I'm not just in it for the money!
November 15, 2006 12:42 PM   Subscribe

What types of jobs have awesome perks/benefits?

I've been wanting to get a job with a major airline for the free/supercheap airfare, but there doesn't seem to be any appropriate positions available near me. What other industries (or specific companies) have fabulous perks?
posted by logic vs love to Work & Money (49 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Depends what you would consider a "fabulous" perk. I know a woman who worked at a Cole Haan store; their employee discount is something unreal, like 40% off wholesale pricing. She was able to buy a pair of boots that retailed for $300+ for about $80. Pretty great if you're a fan of high-end leather accessories.
posted by junkbox at 1:30 PM on November 15, 2006

At the university that I work for, all full-time employees, from the deans to the janitors, get one free class a semester. It's a pretty sweet deal.
posted by donajo at 1:31 PM on November 15, 2006

FedEx offers reciprocal benefits to employees of many airlines (i.e., airline employees get a huge discount shipping stuff via FedEx), so I'm pretty sure many airlines offer a huge discount on travel to FedEx employees. I don't think UPS, DHL, or other shippers have reciprocal agreements with airlines.
posted by Quietgal at 1:32 PM on November 15, 2006

From first hand experience: Universities and colleges usually have really good educational perks. Not as jaw-droppingly cool as flying whenever/whereever. But picking up a first or second degree for next to nothing, is pretty neat. My grandmother was a phone exchange operator, and still has all the latest bells and whistles for her landline for free from her baby bell company.

Anecdotally: Professional sports (if you can break into it) has the great opportunity to meet the big stars and attend games and other functions as part of the job. If the team does well, other perks can come into play too. A friend worked for a minor league hockey team, and when they won their division, he got a nice souvenir watch and a bonus from the management even though he was just an accountant.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 1:35 PM on November 15, 2006

Advertising agencies tend to have fantastic expense accounts (depending on your level) and gifts coming in all the time.

High-tech has some amazing stuff--Google especially (80/20 time, gourmet cafeterias, etc).

Talent agencies (well, the big guns), from what I've heard, have some pretty damn incredible perks. Your entire job is to wine and dine people. (Well, ok, not the entire job, but it's how a lot of it works)
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:41 PM on November 15, 2006

One of my best friends works in PR for a beer brewery and get a case of beer a week for free, which is a pretty awesome perk. They also drink beer during their company meetings and can drink on the job (within reason).

I work for a giant corporation and they're constantly trying to make us happy and feel important by bringing in food every few days like cake and stuff like that - eh, it's okay but doesn't make up for everything else.

I have another friend who works for a publicity firm and gets tons and tons of free swag all the time.
posted by banannafish at 1:43 PM on November 15, 2006

It depends on what is fabulous to you.

I worked for a website that did a lot of promotional sponsorships as well as a concert/sporting arena. Through those jobs I got free concerts (saw Britney twice! hee!), NFL games, sporting events, limo rides, parties, etc. In another job I got a free (well, had to pay taxes on it, so not free but significantly reduced) MBA. In some jobs I got a great discount on clothing and in another a discount on arts and crafts supplies. These were all things that were very important to me at the time, so they were fabulous perks to me.

Now a fabulous perk might be a great 401K program, or a free gym membership. Or free airfare. Or a company car. Or better insurance at no cost to me. Man, I've grown up and am pretty lame.

Anyway, I think it depends on what matters to you. Oops, I am just now seeing that junkbox has already said this. Well, it bears repeating. The best by far was free school, though I loved the fun perks of working in sponsorships and promotions. A university will give you (and usually your spouse and kids) free school, though a lot of corporations offer that these days in order to be competitive and promote professional development.
posted by ml98tu at 1:46 PM on November 15, 2006

Perhaps a larger travel agent in your area? I worked in the mid 90's for MLT Vacations, which wasn't an airline but a travel package type place. We could fly on Sun Country airlines for $15 per leg and stay for cost in hotels we dealt with.

