Duck! Here Comes a Great New Job

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duck masterHow would you like to have a job at a gorgeous new resort that comes with decent pay plus benefits, makes everyone smile, and puts you in charge of five devoted, obedient and hardworking employees that look up to you like a parent and never talk back? Right now you have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take a quack at just such a job: The Peabody Orlando Hotel, famous for its five marching mallard ducks, has started a national search for a new duck master.

"We're looking for a captivating and talented individual with a love for animals and passion for working with people," said Alan Villaverde, managing director of The Peabody Orlando. "This tradition is very important to The Peabody Hotel and its history. Our duck masters are known and loved around the world, and we look forward to opening the new expansion at The Peabody Orlando with a new duck master to commemorate this monumental time in the hotel's history."

The tradition of the famous Peabody marching ducks began in 1932, when Frank Schutt, general manager of The Peabody Memphis, and a friend, Chip Barwick, returned empty-handed from a weekend hunting trip. As a prank, the two put their live duck decoys (which were legal at the time) in the fountain in the hotel's Grand Lobby. The reaction from hotel guests was adoring.

duck masterSince then, every day at 11AM, the duck team, which consists of one male and four females, is led by the duck master down the elevator from their "duck palace" on the roof to the marble fountain in The Peabody grand lobby. The ceremony is reversed at 5PM, when the ducks march back down the red carpet through crowds of admiring spectators to retire for the evening. During the day, the ducks do what ducks do -- seldom leaving the fountain, but occasionally needing herding, cleaning up after and egg harvesting.

"The ducks really love their master. You feed them and care for them. They look at you as a parent," Villaverde said.

Although it is a job for an animal lover, it is not a job for the timid. "The duck master is has to be a bit of a showman," Villaverde said. "You also need to be able to communicate with people of all ages since so many people come to see the ducks and ask about them." And you have to be able to take the ducks on the road. They're popular guests at senior citizen centers and schools.

From a practical standpoint, a secondary degree is not required, but some college is preferred. You also need a valid Florida drivers license. When not minding the ducks, you'll have other guest service duties, such as concierge, doorman, etc. The specific duties and qualifications are listed on the Peabody website.

For your efforts, you'll make around $15 per hour, plus tips and a little overtime. There are also benefits that include health insurance and a 401K. Plus, you'll have bragging rights -- besides you, there will only be two other duck masters in the world: one at the Peabody Memphis, the other at the Peabody Little Rock.

If you're interested in the position, however, you'd better not sit around on your tail feathers. The Peabody Orlando plans to have the new duck master onboard and trained in time to host the grand opening duck march for its $450-million expansion, which will open in late September 2010. When completed, the facility will have 1,640 guest rooms.

Speaking of that expansion, it's creating another 400 new jobs in addition to duck master. "This is a huge project for Central Florida, especially in this tough economic environment," Villaverde said. "Over the past few years, the construction for The Peabody Orlando expansion has aided in the creation of 1,200 temporary construction jobs; and we plan to add approximately 200 permanent full-time employees and 200 part-time staff to prepare for the opening of our expansion."

So if the position of duck master doesn't quite seem all it's quacked up to be, perhaps there's something else for you at the Peabody Orlando.


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Lisa Johnson MandellLisa Johnson Mandell is an award-winning multi-media journalist and author of Career Comeback--Repackage Yourself to Get the Job You Want. Learn more on LisaJohnsonMandell.com.

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