Fancy hitting the slopes daily for a season? Whether you are a freestyler, a free rider, or just a snowplougher, working abroad at a ski resort will allow you to spend months carving down some incredible hills AND get paid for it. There are as many different kinds of experiences as there are people when it comes to ski resorts abroad, it all depends on the job, the company, and the location you choose to go for. There is one thing for sure: if you love winter sports, living and working abroad at a ski resort is absolutely worth doing at least.
Why Work Abroad at a Ski Resort
Unless you live on a mountain top in the middle of epic ski country, chances are your love for the mountains hasn’t equated to an address in the mountains (quite yet). Now is your opportunity to not only become a more adept skier or snowboarder, but to also mix it up with an international friend group, too. If you’re anything like me, then you might secretly be hoping your mere presence around talented winter-sport-enthusiasts will be contagious/rub off on you (it can only help, right?!).
Afterall, the powder of Argentina may pale in comparison to that of northern Canada. There are many mountains to be conquered, and it can’t be done if you continue to sit on your ski bum instead of truly becoming a ski bum!
There are five major destinations to consider when looking for ski resort jobs abroad. Each of which have well-established work abroad programs and positions that can broadly be broken down into four main categories: operations, resort services, hospitality, and snowsports. Almost any job abroad at a ski resort will require a particular set of qualifications and experience, which will vary according to each role. Nevertheless, all applicants should have a competent grasp of the English language that allows them to communicate clearly with co-workers and guests alike. The most popular destinations to work in ski resorts abroad include the following:
Australia. Known as one of the largest and most beautiful countries in the world, Australia offers an exciting and diverse environment for work, travel, and exploration. Most ski resorts in Australia are located in the mountain ranges surrounding New South Wales and Victoria. Even though ski resorts are smaller in Australia in comparison to other countries, getting a job as lift operator or instructing snowsports will be far easier than in the European Alps, for instance. The ski season lasts from about June to October, and recruitment always starts as early as December or January.
New Zealand. For those who love spectacular mountain ranges as well as glaciers, the Southern Alps in the South Island of Aotearoa are some of the most beautiful ranges in the world to find ski resort jobs abroad. Most staff working at Treble Cone and Cardrona reside in Wanaka town, while Queenstown is the main town for getting at Coronet Peak and the Remarkables. There are a couple of belters to the South of the North Island, but living costs are much higher. When it comes to ski jobs in New Zealand, positions are usually in retail, hospitality, catering, private lessons, and lift operating. One of the greatest advantages of working abroad in Australia is the Working Holiday Visa, which is a multiple-entry visa.
Japan. Strewn with excellent winter resorts (over 600!) and an abundance of reliable snow, Japan is one of the top ten countries for winter sports in the world. The ski season starts around December and runs until March, and great skiing conditions can be found specifically in the mountainous areas of Honshu and Hokkaido. However, Japan is not a cheap destination to live abroad in by any means, and it is much more difficult to find a ski resort job in Japan than in the U.S. or Europe. Nevertheless, there are still a handful of worthwhile ski resort job opportunities.
North America. Every year, some of the best ski resort staff in the world provide some of the best services in fantastic facilities throughout North America. For this reason, and the fabulous snow, ski resorts in both Canada and USA are extremely popular and plentiful, providing opportunities for foreigners to work in thousands of shops, restaurants, and bars as well as in positions as rental assistants, lift operators and snowsport instructors. However, most ski-related jobs in North America are only available during the winter season, and many require applicants to be enrolled at either college or university and between the ages of 18 and 30. Still, there are some ski resorts that actively recruit for the winter and summer season, which can be a great option for those who are looking for a gap year experience in North America.
Europe. European mountains attract thousands of tourist each season. Skiers, snowboarders, and snow lovers from all around the world choose Europe as one of their favorite winter destinations, and thanks to that, plenty of ski resort job opportunities are available for both locals and foreign workers annually. Massive resorts in France are probably the best place to find a ski resort job in Europe, but Switzerland also enthusiastically welcomes foreigners, with great job opportunities for snowsports instructors.
Ski Resort Jobs Abroad
The vast majority of available ski resort jobs abroad are casual and seasonal in nature, coming about as the seasons change across the world. The most common types of ski resort employment range from those that are highly outdoors, such as snowsports instructors, lift operators, ski patrollers, snowmakers, and car park attendants, to more indoors oriented, like retail shops, guest services, child-care workers, bar attendants, kitchen staff, and receptionists. Depending on the nature of the position, some ski resort jobs abroad will require past experience or educational background. At the very least, international workers will need the obvious skills to carry out ski resort jobs, such as the ability to ski or customer service skills.
In general, ski resorts jobs tend to pay foreign workers competitive salaries (enough to get around and enjoy life abroad). Keep in mind: you will be on the clock for eight hours a day, six days of the week in most cases, so choose your work carefully to avoid becoming a stalagmite if you are too sensitive to the cold.
Accommodation & Visas
Most ski resort jobs provide subsidized accommodation, ski passes, and even subsidized meals. Although each resort will offer various benefits for employees, depending on the type of job that is being performed, usually the latter three are a given.
Whether a working visa is required will depend on the country you decide to work abroad in and your country of origin. Luckily, information for international applicants, visa information will always be provided by their employer or work abroad program provider. Furthermore, most employers or program providers will help facilitate employee’s paperwork related to visas (though sometimes at an additional cost).
If a working holiday visa, or any type of visa for that matter, is needed, it is better to start all required paperwork as soon as possible. Application processing is an average of three months for most ski resort jobs abroad, so you should definitely not leave everything for the last minute!
Benefits & Challenges
While working abroad at a ski resort, you will learn a great deal about the ski resort industry itself, from the gear required to the way ski resorts are run. Additionally, many ski resort employees have access to free ski/snowboard lessons or simply free access to the slopes. No matter what your skill level upon arrival, you will surely up your skiing or snowboarding skills while working abroad at a ski resort. You will likely also have the opportunity to travel to other ski resorts in the area, getting even more practice on the slopes, not to mention you can travel for fun to any number of neighboring locations for the simple purpose of exploration.
Overall, working at ski resorts abroad will give you the chance to become part of a close-knit community, gain great life experience, have fun, ski until you drop, and make some friendships that will last a lifetime.
Of course, there are downsides to working abroad at ski resorts. Regardless of the job you choose, whether you become a lift operator, food and beverage attendant, retail salesperson, or ski instructor, there will likely be hard work to be done, especially during busy holiday weekends. Sometimes it will be necessary for you to stay extra-hours or even work on your day off; however, the good news is that extra-hours are usually very well paid!
If you have gotten this far then you probably already know that skiing and snowboarding are two of the greatest winter sports on the planet! So, if you want to get to ride the pow like a pro, what are you waiting for? There are definitely more pros than cons when it comes to ski resort jobs abroad, and now is the perfect time to start looking for the perfect position for you!