost to accepting a work camper position.
Are Work Camping Jobs Available at State and National Parks?
State and national parks generally utilize volunteers who work a certain number of hours for their site. Be aware that these jobs are not easy to obtain and it can be a long process. The lag time is because all candidates must submit information for a very comprehensive background check.
Even if it is a volunteer position, there are still a number of others waiting for the same jobs. Patience is key, as the lengthy process can whittle down the number of applicants.
Where to Find Work Camping Job Listings
Another great place to find work camping job listings is www.workamper.com. You sign up and pay a fee. The level of access you pay for determines what you get. In order to get the fresh job listings, you sign up for the Gold membership for $19.95 per year. I would not avoid this option because of the fee.
There are many perks to the Gold level but you can also upgrade to Diamond, free for 30 days and then $47 per year, or Platinum for $67 per year. The platinum also allows you to have a work history verification on your resume. Employers like this because it saves them time in the application process.
KOA also has job listings for its parks at https://workatkoa.com. The membership fee of $35 per year allows you to access their job openings throughout the US.
You can also find camp host jobs with the National Park Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Forest Service, US Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Land Management, and more. Go to www.volunteer.gov and find the state you are interested in going to.
For positions at state parks go to, https://www.happyvagabonds.com/work-camping-jobs/volunteer-camp-host-opportunities-in-state-parks/. The happyvagabonds.com website provides a link for each state.
Other Resources Include:
Coolworks.com – https://www.coolworks.com/
Workers on Wheels – https://www.work-for-rvers-and-campers.com/
Working Couples – https://workingcouples.com/
Lower Colorado River Authority in Texas – https://www.lcra.org/parks/park-host/
Recreation Resource Management – https://camprrm.com/jobs/
American Land & Leisure – http://www.americanll.com/job-description
CLM Services – https://www.clm-services.com/employment/job-openings.
The Cradle of Forestry – https://cfaia.org
Hoodoo Recreation operates campgrounds within the Deschutes, Gifford Pinchot, and Wenatchee National Forests. http://hoodoorecreation.com/hoodoo-recreation-employment.
Rocky Mountain Recreation Company – https://rockymountainrec.com/contact/job-opportunities.
Recreation Resource Management of America operates campgrounds in Arizona, Colorado, and Idaho – http://www.rrmofa.com/Employment.asp.
Scenic Canyons Recreational Services manages Forest Service campground facilities throughout the Western United States – https://www.sceniccanyons.com/apply-here.html.
Qualifications to Be a Work Camper
While I don’t want to minimize the qualifications you might need for a work camper position, you don’t really need a lot of know-how or experience to get a job. A lot of people just starting out have concerns about this very subject.
Depending on the position, you might need a strong back, computer knowledge, or even some ability to be a great customer service representative for the campground that you work for. All of these can be learned and many of these positions utilize on-the-job training so if you pick up a skill quickly, you will fit right in. These businesses really want people with a good work ethic and a positive outlook. Most are willing to train good people.
Don’t be afraid to tout any skills you have in your resume. People who have a lifetime of construction experience or were an auto mechanic would fit great into a maintenance position. Any position in your past that worked with the public would be a great fit for customer service type positions such as answering phones, taking reservations, or just generally helping customers.
Unless the job provides onsite housing, most work camper jobs do require that you have your own RV.
Most job applications require a resume and references. My husband and I have specific resumes that emphasize our ability to get along with others, customer service know-how, and, of course, our previous work experience. Once you land that first job, you will gain a vast amount of experience that will take you from one job to the next for however long you want to work.
We have found, even with just a few jobs under our belts that the more experience we gain, the more we know what we want to do and don’t want to do at our next jobs. That helps us to narrow our focus a bit and have some patience to find the next right fit.
You will also likely be doing a phone or Zoom interview. Prepare for the interview as you would for any job interview. Make a list of questions to ask about the position, the company, the compensation, etc. If there are special days you want off, ask at this point. Many campgrounds are busiest on the weekends and having Saturday and Sunday off is not an option. If this is something you require, just politely complete the interview and move onto the next one.
I can’t emphasize enough that any time you work camp, sticking with the job through the season is so important. While there may be times when you have no choice but to leave, your commitment speaks volumes to future employers.
How to Find Work Camping Jobs for Singles
Most work camping jobs are for couples. It might be more difficult to find these jobs if you are single. Think about this. When you are employed, the campground provides you and your partner with one campsite and he gets two people to work.
