We’re not sure if you’ve noticed, but people are coming in droves to the Great Smoky Mountains, High Country, and trendy mountain towns of the western part of the Tar Heel State. The mountains of North Carolina serve up some of the most spectacular natural beauty, interesting culinary experiences, and exhilarating adventure you can find anywhere. And with booming, ridiculously fun towns like Asheville at your fingertips, there is an amazing mix of culture, industry, and mountain life that makes western NC’s job market extremely attractive at the moment. To help you take advantage of everything the area has to offer, we’ve put together this list of 10 hot jobs in the North Carolina mountains.
Enjoy talking about hops and their many different varieties? Can you create the best conditions for a perfect hazy IPA? If you’re well-versed in the intricacies of craft beer, North Carolina is the place to hone your skills. There are around 50 breweries in western NC, meaning even if you don’t have a ton of experience, you’ll have a good shot at getting a job. In addition to brewer roles, you can find work as a server, bartender, tour guide, or even marketing professional.
Health Services Jobs
For those in health services, the western North Carolina region has (approximately) 36,000+ jobs in the medical sector and a growing number of medical centers that need doctors, nurses, and other staff. For the most part, you’re going to need a relevant degree and/or experience, though there are plenty of admin, customer service, and other roles that can be performed with fewer qualifications. Indeed lists a myriad of health services jobs in western NC — everything from nurse for the US Forest Service ($60k+) to medical lab account manager ($50k-$70k).
Ski Resort Jobs
Yes, you read that correctly. North Carolina has skiing — and while these may not be the biggest operations, resorts like Sugar Mountain or Appalachian Ski Mountain will always need to fill technical, customer service, and administration roles. Sugar Mountain lists jobs in lift maintenance, snowmaking, and of course, ski patrol; and Beech Mountain has everything from retail management to lifty to tubing attendant. We love ski resort jobs because they often come with good benefits and, if you’re lucky, staff lodging.
This one is for the engineers, machinists, and those who just enjoy making things. Manufacturing is one of the largest industries in North Carolina. The mountains of western NC are filled with opportunities in the sector — and, lucky for you, the average salary for advanced manufacturing jobs is over $65,000 per year in the region. There are currently hundreds of available openings in the area, so the options are plentiful. Many of these roles require a four-year engineering (or related) degree and/or a mix of certifications and other specialized qualifications. Do plenty of research on exactly what is required for the manufacturing jobs you’re looking to obtain.
Fly Fishing Guide
The waterways of western North Carolina are filled with brown, rainbow, and native brook trout — and fly fishing is a fun, active way of going on the search for those beautiful aquatic species. If you know how to match the hatch, choose just the right size tippet, and help others make the perfect cast, try your hand at guiding. When you’re just starting out, look for work with an outfitter in an area where you have some expertise, or even ask a local guide if you can shadow them.
Note: You’ll want to make sure you have a North Carolina fishing license and a familiarity with local regulations.
The mountains of North Carolina have become a foodie haven in recent years, with Asheville recently being named the best food town in America. Tourism dominates western NC, so the need for quality chefs de cuisine, sous chefs, and line cooks is only increasing. The variety of food destinations in the area means you’ll have an opportunity to work in high-end restaurants, small niche eateries, and everything in between. And as with most restaurant jobs, the late shifts mean you’ll have the mornings free to explore North Carolina’s epic wilderness.
With the current boom in commercial activity, North Carolina’s mountain town businesses are going to need more and more people to help create Google ads, craft Instagram posts, and/or design attractive branding. If you’re a marketing guru, consider an in-house role with a company, an agency job, or even freelance work. Indeed has a long list of marketing roles in western NC, including advertising account exec for Spectrum, marketing coordinator for a vineyard, and area director of sales and marketing for Renaissance Hotels. These can provide solid incomes, with salaries for account positions generally in the $45k-$75k/year range and those for directors and managers often exceeding $100k.
Christmas Tree Farmer
Christmas lovers, rejoice. North Carolina is the second-largest producer of Fraser firs in the US (the High Country is known as America’s Christmas Tree Capital). Working on a Christmas tree farm, your duties could include everything from harvesting and maintenance to guest relations and administration (or, most likely, a mix of all of those things). These jobs can be difficult to find, so try reaching out directly to the farms by calling or emailing to inquire about openings.
Especially in the bigger cities (e.g., Asheville and Hendersonville), services like Uber Eats and DoorDash can provide flexible, profitable work for those who want to be able to take off when the kayaking gets good on the Green River or the snow gets deep at Beech Mountain. All you’re going to need is a car, bike, motorcycle, or other form of transportation (and, for those with motor vehicles, a license and insurance). Plus, you’re going to want to get a feel for the lay of the land in the areas you’ll be working — it’s tough to maintain a five-star rating when you keep winding up in Tennessee.
Bonus: Ridesharing jobs with Uber and/or Lyft are also an excellent way to make some extra money while setting your own schedule.
Several state parks and a number of National Parks Service areas are located in, or run through, western North Carolina. Jobs in a national park are often going to be harder to find than those in state parks, so keep that in mind when starting your search. Necessary qualifications will depend on the position, often including a four-year degree (preferably related to environmental science, natural resources management, or a similar field) and prior relevant experience. If you’re looking to land a job with North Carolina Parks and Recreation or the United States NPS, volunteering your time can help you get your foot in the door and give you a feel for the work before applying to a full-time position.
Amongst the gorgeous forests, rivers, and wildlife of North Carolina’s mountains, there is a thriving economy that provides hundreds of thousands of jobs in widely diverse industries. If you’re not interested in working for someone else, consider creating your own job by starting a mountain town business in the shadow of the Appalachians. No matter what you do, though, you’ll want to get there fast — the word is definitely out.