Top 10 Side Jobs – #9: Special Events Customer Service

Welcome to a new ten part series at the Outlier Model on the Top 10 Side Jobs available to the average person.  Please check out our intro post and tune in every Wednesday as we count down to #1!

Next at #9 on our list of Top 10 Side Jobs is special events customer service.  Think about all the sporting events, concerts and festivals that happen in your city.  People are needed to take tickets, sell beer, hawk souvenirs and pour popcorn.  This person could be you!  In fact, my dad did a part time stint as a special events supervisor for a while at the old GM Place.  I classify it as a potential side job because most of these positions only employ people for the duration of the event, rather than maintaining full time staff year-round.

Photo credit via Flickr

Photo credit via Flickr

Special events customer service

There are many, many jobs that could fall under this umbrella.  They’re all alike in the sense that they are regular or semi-regular, but occur at varying intervals, and usually only for short shifts (4-6 hours) and not full day shifts.  Often, working hours are in the evenings and can extend an hour or two after the event actually happens and most jobs involve dealing with the public.

Some examples could include:

  • ticket takers
  • concession stand staff
  • ushers
  • souvenir staff
  • cleaners/bussers
  • servers

Generally, these positions will pay minimum wage or slightly higher.  However, it can get quite high depending on the employer.  For example, at the local university, ticket takers are paid nearly $18/hour because they are part of a union.  When my father worked part time at GM Place, he was paid $12/hour and his crew were paid $10/hr.

Skills Required for customer service

The skills that are needed for providing services during events and festivals vary depending on the exact position.  But, most involve dealing with customers or the public to some degree.  It’s important then to be personable, engaging and friendly.  When I go to Canucks games for example, the front door ticketing staff are always incredibly cheerful and friendly.  You also often need to have experience handling money and making change for customers.

It can also helpful to be certified to serve food and drinks, and to have first aid certification – though it’s certainly not necessary.  Some cities will not require certification while other jobs may be willing to provide certification to employees.

Pros of being special event staff

  • Hours: Often shifts are in the evening, making it easier to schedule around other jobs
  • Perks: You might not have the best view, but working at concerts and sporting events means that you’ll get to see those events for free.
  • Skills: For many, especially students, working a job like this can help develop great organizational and leadership skills.  Special events are hard to do right – putting together something big and amazing and pulling it off with a crew that’s not necessarily doing the job 5 days a week is challenging.  A motivated person, even working only part time, can learn a lot if they were persistent.

Cons of being special event staff

  • People: Let’s face it – many service workers are not super-motivated.  We’ve all had the cashier-from-hell experience.  You might end up working with very negative or lazy people.  On the flip side, customers can be damn annoying too.  All in all, you need to be a people-person to navigate the potential drama in a customer-service oriented job.
  • Physical: It can be a hard job because you’ll be on your feet for most of the day.  I remember 8 hour shifts at the bookstore – even with the special soft mats that we stood on at the cash desk, my back would ache constantly.


For a side gig, the pay isn’t terrible.  If you play your cards right and get into a union, the pay can be pretty cushy for the work.  With evening hours being the norm, working special events can be a pretty convenient side gig!  It’s not a great job for people with back issues since you’ll need to be on your feet a lot, but for others, it can be a good source of extra income and even a way to gain skills in customer service, organization and time management.

Miss the rest of the series?

#10 – Mystery Shopping

Posted in: Career and Work

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