Almost every skier or snowboarder will tell you about a time when they considered giving it all up and moving to a ski town. The allure of spending 100+ days in the mountains, amongst easily accessible fresh powder, is too powerful for some skiers and riders to resist. For those who do take the plunge, the biggest hurdle is usually figuring out how to pay for all of it, especially given the notoriously high costs associated with living in a ski town. Fortunately, every ski resort needs people to help keep the lifts spinning (literally and figuratively). The following generously compensated ski resort jobs will not only keep you from living off ketchup packets, they might actually pay for next year’s Patagonia jacket.
Unsurprisingly, the employees making the most in resort towns are those directly responsible for keeping an eye on the bottom line. Accounting and finance jobs at ski resorts generally require some sort of business background, usually including a degree and/or various certifications. Competition for these positions is stiff, but if you land one, the pay is very solid. Staff accountants and financial analysts can make around $30k to $50k per year, while accounting and finance directors can bring in anywhere from $60k, to up to $100k+ a year. One downside to these jobs is the hours: if you’re working 9 to 5, you’re probably not skiing 8 to 4. For those days you can get on the slopes, though, the resort will usually provide a free season pass.
Teaching others to ski or ride is one of the most rewarding jobs on the mountain; and with time, it can also be one of the most lucrative. As long as you’re good with people, and skilled on skis or a snowboard, instructing is fairly accessible. While the beginning pay is not spectacular, instructors with a good deal of experience can earn great money through private lessons and charter trips, especially at more exclusive resorts. And if you’re willing to invest some time getting a Level II or III PSIA-AASI certification, the pay can be $50,000 per year, or more. For die-hards, this is the perfect job. You get to share your passion for skiing and riding the mountains – and if you’re good at it, guests will hopefully share generous tips in return.
If you’re hospitality-oriented, you could do worse than working behind the desk at the Four Seasons Vail, or the Fairmont Chateau in Whistler. Many of the employees responsible for checking in guests, arranging shuttle transportation, or making dinner reservations are goggle-tanned skiers and boarders, fresh from the slopes. For those looking to settle down in a mountain town, hotel salaries can be both substantial and stable. Managers, reps, and concierges will generally earn the most, but even ski valets and drivers can do well at luxury resorts. On the high end, managers earn $100k+ per year, while reps and concierges can potentially make up to $75k. As with most of these jobs, a season pass is likely included if the hotel is owned by the ski resort. Another benefit to hotel employment is the PM hours allow for plenty of time on-mountain.
Every ski resort needs a team to help coordinate ad campaigns, create social media content, and implement sales strategies. Oftentimes the people who help bring in revenue through marketing and sales are some of the highest paid at ski resorts. Like accounting and finance jobs, sales and marketing positions usually require some experience and/or a degree but come with a bit more stability. Depending on the ski resort, marketing salaries can run from $30k to $60k per year for account managers, to north of $100k for marketing directors. Every resort needs exposure, so a marketing role is the perfect way to utilize your SEO knowledge or Instagram savvy to pay for your ski or snowboard addiction.
Anyone who’s ever had a night out after skiing knows that eating and drinking in most resort towns is a very expensive proposition. Oftentimes the beneficiaries of restaurants’ high prices are the servers bringing out your $45 lamb shank and the bartenders crafting your $17 old fashioned. Sociable skiers and riders can make a solid income just by sharing their love of food and wine, mixing it up with out-of-towners (and thirsty locals), and, hopefully, eating the occasional free meal. Although hourly rates are usually low for tipped workers, waiters and bartenders at ski resorts often make a considerable amount of money in gratuities, especially at more high-end establishments. The money can be variable, but the flexible hours allow for more time on the slopes than many other jobs. Plus, there is absolutely no one more revered and beloved than the person pouring apres drinks at the dive bar by the lift.