Traveling Carnival Jobs
By Eric Hammer
It used to be that every kid dreamed of running away and joining
the circus or a traveling carnival. If that person was you, then
you may be interested in finding out more about carnival jobs
(and no, we're not talking about being stuck on a boat for three
days with no power and needing the Coast Guard to airlift food
in to you).
Of course, people who work in carnival jobs (or carnies as
they like to call themselves) do have to work extremely hard
at their jobs. In addition to working twelve hour days selling
things at the carnival, carnies also are required to help set
up and break down the entire carnival wherever it may be as it
travels from city to city. Some carnies also get work only six
months or less out of the year while others work full time year
round, following the nice weather.
Expect also to be sleeping wherever you can find a spot. Many
people who work in traveling carnival jobs end up sleeping inside
the rides that they happen to run. Those with trailers to sleep
in typically provide their own trailers and must pay for their
own hookups (i.e. electricity, water, sewage, etc.).
How Much Can You Make?
For all that there is a certain romance related to working
in a carnival, the reality is that carnies make very little money.
Most carnival jobs pay minimum wage or a little bit more. Even
the talents who perform professional acts do not earn very good
livings. In essence, people who do this for a lifetime rather
than just as a summer job do it because they love the lifestyle,
not because they expect to make a good living.
Ways to Make More | Related Opportunities
In addition to working in traveling carnivals, you can also
find jobs with the circus, where things are a little bit different
(since there is more work involving acts and if you have a talent
to offer, you are more likely to get slightly better treatment
(i.e. a real place to sleep, etc.) than with a carnival.
Remember also that carnival jobs are mostly held by teenagers
who are doing it for a summer job as pocket money. If you are
older and just starting to get into this business, it can be
very difficult, though these days, more professional people are
turning out for carnival work than ever because of the Great
Finally, remember that carnies have a certain work ethic -
they do this because they love the job. In order to work as a
carnie for a lifetime, it is essential that you cannot imagine
doing anything else with your life. If you don't feel that way,
take a carnival job for the summer to see how you feel. If, after
the summer you're not really sure you'd want to make this your
life, look for something else. It's likely you'll be miserable
Qualifications / Requirements
There are no formal requirements to work in a carnival. However,
it helps if you have a particular talent and or a loud voice
and a friendly demeanor. You also need to love being around children
Start by taking a summer job with a carnival in town. Contact
the company that promotes the carnival as soon as you know they'll
be in town (check the resources below for some useful places
to look for information about carnivals). Then, see if you love
this life or not. If you do, ask if you can travel with the carnival
and take it a few days at a time. See if it sinks in for you
Check out these helpful resources to find out more about working
at carnival jobs:
- Another online magazine about the world of carnivals.