Perisher guest services staff representing in their 2018 custom made tall hoodies.
Fresh powder, long runs, shredding the slopes, warm fires, cold beers, Jagermeister, good times! You have either landed yourself in paradise or a job in a ski resort! Working a ski season overseas is an incredible experience for a powder hound. Friends are made, and skills are improved, but what lasts the longest are the memories of that fantastic season where you lived and breathed snow, snow and more snow!
If you are reading this article, then you are thinking about working a ski season overseas. Good decision! Here are some handy tricks and tips to help you on your way! The first thing you need to do is to choose which ski resort you want to make your home. The second is to land yourself a job.
Where Do You Want to Go?
There are lots of considerations when choosing which ski resort to work in. You are going to be living at the resort for around 4 to 5 months, so you need to make a good choice. There are so many options. You could work in Europe (big mountains), Canada (great powder) New Zealand (scenic and great in the off season) USA (stacks of options) and even Japan (Powder, powder, powder!) It could be the case that you want a specific job or you don’t really care and might end up in a lucky dip heading to wherever you receive work. However you must consider things like working visas, the local language, living expenses, job opportunities, pay and accommodation. The size of the ski resort is also of significant importance. Small can be friendly and fun as you will probably meet and get to know lots of people. Large resorts often mean big mountains and lots of terrain. Either way, you will have a blast!
Types of Jobs
There is a vast variety of jobs within ski resorts and sometimes surrounding towns. Think of a ski resort like a little village that has everything that you would expect in a normal town, but with heaps of snowboarding and skiing. So the first thing you need to decide is whether you want to work indoors or outdoors:
Ski resorts run smoothly thanks to all the people in the background serving you après ski beers, selling you your day pass, waxing and repairing your skies, rental, serving you your meals and selling you your hoodies! Every ski resort has coffee shops, burger bars and lots of fast food outlets. You will also find just as many high-end restaurants as well. Food and beverage work often has suitable hours to allowing plenty of time to enjoy the snow. Working evenings and skiing or snowboarding all day is the ultimate. There are many other opportunities including cleaning, housekeeping and reservations. If you are lucky your job will allow you to work flexible hours so that you still get to spend a lot of time shredding the slopes. The best part is that you get to stay toasty when it’s freezing and stormy outside. The outdoor workers don’t get that luxury.
Most jobs will be indoors but there is still plenty of opportunities to work outdoors on the slopes. You usually require more experience or even a certificate to work the outdoor jobs but this should not deter you. Outdoor jobs include lift operators, grooming machine operators, parking staff, bus drivers, terrain park maintenance and ski or snowboard instructors. Just remember no matter what the weather, you have to be out there! It can be particularly painful watching everyone score fresh powder snow while you are stuck on the beginner slopes teaching first-time snowboarders or skiers.
To apply for these jobs search the ski resort websites for the job you want and then apply. Make sure that you apply at least six months in advance to guarantee your position. If you can get a job with the lift company they will usually provide accommodation as well as a season pass, which is a huge bonus and cost saving. You need to keep in mind that many of these jobs will require you to speak the local language.
Often ski resort jobs will include accommodation but this is always very basic and shared. If you want your own space then you can look online for a place or join some of the Facebook pages where people are usually looking for flatmates.
- Research new equipment before you head over often you will find it will be cheaper and there will be more variety. If you’re on a tight budget local Facebook groups are great for used snowboards, skis, jackets, pants, gloves and goggles. You can also try craigslist, Gumtree, Trade me & eBay.
- If your job does not provide a season pass then buy one early to get early bird discounts this alone can save you hundreds of dollars. (You won’t regret having a season pass)
- Take lots and lots of socks and painkillers!
- Spend the extra money on good fitting boots and goggles; it is worth it as you will be in them for much of your time.
- Arrange travel insurance prior. An ambulance ride or hospital stay can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Make sure that skiing and boarding are covered. Lets hope you won’t need it but it is really important, and it will give you peace of mind.
- Don’t forget to pack a Hoodie for spring riding.
- Organise your department or establishment a wholesale ‘season air’ staff hoodie to remind you and your crew of all the fun times you had and friends you made.
- Lastly… be warned it is very addictive and you will have a fantastic time!