September 12, 2008

Spotlight on Ski Jobs

The summer is barely over, but if you are a skier, the season is already upon us. The season for finding a ski job, that is. Before the first flake has even fallen, many ski resort employers host fall job fairs. Whether you are a seasoned ski patroller, or a ski bum who wants to make some money while hitting the slopes, these job fairs are a great chance to learn more about the different companies, meet the year-round staff and schedule an interview.  Some employers even make job offers on the spot! Here’s what you can expect from a resort job fair:

* Usually held on-site about 2-3 weeks before the start of the season
* Typically a multi-day event, with the fair starting on Saturday and then interviews being scheduled during the following week
* Drug testing is now common practice
* Fair dates change from year to year, so call ahead before showing up, ski boots in hand

As for what kind of jobs these resorts are looking to fill, the possibilities are vast. Ski instructors and patrol jobs are plentiful, but there are dozens of different positions a ski resort needs to fill before it can open for the season. Here’s a rundown on the big ones:

Ski Area Support & Operations Jobs
These jobs may not be glamorous (or high-paying), but support and operations are the backbone of any resort. Jobs include ticket sales, housekeeping, life operation and restaurant staff. Many resorts give employees a season pass and on-site housing, making the job a great way to live and work at a ski resort.  Little experience is required for most of these positions, so don’t worry about beefing up your resume.

Retail Ski Sales Jobs
While lots of ski shops are open year-round, the big push is during ski season. Even year-round shops need to bring on extra staff once the resorts are open, which makes ski shop jobs perfect for college students and others looking for seasonal work. While you don’t need a lot of retail experience to land a ski shop job, you do need a good understanding of the ski and board gear. In fact, with the boom in snowboarding, many ski shops are looking for personnel who can specialize in this niche.

Ski Instructor Jobs
Did you know that there are more than 23,000 full- and part-time certified ski instructors in the US?

Many of them are college students looking to earn some extra cash and a ski pass while they are on semester break; others are full-time professionals for whom ski instruction is a lifelong calling. Instructors need to possess just the right combination of natural teaching ability, patience, and, of course, skills on the slope. While certification isn’t necessarily required for resort positions, it has become increasingly common. To learn more about certification, see the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) site.

Ski Coaches
Coaching is truly for the elite, with only 3,000 member coaches of the US Ski Coaches Association. Plus, given the rarefied status of the coach, you might be surprised to learn that they earn comparably little for their time and efforts. Most coaching programs are for junior, ages 6-18.  A number of colleges have ski racing programs, and there are a very small handful of coaches working at the Olympic level.

Ski Patrol
If skiing is your thing, but teaching isn’t, you should consider a job in the ski patrol.  There are more than 27,000 patrollers, helping skiers and snowboarders in emergency situations and by providing educational services. Ski patrollers do everything from give directions to treat medical emergencies to provide search and rescue support.

In addition to these ski jobs, you can also learn on more JobMonkey about being a sales rep for ski manufacturers and even being a journalist who covers skiing (I’m thinking you would need to write about a summer sport, too, to keep busy year-round).

So, do you ski? Ever thought about making it into a job … or even a full-time career?

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