European Ski Resort Jobs
A ski resort can be an awesome place to work; you get tons of skiing in, and the nights are usually one long party. When working at a ski resort you can expect to get benefits such as a free season lift ticket, discounts on gear from the ski shop, and perhaps even staff accommodations. And of course, the biggest advantage is that you can pretty much roll out of bed and onto your skis.
The largest ski resorts, in terms of both runs and jobs, are the resorts scattered throughout the Alps in Switzerland, France, Italy, and Austria.
Most ski resorts will recruit heavily in September and October and perhaps even as early as August.
Work contracts will usually be for 5-6 months, from November/December to April, but some ski resorts in Europe such as Saas-Fee in Switzerland are high enough that they have some skiing year round. Also, there are always people who leave early, and so there are still jobs to be had for three month contracts in January. There is also short term work available for 1-3 weeks at Christmas, spring break, and Easter. Still, the bulk of the jobs will be a six month contract starting in November.
The pay you get is going to vary vastly by job and by country. What is common, however, is that most places will offer a bonus at the end of your contract if you work the whole way through and this can be a significant amount. Another factor is that many places will offer accommodations or some kind of housing allowance on top of the wage. And of course, don't forget the free season lift ticket.
Types of Ski Jobs
For this section, we are only going to focus on jobs specific to ski resorts. Don't be fooled by this because there are all kinds of other jobs to be had at a ski resort working in food and beverage, or working in the hotel, maintenance, or administration side of things. But these are going to be the same type of job whether it is at a ski resort or just someplace in the city. The only real difference is that at a ski resort, the job may only be for a 6 month contract.
Specific ski resort jobs are either inside jobs or outside jobs. Now when everyone thinks of an outside ski resort job, they automatically think of a ski instructor. But there are many more jobs that get you out into the fresh air.
- Ski or Snowboard Instructor The quintessential ski bum/ski resort job. You will definitely need some solid skiing skills for this position, as well as some formal teaching skills. Job Monkey already has an excellent list of training facilities in the United States
- Slope Groomer Somebody has to prepare the ski runs for the next day and that's the job of a groomer. This involves using a specialized grader to smooth out the run, and maintaining specialized runs such as moguls and the snowboard park. You generally don't need formal training, but some experience operating heavy machinery is definitely going to look good on your resume when applying for this job. This job also generally works a night shift so that the runs are all available during the day.
- Ski Lift Operator This is one of the easier jobs on the slopes since your main task is to make sure that people manage to get themselves into the lifts without doing themselves an injury or forcing you to stop the lift. On the plus side, you get to meet a lot of people this way, since everyone at the resort goes by you at one time or another. The disadvantage of this job is that you are always working when the lifts are running, which cuts into your ski time.
- Ski Lift Technicians All the chair lifts and T-bars need to be maintained on a regular basis, and for the larger resorts, there is definitely steady work in keeping all those lifts working smoothly. This job involves mostly mechanical maintenance and repair and a mechanical aptitude and some experience will be better for you than any formal training.
- Ski Patrol Jobs This job requires the most skill in skiing and the most formal training. As part of the ski patrol, you will be going into dangerous situations trying to save people who have gone off piste as well as simply patrolling the mountain on a daily basis and dealing with injured skiers. You will need first aid training as well as expert skiing skills for this position, but the pay is some of the best on the mountain, and the work is extremely exciting.
There are just as many indoor ski resort jobs as there are outdoor ones. Depending on how much you want to deal with tourists is really going to be the primary factor in the type of job you choose.
- Lift Ticket Sales An easy inside job is selling lift tickets at the base during the day. While the pay won't be great, and the hours you work mean you will have less time for skiing, it is also one of the easier jobs to find and there is no stress with the position.
- Ski Shop/Rentals If you have some knowledge of ski and snowboard gear, then look for work in the ski shop at the mountain. There is always need of experienced people to maintain all of the rental equipment as well as repairing skier's own gear. If you don't have the technical experience, but it is something you want to learn, there are still going to be jobs in the ski shops for less experienced people selling equipment and setting up the rentals.
As with anything, there are some disadvantages to working at a ski resort. One is that most of the jobs are for a specific time of year and for only a short period of time. This may or may not work with your schedule for when you want to be in Europe. A larger disadvantage is that the countries where many of the jobs are, such as Switzerland and Austria, are the exact same countries where it will be almost impossible for you to work illegally without a work permit.
But these are not insurmountable issues, and there are thousands of jobs available on the slopes in Europe. The Tourism Jobs section has some ski resort job specific sites to check out, and if you want some in depth discussion of the some of the different types of ski resort jobs that are available, check out JobMonkey's Ski Resort Jobs section. The material focuses on ski resort jobs in the states, but the information on job types and training is just as relevant for European resorts.