With the holiday season in full swing, Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves have put in many hours designing and building toys, making and checking lists, baking cookies and much more.
Do they get paid for their efforts to make the season festive and bright? Yes, but not in the same way we do. The North Pole's main currency is cookies. The elves also get a place to live, meals and an endless supply of milk, cider and cocoa. Many of the things they need, like furniture or clothing, they can make. If an elf needs something he/she can't make, a trade can usually be worked out with another elf who can. The North Pole insurance plan provides health coverage with minimal cookie premiums. Elves are extraordinarily healthy, most likely due to a combination of North Pole magic and Mrs. Claus making sure they get plenty of vegetables, fruits and other healthy items along with the sweet treats. After the initial probationary period of one year, they receive four weeks of vacation each of the next eight years, along with some spending money in the vacation destination's currency. Starting in the 10th year, they get two months off per year.
Imagine if the North Pole crew packed up the workshop and sleigh and flew south to set up shop? But not too far south ... let's say South Dakota. Since the North Pole is a self-contained organization, it is possible cookies could remain the standard currency; however, if they wanted to go sightseeing or shopping, they'd need something other than gingerbread and chocolate chip cookies. What could Santa and his jolly crew earn in South Dakota wages? The graphics below show how much a person would earn per hour doing a variety of North Pole jobs/tasks in South Dakota wages. Keep in mind, some of these duties would only total up to a few hours, days or weeks each year (e.g., Santa's Merry Christmas proclamations, mall visits) and others would be year-round jobs (e.g., toy-making, cooking-baking and naughty-or-nice reconnaissance).
Let's start with the jolliest old elf: Santa Claus. As head honcho, he oversees all operations at the North Pole. He loves to design, make and play with -- uh, test out the toys. But his tasks go far beyond just toy production.
Mrs. Claus is second in command at the North Pole. Mostly known for her baking, she quietly works behind the scenes to make the North Pole run efficiently. She leaves much of the toy design and production to Santa, but will provide input on occasion. As the North Pole's veterinarian, she cares for the reindeer and other North Pole animals. Her generous spirit, love of animals and seemingly unlimited patience is what drew Santa to her in the first place -- that and her scrumptious sugar cookies. While she has earned international acclaim for her yummy yuletide sweets, Mrs. Claus also has many other responsibilities, some of which are noted below.
Elves help Santa make and test the toys for all the good girls and boys, plus much more! Elves may be assigned specific tasks depending on their skill sets. Some are better at making trains, while others excel at making stuffed animals. Elves attend at least one training a month to learn about the latest in technology and manufacturing innovations. Like most workplaces, there are supervisory and managerial elves as well as team elves. Most elves start in entry-level toy production, warehouse or gift wrap positions and work their way toward a variety of other jobs, including those listed below.
These lists are not all-inclusive. For example, other elven jobs include baking and cooking assistants, sleigh/air traffic controllers, coal specialists, weather elves and Santa's mailroom workers. South Dakota and national occupational equivalents for these roles and more are available from our website.