How to Become a Mall Santa

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To become a Mall Santa, applicants must display friendliness, patience and a high-tolerance for handling many children in a short period of time. A Mall Santa is hired to act the part of Santa Claus at a shopping mall or retail location during the Christmas holiday season. A Mall Santa allows children to sit on his lap and make gift requests, along with the help from his mall "elves". Most locations also sell photographs of Santa Claus posing with the children.[1]


Flickr: LadyDragonflyCC
Education No formal education required
Starting pay $100/hour[2]
Median pay $175/hour[2]
Related professions Actor, model
Author Andrew Dobrow

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Mall Santa Job Overview

A Mall Santa is hired to act out the role of Santa Claus at retail locations. A Mall Santa must maintain a jolly disposition and display patience and friendliness.[3] In order to be hired as a Mall Santa, retailers require applicants to pass a background check, due to their close and constant contact with children. The average Mall Santa will see 10,119 children per season.[4] There are estimated to be 2,028 Mall Santa jobs available per season. Considering the high pay and relatively low number of job openings, the Mall Santa job market is considered extremely competitive.[5]

A Mall Santa is expected to perform the role of Santa Claus, which includes allowing children visitors the opportunity to sit on his lap and the chance to request the gifts the children would like Santa to bring him or her for Christmas. Mall Santas working their first season could make as much as $10,000. Seasoned Mall Santas can make close to $20,000 or more per season.[3] Each mall will hire an average of two Mall Santas in order to have a Mall Santa on duty at all times.[5]

Some Mall Santas take up to two hours to prepare for the workday. Some Santa's wear expensive costume pieces and can wear Santa Claus suits that weigh close to 100 lbs. A full Santa costume includes pants, suspenders, a coat, boots, a beard (if one is not grown naturally) and a Santa hat. [1]

Mall Santa Education

There is no formal education needed to become a Mall Santa, and the position does not require a high school diploma. The International University of Santa Claus offers a two-day workshop at several locations across the United States, instructing prospective and current Santas on how to better perform the role of Kris Kringle. There are also instructional DVDs and reading material available.[6]

Mall Santa Training

While there is no formal training necessary to become a Mall Santa, applicants who wish to become a Mall Santa can attend conventions, workshops, and schools. Santa school programs typically only last a few days and provide instruction on varied topics including beard maintenance, communication skills, and more.[1] Prospective Santas can also study the work of other professional Mall Santas, as well as the portrayal of Santa Claus as performed in movies and other media. Mall Santas can also perfect the Santa performance with on-the-job experience.

Santa Claus at the Mall

A mall Santa appears to take pictures with children

Also See: How to Become a Teacher, How to Become a Substitute Teacher, How to Become an Elementary School Teacher, How to Become a Preschool Teacher, How to Become a Stage Actor, How to Become a Magician


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