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10 Jobs for Seniors with RVs

When you take your home with you, you can work anywhere.
When you take your home with you, you can work anywhere.
Photodisc/Thinkstock

For many seniors, retirement is all about travel. Some jet around the world, while others make frequent trips to toasty spots like Arizona and Florida or relax on luxurious cruise ships. Those with true wanderlust often turn to the world of recreational vehicles, or RVs. Criss-crossing the country in their tricked out mobile homes, they stop and stay wherever and whenever they'd like.

Nearly 8 million American households own an RV, according to a 2005 study by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). Although results from its latest study are still being compiled, Kevin Broom, RVIA's director of media relations, says the group is conservatively predicting this number to rise to at least 8.3 million, despite our country's recent economic woes.

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Seniors dominate the market, with those age 55 to 64 historically having the highest ownership rates of RVs, according to the study. Not too surprising, as it's an affordable way to travel, especially for those on a fixed income. Additionally, many seniors like to find a prime spot, set up home for a few weeks or months at a time and earn a little cash while staying occupied with a part-time or even full-time job. Because of this phenomenon, online sites abound that match workampers -- RVers and campers looking for work -- with both paid and volunteer jobs.

The numerous available jobs tend to be in the service and tourism industries, with many clustered around scenic parts of the country. Keep reading to find 10 of the most common positions filled by senior workampers.

Tour guide positions are the perfect way to share your knowledge and passion of a particular subject with others.
Tour guide positions are the perfect way to share your knowledge and passion of a particular subject with others.
Digital Vision/Thinkstock

With many workamper jobs available in the tourism industry, it's not surprising that being a tour guide is one of them. If you're passionate about sharing your love of something -- a particular national park or museum, for example -- this could be the perfect job for you. It also helps if you're active and enjoy the outdoors, as many guide jobs require physical fitness and some sports skills. Finally, it's important to have a sense of humor so you can loosen up a group and encourage questions and interaction. And multitasking skills are critical, as you may have to be everything from guide to chauffeur to teacher to nurse during a particular tour.

Typical available positions include whitewater rafting guides, sea kayaking guides, fishing guides, trek leaders, biking guides, naturalists and, more recently, zipline lead and support guides.

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Want to play your beloved six-string or pound out some honky-tonk melodies on the piano? Peruse the job listings for amusement parks, tourist attractions or theme parks. Branson, Mo., is quite popular with RVers looking for musician jobs; check out available positions through area staffing agencies. And don't overlook Silver Dollar City, a theme park just outside the town. Be prepared to go through an audition, as you'll obviously have to demonstrate your skills. Auditions for summer positions may need to be completed as early as the previous November or December.

Branson's not your thing? There are plenty of musician positions at loads of other places, including everywhere from Disney World to Dollywood to small, private campgrounds that provide entertainment for their guests.

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Believe it or not, caretaker positions for lighthouses like this one at Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina are frequently available.
Believe it or not, caretaker positions for lighthouses like this one at Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina are frequently available.
Photo courtesy National Park Service

Property caretakers typically perform chores such as lawn mowing, sometimes on large tractors, and related landscaping tasks including picking up fallen branches, weeding, laying mulch, edging, hedge trimming and more. If the property to be cared for includes buildings, the job might also entail checking faucets, electrical outlets, heating and cooling units, phone lines and locks. Caretaking positions can be just a few hours a week all the way up to full time.

Remember, jobs under this heading can vary widely, so make sure you have all the details. A caretaking position recently advertised for a ranch in Arizona's White Mountains includes watering horses and cleaning stalls. A volunteer host keeper/caretaker position at Forty Mile Point Lighthouse on Lake Huron in Michigan involves greeting visitors and providing them with historical information about the light station, working in the gift shop, lighthouse museum and pilot house and keeping the buildings neat and clean. And while most caretaker jobs provide lodging, this one requires you to bring your RV.

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One of the most advertised positions anywhere is for a cook, and it's no different for the RV crowd. Loads of RV parks and campgrounds are near towns with restaurants, and many are looking for cooks. In addition, larger campgrounds that have cafés typically need cooks too. Johnson's is a small, family-run café and campground tucked into the east side of Glacier National Park in Montana, and cooks are often needed for the café, which seats about 150 people.

It's not uncommon for cooking to be included in other positions as varied as activities director (you'd cook for an activity you planned that has a meal component) and park manager, so that's another consideration if you enjoy cooking, but not all day or every day. Remember that some cook positions can involve long hours, standing on your feet and a potentially stressful, fast-paced environment.

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Handyman positions are always in demand.
Handyman positions are always in demand.
iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Who doesn't need a good handyman (or woman)? They're in demand everywhere, especially at campsites and parks, so if this is your thing, you should have an easy time finding a job. As with any potential job, make sure to ask a lot of questions to find out exactly what the expectations are. Some places are looking for fairly extensive maintenance work covering a wide variety of areas: electrical, mechanical, pool operation, carpentry, plumbing and air conditioning, plus vending machine, automotive and equipment repair. Other times, the work tends to be much less technical: trash collection, bathroom and outhouse cleaning and laundry room upkeep. Depending on the job site, you might be required to supply your own basic tools. And know that you'll probably spend some days working outside in the rain and heat.

