Work and Travel in California

Help us grow. Share what you know about getting work in California for travellers.


Please edit this section to tell travellers what kinds of short term work is available in California all year round. Mention skills that are in demand here more than other places. For example, if you can get some work as a translator in California but it is as hard as anywhere else, don't list it. If it's a region in China that cannot get enough English translators.... I think you get the idea.



Spring time for California grower means avocados, oranges, spinach, lettuce, and sweet potatoes. All around California, growers need people to collect their crop and help sell them at either local markets or ship them off to be sold elsewhere. If you love agriculture, Spring and Autumn are definitely the best times.

If agriculture isn't your thing, apply early to one of many bustling spring break destinations! For a few weeks of spring, young people flood to coastal cities like San Diego, Venice, Huntington, and Santa Cruz to have fun in the sun and let loose. Bartenders, receptionists, entertainers and food servers are in high demand. Also, since these places are getting a lot of business it the spring, the number of barter points being offered is likely to be a little higher than in winter.


In the summer, tourists flood to California to take advantage of the beautiful weather, scenery, and lively culture. Major Cities like San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles have countless opportunities for those wanting to work in hospitality and entertainment. Along the coast, there are also lots of opportunities for life-guarding positions where you can soak up the sun while living in one of the most sought after areas in the US.
If city life isn't your thing, the central valley in California might be a perfect fit; farmers produce every vegetable, fruit and nut, creating ample opportunity for young people to get hands on experience at working in food production. While the drought over the past few years have limited these opportunities, using the website is a great way to engage with the opportunities available.
Another option for summer work in California, is taking in some nature is being a camp counselor and working at one of the many youth summer camps that are scattered throughout the Rocky Mountains and Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. Young people can engage with youth in a number of activities including camping, cooking, canoeing, painting and crafts, hiking, sewing, archery and fishing.
If you have any experience at water sports, check out Lake Tahoe, Big Bear Lake, Lake Barryyessa or one of the other several lakes. Hotels and business owners need people to instruct tourists in jet skiing, wake-boarding, canoeing, sailing and rafting.


The Central Valley of California, running from Redding in the north, and stretching down towards Bakersfield in the south, is filled with opportunity to work in California's rich agriculture industry. Growers in the region grow everything from wheat, corn and barley, to avocado's, berries, apples, lettuce, rice, almonds and pistachio's - some along the major highways even have tourist facilities with restaurants and pony rides. With so many growers in the region, many look for unique ways of collecting their crop at minimal cost and young workers are often the perfect fit. While the current norm is to hire l migrant workers from Mexico, young workers (such as yourself) offer an opportunity to cut costs even by working in exchange for housing and food.
Autumn is also the time when many are trying to squeeze in some last minute vacations and soak up some sun so hosts need people to preform a number of jobs including life-guarding, entertainer, cooking, cleaning, child care, etc.
TIP: Try to avoid area's near universities. In the Autumn, students are beginning school and tend to take up a lot of jobs in the food industry and service industry. Look for area's in Northern California and the mountains where there is less likely to be new university students.


Winter in California - what a thrill! Mammoth, Lake Tahoe, Big Bear, Lake Arrowhead and Mount Shasta are just a few of the winter wonderlands to choose from in California. At each of these locations, there are job opportunities in hospitality and tourism. With thousands of people coming from near and far, hosts need 'kiddy slopes' monitors, sled run monitors, hot chocolate stands personnel, ski and snowboard instructors, chairlift monitors, etc. With all of these festivities, also comes a high demand for other jobs in the community such as custodial positions, receptionists, care givers, and au pairs. Since these locations tend to be pricing during the winter, taking a job at any facility/business can save hundreds and provide a unique opportunity experience a California winter without hurting your bank account.
TIP: If you get a job in the mountains, ask the host ahead of time about getting to their location. If they are located off the beaten path, snow can cause major problems if you are in a rental car that does not have snow tires and/or chains.


California is second (behind Hawai'i) most diverse state in the US and is filled with people all over the world. For that reason, Californians - of all ethnic backgrounds - love engaging with tourists and travelers, and sharing with them all of the beauties California has to offer. Especially in the cities, you are also likely to find groups of people from you're same background who have immigrated to California and live happily with the other cultures and ethnic groups in the area. Also, if you are working in a hostel, the owners/managers of the facility will give you tips if you are having a hard time adjusting.
But just in case, here are some tips:
1) Californians are very casual - girls love their yoga pants, guys love their basketball shorts, and there is never a bad time for flip-flops (sandals/thongs)
2) Californians are friendly - if you need directions, feel free to ask someone and most likely, they will be happy to help!
3) Tip the bartenders - tipping is different in each country, but in California you might be refused service if you do not tip when you buy a drink

Recent Contributors

  • Edited on Nov 23 2015 by
  • Edited on Nov 20 2015 by Kelly
  • Edited on Apr 25 2015 by Ashton

If you have worked in California or live here. Instead of saying `That information is not right` Please sign up to Working Traveller by clicking here and update this page with your opinions on the subject and your views on what the barter points should be. If your a host, you will have a SEO link added to the page directly to your own web site so viewers can see who provided the information. If you are a traveller it will link to your profile.

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