Working in a Ski Resort: Europe and Canada

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Do you dream about walking out your door to fresh mountain air and fluffy white snow; all geared up with snowboard in hand? Working in a resort is a good option for travelers because you will be able to finance your trip as well as gain work experience.

After one ski season, you will find that your shredding has improved by a tenfold and you have oodles of international friends.

For all of you snow bunnies that are looking to spend a season snowboarding abroad, there are lots of different positions available apart from being an instructor.

To help with the process, I’ve spoken to a couple of friends who are experienced in the snow resort industry. With their insider information, I have put together a ski resort work guide for folks that wish to find jobs in Europe or Canada.

Europe

Those who have their sights set on France, Austria, Italy, or Switzerland should start their job search a couple months in advance of the season.

Most resorts are completely closed in the off-season and hire their seasonal employees though travel agencies who outsource workers. There are companies that own multiple resorts, which have their own job network, such as SkiWorld that is part of the Intertravel Corporation.

Common entry-level positions are in hotels, restaurants, and bars. It is difficult to become an instructor, especially in France, because they have their own licenses and not all are considered equal in Europe.

Accommodation is generally provided and rent is taken off of your paycheck. Living quarters are usually small apartments with multiple people, often as many as six. Take home wage is usually around 900 Euros that included accommodation, meals, Internet, and often use of hotel facilities. A season’s pass is offered at a special rate for staff, which will vary from company to company.

As for visas, many travelers choose a working holiday program visa. Be forewarned, most employees in European ski resorts are Europeans citizens so it could be difficult to find a position with an unfamiliar visa. Labor laws are loosely followed in France and some companies are rather exploitive. At lot of the time, pay is less than minimum wage.

Canada

Most ski resorts in Canada will hold job fairs starting in mid October. In general, employment for seasonal workers begins in mid November once the resorts have become busier.

Employers prefer candidates to already arrange their own accommodation and be settled-in prior to hiring. Accommodation can easily found on online communities. Other resorts will offer dorm-like staff accommodation that is a bit cramped but fun nonetheless. It is advisable to arrive a month in advance to get all your personal affairs in order and begin your job search.

Entry-level positions are varied, such as housekeepers, lifties, line cooks, retail, front desk, and ski/snowboard maintenance. If you are willing to take extra training it is possible to become a mountain guide/host or an instructor.

These positions are paid minimum wage and many positions will include tips. Some employers will also include health insurance as part of their employment contract. Resorts also offer their employees a season pass discount as well as a staff discount to use in stores, restaurants, and equipment.

Some of the most popular resorts for foreigners are Big White, Silverstar, Whister – Blackcomb, and Banff because it is possible for staff to live on the hill and they are accommodating to the international crowd.

Do you have any tips for those who would like to work a season in the United States, Chile, New Zealand, or Japan?

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About Author

Meredith was bit by travel bug in 2009 and has been on the move since then. Her adventures started in Finland where she visited a Sami reindeer farm in Lapland, dogsled and ran in the forests of Finland, and then backpacked around western Europe. Later, she moved to Kenya for a Communications internship. She took advantage of her good fortune and went on safari in the Maasai Mara as well as explored beach paradise on a motorcycle. No matter where she goes, she never forgets about her home in Canada and greatly enjoys road trips across the Rocky Mountains and along coast of British Columbia. She is currently living in Canada working as a freelance writer and a communications specialist. You can follow her adventures and discoveries on curiousmeredith or get your tweet on with her @MeredithBratlan

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