Five Jobs with Great Perks & Fringe Benefits

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JobsJobs come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. There are jobs that you take because it’s a stepping stone to something better. There are jobs that you take just for the paycheck. There are jobs that are fulfilling, beyond that paycheck, and get you up in the morning. And then you have those jobs that maybe don’t pay that well but have such awesome perks or fringe benefits that you don’t care how much they pay.

Today, we’ll look at five jobs that don’t necessarily pay the most but offer other benefits that you’ll be hard pressed to find elsewhere. If you have any first-hand experience with any of these jobs, please share your experiences in the comments!


Costa Allegra Cruise Ship in Hong KongIf you’re young, love to travel, and don’t mind cramped working conditions, consider working on a cruise line for a few years. The pay won’t be spectacular but you will have all of your expenses covered and you will have the opportunity to see places that would otherwise cost you a pretty penny. The hierarchy of a cruise line’s staff is pretty intricate, so I’d familiarize yourself to the different strata and figure out where you best fit in either the marine or hotel operations.

If you’re curious what it’s really like, check out these resources. CruiseMates did a story on working on a cruise (or five in that case) and Reddit frequently has IAmA discussions involving people working in the cruise industry.

Flight Attendant

Silk Air Flight AttendantAs long as you don’t have to deal with too many unruly (read: drunk) passengers, a flight attendant is a pretty sweet gig. The hours may be long and you may spend a lot of time away from home, but flight attendants usually get free or heavily discounted travel for themselves and their family. There’s a bit of unpredictability with the free and discounted travel (you get bumped first) but when you consider the cost of airfare, it’s a pretty nice perk to have.

You generally have to be over the age of 18, have a high school diploma or a GED, and double check each airline’s hiring qualifications. College education is best and customer service experience is also a plus, though not required. If you are fluent in a second language, that’s a plus too for international routes.

Theater Usher

North Shore Center for Performing Arts in SkokieWhere else can you get paid to watch Broadway shows? The idea of being a theater usher is pretty appealing as a sideline gig, work shows at night in addition to your job during the day, all the while getting to see some decent shows. Part of the difficulty is in execution because you can’t pop around to different theaters all the time and getting a regular spot at a theater usually means you’re watching the same show over and over again.

The best way to go about getting a gig like this is to substitute for someone else. The best way to do this is to give your resume to the Theater House Manager and hope for the best. Here’s an informative discussion about becoming an usher, which is apparently a gig many aspiring actors pursue.


Lifeguard Hut Santa MonicaIf you can swim and love sitting around outside on the beach during the summer, being a lifeguard just might be for you. Depending on your level of swimming expertise and certification, you have your choice of being a lifeguard at a pool, a water park, or the beach. It’s recommended that you take a lifeguard training class that includes first aid and CPR, both of which will likely be requirements in any lifeguarding job you take.

There are two big perks for being a lifeguard – first you get to relax and sit around all day. Second, you’ll pretty much be forced to stay in pretty good shape. You’ll have to swim every day, stay lean, and hit the weights during your training and after, to keep up. Remember, people’s lives depend on you so you need to stay at the top of your game.

Retail Sales Associate

The Gap Store
Finally, the last job that offers up a pretty sweet perk is a retail sales associate. The perk here is that you get a significant discount off regular and sale items at the store you’re working for. These discounts can get up to 40% and 50% off regular prices, though you’ll probably be expected to work 20+ hours a week as a part-timer. Some example discounts are 30% off at The Gap, 20% off at JC Penney, 40% at Williams-Sonoma, and 10% off at Lowes. The downside is that you’ll probably experience difficulty getting these jobs during the recession.

Finally, if none of those appeal to you and you’re a fan of movies, consider working at the movie theater. The perk? You get to watch movies for free.

Did you have a job that had awesome perks? What was it?

(Photo: Jobs by 3CENT, Cruise Ship by caspermoller, Flight Attendant by georgeparrilla, Theater Usher by chicagonorthshore, Lifeguard by gustaffo89, The Gap by nutmeg)

{ 31 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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31 Responses to “Five Jobs with Great Perks & Fringe Benefits”

  1. DIY Investor says:

    The big perks come as you move up the ladder! As a managing director of a major investment management firm I attended big conferences and spoke at conferences. Talk about perks! New Orleans at Mardi Gras, El Paso Texas watching a bullfight at an individual’s hacienda, Key West etc. etc.
    For those who enjoy investing, like public speaking and want to travel to great places, all completely paid for, managing money for institutions is a great way to go.

    • ian says:

      I read through all article and all of the comments and i have agree most with this guy. The perks being talked about here are of very low value compared to high-value perks that are available as part of a career instead of these jobs.

      Just off the top of my head… what are the perks of being on city council, in law enforcement or other govt positions? Working at a big university (like The Ohio State University) can be great – first access to and discounted sport tickets, free classes, big network of people.

      For me, I work in retail, but on the corporate side. 40% discount at multiple stores plus working toward bonuses and ‘up the ladder’ benefits mentioned above (just flew to NY for a Thursday meeting). Grocery may not discount much, but I was getting 20% off at corporate store when working for the manufacturer (similar to Procter and Gamble).

      • Jim says:

        You are 100% correct, the better perks are at the higher levels but those often take years of work before you can get them. These are perks you can get right off the bat.

  2. Shirley says:

    In 1960 I worked at JC Penney’s and felt that a great perk was all the people experiences that I encountered. I’d venture to say that 99% of them were very good and spirit-lifting. They made the job quite enjoyable.

    The other 1% were not, but I learned valuable lessons in how NOT to act/speak to others that would last a lifetime and serve me well. Those lessons helped to shape my personality and so therefore my life.

