Disney: the animation studio that taught several generations the importance of family, friendship, confidence and how to not have realistic expectations of love. Created in 1923, its logo taken from its first synchronized sound animation Steamboat Willie, the studio has made more than 500 short films and over 60 feature films.
But the Disney craze doesn’t end there: the conglomerate has 12 parks around the world, its own cruise line, channels that reach families in 133 countries, and a workforce of 220,000 people worldwide.
If you’re enamored with Disney’s history and you dream of joining the Disney family, read on to find out more about it and how you can get your foot through the door. “All it takes is faith and trust”, as Peter Pan would say.
Disney careers vary greatly. You could be working in an office as a data analyst or a paralegal, portraying a Disney princess at one of the parks, hunting for talent at one of the production studios… The roles available are virtually endless. As the environments and teams vary greatly, it’s hard to summarize in a single sentence what working for Disney is like. Employee experiences vary based on their position and location.
As far as salaries go, PayScale reports that Disney employees take away an average of $92,000 a year. The Walt Disney Company has also received positive reviews on its diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, with their initiatives scoring 4 out of 5 stars on Glassdoor and a rating of 70/100 on Comparably. Its employee benefits have received similar rankings based on the scores of former and current employees. (We’ll go over these in more detail below!)
Disney seems to also take training and mentorship very seriously. According to special events coordinator Michelle Squires, who turned her internship into a full-time gig: “I had great leaders during my internship that really helped me develop professionally and that helped me gain a sense of empowerment and confidence in my career.”
People who work for the Walt Disney Company, whether that’s in an office, production studio or resort, enjoy a range of benefits, including:
- PTO and sick leave, with vacation days accumulating for full-time employees over time
- Retirement programs for full-time and part-time positions
- Health insurance, such as medical, dental and vision, for full-time employees
- Tuition assistance
- Commuter assistance for employees and cast members
- Career development support through online tools and programs
- Exclusive discounts at select locations, including hotels and restaurants
- Wellness programs, such as onsite fitness classes
- Childcare options at select work locations
- Free theme park admission for all employees after completing two weeks of employment
Part-time and full-time hourly employees and cast members can also benefit from the Disney Aspire program. The program grants Disney’s 29,500 hourly employees comprehensive tuition coverage to help them pursue higher education. Disney collaborates with an extensive network of educational providers, including California State University, the University of Arizona and the University of Central Florida.
Disney Aspire is a no-strings-attached program; once the employee graduates from the institution of their choice, they can choose to move on from Disney at any point. Global HR operations associate Daniela Del Carpio, who stayed at Disney after graduating, says this of the program: “Growing up in an immigrant family, I didn’t think attending college was possible. The financial burden was always subconsciously there. But when I came to work for Disney, that was no longer an issue. […] The Aspire program changed my life.”
PayScale reports that Disney employees in the US approximately take away between $57,200 and $143,100 a year. The amount, of course, varies for each role and the employee’s seniority level. For example, casting directors earn an average of $116,034, video producers an average of $77,479, and screenwriters an average of $67,887.
If you’re curious about other roles, software engineers at the Walt Disney Company make $104,132, finance managers $100,515, and digital marketing specialists $62,312. PayScale data suggests that, for all of these professions, Disney is paying its employees higher-than-average wages.
Disney’s workforce is split across four different working environments: corporate offices; parks, resorts and retail locations; production locations; and abroad or at sea. As such, there is a need for all sorts of professionals within the Disney family: from financial analysts and industrial engineers to costume designers and call center agents, and on, and on.
At any given time, jobseekers visiting the Disney Careers webpage can expect to find dozens upon dozens of job openings in the US as well as abroad, including part-time, full-time and contract jobs.
Disney’s job listings are divided into the following main categories:
- Business support
- Innovation, technology and sciences
- Consumer goods
- Marketing and sales
- Operations support
- Finance, data and analytics
- Production and entertainment
There are also the Disney College, Disney Culinary and Disney International programs made available to young adults, in addition to the company’s ordinary internship programs. The first allows college students to develop their transferable skills working at Disney World, the second to receive training from Disney executive chefs, and the third to opt in for cultural exchanges abroad.
There are countless careers a person can pursue at Disney. We’ve compiled the top 10 below, based on how much you can earn, how fun the job is, or a combination of the two.
