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Ski Patrol!

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hi Guys,

 

Sorry is this is in the wrong forum and if so could a moderator move it? - Thanks :)

 

I have always had ambitions to become a ski patroller/instructor as i believe it is the perfect job for me.

I have booked onto a ski instructor and then a ski patrol course next year to begin my journey doing something i have really wanted to do since i can remember, but am a bit concerned I won't be able to stay financially stable in the ski industry. I am currently in a fairly well paying job in order to save enough for the courses but working in an office is not for me and is not something i want to do for longer than necessary.

I would really appreciate any advice/tips/anything from you guys who have worked or are currently working in the ski industry about how you have made a life for yourself. My idea of life is to be rich in experience rather than in pocket so I am not concerned about having a great salary - just enough to keep afloat!

 

Thanks a lot in advance :)

 

Raf

 

Mod note: moved as suggested

post #2 of 7
First off, the work worlds and pay schedules are very different between instructors and patrollers. Instructors are paid only when they have a class or private to teach - no class, no pay and there is a seniority element to getting classes to teach. Tips may make up a significant portion of their pay. They pretty much work during the resort operating hours, and may take clinics (often unpaid) when they aren't teaching classes.

Patroller (the paid ones, there are a large number of volunteer patrol positions) get an hourly wage. Not much in the way of tips, though it does happen occasionally. They generally start work before the resort opens and end their day sometime after the resort closes to customers. That's so that they can get the mountain and themselves ready for customers in the morning and sweep and close the place down in the afternoon. And if there is a storm or a rescue or something like that they may have to start work very early or stay late. During the day they are responsible for customers' safety and medical responses, and do a lot of things like putting up ropes and signs and standing watch in strategic locations and maybe things like avalanche mitigation. Sort of a combination of ambulance and cop, but on skis (or snowboards).

So instructors and patrollers have significantly differently work days and schedules. Another thing that's different is that instructors' take home pay can vary widely from pretty bad to pretty good, depending on how many classes and what sort of tips they get. Patrollers pay is steadier, more of a forty-hour week sort of thing.

You aren't going to get rich doing either one. It can be a challenge financially.

And they're seasonal jobs - unless you have some sort of trust fund or something you're going to have a way to pay the bills during the off-season. Construction, fighting wildfires, commercial fishing, rafting or climbing guide, trail crew... Those sort of things.

As a patroller I make ends meet by having a retirement pension after over 30 years of fighting wildfire, and I do things like landscaping/yard work and movie work in the summer.
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your reply.

I am in the annoying situation where being from the UK, the perfect job opportunities for me personally aren't available as i am not a citizen of the country i'd love to live. Canada would be the top choice for me as it is one of my favorite countries and has the careers that would suite me completely (ski instructing/patrol - firefighting) but i think it will be a case of working ski patrol/instructing on season (provided i'm good enough to achieve the qualifications) and coming back to find work in the uk off season.

I know for sure i want to me a member of a ski patrol but what i do to make money is still baffling me... I have a pretty good degree but it only really offers up office work which isn't ideal - but i guess the attitude should be it pays the bills.

 

In an ideal world i'd be in the ski patrol in the winter and have a wildfire fighting position in the summer... Que sera sera... 

post #4 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rafiki View Post

I am in the annoying situation where being from the UK, the perfect job opportunities for me personally aren't available as i am not a citizen of the country i'd love to live...

Yeah, that's gonna be a problem. Hope it works out.
post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

Cheers man, I'm going out and doing it regardless and will just have to work it out - lifes too short and all that

post #6 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Lee View Post

First off, the work worlds and pay schedules are very different between instructors and patrollers. Instructors are paid only when they have a class or private to teach - no class, no pay and there is a seniority element to getting classes to teach. Tips may make up a significant portion of their pay. They pretty much work during the resort operating hours, and may take clinics (often unpaid) when they aren't teaching classes.

Patroller (the paid ones, there are a large number of volunteer patrol positions) get an hourly wage. Not much in the way of tips, though it does happen occasionally. They generally start work before the resort opens and end their day sometime after the resort closes to customers. That's so that they can get the mountain and themselves ready for customers in the morning and sweep and close the place down in the afternoon. And if there is a storm or a rescue or something like that they may have to start work very early or stay late. During the day they are responsible for customers' safety and medical responses, and do a lot of things like putting up ropes and signs and standing watch in strategic locations and maybe things like avalanche mitigation. Sort of a combination of ambulance and cop, but on skis (or snowboards).

So instructors and patrollers have significantly differently work days and schedules. Another thing that's different is that instructors' take home pay can vary widely from pretty bad to pretty good, depending on how many classes and what sort of tips they get. Patrollers pay is steadier, more of a forty-hour week sort of thing.

You aren't going to get rich doing either one. It can be a challenge financially.

And they're seasonal jobs - unless you have some sort of trust fund or something you're going to have a way to pay the bills during the off-season. Construction, fighting wildfires, commercial fishing, rafting or climbing guide, trail crew... Those sort of things.

As a patroller I make ends meet by having a retirement pension after over 30 years of fighting wildfire, and I do things like landscaping/yard work and movie work in the summer.

 

I have been both a patroller (unpaid) and an instructor.  Both jobs are fun and a great way to work on skis.  I make WAY more money as an instructor than the paid patrollers do and work a much shorter day.  I started out wanting to be a pro patroller at the big mountain.  As I got closer to being able to get the job, I got pulled into instructing and found that I enjoyed it more than patrolling.  I am not that huge a fan of being a medic, even though I am competent at it.  I feel like as an instructor I can have an occasional "off" day and no one is going to die.  This might not be the case for a patroller.  There is always the potential that you will have to respond to something very serious or even personally dangerous.  I truly can't believe how little patrollers are paid relative to the training and responsibility that the job requires to do well.  I made real money before tips last season.  My mortgage is getting paid for the entire year from what I made teaching skiing.  I don't think that holds true for the patrollers I know.  I definitely don't want to make less money myself, I wish that patrollers were paid more.

 

Edited to add that it took me several years of instruction (about 3) to start making enough money that it truly paid the bills.  Last season was my 8th full time season and I made really good money, but worked a lot of days.

 

If you are starting out, it will help to have money saved or a good paying second job. 

post #7 of 7
I should have been an instructor at a big name resort...except that can't ski very well.
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