6 Best Jobs At Ski Resorts To Maximize Skiing Time?

by Travis McCullough | Posted On: July 26th, 2022
ski instructors

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Perhaps the biggest perk to working at a resort is the ability to take ride breaks throughout the day and enjoy the best parts of the mountain.  Most jobs at a ski resort will allow for time to ski during the workday, but what is the best job to work at a ski resort to maximize skiing time?

The jobs that allow for the most skiing time include trail maintenance, guest services, ski patrol, ski school instructors, lift attendants, and rental shop attendants.  These positions either spend most of their day on the snow or are allowed the most ride breaks throughout the day.

1. Trail Maintenance

Groomer
Photo by Yellowstone National Park licensed under Public Domain Mark 1.0

Trail maintenance employees are in charge of moving snowmaking equipment around the mountain and ensuring that runs are maintained safely for skiers.  This allows for some of the most time on the snow compared to other jobs at ski resorts.

Since all trails need to be checked for exposed areas, icy patches, and debris, trail maintenance employees get to have free reign over the entire mountain.  Generally, they will have to focus on high-traffic areas of the mountain, but that doesn’t mean they don’t get to ski and asses the more advanced and isolated runs.

These positions are generally held for employees with multiple years of snowmaking experience, a familiarity with the mountain they are working on, and a considerable amount of skiing experience.  These jobs require skiers to be able to effectively assess the safety of any given run on a mountain, so this position isn’t usually a good fit for first-time ski resort workers.

2. Guest Services

Guest services jobs consist of the most eclectic range of duties that exist at a ski resort.  This wide array of jobs includes bringing supplies to facilities located mid-mountain, setting up signs and tents for events, directing guests to particular areas on the mountain, and much more.

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This requires many laps up and down the mountain to get people and supplies wherever needed.  One drawback to this job is that it requires efficient transport of items from the base of the hill to the top, which doesn’t leave much time for an employee to free ski.

Most facilities, like mid-mountain lodges and event areas, are on beginner runs and high-traffic areas.  This makes these jobs great for those who lack extensive skiing experience but still want to spend the majority of their day out on the mountain.

3. Ski Patrol

All Day on The Slopes

Ski Patrol Aid
Photo by Rob Lee licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Patrollers spend most of their day in the snow, carrying out their duties.  These typically include assisting injured skiers down the mountain, assessing terrain for possible dangers, avalanche blasting, and ensuring that skiers abide by the rules.

This is ideal for people who want to get the most ski time out of their average work day; the only drawback is that they don’t always have a say in what runs they get to ski.  Patrollers are constantly on the lookout for skiers in distress, which on a crowded day will consume most of their time.

If you are thinking about becoming a ski patroller, be sure to check the prerequisites for getting a job at your local resort.  Becoming a patroller usually consists of EMT training, disaster response certifications, or similar formal schooling, making this position out of reach for beginner skiers.

4. Ski School Instructors

All Day on The Slopes

Like patrollers, ski school instructors are outside on the mountain for most of their day.  Typically, they will conduct individual or group lessons for either half of the day or all day; either way, they get to ski from the first chair until close.

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Teaching is a great way to maximize your ski time while working at a resort, but like ski patrol, they don’t have much say in where they can ski.  This is especially true for those teaching beginner lessons, which will keep instructors on the same set of runs for most of the day.

Becoming a ski school instructor is more straightforward than becoming a ski patroller; it doesn’t require as much previous experience in skiing or certifications.  That being said, obtaining higher-level PSIA certifications will allow instructors to teach more advanced lessons, allowing them to ride more terrain as they teach.

5. Lift Attendants

No Skiing While Working

Lift attendant is another common resort job spent primarily out on the mountain, though they don’t get to do quite as much skiing as patrollers and instructors do.  On a typical day, they will start out working at a specific chair lift and shuffle around to different lifts as the day progresses.

This allows liftees to get runs in as they make their way over to a different part of the mountain.  The downside is that this only really consists of a run or two, as they are expected to show up on time and ready to work at their next post.

Just like instructors and patrollers, liftees can’t exactly go ski wherever they want on a whim, but this position generally requires less experience to get hired.  Liftees do not need to have a lifetime of skiing under their belt or the ability to teach others how to ride, they just need to be able to get to and from each lift shack which is what makes this job an excellent option for beginners skiers.

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6. Rental Shop Attendants

Usually Offered Time To Ski Mid-day

Nashoba Ski Area
Photo by Massachusetts Office Of Travel & Tourism licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Unlike patrollers, instructors, and lift attendants, rental shop employees work indoors for the most part.  That being said, these employees usually get to enjoy the most personal ski time per day because of a widely known industry perk, ride breaks.

The bulk of customers who rent gear at a resort will do so first thing in the morning and return later in the afternoon, depending on if they want to ski a full day or just take a couple of runs.  This leaves a large chunk in the middle of the day where rental attendants can go ski wherever they please.

Although patrollers, instructors, and lift attendants probably spend more time on the mountain during an average day, they are at the mercy of whatever duties their job entails.  This makes rental shop positions highly sought-after because they get the most time on the mountain to ski whatever terrain they are in the mood for.

Your Options For Ski Resort Jobs

Anthony Lakes
Photo by Baker County Tourism Travel Baker County under CC BY-ND 2.0

Almost all positions at a ski resort will afford you more time to ski compared to any other job industry, although specific resort jobs will allow more time than others.  Trail maintenance, guest services, ski patrol, ski school, and lift departments spend most of their days outside on snow skiing, but they don’t have as much freedom to ski the terrain they want as rental shop employees do.

If your goal is to spend every possible second outdoors and you don’t care as much about the terrain you are skiing, then consider becoming a trail maintenance technician, guest services assistant, ski patroller, ski school instructor, or lift attendant.  If you would rather spend less time on the mountain but have complete autonomy over what terrain you ride, you should consider working as a rental shop attendant.

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