How Much Do You Think Santa Claus Should Earn? This Report Breaks It Down

santa claus
Santa Claus ringing the bell for the Salvation Army at the Cocoa, Fla Walmart. December 17, 2016 Samantha Dunscombe/The Penny Hoarder

Shield young eyes and ears before reading this article. Major holiday-spirit spoiler ahead…

Santa Claus isn’t real.

From an economic point-of-view, that’s good news. If he were really doing all the work we give him credit for, his paycheck would cost someone a lot of money.

Each year, puts out the annual Santa Index, the sum of what Mr. Kringle’s work is worth based on its comparison to various categories from the Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

The Santa Claus position is worth an annual salary of $146,308.51 — up 2.2% from last year. also surveyed 1,000 respondents to see what they think the lead elf should earn.

Unsurprisingly, few people could agree on the going rate for a jolly, magical man who manages a workshop of elves and flies around the world in a single night to bring joy to millions of children.

The majority — 51% — think Mr. Claus should earn between $50,000 and $200,000 — solidly middle class in the U.S.

A grinchy 8% of respondents don’t believe Santa should receive a salary, because, “Santa does what he does out of the goodness of his heart and therefore doesn’t need a salary.”

Come on — you couldn’t give a fantasy character a fantasy salary in a hypothetical survey? Where’s the holiday spirit?

What Would Santa’s Job Be in the Real World?

santa claus
Samantha Dunscombe/The Penny Hoarder

You might think a salary of nearly $150,000 is steep, but consider all the jobs Ol’ Saint Nick covers at the North Pole. broke down his job into 15 distinct positions.

Running the workshop (industrial engineer) full time for 364 days a year — no weekends and no vacation for the big guy! — makes up the bulk of the work and earns Santa $122,000 a year.

His side gig as a professional shopper earns him another $2,300.

Twelve-hour days of wrapping presents for the whole world for two weeks a year earns him just $1,900 in side income. It also means working 20-hour days leading up to Christmas Eve!

Taking care of reindeer (farm hand) year-round earns him $4,600.

Various other positions, from chimney sweep to sleigh pilot to announcer (“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”) make up the rest. even allots Santa $210 as a milk and cookie taster (agricultural inspector). I’d call that one a perk, not a duty, wouldn’t you?

Your Turn: How much do you think Santa Claus should earn?

Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post,, Writer’s Digest and more, attempting humor wherever it’s allowed (and sometimes where it’s not).

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.