Santa Claus

Median pay range: From $10 an hour to thousands of dollars per season. Contract pay for the 40-day season can range from around $10,000 for a rookie to more than $50,000 for a more experienced player, depending on the mall and location.

Qualifications: It helps if you look the part -- older, plump, a white beard and a jovial laugh. Santas can be of any race, depending on the venue, but they must be male. (There are some openings for Mrs. Santas and Santa's helpers, too.) Having a natural beard is often a prerequisite, but you can dye it if necessary and padding can be tucked in to get that jelly belly. Expect a criminal background check and drug screening.

Job-hunting tips: Contact smaller malls, department stores, photo shops and special event party planners directly for openings.

Check local classified ads. National staffing services typically provide Santa impersonators to the larger malls. Three of the bigger ones: Cherry Hill Photo Enterprises, Worldwide Photography and Noerr Programs You'll need to apply online and go for an in-person interview. If they like your look and attitude, you'll slip into costume and makeup for headshots, which are sent to the mall reps for selection.

If you're picked, the service will negotiate your contract and send you to Santa school for tips on appropriate behavior and conversations, suggestions for calming kids and makeup help. Don't forget your flu shot.

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