If Santa Claus were non-fictional and earned a salary, the multi-talented manufacturing executive, pilot, animal wrangler, labor negotiator and private investigator would wrap up an annual paycheck nearing $138,000. This is based on an analysis, utilizing published vocational wages. In actuality, assuming the merrymaking role of the legendary figure really is big business during Los Angeles’ traditional holiday season.

(Photo Courtesy of Ed Taylor)

(Photo Courtesy of Ed Taylor)

“An elite, real-bearded Santa can earn more than $25,000 during the season,” said Ed Taylor, an entertainer whose mystifying resemblance to the benevolent character has landed him spots in commercials, print ads, videos and on national television shows.

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What other employment avenues are open?

“There is work in malls, retail stores and photography studios. Hello Santa, a company headquartered in Venice Beach, offers video chats with Santa. I do a ton of work for them from home, via my webcam.”

Why do you enjoy donning the red suit?

“Of course, earning extra money always comes in handy. What makes portraying Santa particularly rewarding is what the image represents. Santa is an icon of love, consideration and generosity.”

What defines a successful Santa depiction?

“Most people want Santa to be jolly, stay in character and have an authentic ‘ho, ho, ho.’ But we must also be able to dial it back to almost a whisper so we can capture the attention of babies without frightening them.”

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How will Santa evolve by 2022?

“We might see a bit of an evolution in Santa’s appearance. He may drop a few pounds and embrace a healthier lifestyle.”

How does one prepare for a role as Santa?

“The first step is to do it. Don the red suit somewhere, perhaps at a local charity event and just see if the role fits. There are several Santa Claus training programs available, including mine.”

What is your message to aspiring Santa actors?

“I advise them to volunteer at a church event or community function. If they’re ready to commit to the career, they should invest in a nice Santa suit and search for ‘Santa Claus Jobs L.A.’ They will also need a background check and will want insurance.”

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Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist who covers topics of social interest in greater Los Angeles. Some news articles she has authored have been archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Sharon also contributes to Examiner.com.