Social Engagement: Varies depending on particular lighthouse.
What’s What: If you have a sense of adventure and are willing to do some work in exchange for living in a beautiful waterfront setting, consider being a volunteer lighthouse keeper!
Amava Take: If you’ve always wanted to live on the water but never had the chance, you might want to try out being a volunteer lighthouse keeper. There are many lighthouses up and down the U.S. coasts where you can stay in exchange for volunteer work, such as giving tours or light maintenance. Many people who do this job fall in love with it and some come back year after year to the same place–maybe you’ll be one of them!
From the Front Lines:
What kinds of candidates are you looking for?
People who are outgoing and comfortable talking to groups. Also, people who are in decent physical condition, as these jobs can be in remote locations where you have to hike to the lighthouse or be on your feet for much of the day leading tours for visitors.
Any tips for first-timers to make it a productive and fulfilling experience?
Talk to someone who has been a lighthouse keeper at your location so you know what to expect as each lighthouse is unique. Also, make sure you bring the right clothes for the time of year, especially outerwear and layers. Many of the lighthouses can be cold in winter or hot in summer!
What’s a typical day like?
Varies by lighthouse. Each location is different! Duties often include greeting guests, giving tours of the lighthouse, and light maintenance. Your duties can also vary by time of the year. For example, some locations get a lot of visitors in summer but not in winter.
From the Trenches:
What’s the most satisfying part of being a lighthouse keeper?
Meeting lighthouse visitors from all over the world. Also the views are incredible!
What are the hard parts of the job?
Giving up the comforts of home if you are at a remote location. Some of the lighthouses have quite rustic accommodations–such as no electricity or running water.
Would you recommend this to someone?
Without hesitation if you love meeting new people and are up for an adventure!
Special Requirements: Varies by lighthouse. Usually just a good work ethic, reasonable physical condition and a good attitude. You don’t have to be in top physical shape, but there are a lot of stairs to climb in some locations! Also, some have minimum stays, such as a week or four weeks. Some locations require that you be a member of a local non-profit dedicated to the lighthouse before you can sign up.
Finding a Position:
Go to the United States Lighthouse Association where you can search by state for a position. There are options in 17 states, plus Puerto Rico. Most states are on the coasts (naturally), but there are also opportunities on lakes in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The USLA has both volunteer positions and also lighthouses you can stay in for a fee. Also go to the National Park Service and search by state since they manage many lighthouses. Another place to look is Volunteer.gov or call the lighthouse you are interested in directly. These jobs can be popular, so you need to apply months in advance for certain locations.