Here’s What it’s Really Like to Work at a Ski Resort

After having a bunch of friends head off and work at ski resorts like Breckenridge, Crested Butte, and Vail after college, and visiting these amazing ski destinations over the past few seasons to see friends and ride, I’ve heard a lot firsthand about what its really like to work at a winter resort.

Everything from the people you get to meet, to the free season ski pass makes it one of the sweetest jobs in the world.  Mountain resort staff is always friendly, and days there float by between the beautiful mountain towns, and the amazing snow.

I will say however, that resort work is sometimes not always what it is cracked up to be.  Below, I’ll break down the reasons why working at a winter resort can be the greatest job in the world, and I’ll touch on a couple of reasons I’ve heard you might want to stay away from it.

Hiring Times

If you are interested, apply in August and September.  This is when winter resorts do most of their hiring.  Resorts are typically hiring throughout the season but getting a preferred job or subsidized housing then will be much harder. Apply earlier to have a better shot at getting a higher paying job and housing.

Ski Resort Work: The Pros

A Free Pass

If you just downright love skiing and want to ride all season, this is the job for you.  Most resort jobs come with a free ski pass to that resort and possibly others in the area.  The best perk of working on the mountain hands down is getting to ride for free whenever you aren’t scheduled to work.

You will also have the inside track on the best places for snow when it is busy and when there is nobody there.  What could be better than riding a full season for free.  It is very easy to work part time at a winter resort and qualify to get the free staff season pass.  Look into it if you live in a mountain town but don’t want to pay for a ski pass.   

Weekday Riding

Because most resorts are busiest during the weekends and on holidays, the staff pretty much must work full time during these hours.  But, when there is practically nobody on the mountain in the middle of the week, the boss will sometimes kick people off shift early, and even let them ride for an hour or two in the middle of a shift.

Having so much untouched terrain at your fingertips is amazing, especially on the days where it’s snowed plenty but nobody is there. Working at a resort, you will be touching fresh snow past noon on any given day.  Elusive I know but when you work at the resort, its just part of the job.

You Will Meet Great People

The people who work at the resorts every winter do it because they love it.  When the crew working the lift line are hyping you up on a cold weekend day, it’s because they legitimately are stoked for you to be out on their mountain tearing it up. 

Likewise, when you work at the resort, everyone from the people in the office to the snow patrol crews will be another friendly face at work.  It is easy to make friends because everyone is laid back in a great work environment.  The type of people might want to have a beef after work and have a good time drinking it.

Discounted Resort Amenities and Pro Deals

There will be plenty of staff discounts on the mountain.  Things like food in and around the lodge, and the shops around the resort might have some discount for resort staff but this will certainly differ depending on the resort you work at. 

There will also be plenty of pro deals for winter resort staff.  Everything from the latest skis to jackets and goggles will be discounted because these companies want resort employees to wear their gear.  There is plenty of money to be spent if you can still afford the gear after the discounts offered.

Ski Jobs: The Cons

The Pay

Unless you are there for a couple of winters in a row and move up the chain a little bit, or you are working as ski instructor or a server or bartender in the lodge, you probably aren’t going to make that much money working at a winter resort.  Unfortunately, you’ll also probably have to spend most of the money you do make on living close to expensive ski destinations. 

Some resorts offer staff housing for discounted prices, but there are typically a limited number of bunked rooms.  If you can figure out how to make the bottom-line work, that’s great, but you’re not going to get rich helping people onto a lift or taking pictures at the top of a mountain.  Like I said, resort workers do it because they love it.

Having A Seasonal Schedule

Because there is only snow for about half the year, resorts only hire for the time that employees are needed.  There is plenty of great work at the resort over the winter, and some positions to still be filled in the summer, but summer is the offseason. 

Thus, most resort staff workers have multiple jobs.  There are often positions open at rafting and kayak companies, climbing guides, and other outdoor guide positions available depending on where you decide to spend your winter.

The Party Culture

Resort staff can often get very rowdy outside of work and on the job as well.  Depending on where you work, there will an undetermined amount of partying.  This fact may either deter or entice however just know, there will always be friendly faces on the mountain no matter what so don’t let this information truly change any decision your might have been leaning towards. 

Final Thoughts

There are so many reasons why you should spend a winter in a mountain town working at a ski resort.  The people are great, the work is a breeze, and you get to ski all season.  But don’t take my word for it, apply for a job and get up there to see for yourself.

Author

Jason has lived in Colorado for nearly 20 years and loves the outdoor lifestyle in the Western mountains. He enjoys exploring new areas and writing about them to help others in their journeys.

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