    The discount (17% then) was a perk that served me too well… I spent way too much of my paycheck there! Perhaps that, in turn, helped teach me some self-restraint. 😉

    • ziglet19 says:

      I also worked at JC Penneys, about 10 years ago, while I was in college. I believe we only got a 10% discount on everything, but we got a 40% discount on anything we would wear to work (dress clothes, pantyhose, shoes). There was also an employee night, twice a year where you could get 40% off of anything. I did spend way too much of my paycheck there.

  3. Hank says:

    I wonder if cruise workers wind up on the same ship and visit the same sights over and over again? Now granted, a place like Jamaica or Bermuda would be awesome, but I think I might get tired of paradise then.

    • cdiver says:

      It also depends on what your job function and work schedule is. It would stink to be stuck on the boat each time you were in port.

  4. cubiclegeoff says:

    I considered trying to find a job on a cruise for a while, but never followed through. If you’re just out of college, it could be fun.

    I know retail generally doesn’t top most people’s list of preferred jobs. But for some stores, if you can accept the low pay for whatever reason (you’re doing it to keep busy and don’t need the money or something), I think it’s a pretty good gig. I worked at B&N for a couple of summers and vacations during college and I had a great time.

  5. cdiver says:

    I wonder if grocery stores give big discounts to their employees.

    • Jin6655321 says:

      I’ve know a few people that worked at grocery stores and the biggest discount I’ve heard was 5%. However, I think if you work at Target, the 10% discount also applies to their grocery section…

    • fairydust says:

      Wegman’s does not – no employee discount at all 😛

    • Marc says:

      Last Christmas I worked for a large Grocery Chain as a PT Seasonal – no discounts on brand name or regular groceries, though there was a 10% discount on Nutrition Department items, some Private Store Brands and a dozen or so other specialized food items.

      This place was one of those with everything under 1 roof.
      So discount on electronics was 10%
      Clothes 20%
      Home and Garden 15%
      Fine Jewelry 20%

      At least that is what I recall.

      I really did not use any of the discounts available

  6. My wife was considering working for retail at a clothing store she really likes just to get the discount. I am sure that many of the people work at retail locations just for this reason.

  7. Dee says:

    I got a night/weekend job at my favorite store for the discount.

    It was nice at first, but then it made me dislike the store. The clothes I liked so much just became items. And retail, especially womens’ clothing, can be very trying. People are so condescending sometimes, not knowing that, especially now, many of the people in the stores are just like them. They have full time jobs but are working retail to make up for pay cuts, furloughs, etc.

    • moljacks says:

      Agreed. Retail may teach you a lot but the most important thing is not to work retail! It is a great way to learn customer service though.

  8. cdiver says:

    One problem I have seen in working retail to earn the discount is that you are encouraging yourself to spend more because the price is discounted than if you paid full price. Increase your income and follow it up with increased expenses.

  9. MichaelM says:

    I have an IT Sys. Admin job. The perk? It pays well enough that I can go home after 40 hours and do what I want.

  10. Jin6655321 says:

    I’ve worked as a retail manger for several years and there are a lot of perks to working retail. If you want to pick up some extra hours but don’t want to dedicate 20+ hours to a second job you can always apply to the smaller stores; a lot of them will take you on for 8 hours a week.

    If you avoid the big box retailers (Target, Walmart, Macys, etc.) and pick a store that fits your personality and interest, it can actually be a good form of stress relief. And, if you’re outgoing, you can easily parlay your pt job into something bigger. I’ve had associates who love networking and, by talking to customers and co-workers, have gotten new jobs, free stuff, huge discounts on stuff, tickets to shows, life changing advice, found new friends, love, etc.

  11. zapeta says:

    A lot of people have already said this, but when I worked retail I ended up spending way too much of my pay at the store I worked at because of the discount.

  12. I worked retail for two Christmas seasons and had an OK time. I could not imagine working retail for years though. It is not worth the discount!

    A. The discount encourages you to shop more. Definitely not good for your finances.

    B. Retail is retail. Rude customers, standing up all day, rude customers, pushing credit cards on people.

  13. billsnider says:

    I have the best job with the best perks. I live on your money. Thank you social security.

    Bill Snider

  14. My buddy was a lifeguard in college, but he got fired because he was more interested in checking out the bikinis than keeping swimmers safe.

  15. athena1224 says:

    I work at a University teaching math and my kids will get their tuition and some fees waived for any state school in MA. I can also take any classes I want for free.

  16. Did you know you can volunteer on cruises and also to usher in theaters?

    A friend volunteered to give tourist talks on cruises, and later she volunteered at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. Got the trips and lodging for free, met a lot of people, had a great time. The same friend turned me on to volunteering to usher at performances for the three Actors’ Equity companies here in town — easy work, and you get in to see the shows for free.

    Those jobs could be a lot less fun if you had to show up every day and do the work for pay.

  17. eric says:

    I’ve had a retail job. Too bad I didn’t normally buy anything from that store anyways. 😛

  18. thunderthighs says:

    This reminded me of a couple humorous takes on the pitfalls of working one’s way to a free cruise–anyone remember “Out to Sea” with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau? And this episode of “Frasier,” entitled “Voyage of the Damned:”

  19. Max says:

    If you’re looking for a job with one of the biggest perks that any job could offer, which in my opinion is time off from the job, then teaching is a great option. You get a few months off for summer vacation, 2 weeks for Christmas, an extra week for Spring Break, all other holidays and weekends as well, plus the hours are relatively short compared to the corporate world. Of course, after dealing with so many kids, you’ll need the time off, but what other job gives you off around 3-4 months a year in standard paid vacation time.

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