If you live in one of the 40 states that have ski resorts, you can get an excellent introduction to work in the ski industry by getting a part-time job at a ski resort. If you don't live near a ski resort, a job at a golf course, hotel, or restaurant will also provide good experience.
If you plan on becoming a ski instructor or ski patrol officer, you should hone your skiing skills to improve your chances of landing a job.
Talk to ski resort workers about their careers. Ask them what they like and dislike about their jobs, what a typical workday is like, and other questions that will help you get a good understanding of ski industry careers.
Ski resort workers run the gamut from entry level to highly skilled. Each is important for maintaining the order and operations of the resort community. One of the largest departments is ski lift operation. Ski lift operators make sure skiers have safe transport. There are several steps taken daily before a ski lift is opened to the public. First, ice, snow, or tree branches are cleared from the machinery and the loading and unloading platforms. Next, all machinery and parts are cleaned and checked for safety. Finally, an experienced member of the lift staff conducts a trial run.
There are three main sections of the lift: bottom, middle terminal, and the top. Workers at all stations help passengers on or off the lift safely. They collect and punch lift tickets, adjust seats or the speed of the lift, and spot check for loose or dangling items that may catch on the lift's machinery. They answer any inquiries passengers may have about the run, or address general questions. They give directions and make sure skiers stay on the slopes and trails designated for their level of expertise—beginner, intermediate, and expert. Workers must sometimes reprimand unruly passengers.
Skiers who monitor the runs and surrounding areas are called the ski patrol. Considered the police of the mountains, they are specially trained ski experts responsible for preventing accidents and maintaining the safety standards of the resort. They mark off trails and courses that are not safe for the public. Patrol members also help injured skiers off the slopes and to proper first aid stations, or in extreme cases, to an ambulance. Ski patrol members should be versed in emergency medical techniques, such as CPR and first aid.
A certified ski instructor can teach everything from basic maneuvers to more advanced techniques. Whether in group classes or private lessons, ski instructors teach students how to avoid injury by skiing safely and responsibly.
Before skiers head for the moguls, they need proper equipment. Working in the supply houses is an example of an entry-level position. Ski technicians assist skiers in getting the proper-sized boots, skis, and poles. They may answer questions regarding equipment and how to use it.
Most ski resorts have chalets or lodges that offer skiers a place to rest and grab refreshments between runs. More often than not, these lodges serve as gathering places in the evenings for drinks and socialization. Some jobs at lodges include wait staff, housekeeping staff, gift shop or ski shop employees, resort managers, and human resources staff.