Looking for a place to combine your passion for winter sports with your paycheck? Consider a ski resort. It takes a village to run one of these resorts, meaning plenty of job opportunities for outdoor lovers, as well as those who prefer to keep their toes warm. Check out the following tips to finding the best winter-resort job for you.
In peak season, Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort in Snowbird, Utah, has approximately 2,300 employees on staff, according to Travis Alexander, an HR specialist for the resort. The headcount drops to 1,200 in the summer. "For the winter season, we hire Snow Cat operators who groom the trails, tubing hill attendants who handle tube rentals, ski-lift operators, ski patrol, snow safety personnel and ski instructors," he says.
"We don't require much experience for our entry-level positions other than just a willingness to work in a resort environment," Alexander adds. "You (also) have to be able to drive up steep canyons in the winter to reach the resort."
Not a Skier? No Problem
Trish Sullivan, vice president of human resources at Steamboat Ski and Resort in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, encourages nonskiers to apply for work at her ski resort. "There are plenty of retail job opportunities and maintenance positions, as well as office-support jobs," Sullivan says. Steamboat also has a children's center that is part of its ski school, which offers job opportunities for child-care providers, she adds. At Snowbird, indoor workers include bakers, chefs and hotel personnel.
Retirees and Moms Encouraged to Apply
Jobs at a ski resort are for the young at heart. "At Steamboat, we have a lot of retired folks who work as ski instructors or in ticket sales," says Sullivan. "They get their complimentary lift ticket, they have fun at work and they get their summers off."
"We also have a lot of mothers who work here in the winter so they can have their summers off to be with their kids," she says.
Maryellen Bradley-Gilbert knows firsthand the benefits of working in a ski resort. When she was single, she taught ski lessons to children at Nashoba Valley Ski Area in Westford, Massachusetts. "This was a part-time job for me that I worked in addition to a 40-hour position," she says. "I enjoyed the fact that this work was physical and outdoors, in contrast to the desk job I was doing from 9-to-5." Bradley-Gilbert also saw this as a way to do what she loved, affordably: ski.
Working in a ski resort also can present opportunities for making business contacts, says Sullivan. "We have some very high-end clientele," she explains.
The Hiring Season
At Snowbird, the ski season opens around Thanksgiving and usually runs through early May. But don't despair if you missed the hiring frenzy. "People do leave jobs, and jobs do get refilled during the season," says Alexander.
Don't assume that you need to apply in person. For some Steamboat jobs, applicants are encouraged to apply online.
Some resorts, like Steamboat, have subsidized housing available. Others may not. If you need housing, be sure to ask about this before applying.
The work is hard, but there is plenty of time for play. Be prepared to have a lot of fun!