Working at a ski resort

Gagging to do nothing but ski, snowboard and party? Sounds like a pretty cool deal. But, unless you're loaded it’s just not really realistic. Something that is totally attainable? Working a ski-season to make it happen. So let us smooth the way by reading our guide to working at a ski resort.

A young woman is working at a ski resort. This is a wide-angle image.

Getting a job with a ski company

Working at a ski resort in Europe sounds like a dream – but how do you do it? 

With so many types of ski jobs and ski tour operators out there, it’s hardly surprising that people’s dreams of working a ski season in Europe never actually make it to the slopes. To combat this, narrow your choices by selecting 10-20 ski companies and apply to them in writing with your CV. Emphasise your relevant skills and talents in your covering letter. And make it clear that you’re ready to go above and beyond for them. Brush up on some tips for how to write a CV and a cover letter here.

“Always focus on the positive reasons why you’re applying,” advises Victoria Pybus, author of Working in Ski Resorts. “For example, say that you’ve always wanted to work in the travel industry, you’ve got great customer service skills, or that you’re hoping to gain new skills for future job prospects.”

When to apply for ski jobs abroad

It’s obviously better if you can have something in the bag before you go. Thing is, if you wait ‘til the last minute you’ll end up having to take anything that comes your way. Don’t panic if your bright idea of working at a ski resort only hits you halfway through the season though – according to Victoria Pybus, you still have a few options left.

“There’s a pretty high drop out rate for season workers in the first couple of weeks and also around Christmas when people start thinking: ‘sod it, I’m not going to spend my winter season slaving over a hot stove’,” she says. “Companies’ll usually panic around these times, so keep ringing around. Try to pick the big companies who are likely to have more jobs left. Alternatively, just take a leap of faith and head straight to the actual resort. Lots of people leave spontaneously around these times. Then it’s just a question of luck when you’re out there.”

Don’t just take her word for it though, this is exactly what Fergus Mitchell did. “I was lucky that I had friends in the resort who gave me part-time work in return for cash or food,” he says. “After about three weeks I was in a bar when a guy came in and told his mates that he’d just quit his job as a barman. I couldn’t believe my luck. I went straight to where he’d been working and after a trial shift. After that, they offered me the job for the rest of the season.”

What experience do I need for working at a ski resort?

If you’re gunning to be a ski instructor while working at a ski resort you’ll probably need a qualification. But other than that, honestly, it’s best if you have direct experience of working in a particular field, but it’s not entirely necessary. If you don’t have any experience, think about the skills you’ve developed in your personal life. For instance, cooking dinner parties for friends, and make sure that you highlight them on your CV. Then you’ll be on your way to living out Chalet Girl IRL.

Speaking of chalets, Esther Bott was a chalet host with her boyfriend Steve in a resort in France. They were responsible for a 12-person ski chalet between them. This included preparing and cooking three meals a day and doing all the cleaning. “It’s definitely better if you can run your own chalet rather than being a general skivvy. But that’s often all that’s available if it’s your first season and you’ve no experience,” she says. “I was given the job because I was a bit older and had cooking experience. It also went in our favour that we were a couple since they generally want two people who know each other well to take on a whole chalet.”

How much skiing/snowboarding will I get to do whilst working ski jobs abroad?

So, you’ve bagged a job! Now all you’ve got to do is turn up and have fun with some winter sports, right? Err, wrong actually. This is nothing like skiing holidays. 

Since these are seasonal jobs, most companies will expect to get their money’s worth out of you. This means that it’s up to you to get everything done and still have the time to ski and the money to party. “You have to be very organised,” explains Victoria. “During their first season people are learning about how to prepare everything in advance before they go out on the slopes. By the second season they can really get it down to a fine art; that way they can get all their work done and get time skiing.”

As the snow-capped mountains become your daily backdrop, you’ll find yourself donning not only a professional work attitude but also some stylish ski gear. And let’s not forget the essential ski pants that seamlessly transition from the office to the mountains. These aren’t just any pants; they’re a statement of your commitment to both your job and the exhilarating alpine adventures that await. Seasoned winter workers understand the value of efficient multitasking – just like smoothly gliding down a slope while staying warm and dry in their trusty ski pants.

Esther and Steve learnt quickly and were soon prepping enough to get as much skiing time as possible. “We never cut corners, we just got quicker at cleaning and cooking. We also realised that we could get away with leaving one thing to do for later on– you just get to learn little tricks,” says Esther. “The best bit was definitely getting everything organised so that we could do loads of skiing.”

Things to remember when working at a ski resort

Every individual job comes with different hours and pressures. So it’s important to consider how you’ll balance your work responsibilities, social life, and time on the slopes. Fergus’ job as a barman meant he could ski until he started work at 4pm. The catch was that he was working all night while others were out partying. “My expectations were of the freedom of the mountain ranges and parties ’til the sun rose. It has to be said that wasn’t too far off the mark – I just failed to factor in the 60 hour working weeks!”

So there you have it – ask yourself what’s most important to you and which job’ll give you the most freedom whilst living and working in the mountains. And you can’t be unrealistic about the amount of work you’ll have to do. Then, you’ll have the time of your life. As Esther says: “If you want the gritty reality of it – You basically just live it up, don’t earn very much money and don’t get much sleep. But I’d definitely recommend it.”

Next Steps


work abroad

By Hannah Jolliffe

Updated on 02-Jun-2022