Job Outlook for Ski Patrol Workers
The National Ski Patrol (NSP) is the largest winter rescue organization in the world. It consists of 26,000 members working in over 600 ski patrols in the United States and Canada. These elite resort workers are always recognizable with their bright gear adorned with the white cross. Working on ski patrol and keeping mountain-goers safe is a very respected job.
Throwing bombs, running wrecks, testing snow, and the overall adventure of life as a ski patroller makes working on ski patrol a very attractive gig. There are plenty of people who want the excitement, the unknown, and the mountain lifestyle. Spending your days on the slopes is a wonderful way to earn a paycheck, even if the job doesn’t pay well.
Paid vs. Volunteers
The appeal and adventure of working on ski patrols is such a coveted job that many resorts opt to employ all paid patrollers, all volunteers, or a combination of both. Each resort decides which situation best suits its needs. Volunteer patrollers save the resort money and allow more people to experience what it is like to be on ski patrol.
Because patrol jobs are so popular, landing a full time paid ski patrol gig is difficult. Many ski patrollers start their career as volunteers, where they learn the basic skills. It is a good way to build a ski patrol resume and earn experience along with certifications in snow science, avalanche training, first aid, toboggan handling, and mountain rescue.
Volunteering allows for people to perfect their skills and gain important mountain and resort knowledge. After a few seasons there may be an open spot on the paid patrol, and then a volunteer has a super strong resume for the spot.
Ski Patrollers Are An Eclectic Group
Everyone on ski patrol loves the mountains, skiing, and the ski patrol lifestyle. They are an eclectic mix of people from many different walks of life committed to promoting fun and safety on the slopes. They range in age from 15 to 92, with ¾ of them men.
One cool thing about patrolling is that you can excel in different areas. Some patrollers specialize in first aid and use their EMT or Paramedic skills in the off season. Others are focused on snow science and focus more on avalanche prevention. Some strive for management positions within the patrol or the resort.
Patrollers must be experienced in either alpine or telemark skiing. Some patrols allow snowboarders, but not all of them. Skiing allows for easy movement in the mountains, while snowboarding makes it difficult to transport sleds or walk uphill. If you want to be on a snowboard patrol, research what mountains allow it.
A Common Theme
No matter where you work as a ski patroller you’re bound to fall in love with the job. One twenty-six year veteran says he doesn’t think he’ll ever quit: “I patrol six days a week and I can’t think of anything better to do than ski six days a week.”
It’s not just the ski patrollers who love their jobs. Ski area management relies on the ski patrol to keep guests safe, so they’ll want to come back. In the words of one ski area manager in tribute to his ski patrol, “The biggest issue has always been, and still is today, that of providing help to the skiing public. The ski hill could not exist without you. You patrollers demonstrate true heroism in your courage and concern for the lives of skiers in trouble.”
Ski patrollers work hard and play hard, while keeping their mountain safe, fun, and thriving.
Is There Year Round Work?
It can be a sad day when the lifts stop running and snow starts to melt, but that is life in the mountains. Most ski resort jobs are temporary, seasonal jobs. Luckily, ski patrollers are talented and certified individuals. Often their ski patrol skills transfer nicely to other summer gigs such as EMT.
Many mountains also operate in the summer and retain a qualified bike patrols to man the mountains. These patrollers focus on tasks that improve safety for the upcoming winter. They also provide safety services for resort guests who come to hike, mountain bike, ride the gondolas, or just enjoy the mountain experience.
Some lucky patrollers get to chase the endless winter south of the equator. Ski resorts in Chile, Argentina, New Zealand, and Australia often have ski patrol positions open.
There are ski patrol opportunities all over the world for people who love the mountains. If you want to be on ski patrol, be sure to learn all about the Ski Patrol Industry.