How Much Work Is Required Of A Workamper?
I hate to say it but the answer to the "How much work is required?" question is "It depends". All we can do here is give some basic guidelines.
Length of Commitment
Typically, employers hiring workampers to work on-site want at least a three month commitment. But they will give preference to those that can work a full "season".
What's a "season"? Well, again, it depends. It depends on the location of the employer as much as anything. The weather generally dictates "peak" seasons when the most help is needed.
For most of the country, the busiest times are between Memorial Day & Labor Day. It's the warmest time of the year in the most places. And it's the time when school is out, so families can travel.
So, most "seasons" will run from May through September, give or take a month or two depending on how far north or south the employer is located.
Of course, in the winter, the "season" is different for places in the south such as Florida, the Southeastern Gulf Coast, Texas, Arizona, Southern California. The winter "season" generally runs November through April with peaks being January through March (as many snowbirds don't head south until after the holidays).
So, generally, you will be looking at somewhere between three and seven months for a paid workamping position.
However, there are some jobs that rely on Christmas or other holiday sales periods (i.e. Christmas Tree sales, pumpkin sales, fireworks sales, kiosks in malls during Christmas, Amazon.com holiday shipping season, etc.). They have short-terms (maybe a month or six to eight weeks), but they also have very intense work schedules.
Non-paid volunteer positions are a bit more flexible and may just require a month or two with less intense work schedules, but even some of those "employers" really want their volunteers to work a "season".
On the other end of the scale, full employment positions with benefits and some supervisory or management responsibilities may require a commitment of a year or more.
If you are willing to work full seasons, your job search is much easier. And often the employer will pay a season-ending bonus if you stay the full time as an extra incentive for longer commitments.
But if you don't want to stay in one place that long, there are options. Some employers are flexible if you simply ask. Also, sometimes employers get late cancellations from workampers or they have workampers that leave early. Desperation can make them a lot more flexibile. :)
Hours Per Week Requirements
The hours per week vary more than the length of commitment.
The hours requirements often depend on the following:
Whether or not it is the employer's peak season
How many workampers the employer hires
The rate of pay
The overall work environement (fast-paced vs laid back)
The attitude of the employer regarding workampers
Of course, in some cases, there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to the hours required.
Note: Most employers of workampers provide full hook-up campsites, free or discounted propane, free or discounted laundry, free internet (if they have it), free cable TV (if they have it), discounts in their store (if they have one), and sometimes, free local phone service. If they don't provide those extra perks, usually the monetary compensation is a bit higher. Be sure to ask.
Okay, let's assume you only want to work for a campsite. How many hours should you expect to work?
The typical requirement would be 15 to 20 hours per week. That's 15 - 20 hours per couple (or 15 - 20 hours for one person if the campsite is occupied by a single). In most cases, it's simply a math problem.
If the work you do is valued at $7 - $8 per hour, 15 - 20 hours at those rates would give you a range of $420 - $640 per month. Usually, the value of the campsite will fall in that range.
However, the hours could be more or less for a campsite if the site value is above or below that average range.
Now, with that said, many private employers want you to work more hours than that. Often, they will want a minimum of 40 hours per couple and sometimes they want up to 40 hours per person.
So what happens when you work more than that 15 - 20 hours for the campsite?
Well, the compensation plans, as they relate to hours worked, differ quite a bit among workamper employers.
Some employers will pay only for hours worked above and beyond the agreed upon hours required for the campsite.
Some employers will pay for all hours worked, period (the "free" campsite is a bonus).
Then there are some employers that want lots of hours, but pay nothing beyond the campsite. You really have to want to be in that location and enjoy the work to take that type of position. :)
And, of course, there is everything in between for private company workamping positions.
Now, for volunteer positions at national parks, other federal locations, state parks, and the like, you will have no expectation of being paid (there might or might not be a small daily stipend for the days you work). But you might be expected to work 24 - 32 hours per person per week. And in camphosting positions, you might be "on call" three to seven days a week, technically, 24 hours a day.
Granted the work is usually much easier and the atmosphere is more laid back, but volunteering is often a bad deal economically. So why do people do it? We'll discuss that further on the Pros & Cons of Paid Positions vs. Volunteer Positions page.
There are so many different types of workamping jobs, so many different employers, so many requirements, commitments, and compensation plans. But the above is a pretty good starting point.
Always be sure you thoroughly understand your commitment. Getting it in writing is ideal. You should interview the employer as much, if not more, than they interview you.
Click on the links below for answers to other workamping questions:
What are the types of jobs available?
How much can I expect to earn?
What if I just want to volunteer for a campsite?
What are the Pros & Cons of working for pay vs. volunteering for for a site with no pay?
What are the tax implications of workamping?
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