When Summer is No Vacation: What You Need to Know about Summer Jobs

It’s that time of year. School is out, and many high school and college students are just beginning their summer jobs. Temporary summer work stints aren’t just for students though. If you’re going through a job transition or interested in exploring different parts of the country, then a summer job might be just the thing.

After digging into the data, we found the most prevalent summer jobs opportunities are not lifeguarding by the pool or working at a gift shop on the beach. Here are the highlights of what we discovered:

  • Education is far and away the top summer job category, and other positions working with kids are not far behind.
  • Hospitality has the highest concentration of summer jobs thanks to summer resorts opening for business.
  • If you think the hottest summer job market is on Cape Cod or the Jersey Shore, think again. Modesto, CA, in the heart of the nation’s richest agricultural region, leads the pack. Portland, ME, which draws plenty of summer visitors, comes in second. San Francisco, an educational mecca, is in third place.

Here’s a warning though: If you haven’t started searching for your summer job yet, time is running out.

When to nail down that summer job

The graph below shows that summer job opportunities have become significantly more prevalent in recent years. The 2016 peak was 15% higher than the 2015 peak, and the 2017 peak is 20% higher than the 2016 peak.

The past few years of data show that summer job postings top out in April or May and then decline sharply until they hit bottom in October. Job seekers seem to be aware of this trend and follow a similar pattern: Searches for summer jobs peak in May and then decline rapidly.

Searches for summer jobs have not grown as rapidly or consistently as postings. This is good news for anyone seeking a summer position—job opportunities per job seeker are higher today than they were two years ago.

Another sign of the tightening labor market for seasonal workers is the influx of applications received this year for H-2B visas, which are reserved for temporary nonagricultural workers. In the first three months of the year, over 88,000 applications were filed, while only 33,000 slots are available for seasonal workers whose six-month stay starts in April and ends in September. Many businesses that hire foreign workers in the summer to boost their headcount are now struggling to fill open slots.

What are the summer job opportunities?

When we think about classic summer jobs, a lifeguard or cashier at an ice cream parlor come to mind. But is this image accurate? Indeed’s job posting data for the first five months of 2017 allow us to identify which types of summertime work are most prevalent this year. We first highlight the job categories with the most summer job postings. We then dive into the job categories with the heaviest concentration of summer opportunities.

The table below shows us that nearly one in four summer job opportunities are in the education sector.

Teachers are often under contract to teach from the fall through the spring, but many students need continued…

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