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If Santa were paid, he'd make $140,000. Not bad for a night's work.

Santa Claus has a tough job: running the toy workshop, tasting cookies, reading letters from children around the world, investigating to see which one of them has been naughty or nice this year.

How much does this busy man make? It depends on which Santa you ask.

“I’m looking six figures,” said one Santa at New York City’s recent SantaCon event. Another Kris Kingle suggested “a couple million.” Others agreed Santa does not take money and does the job to free.

Insure.com crunched the numbers for its Santa Index, based on a pre-set list of 15 tasks matched to occupations from the Bureua of Labor Statistics. Santa’s salary for 2014 tallied up to $139,924. Most of his pay came from his duties as an industrial engineer managing the toy factory in the North Pole ($40.09 an hour). His other duties included list checker and checking it twice ($17.91), sleigh pilot ($62.31 an hour) and cookie taster ($20.96 an hour).

“I totally think that’s underpay for Santa,” said one Santa enthusiast at the Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood in Washington. “For one thing he’s a pilot, so that’s $250,000 and up. He’s got the biggest retail store in the world. He’s an astronaut. He does everything. I don’t think you can put a price on Santa.”

The survey by Insure.com found that out of 1,000 adults, only 16 percent thought the salary of nearly $140,000 was about right, adding he should be making between $100, 000 and $200,00 a year; 29 percent said Santa should earn $1.8 million — roughly $1 for every child under the age of 15 in the world; and 20 percent said he shoudn’t get anything at all.

“The” Santa was unavailable for comment, but we spoke with one of his helpers.

“It’s thus far the only job that I’ve been able to find that says a full white beard is a plus. So ho ho ho, I enjoy being Santa Claus. It’s fun. You know it’s the best job in the world.”

His favorite part of the job?

“Cookies are right at the top of the list.”

Credit: Brendan Finn, Emily DeRuy, and Geneva Sands

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