How to Work the Season in a Ski Resort

Live (and work) the dream? Follow our guide to finding a winter job in the mountains, from choosing the ski resort to nailing the interview.

There’s no denying that working in a ski resort is a life-changing experience. The University of the Mountains has much to teach. It can not only bump start your career but, also, build on life skills while having the excellent add-on of honing your ski or snowboarding techniques. So how do you secure the perfect job for winter? We asked the experts at Snow Season Central for their top tips.

The height of summer for much of the Northern Hemisphere is a key time in the calendar for many ski resorts across Canada, USA, Japan and Europe. While some job positions are naturally filled in the late run up to winter or during the early stages of the season, many are advertised and snapped up far earlier in the year - well before the snow arrives.

Where To Work?

There can be a big difference between a great ski resort for a holiday and one which is best for working an entire ski season. Being a seasonaire in the mountains is not the same as being a guest.

First, assess which countries you can legally work in before selecting a resort. While there are usually a handful of 'cash-in-hand' jobs floating around, there is a risk of significant implications if you break immigration laws. It is not uncommon for illegal workers to be deported and banned from returning to the country.

Fortunately, if you are between the ages of 18 and 30, in many countries you can apply for a visa to travel and work ovrseas, known as a Working Holiday Visa. Canada, for instance, has one of the best working holiday visa programmes with agreements with plenty of countries - and, also, great ski resorts.

Since leaving the EU, it has become slightly more challenging for Brits to work in Europe, but in many cases UK holiday and hospitality operators in European ski resorts are now able to obtain visas for their UK staff. Working in the United States on the other hand, is fairly difficult unless you have dual citizenship.

If you are older than 30, you may need to conduct further research. If you're from the UK it's worth remembering that Scotland has snow, so long as you’re happy to work in a resort closer to home.

Which Resort?

Suitability for long-term stays and employment opportunities can vary considerably between ski resorts. 

While large resorts often have the greatest number of ski job openings, they also come with increased competition. So, if your CV isn't that strong, it can be difficult to secure a work position.

Staff accommodation in ski resorts has been a growing global problem in recent years with the rise of short term lettings such as AirBnb to visitors, making it difficult (or in some cases impossible) to find anywhere to live that's affordable in many resort areas.

So look for employers who provide housing options. A job offer is great, but if you’ve not got somewhere to live, or rent is simply too expensive, your season won’t last very long.

The incentives and perks that lesser-known resorts offer to attract staff is also worth considering. In some cases, it can include travel expenses (such as flight tickets), signing-on bonuses, lift pass and even accommodation.

Vail Resorts have a Perks and Benefits section up front and central on their job site. A job with them is persuasively dubbed an 'experience of a lifetime'. Perks include free ski passes for employees and dependents, free ski/snowboard lessons for employees, discounts for family and friends, retail discounts of 40 percent, and other deals on food, lodging, transportation, mountain activities.

Ski Jobs

Since many ski resorts are able to operate in isolation from major towns and cities, there is always a long list of different job types and work opportunities available. If you possess a trade or skill all the better.

Of course, if you want to enhance your skiing technique, then a role which allows as much time on the slopes as possible is preferable - and, also, the most popular. Working in a bar at night is a good choice to allow for day time on the slopes - but you'll need the bottle juggling skills of Tom Cruise in Cocktail if you want to land this job ahead of the competition.

Below are the jobs you'll find in ski resorts :

  • Accommodation Services: Hotels, lodges, hostels, and apartments offer a variety of roles related to guest experiences and property upkeep, including housekeeping, maintenance and front-of-house positions.

  • Hospitality: As you would expect, the hospitality sector is one of the larger employment segments in ski resorts. You can find a range of positions, from wait staff and pot washers (requiring little to no experience), to roles like chefs, baritas, and bar staff, which may require prior experience or training.

  • Ski Tech / Rental: Needless to say, experience helps to work in these roles. However, once you’ve acquired it, numerous opportunities exist globally. 

  • Retail: Large ski resorts like Tignes have plenty of shops for retail employment. Depending on the products you’re selling and the target audience, you may or may not need prior experience. 

  • Instructor / Patrol / Guide: Ideal if you’re seeking maximum time on snow, but they all require recognised industry qualifications such as from the ESF ski school.. 

  • Childcare / Nanny: Also require qualifications and checks to ensure the safety and well-being of children in the resort.

  • Driver: Ski resorts often face a shortage of mini van and coach drivers, making qualifications for driving large vehicles highly regarded - requirements will vary by country and employer.

  • Admin / Desk Work: From managing customer bookings to marketing and sales, there are  a growing number of desk-based jobs in ski resorts. However, it is worth noting in some cases these are filled by more permanent staff who live in resorts locally.

  • Management: Larger ski resorts and companies also offer managerial positions for individuals with relevant experience. This could involve leading a team, business relationships, or overseeing operational elements to the business.

Finding a Job in a Ski Resort

Check out these sources for vacancies in ski resorts:

Official resort content : As a first stop, visit the official resort website and its social media channels. These sources will provide info about the resort and employment opportunities/

Snow Season Central: This website is excellent resource for tailored information about living and working in ski resorts. It offers a view of resort life from a seasonaire's perspective and also includes information about employers and job listings.

Indeed and Seek: Larger resorts with bigger recruitment budgets often use these platforms to list jobs. However, it's important to note that they will attract a high volume of applicants. Applying through these global job boards is worthwhile only if you have a strong CV and cover letter that can impress HR managers.

Media: Most resorts maintain community newspapers, magazines and Facebook pages. These media channels often feature advertising for jobs as they are more affordable for small to mid-sized businesses. Even during periods of low activity, you can post in Facebook groups, explaining what you're looking for, and people will guide you in the right direction or tag relevant employers.

Final Tips

Don’t assume just because you’ve got an interview, you’ve got the job. When it comes to working in a ski resort, chances are that there are many candidates offering their services.

So here's how to increase your performance in the interview : 

  • Make sure you have a reliable, high speed internet connection and a quiet setting if participating in virtual interviews.

  • Be punctual. Always arrive on time for the interview and make sure you are familiar with the platform or technology ahead of time. It is important to be aware of the different time zones too, British Columbia in Canada for example is often a day behind parts of the world.

  • Before the interview, prepare 3 or 4 questions to ask. These could be about the job, the resort, accommodation or employer team. Make sure they clarify anything you’re unsure of, but don’t make them all about money, as it might give the impression that’s your sole interest or motive. 

  • Ditto about putting too much emphasis on what free time you will have because, yep, everyone does know that this is your main motivation for working in a ski resort.

  • Dress appropriately; in most cases, smart-casual attire is suitable for the snowsports industry.

  • Speak clearly and confidently while maintaining good posture for the full duration of the interview. 

  • Thoroughly research the resort and employer to demonstrate your interest. Building rapport with the interviewer is essential to stand out from the crowd. 

  • Have any past work references ready, as they may be requested at the end or shortly after the interview.