The problem was they didn't pay enough for me to be able to really use it too much. I would fly to Philly and drive to Atlantic City and fly back the same day since I couldn't afford the hotel.
posted by thilmony at 1:49 PM on November 15, 2006

And just so you know, the perks that airline employees have grown accustomed to are shrinking. As airlines have cut expenses and reduced flights, more flights are full. It's much harder to find flights with availability for stand-by passengers, and even then non-employee stand-bys get top priority.

Several friends of mine got their airline jobs mainly for those benefits and have not been able to fly nearly as much as they'd hoped to.

As for orther jobs, I would say that working as a personal assistant for notorious local celebrity afforded me more perks than any other; I got to go to fancy parties, meet famous people, eat like a king, and raid gift bags. Of course the less glamorous aspects of the job were humiliating, demeaning, and frightening, but life ain't all buttered toast.
posted by hermitosis at 2:00 PM on November 15, 2006

I work for a third-party money manager, and although I'm the lowest on the totem pole, I still enjoy monthly massages, daily catered lunch and coffee carte blanche, a nearly total no-questions-asked expense policy, great company parties and events and most importantly, fee-free mutual fund management. By my retirement, that'll be a big perk.

But that's not exactly Fabulous, just very satisfying.

Fabulous was my job as a Birthday Party Coordinator at the Beach Boardwalk where I got paid to skip the line with a group of 10 year olds and ride the rollercoaster with them. Usually got tipped for it, as a matter of fact.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:06 PM on November 15, 2006

Employees at the New Belgium Brewery in Ft. Collins get a case of beer a week, travel to work at the company booth at one cool event each year (music festivals and the like) where they get free admission when they're not working, and after 5 years get a trip to Belgium. (I think. I vaguely remember this from the brewery tour.) Oh! And of course they get the highly coveted Fat Tire bike after working there two years.
posted by MsMolly at 2:07 PM on November 15, 2006

I'll echo what everyone else has said.

My brothers and I own a small family business. I hate the work, but I have the best perk in the world: because we've squeezed do many family members in, and because we're efficient at our jobs, I have more free time than you can possibly imagine. I use it to write, to read, and to hand out on AskMetafilter. It's not the same as free airline travel, but cool nonetheless...
posted by jdroth at 2:10 PM on November 15, 2006

also i just heard that google tends to give away a lot of older/eval hardware to its employees at christmas time. free hard disks, servers, etc.
posted by joeblough at 2:17 PM on November 15, 2006

The State Department has amazing perks. Free travel, free shipping for your stuff, including car, to the new location. Free language lessons. Extra pay for going to more offbeat areas. They pay for your kids to go to a good school abroad, too. Not to mention the royal treatment you'll sometimes get while abroad and all the interesting people you will meet. And of course, it's the government so you get amazing health and retirement deals.

Balance that with dealing with beurocracy and being a moutpiece / servant of an administration you may or may not like as the years go by, and I think it's a pretty sweet deal.
posted by lorrer at 2:28 PM on November 15, 2006

Cops get to carry guns when they're off-duty. Drug dealers get to get high on their own supply. Mail carriers get to wear shorts to work. It all depends on your definition of 'perk,' I think.
posted by box at 2:30 PM on November 15, 2006

Banking. Long hours, mad money, best bennies imaginable, international travel, don't live the lifestyle, save your cash and in ten years or less you'll have enough money to do whatever the hell you'd like to do with the rest of your life.

Unless you get addicted to the action and the energy and the large balance growing in your current account, and continue working long past your sell-by date. Like I have. Still, it's fun!!
posted by Mutant at 2:51 PM on November 15, 2006

I interviewed for a job at Bard College - they offer free tuiton for the children of their employees (about $100,00 per child in value)

I remember reading that Starbucks offers pretty good medical benefits for part-time employees -- to tired to look this up now.

I'm married to a pop music critic for a local newspaper. Boy oh boy does he get a lot of free promo CDs in the mail as well as free passes to any show he reviews.
posted by chocolatepeanutbuttercup at 3:16 PM on November 15, 2006

oops, that should have been $100,000 per child.
posted by chocolatepeanutbuttercup at 3:17 PM on November 15, 2006

Uhm, heh. Excellent follow-up question: How to get started in these industries?

