How To Work At a Ski Resort
Dreaming of the perfect winter? Waking up every day to fresh blankets of snow, hot chocolate by a warm fire, making new friends that last a lifetime, and skiing every chance you get? If this ski bum life is for you, I want to share with you a super unique opportunity where you can work at a ski resort this winter!
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Let me first start by saying that working at a ski resort is NOT for everyone.
If you do not like to be outside in harsh conditions and working long hours at entry-level pay, this is not for you.
BUT, the rewards of working at a ski resort outweigh the negatives. Ski seasons are a fantastic opportunity to travel to a new part of the country and make a little money (and new friends) while skiing for free!
This guide will provide everything you need to know about working a ski season and working a ski season tips and tricks!
What Is a Seasonal Job?
Before I moved to Colorado to work a ski season, I had never heard of seasonal work.
Seasonal work is a job you have with the intention of an end date. Seasonal jobs are offered year-round, usually located in or near National Parks or ski resorts. It is perfect if you are looking to travel sustainably or you have a few months free and need a job.
Seasonal work can also be a lifestyle. Many workers come for a season, and end up staying for a career.
Working at a ski resort is the perfect way to travel, meet like-minded people, and ski or snowboard every day!
How to Apply to Work at a Ski Resort
The best way to apply is through CoolWorks.com.
CoolWorks.com is the number one website for those looking for seasonal jobs.
You can expect a ski season to be about 5 months between November-April, depending on snowfall. Most of the jobs for winter are entry-level but come with awesome benefits (like a mountain season pass).
For most of the jobs, you can apply through a direct link on the website, but some will ask you to email the recruiter. Make sure you have your resume ready when you apply.
When To Apply to Work at a Ski Resort
Most jobs for Ski resorts are posted in mid-late August and continue to be posted throughout the season.
The earlier you can apply, the better because employee housing generally fills up FAST. Securing housing in these mountain towns can be very difficult and a deciding factor of which mountain you choose.
Choosing Your Mountain and Job
If you are like me and had never been out west to ski before, I would recommend researching each of the resorts because they all offer something different!
I applied for almost 10 ski resorts and interviewed with all of them to learn about their housing setup and employee lifestyle. Here are my tips for choosing your mountain and Job.
Know the Location. Location is very important when choosing your mountain. Are you interested in living in the Rocky Mountains out west or on the east coast? If big mountains are important to you, definitely apply to resorts out west.
Know the Perks. You should also be familiar with the type of pass the mountain operates on. For example, Copper Mountain is on the IKON pass. This meant I could snowboard at any IKON mountain.
There are two pass types, IKON and EPIC, so just keep that in mind when applying.
Know the Job Environment. When choosing what jobs to apply for, be honest with yourself and what you want. If your goal is to ski/snowboard every day, a lift operator is going to be the best option for you. If you do not want to work outside in the cold and elements opt for an indoor job, guest services, housekeeping, or food & beverage.
Ski and Ride School is a highly sought-after job. Teaching guests of all ages how to ski or snowboard is as fun as it sounds. If this job appeals to you, apply early.
Know the Cost of Living. Make sure you can afford the lifestyle you want at the mountain you choose. I chose copper because it was affordable. I did not get paid much, but my rent was also very cheap.
A perk of seasonal work is most mountains provide workers with cheap employee housing and transportation to/from work. Many employees continue back year after year because of the ease of life and cheap rent.
Seasonal work housing is usually very minimal, imagine an old dorm room from the 70s.
Some provide apartment-style living and other ski resorts do not offer employee housing at all. Be prepared to have at least one roommate. As I mentioned, employee housing is limited so you need to apply as early as possible.
I was lucky enough to have a bathroom in a room with one other roommate, but it was small. Here are some examples of season work housing I had and what you can expect out of yours!
Do You Need A Car?
No! You do not need a car.
Most mountains either have public transit to allow their employees to get to and from the grocery or they provide every meal in an employee dining room so there is no need to leave.
I did not bring a car with me, and I was perfectly fine. My roommate and other friends had cars to take exploring on the weekend or catch rides to the grocery store. I would guess about 50% of employees do not bring a car with them so you will not be alone if you opt-out of a car.
Bringing a car means more freedom and elevates the experience, but is not necessary.
What If I don’t know how to ski or snowboard?
No worries, I didn’t either! What better time to learn how than when you are living on the mountain and can learn for FREE!
If you do not own skis or a snowboard I would highly recommend buying equipment once you arrive. Many employees sell last season’s models or used equipment for cheap. This also includes snow gear. If you need snow pants or a jacket, definitely hold off until you arrive.
At my job, we were allowed to use the rental skis/snowboards for free.
Each resort and job department is different and there is no way to know these perks until you start.
Everyone at my resort was so kind and was always encouraging me to try harder terrain and gave me tips to improve. If you come in as a beginner you will not be alone. There were plenty of first-timers!
Ski or Snowboard
A popular phrase is, “Skiing is easier to learn, harder to master. Snowboarding is harder to learn, easier to master”.
If you have a background in surfing or skateboarding you will pick it up quicker than someone who has zero experience.
If you know how to ice skate or roller skate, try skiing.
It does not make a huge difference what you choose, and once you are at your mountain you might be able to try out both.
Final Thoughts on Working at a Ski Resort
If you have the opportunity and freedom to work at a ski resort, DO IT. Why not try?
Finding work at a ski resort is one of the easiest ways to travel America (or the world) and experience a new way of life.
I encourage you to take a leap of faith and have the best winter of your life!
Any questions? Leave a comment down below and let me know