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Keep in mind that most shuttle bus driver and tram operator positions require a specific type of driver's license.
Keep in mind that most shuttle bus driver and tram operator positions require a specific type of driver's license.
Photos.com/Thinkstock

Lots of resorts and even some small hotels offer shuttle bus service to their customers. So do outfitters, lodges, cabins, retreats and dude ranches. Additionally, many tourist attractions use trams (ski resorts, zoos and amusement parks come to mind). So it's not surprising that there's a need for folks to drive the buses and trams.

Naturally, certain requirements must be met before you're legally able to drive such a vehicle. Make sure to inquire about the requirements, which may necessitate obtaining a specific type of driver's license or endorsement. Often, a high school degree or GED is required, and undergoing a background check is a possibility.

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Why not show off your green thumbs by working as a groundskeeper?
Why not show off your green thumbs by working as a groundskeeper?
Pixland/Thinkstock

This position is similar to the caretaker, only buildings typically aren't involved. Think jobs like mowing lawns, pulling weeds, trimming bushes, watering plants and sweeping sidewalks. The good thing is that pretty much every business, park or tourist attraction needs a groundskeeper (or two or three or 20), so the possibilities are endless. You might find a position performing typical groundskeeping jobs at a campground, or one where you're tending to fanciful topiaries at a major theme park.

Groundskeeping jobs are often coupled with other positions at smaller operations, such as light cleaning, performing maintenance and even doing office work. So if groundskeeping is an interest, but you also like a variety of work, these types of positions might be more suitable. Just keep in mind you'll be outside most of the time, in a variety of weather conditions.

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Like roasting marshmallows and telling ghost stories? An activities director at a family-oriented campsite might be just the job for you!
Like roasting marshmallows and telling ghost stories? An activities director at a family-oriented campsite might be just the job for you!
Creatas/Thinkstock

One of the more common positions available, according to the Workamper site, is an activities director. Even the smallest campground or RV park has at least a few activities planned for guests during the season, and many have extensive programming, hence the need for an activities director. These positions often require some experience, especially at larger places. One Florida RV park was looking for a pro because its 100-acre facility features 800 full hookups, and a 9,000-square-foot clubhouse with a heated pool had just been built. Smaller places typically have more modest expectations and thus less stringent background requirements.

Make sure to inquire about the park or campground's typical demographics. If it's frequented by families, the activities you plan will need to be focused on kids and groups -- think arts and crafts, frog hunts, organized sports and bonfires. The Florida RV park mentioned above caters to retired snowbirds, whose desired activities will likely be quite different.

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Park manager positions are as varied as the parks themselves. Generally, the position involves overseeing and performing a myriad of duties, from checking in guests to keeping the place clean and tidy to troubleshooting problems. Many times the "position" is intended to be shared by a couple

A job advertised on Work for RVers and Campers at an RV resort near Gatlinburg, Tenn., involves a couple splitting the duties for reservations, check-in and the cleaning and maintenance of bath houses, pool and camp sites. Not surprisingly, these positions are typically found in popular tourist spots.

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With such a friendly smile, how could you not feel welcomed by this camp host?
With such a friendly smile, how could you not feel welcomed by this camp host?
Lifesize/Thinkstock

By far the most popular job for RVers is serving as host at a campground or RV park. Much like a park manager position, these jobs typically require you to perform general cleaning and maintenance, monitor the campground or park and greet and register guests. Obviously, it's best if you like working with the public and meeting lots of new people.

These positions can be found everywhere and in camps of all sizes. Make sure to inquire about the park's size and typical occupancy rates ahead of time, along with its amenities, which can be generous or sparse and thus have different commitment needs. Some camp hosts are strictly office-based positions, too, so if you're looking to be out in the fresh air, this wouldn't be the job for you.

Don't assume this job isn't exciting. A Georgia campground in need of a host features a zoo, small-gauge railroad and train and boat dock. A Texas African Wildlife Lodge has giraffe, zebra and wildebeest on the premises.

As we've shown you, a wide variety of jobs are available to suit a diverse population of seniors with RVs. With just a few weeks' or months' worth of work at a time, you can earn enough money to be off to your next exciting destination.

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Sources

  • Broom, Kevin. Director of Media Relations, Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). Personal interview. May 16, 2011.
  • Retirement RVs. "Jobs you can do while you fulltime RV." Jan. 11, 2010. (May 16, 2011)http://www.retirementrvs.com/2010/01/11/jobs-you-can-do-while-you-fulltime-rv/
  • Retirement RVs. "Retirement RV Seasonal Job Ideas-Entertainment Jobs." Feb. 8, 2010. (May 16, 2011)http://www.retirementrvs.com/2010/02/08/retirement-rv-seasonal-job-ideas-entertainment-jobs/
  • Retirement RVs. "What to do for a job or hobby when you full-time." Aug. 24, 2009. (May 16, 2011)http://www.retirementrvs.com/2009/08/24/what-to-do-for-a-job-or-hobby-when-you-full-time/
  • RV Dreams."Typical Workamper jobs." (May 19, 2011) http://www.rv-dreams.com/workamping-job-types.html
  • SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. "Career Opportunities." (May 19, 2011) http://careers.worldsofdiscovery.com/Scripts/Home/Default.aspx
  • United States Lighthouse Society. "United States Lighthouse Society Presents Where Can I Be A Light Keeper?" (May 19, 2011)http://www.uslhs.org/resources_be_a_keeper.php#Wisconsin
  • Workamper. (May 16, 2011)http://www.workamper.com/
  • Work for RVers and Campers."Disney Jobs: Join the Magic, Receive Hourly Pay, Discounts, and Free Admissions." (May 16, 2011)http://www.work-for-rvers-and-campers.com/

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