Average annual salary: $91,000
If you dream of working as an artist, then what better place to do so than the Walt Disney Animation Studios? When you work for Disney, a big sense of reward comes from knowing that your work will be viewed by millions of people around the world — not just viewed, but also cherished dearly by them.
Average annual salary: $135,000
Even if you haven’t visited the park yourself, you’ll have seen pictures of the spellbinding kingdom known as Disney World. Although it does look as though someone pulled the entire place out of a storybook, an architect had to design it before it could materialize. If you love all things Disney and envision a career in architecture, why not apply to work there?
3. Video editor
Average annual salary: $62,000
At the beginning of the previous century, Walt Disney became a pioneer in animated cartoon films. Today, to uphold his company’s reputation as a leader in the industry, Disney is in need of exceptional video editors to polish off its movies and shows, turning them into the impactful, bingeworthy visual pieces that Disney lovers have grown to expect.
4. Costume technician
Average annual salary: $78,000
Costume technicians are largely responsible for that contagious feeling of magic that adults and kids alike experience at the parks and beyond. They maintain, style and care for wigs, garments and prosthetics, ensuring that everyone — from the waiters and waitresses to the attractions hosts and costumed characters — is always in tip-top shape.
5. Character performer
Average annual salary: $41,000
Imagine being able to call Disneyland home. That would be something, wouldn’t it? Being a part of Disney’s cast member family, your job as a costumed character would be to recreate the magic that children feel when watching their favorite characters on TV or at the cinema.
But being the heart and soul of Disneyland isn’t all glamor. There are pros and cons in everything, right? Fur characters (think Donald Duck and Winnie the Pooh) work in hot, heavy costumes and are not allowed to speak.
6. Marketing manager
Average annual salary: $117,000
Besides coming up with marketing campaign concepts and implementing strategies to promote new products or services, a marketing manager at Disney might be called to use their skills to address the needs of an ever-changing audience.
Take the #DreamBigPrincess campaign, for example. It involved collaborating with 19 female photographers to create portraits of strong female role models, in response to the stereotypical “Disney princess culture” that has come under fire in recent years.
7. Landscape designer
Average annual salary: $64,000
Anyone who’s been to Disneyland will have noticed the wonderful floral displays and carefully pruned shrubs and trees all around them. Adding to the enchanting atmosphere of the parks, the vibrant plants and blossoms need to be tended to with love and care. Could you see yourself taking care of these green spaces at Disney?
8. Attractions host
Average annual salary: $37,000
Behind every kid squealing with joy on a rollercoaster ride is an attractions host making sure that safety protocols are being adhered to. Besides overseeing people’s safety, they’re also responsible for greeting guests and answering any questions regarding the attractions, assisting with crowd control during peak hours, and maintaining a debris- and hazard-free environment around the rides.
9. Resort chef
Average annual salary: $56,000
Can you guess how many restaurants Walt Disney World has? The answer is over 200, with at least 90 being full-service dining spots. If you love food and Disney, you might like to consider working at one of their resorts as a chef.
Culinary arts students dreaming of working at Disney are strongly encouraged to apply for the Disney Culinary Program, which allows them to gain on-the-job experience and form vital connections before they’ve even graduated.
10. Web developer
Average annual salary: $94,000
With over 1 billion websites on the internet, you really need a great one to stand out, retain your existing customers and attract new ones. Although Disney is, well, Disney, it still benefits from having a centralized hub for its products and services: from information about Disney+, its parks, movies and merchandise, to an online shop where you can subscribe to the services outlined as well as buy products and plan your holidays.
If you’re a coding wiz, why not apply for a job at Disney?
With such a wide range of roles within the company, requirements for job applicants will vary based on the position they’re going after. Most roles will require previous work experience and a bachelor’s degree in related field at the least. For internship opportunities, candidates must be at least 18 years of age and typically pursuing a relevant degree at the time of application. Recent graduates are also welcome to apply as long as they send in their application within six months of finishing college. As expected, proof of work authorization is also required.
As of 2023, there is another non-negotiable requirement: your physical presence at the office. With CEO Bob Iger announcing a big change to the company’s flexible working policy, Disney employees can only work from home once a week.
The Walt Disney Company has been around for a century. Its long-standing history, popularity and authority in the entertainment sector attract countless applicants each year, making the job application process a competitive one.