Some don’t want to have singles because they will have to provide a site and only get one worker. They can get two workers to occupy one site and save costs. But, finding work for a single person, where your spouse or partner has another job outside the campground or chooses not to work, is not impossible. You might also be a solo work camper or someone who is traveling and working alone.
Solo or single workers can also be of benefit to an employer who doesn’t want the problem of personal issues invading the workplace. Whatever the reason, there are jobs for one individual out there and that area of work camping is growing. Jobs for individuals could include campground hosts, activity directors, raft guides, tour guides, lifeguards, RV tech, food service staff, and many more.
Also, if you see a job listed that you might like to do, don’t hesitate to ask if they would take a single or solo worker. With the current need for workers, it just might work in your favor.
Some companies that take individual workers include Amazon Camperforce, KOA: Kampground of America, Bowling Travel Centers, Army Corp of Engineers, and many more. Solo travelers might also want to look into more state-specific locations.
Are There Work Camping Jobs with Salaries?
There are work camping jobs that pay salaries but they tend to be different than the usual seasonal campground workers. Many require more specialized skills such as traveling nurses, red cross workers, construction workers, IT coders, FEMA workers, and many more.
RV resort companies such as Robert’s Resorts, Sun, KOA and others, that own parks in different parts of the US, pay salaries to those in management. Some allow you to move from resort to resort based on the summer and winter weather. Work campers who want to settle in two places during the year and have some serious management credibility on their resumes might want to look into these positions.
What About Taking My Work on the Road?
These days, people are working from home more and more. With Zoom conference meetings, email, texting, and the ever-popular phone call, workers can stay in touch with bosses, co-workers, and staff quite easily. If you are considering RV life, it may be worth it to talk to your boss about working remotely in your RV. You might be surprised, particularly if you are already working from home.
There are also positions out there for remote work that you can apply for if you are already on the road. You might want to invest in some online classes that can help you land that dream RV remote job.
There are numerous jobs that you can do on the road from your camper. Think customer service work, freelance writing, marketing, accounting as just a few that can be done without the four walls of an office. Starting your own business can also be an answer to make money on the road. Mobile RV technicians are in high demand for one. Consider becoming a virtual assistant, freelance graphic designer, or web designer.
Working a job or owning a business from your RV sounds like a dream come true. It generally is because you are free to do work whenever you want. There are, however, a few downsides. Be careful to consider your internet limitations while on the road. A good hotspot connection or cell booster is a must as even those parks that tout their connectivity can have issues.
Depending on the size and layout of your RV, it might be difficult to find a spot to work from that doesn’t have to be set up and torn down on a regular basis. Distractions can also be a major problem. Dogs barking, spouse on the phone, neighbors coming to call, poor internet connectivity, and travel days can all add up to lower productivity at times. Feeling isolated can also be a challenge at times.
However, the positive generally outweighs the negative. You are living cheaper, enjoying nature, and have freedom most people only dream about.
Some Final Thoughts:
Consider the pros and cons of each work camper job you consider. Is it an area that you would like to explore? Find a job that will give you at least a couple of days a week to do just that. Depending on your personality, you might want to avoid jobs that are so remote that it takes an hour just to get groceries. You will spend your entire day off just getting to town and back running necessary errands.
Work camping opportunities also allow you to meet people that will become your friends for life. The people that you work with become like family. Do your homework, be wary of jobs that seem too good to be true, and above all, just enjoy your time and make sure you get out and explore.
So far this summer we have white water rafted, fly fished, hiked, kayaked, camped out, saw beautiful scenery, and more. Hopefully, we will have no regrets for the time we spent here and will move on to another location for more adventures.
If you decide to take a work camper position, you will sign a contract stating the terms of your agreement with the employer. These certainly aren’t unbreakable, but if you want to earn a reputation as excellent workers who are reliable, it’s often a good idea to stay for the duration.
Of course, there are situations such as a family emergency where you have no choice but to leave. Sometimes, there are situations where the employer didn’t follow through with everything they promised or the situation was not presented correctly. Please, be honest with the employer, no matter what the situation, before you leave.
About the author:
Terri Nighswonger and her husband Todd are full-time RVers and work campers. They have been living full-time in their RV for nearly three years with their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Newton, and their Minnie Australian Shepherd, Remi.
They originate from the Midwest but plan to enjoy the west for a few years, wintering in Arizona and summering wherever the road may lead. Writing is Terri’s passion, but she also loves hiking, kayaking, walking her dogs, and anything she can do outdoors.