The Complete Guide to Working at Lake Tahoe

Imagine skiing insanely scenic trails in the morning, tucking into gourmet food and après drinks at a gastropub in the afternoon, and then finishing the day off with some partying and light gambling in an upscale casino/club at night. Such is life at Lake Tahoe. Straddling the California/Nevada state line on the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada mountains, Lake Tahoe offers up both tons of opportunities for outdoor adventure and — in certain places, at least — all the amenities of a large city. This means that locals who want to make a living are not limited to the smaller number of jobs that are normally available in mountain towns (South Lake Tahoe alone employs over 11,000 people). To help you take advantage of the area’s thriving economy, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to working at Lake Tahoe — because those electric-blue waters are calling, and you must go.

Where to Find Work

According to Data USA, the largest industries in and around Lake Tahoe (South Lake Tahoe, Truckee, etc.) are accommodation and food services; arts, entertainment, and recreation; and retail trade. And the most common occupations overall are related to food service and preparation. In short, the economy of Lake Tahoe runs on tourism. So, you’re likely going to want to start your job search in one of those sectors. Later, though, we’re pointing out several other options for those looking for work in other industries.

Ski Resorts

Lake Tahoe boasts over a dozen ski areas, which means the resorts are some of the largest employers in the region. If you want a job that’s going to provide you with steady pay and the chance to earn some excellent benefits, resort work is a great option. Northstar lists over 80 roles on their job portal and Heavenly has over 60. Especially for year-round employees, these jobs generally come with excellent perks, including health insurance, PTO, and lift passes that will give you access to several other resorts.

Tour Companies

Someone has to man the lake cruises, lead the kayak excursions, and show tourists where the best backcountry skiing and riding can be found. If you want to earn a solid wage (and, hopefully, some generous tips) while sharing your passion for the outdoors, a tour guide job can be the perfect option. Google has postings for everything from fishing to ATV guide.

Restaurants

You could do a lot worse than working in the kitchen at a Gordon Ramsey restaurant or waiting tables at Evan’s, where tabs will regularly exceed $1,000. And in California, the tipped employee minimum wage is $13-$14/hour (depending on the size of the restaurant), which is the highest in the nation; so bartenders, servers, and baristas can make a very solid salary. Restaurant jobs offer great pay, flexibility, and the ability to work nights and make first tracks in the morning.

Hotels

Working for a large resort, quaint inn, or stylish boutique hotel is a great way to make money while padding your resume and meeting people from all over the world. Many of the largest hotel companies in the world — Marriott, Wyndham, Hyatt, etc. — have at least one location at Lake Tahoe (and big corporations often provide a reliable income and benefits).

Retailers

There are tons of local shops and big chains all around Lake Tahoe, so those with some salesmanship and product knowledge can make a great living. Google lists over 100 retail jobs in the Tahoe area, so you’ve got options. Figure out what products or companies you’re most familiar with and go from there. You could find yourself working at the Heavenly Patagonia or one of the high-end boutiques in Truckee.

Gig Economy

Because of the large number of visitors to Tahoe, those working for ridesharing, food delivery, or similar companies (e.g., TaskRabbit) can make a great living while setting their own schedule. The option to work in the gig economy is a rarity in most mountain towns, where the population of the area, even with visitors, usually limits the need for those services. So, take advantage of Tahoe’s massive influx of tourists and bevy of locals by efficiently shuttling them around, providing them with grub, or putting together their Ikea furniture.

Other Industries

There are going to be opportunities to work in a variety of non-tourism-based industries in the Tahoe area. According to Data USA, health services is one of the largest sectors, while financial services jobs are the highest paid.

A quick Indeed search brings up several marketing positions, from entry-level to management. Or you may want to consider municipal work — El Dorado County and South Lake Tahoe City are two of the largest employers in the region. Of course, you can always create the jobs yourself by starting your own business on Tahoe’s expansive shores.

Tips for Finding a Job at Lake Tahoe

Planning well in advance of your move to Tahoe is going to be your best bet for a comfortable transition. Or, if that’s not a possibility (or you don’t mind a little adventure), you can always just make the move and then figure things out from there.

Apply Early

Particularly if you’re looking for seasonal work, it’s going to help to apply in the summer or fall (for winter jobs) or winter or spring (for summer jobs). According to Squaw/Alpine, winter jobs are posted in August and summer jobs are posted in April/May. This is the case for many jobs with ski resorts, hotels, and even retail employers.

Know Where to Look

Popular online job boards like LinkedIn, Indeed, and ZipRecruiter are going to be great first stops during the job hunt. You can also look for postings on region-specific boards, based on where you’d like to live. The North Tahoe Business Association is a great resource, as is the Tahoe Chamber, which represents the South Shore.

Note: We’re big proponents of reaching out to potential employers to inquire about job opportunities. It shows initiative and can give you access to roles that haven’t been posted.

Lock Down Housing

Going along with our advice to apply early, figuring out your housing situation is also going to be extremely important. Given its popularity, Tahoe is experiencing a bit of a shortage at the moment. So, look for apartments, rental homes, or employee housing as soon as you know where you’ll be working. You can really maximize your money by finding roommates and sharing a house or apartment. And if you’re moving at the last minute, look for an Airbnb or short-term sublease to stay in while you search for a long-term solution.

Consider Remote Work

Digital nomads will find that Lake Tahoe is a great place to set up shop while working remotely. There are several coworking spaces in the area, and you won’t have to worry about seasonal employment or competing for jobs with the local workforce. Plus, the proximity to Silicon Valley means you’ll have a good chance of making connections with like-minded individuals.

Conclusion

There’s a reason 15 million people flock to Tahoe every year. It’s truly an all-season destination, with myriad activities available year round. This, combined with a booming job market, makes it a fantastic place to work and play. Follow these tips and you’ll become a gainfully employed Tahoe local in no time.

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