While each step in the application process is laid out clearly, progressing from one to the other can take time. It’s not unusual for applicants to wait for a few weeks before receiving an answer from their hiring manager — and, in some cases, this can take a few months. This applies not just for permanent would-be employees but also interns.
“Even miracles take a little time”, as Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother says.
We’ve seen what Disney has to offer its employees and what some of the best Disney jobs are. Now, the moment you’ve been waiting for: this is how to get a job at Disney in five steps!
Step 1: Browse the careers page
Whether you dream of landing a character job or a corporate job at Disney, your starting point is the same: the Disney Careers webpage. There, you can search for jobs using keywords such as “2D animator” or “senior designer”, and then refine the results further using filters. Some of the main filters include job level, country or region, and job type.
If you scroll to the bottom of the page, you’ll also see the option to fill in your email address and receive job alerts based on the criteria you select.
Step 2: Submit an online application
Once you’ve narrowed down your options to a few that could potentially work for you, you must click on the “Apply now” button at the top of the page to begin your application. You’ll be prompted to create an account if you don’t already have one, which only takes about a minute.
The first step requires you to fill in your contact information and personal details, namely your full name, address, phone number and email address. Then, you’ll have to add in your work experience (including employment dates and role descriptions), your education, and languages and skills. Once you’re ready, you can paste in a link to your online portfolio if you’ve got one and upload your résumé (in .doc, .docx, .html, .pdf, or .txt format).
As with any job application, your résumé should be tailored to the job listing. You can do this by naturally incorporating keywords from the job description into your document, such as “computer animation” or “Python development”, for example.
Finally, Disney Careers expects you to disclose your expected annual salary and declare that you’re authorized to work in the country you’ve selected.
Step 3: Pass the phone screening
If your application gets selected, you’ll typically receive an email inviting you to a phone interview. Disney gives its College Program applicants some tips for preparing for their phone interviews, which can, of course, come in handy for all applicants:
- Practice talking about yourself and answering common interview questions through a mock interview with a friend or family member.
- Go over your résumé and highlight your strengths so you can articulate your skills and experience with confidence in the interview.
- Decide on a quiet spot for the interview. Make sure you won’t be interrupted and that you have good reception.
- Take quick notes during the interview so you don’t forget to ask important questions at the end. Having your résumé in front of you while you speak with the hiring manager can also help.
- Be prepared to answer the phone a little earlier or later than expected — give or take 15 minutes from your scheduled time.
- Pretend you are face to face with your recruiter, maintaining good posture and smiling during the conversation.
Step 4: Complete an assessment
Candidates that pass the phone interview stage are often required to sit a skills assessment or reasoning test before moving on to the final in-person interview(s). Numerical and verbal reasoning tests are common, and so are personality tests and situational judgment tests (which assesses candidates’ decision making and judgement).
If you’ve never taken a similar assessment before, you can luckily find plenty of examples of pre-employment tests and practice online.
Step 5: Attend an in-person interview
Applicants that reach the final stage in the hiring process are typically asked to attend one or two in-person interviews. It’s not uncommon, however, for some of these interviews to be conducted virtually, so be prepared for either scenario.
For senior and leadership positions, the number of in-person interviews can be higher than that of entry-level jobs. A senior art director working in Orlando, Florida anonymously reported having to attend seven interviews before getting hired. They say that the entire hiring process took two months.
As always, practice answering common interview questions in advance, as well as unusual ones. You’ll also want to research the company as thoroughly as possible so you can express what aspects of the company you find inspiring and also come up with spot-on questions to ask.
One of the most popular tourist destinations in the US, Disney World attracts thousands upon thousands of visitors every single day. The brand’s magic, however, wouldn’t be possible without its people. “You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world,” Walt Disney once said. “But it takes people to make the dream a reality.”
Before you start your application to hopefully become a part of the Disney family, let’s revisit the following points:
- As of 2023, remote jobs at Disney have suffered a blow, with employees required to work from the office four times a week at the least.
- If you’re determined to work for Disney, you should start the job application process early, as hearing back can take a while — three to six weeks, on average, but longer in some cases.
- University students and recent graduates dreaming of a career at Disney should consider applying for one of Disney’s internships, such as the College Program, to make connections and gain experience early.
- Regardless what type of job you’re after, it’s always good to tailor your résumé to the job listing and use a clearly structured template.
What role at Disney have you got your eye on? Leave us a comment and share your thoughts.
Originally published on August 16, 2018.