But as to actually contributing: Work for the guv'mint. Usually you'll be in a department that is crazy over-staffed because they're desperately worried that they might get their budget decreased next year if they don't use it. So very little work needs to be done, and you can... fart around on mefi.
posted by Imperfect at 3:20 PM on November 15, 2006

I think my friend has the best perks - or maybe just the best job! She's the editor of an in-flight magazine, which means she travels to exotic locations and is put up in 5-star hotels. She gets to meet interesting and famous people and is often able to take extra days off wherever she is to do extra travelling.
posted by Lucie at 3:29 PM on November 15, 2006

I have a relative who sells textbooks for a publishing company and she gets a company car every few years to drive to the universities in her area. She also gets buttloads of textbook samples, if that's your cup of tea, and they have a big sales meeting every year, usually someplace warm. She works from home and her summers and Christmas holiday work hours are fairly light. I think she gets pretty nice bonuses as well.
posted by printchick at 3:35 PM on November 15, 2006

Advertising agencies tend to have fantastic expense accounts (depending on your level) and gifts coming in all the time.

I am an art director at a rather large agency. let's see. the account people get expense accounts, I don't. I can however expense pretty much anything if I can talk someone into signing off on it, which is no big deal.

I obviously keep my miles, have a gigantic life insurance policy, employee stock options (15% off), profit sharing, get pretty much any laptop I want, can use any of the three agency cars whenever available and can ask for any newspaper, magazine or dvd I want for free. the agency offers to pay for any and all college classes I'd be interested in taking. they offer insane children and commute packages but I don't use them. I have slightly less than 5 weeks of vacation plus personal time.

reps call me all the time to invite me to parties, have dinner or lunch with me or take me to some shoot but like any creative I hate the salespitch and generally avoid them. most reps work for photographers or directors and you can get to meet a lot of famous people if you're into that but it wears off. they look to you for jobs, after all. every now and then you get weird offers, like a free flight first class on an airline to europe because you worked on a competing airlines account or something... I never quite figured that part out. but I enjoyed the flight. tickets to events usually are pretty easy for me to get.

but the best perk is that I can start and leave whenever I want. I haven't been in the office before 11am all week and I haven't been here past 5pm either. it's about ideas, which is something I can come up with in the gym or at 2.30 in the morning in bed. I am actually somewhat famous for my 4am emails.

don't get me wrong, this is my dream job and the pay is extremely great. but I wouldn't want to be on the account side.
posted by krautland at 3:38 PM on November 15, 2006

oh yeah, one of my clients employs people who get paid to travel around the country and buy people in bars drinks. that job is a perk.
posted by krautland at 3:41 PM on November 15, 2006

Hotel jobs almost always offer free nights at other hotels. I worked for Hyatt, we could take 14 free nights at any hotel (not our own, and a few other exceptions). Even smaller non-chain hotels are usually have deals. My husband worked for a Relais & Chateaux property and we could get free nights at other properties the owner had and also discounts at other Relais properties.
posted by saffry at 4:15 PM on November 15, 2006

krautland: You don't take them up on the insane children packages? You really should. Having an 80lb nutter around is better than a gym membership.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:49 PM on November 15, 2006 [1 favorite]

If you work at a winery, you get a lot of free wine, a discount at your winery (around 50%), and an industry discount at other wineries (25-30%).

So, yeah. I drink a lot of wine.
posted by sixacross at 4:50 PM on November 15, 2006

Not a well-paying job, but in my music critic days I was able to build up an awesome record/cd collection for free, and see a ton of great shows, sometimes from a plush press box with free food. :)

A follow-up to the earlier comments about the free classes you can get if you work for a college or university -- do they tax you on the value of those classes? My employer provides this benefit as well -- for me, and for family members -- but I haven't used it because I was given to understand that I would be taxed on the full value, and it's an expensive school so it would be a big tax hit.
posted by litlnemo at 5:15 PM on November 15, 2006

And just so you know, the perks that airline employees have grown accustomed to are shrinking. As airlines have cut expenses and reduced flights, more flights are full. It's much harder to find flights with availability for stand-by passengers, and even then non-employee stand-bys get top priority.

