Working for ski areas can be a difficult balance, some are notorious for low wages and the dream of skiing everyday while working isn’t always true. While most skiers and riders will tell you to be leery of ‘working for the man’. Below is our recommendations for the jobs to take at ski areas.
Pros: Being a valet will help your low hourly wage with consistent tips. The job may be easy and benign but with good effort and the right attitude it has the potential to be very lucrative. Try working for one of the more luxury resorts and you’re sure to reap the benefits. Additionally many valet shifts start in the afternoon so you can get on the hill to ski more days than most.
Cons: Nothing will seem more petty than a Mercedes owner complaining to you about the position of his car seat. Sometimes after running to exhaustion for a $2 tip you won’t have the energy to ski a great powder day. However if you are willing to work hard for a short season, the valet may be your key to ski area stability.
Pros: Working for a ski area restaurant is all about the hours. Being a busser might not be as lucrative as serving, but imagine coming into a shift at 4pm after skiing the best day all season. Earn a free shift meal every day you work and working as a busser or server starts to make more sense. Even if you have to work a lunch shift, the lifts open at 8 or 9am, so you have no reason not to get turns in almost every day.
Cons: Food service is stressful and the restaurant life is not for everyone. Slow season or off-nights can crush your paychecks but it’s all part of the game. Keep your drinking budget in line and you may just be able to do it all over again next season. Spend too many late nights pounding drinks and you’ll miss out on waking up early to get freshies before work.
Pros: Imagine complete solitude on beautiful nights, grooming the slopes with nothing but you, your machine and falling snow. Grooming is a necessity of modern skiing and will help guarantee you a decent amount of hours all season long. For those that don’t want to deal with customer service or working while lifts are turning, Grooming is a perfect match.
Cons: Getting a grooming job takes training, patience and skill; just getting the job may take years of working in other facets at the resort. Even though it leaves time to ski during the day, working graveyard shifts is not for everyone and will completely shape your social life during winter. If you get bored mowing lawns; grooming might not be for you, but don’t worry no one wants you to take their job.
Pros: Getting paid to steward the mountain and ski seems like an unbeatable job. Possibly the most respectable job on this list; Ski Patrol is easily a career job. At ski areas with professional ski patrol crews, the medical response and avalanche mitigation work help to put you on the mountain daily. In ski patrol you’ll work with a crew that has the same intense passion you do for sliding snow. Opening terrain for the public, triggering avalanches and skiing every variety of terrain are awesome perks of the job.
Cons: Even after investing the time and money to be a certified professional patroller, the dollars do not follow. Dealing with the public can be a frustrating endeavor and may lead you to wish you could just turn your radio off. Overall you are getting paid to ski and regardless of all the crazy stuff that happens, at least you have a pretty rad job. You will have to give ‘courtesy rides’ to beginner skiers that are not hurt, but just way in over their heads.
Pros: Instead of blaming the local park crew for building lame features, take your own responsibility. Taking personal pride in maintaining a terrain park is the main perk of being on the crew. There are times when you’re not digging and able sneak in laps while throwing big tricks you’re not supposed to in uniform. Testing the features is part of the job, so feel free to remind the Bosses that if they look sideways at you for hiking the same rail 40 times.
Cons: If you can survive off microwave meals and cheap beer all winter you may be able to work the park crew again next winter. Low wages driven by an overflowing labor pool and lack of support from management lead to difficulties in workplace motivation. If sliding rails and hitting jumps is what you live for, no low pay or strict management will deter your passion. Unfortunately ‘side jumpers’ will come and wreck your features even after all the hard digging.