Seconded. It's not as bad for the larger carriers, but it could be real hairy for someone flying, say, Northwest or JetBlue. Ideally you would live in a hub city for one of the major airlines. You do have to schedule your trips for non-peak times and non-peak seasons. Thanksgiving, for example, has become basically impossible for this. Another thing is it's not near as cheap as it used to be, though it's still a fraction of the price it used to be.
posted by furiousthought at 5:45 PM on November 15, 2006

fraction of the price for a full ticket, I mean.
posted by furiousthought at 5:46 PM on November 15, 2006

My wife works in urban and community planning. Unfortunately she works in development planning so all her travel is to places like Sudan (which is cool in its own way). There are people that she works with that do luxury housing and resort planning. As necessary research into the business they have the terrible task of travelling all expenses paid to luxury resorts and housing complexes around the world. It really sucks for them when they have to go from Bali to Palm Springs to look at the different types of hot tubs found there.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:05 PM on November 15, 2006

A friend writes for Cigar Aficionado.
Downside: Well, he has work some...mainly consisting of writing.
Upside: Good chunk of his job consists of sitting around smoking cigars and wine tasting. And it's all the good stuff. If that's your thing.
posted by jmd82 at 6:11 PM on November 15, 2006

If you get into teaching, and find a really great school, you get massive amounts of time off. What other profession gives you an entire summer of vacation? Of course you should like working with kids.

I work for a charter school and get six weeks off in the summer, 2 for Christmas, 5 days for thanksgiving, and all the Monday holidays. If you don't mind the 12-13 hour days and all the grading and lesson planning, and dealing with loud and sometimes obnoxious children, it's a good gig.
posted by allthewhile at 7:52 PM on November 15, 2006

Bigger corporations have more perks than smaller ones. Outside of that, getting into an industry that relates to your hobbies would tend to be your best bet. You can get books at a good discount if you work at a library, for instance. Is that worth it for you? Well, depends how much you spend on books! :)
posted by dagnyscott at 7:56 PM on November 15, 2006

If you are interested in moving to Vermont (and you should be) Ben and Jerry's gives all employees 3 free pints of ice cream PER DAY. I hope their health plan offers free gym memberships.

If you are looking for solid benefits (good health plan, vacation time, etc) instead of crazy perks, go corporate. The bigger the organization the better the bennies.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:33 PM on November 15, 2006

A friend of mine is an editor and freelance reporter, and he gets tickets to all sorts of tickets and swag. Theoretically he's supposed to write about what a wonderful product/show it was, but mostly he just pockets the loot and takes friends to the shows (as his "photographer"). He also gets invites to all the big conventions, where he grabs tchotchke and drinks on his boss' tab. That beats the hell out of the perks of my job (none), and he gets paid $10,000 more per year than I do

posted by lekvar at 9:00 PM on November 15, 2006

Most reporters and editors are piss-poor, but here's a glimpse of life on the editorial side at a major magazine:

All the free CDs, DVDs, books, cosmetics, concert tickets, movie passes you could ever want. Free booze. Catered or expensed meals are automatic if you work past a certain time, as are chauffered rides home. (These can cost upwards of $100 if you live in the suburbs, and a lot of people take advantage of them just about every day of the week.) If you're an Important Person, you have client lunches, source lunches and so forth at nice restaurants. You go to awards ceremonies or fashion shows or work-related parties or conventions, and you stay in amazing hotels. Some mag publishers give you sabbaticals every seven years and allow you to accrue insane amounts of vacation time.

I once worked at a place where there were people who would record any television show I wanted to watch, every week, just for me. And I was a sub-paeon.

Crappy though the pay may be, if you can land a job at one of the really big magazines, the perks are as good in real life as they are in the movies.

Wow. Now I sort of miss that job.
posted by brina at 9:25 PM on November 15, 2006

litlnemo: The hospital I worked at offered a chunk of tuition reimbursement each year. The first $4000 was non-taxable, while the next $6000 was. Either way, it was a nice benefit, particularly since the job didn't pay that much. Though the health benefits were excellent.
posted by Mercaptan at 9:36 PM on November 15, 2006

Being a nurse means free samples of any medicine you can imagine (if you're in general care/internal medicine/whatever). Plus free flu shots, free medical advice, free health care in general. Never pay for antihistamines again! Plus free lunches/dinners from or at nice restaurants from drug reps.
posted by MadamM at 10:12 PM on November 15, 2006

Uh ...

A friend of mine is an editor and freelance reporter, and he gets tickets to all sorts of tickets and swag.


Most reporters and editors are piss-poor, but here's a glimpse of life on the editorial side at a major magazine: ...All the free CDs, DVDs, books, cosmetics, concert tickets, movie passes you could ever want.

That may be true for the posters' friends, but it's completely against the ethical guidelines that all serious self-respecting journalists should adhere to. (More here.)

Journalism rawks because it's fun, you get to write, you're always learning new things, and because you're a member of the fourth estate when you're doing it. But for people who care about things like ethicis and morality, it's not a big pay, big perk field.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 10:18 PM on November 15, 2006

I'm in the adventure travel business (a tour operator, not a travel agent - huge, huge difference). Every full time employee in our office, after having been here for at least a year, usually gets to travel at least once or twice, sometimes three times a year all over the world so that we can "know" our destinations. Sometimes the trips are two weeks long, sometimes you're gone for weeks at a time. This on top of our usual vacation time. Everything (except personal items, of course, like alcohol and doing laundry) is paid for by the company. It's an amazing job and I love it. Over the years I've worked for several different companies and it's allowed me to go to all 7 continents as well as close to 70 different countries. I'm doing something in a field that I love - how many people can say that?
posted by HeyAllie at 10:57 PM on November 15, 2006

That may be true for the posters' friends, but it's completely against the ethical guidelines that all serious self-respecting journalists should adhere to.

I think you missed the part about it being a "major magazine."
posted by Pollomacho at 10:58 PM on November 15, 2006

Restaurant reviewers get free victuals.
Automotive employees get heavily discounted wheels.
UPS deliverymen get the ladeez.

Your choice.
posted by rob511 at 11:01 PM on November 15, 2006


How do we get your job?
posted by Telf at 12:31 AM on November 16, 2006

I'm a low-level employee for a large software/games company.

We get free computer games, discount on consoles/PC hardware, discount on stock options, company outings/team building excercises, free beer on Fridays and we get to play video games for a living.

If you're a key worker in London (Health, Education, Transport, Politics) the government will pay for a part of you mortgage/help you pay for and find accomodation.
posted by slimepuppy at 2:45 AM on November 16, 2006

I'm an intern student working for a year at one of the biggest radio stations in the UK.
'Perks' for my job (and everyone else in the company) include meeting famous people, getting free concert/movie premiere tickets, working backstage at music festivals, and getting to write gig reviews.

Oh, and there's a constant supply of cookies and coffee. Possibly the best perk ever.
posted by angryjellybean at 5:49 AM on November 16, 2006

litlnemo: As far as taxing my free class, it doesn't show up on my tax forms as a job benefit, but instead as a financial aid package, so according to what I can glean, it's only taxable if it goes over and above the cost of my tuition.

(IANAA, consult IRS before taking at face value)
posted by 1f2frfbf at 7:42 AM on November 16, 2006

I have a friend who is a theatre reviewer in NYC, so he sees Broadway shows, cabaret shows with comped dinner, off-Broadway shows, every night. (And he gets to bring a friend- often meeee!)
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:38 AM on November 16, 2006 [1 favorite]

I work at a large public university full time and I'm currently pursuing an MS part time entirely for free.
posted by look busy at 9:19 AM on November 16, 2006

At Jack Daniels Distillery in Lynchburg, TN, the first friday of the month is known as "Good Friday." Each employee is given/has the opportunity to get a free bottle of whiskey.

When I worked in a local pencil factory in the summers between semesters, our supervisor provided free school supplies before we went back to college.

posted by bach at 8:20 PM on November 16, 2006

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