Europe is world-renowned for some of its ski resorts. A number of the resorts attract royalty and movie stars to their slopes year after year. Every snow season, thousands of people are required to fill ski jobs in Europe. From ski lift operators to chalet staff to ski and snowboard instructors, the resorts require staff so they run smoothly and efficiently. In this post I will run you through the countries where ski jobs are available. The type of jobs you could get, visa requirements and qualifications require. Plus provide contacts so you can find a job. It will be your ski Europe resource. Without further ado, here’s how to find a job in a European ski resort.
Why Work a Season in a European Ski Resort?
Every winter thousands of people of all ages head to the snow to spend their winter in a European ski resort. Doing a season can be life changing. It will become a time you never forget. You may make friends you will keep for the rest of your life. There are many reasons to do a season. You may love the snow and have always wanted to work there. Or you may just want to try something different as you work and travel the world. Whatever your reason, get ready to live, work and play in Europe and hopefully, have the time of your life.
Which European countries can you Work and Ski?
The most popular European countries with ski areas are Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Spain and Andorra. Within these countries are plenty of ski resorts that require staff. Have a look at the map following showing where some of the ski resorts are that you could work and ski.
Visa Requirements to find a Ski Job in Europe
There are three legal options that allow you to work in Europe. Firstly, if you are from an European Union (EU) Member State you can legally live and work in any other EU Member State. For more details visit the official EU website. If you are not from Europe, don’t despair, as you may qualify for a working holiday visa or a work permit.
Working Holiday Visas for Non-EU Citizens
If you are from a country outside the EU find out if your country has a working holiday visa available with one of the European countries where the ski resorts are. Here’s an overview. Please note, contact your nearest Embassy or Consulate for more details and to apply.
- Austria has a 12 month working holiday visa available for people aged 18 to 30 years from Hong Kong, New Zealand, South Korea and Taiwain. And there is a youth exchange program for Canadian citizens.
- France has a 12 month working holiday visa available to citizens aged 18 to 30 years from Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia (4 months) and Taiwain.
- Germany has a 12 month working holiday visa available to citizens aged 18 to 30 years from Australia, Brazil, Canada (18 to 35 years), Chile, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and Taiwan.
- Italy has a 12 month working holiday visa available to citizens aged 18 to 30 years from Australia, Canada (18 to 35 years), New Zealand and South Korea.
- Spain has a 12 month working holiday visa available to citizens aged 18 to 30 years from Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
- Switzerland has a 12 month Youth Mobility Program with Canadian students aged 18 to 35 years.
- Principality of Andorra has a 12 month working holiday visa available to Australian citizens aged 18 to 30 years.
Work Permit to work in a European Ski Resort
Work permits are issued to those who find a position sponsored by an employer. Many resorts will sponsor qualified ski and snowboard instructors to work for them as this is a specialised area. If you find an employer who will sponsor you they should take care of the paperwork.
When is the Ski Season in Europe?
The European ski season runs from November through to April but this depends on the ‘white stuff’. Snow may fall early, or it may fall late and the season will be extended. Some resorts have year-round snow and are always open and require staff. During the summer months many resorts are open to cater to the mountain bike and hiking crowds.
Types of Jobs in European Ski Resorts
Ski resorts offer many services and facilities to their clientele. In turn, they require staff to ensure their services and facilities run smoothly and efficiently. Jobs can include but are not limited to:
Food and beverage: chefs, bar staff, waiting staff (including silver service), kitchen staff (dish washers, salad preparers, etc.), and fast food service.
Hospitality: bartending, waiting, housekeeping (chalet staff), room service, bellhops, drivers.
Office: reception, reservations, word processing, payroll, marketing.
Retail: sales assistants, cashiers.
Ski rental customer service, file, wax and mend skis.
Other: ski lift operators, attendants, technicians, ticket sellers, nannies, medical staff, public parking attendants, snowmakers, groomers, shovellers, rescuers.
Ski and Snowboard Instructors
Mending a ski – this could be you!
TIP: Don’t apply for ‘any job’, apply for a specific position.
Qualifications and Experience Required to Work in a European Ski Resort
You can classify jobs in a European ski resort into two areas. Those that require qualifications such as Ski and Snowboard Instructors. Then those that don’t such as staff working in the bars, hotels, restaurants, ski hire, selling ski lift tickets, nannying and in the retail shops.
On saying that, having a qualification will allow you to find a specific job. This could be hotel management, maintaining the ski equipment, child care or a medical qualification to be the resorts doctor or nurse. However, experience is often the best thing you can have to find a job in a resort. It is preferred you have some experience in the field of employment where you are seeking a position. Such as pulling beers and mixing drinks to work in a bar. Making coffee to work in a coffee shop. Waiting tables to work in a restaurant. Reception experience to check in and out guests. Knowledge how to fit boots in the ski hire shop. Employers aren’t always interested in training travellers as they know you may only stay for one season. Some of the luxury resorts may not even consider you without extensive experience or a formal qualification. A friendly personality is a must as you will be encountering many people from all walks of life.
Do you need to speak the local language to get a job in Europe?
Many of the resorts may require you to speak the local language however, this will depend on how much interaction you will be having with the visitors to the resort. If you are checking guests in a French resort with a clientele that is mostly French, then yes, you would need to speak French. However, many nationalities visit the ski resorts and so speaking a variety of languages, including English, German or Spanish will help you get a job. And if you are working in a kitchen with limited contact to visitors then not speaking the local language wouldn’t be a hindrance.
About the Work in a European Ski Resort
All people who come to the resorts in Europe to work and ski come because they want the chance to ski almost every day for five months on some of the best slopes in the world. To be able to do this, you most likely need to work. Now the work can be hard with early starts and late nights. All the while never losing your enthusiasm or your smile, even when you’ve skied until nightfall and danced until dawn! But remember, you are there to work and need to balance your work and play, otherwise, you may not have any work.
There can also be different stages you will go through during your stay. There is the initial excitement about working in the snow. Mid-way through you can get ‘cabin fever’ if you are in a secluded resort. Lastly you can be sad with the season coming to a close and the uncertainty as to when the season might end if the snow continues to fall.
Shovelling Snow – One job you could get in a ski resort – as long as you can work and ski – who cares what job you do!
How to Find a Position in a European Ski Resort
So to get a job in a ski resort in Europe firstly decide on the country you want to work, then decide on the resort area. Then you can start applying to find a position in a European ski resort.
There are a number of ways to find a ski job. The first way I would start my search is to obtain copies of ski travel brochures which will provide details on the resorts plus the services like coffee shops, hairdressing, etc. they offer, as well as information on accommodation. Use the information from the brochure to target prospective employers. Each resort will have their own website, some even have a specific portal or area where they list jobs that you can apply for. For instance, Espace Saisonnier is an office set up especially for seasonal workers to find employment in Chamoix in France. Most of the resorts have something similar.
Other ways to find employment is to visit some specific and useful ski employments websites. I have some listed at the end of this post. Lastly, you can just turn up in the ski resort and ask around if there are any positions going. However, you may need to find your own accommodation until something comes up. Sometimes people leave a few weeks into their employment as life in the resort may not have been what they were expecting and employers may need to fill the position.
What’s included for you if you get a job?
If you get a job you will receive a wage for your work. Some employers provide accommodation, usually with other staff and you may get meals while on duty. You may also be given free or reduced cost ski lift pass and free or reduced cost of ski rental equipment. But it depends on the employer as to the benefits they provide.
Where to Work and Ski in Europe – Which country? Which resort?
The main ski and snowboard areas in Europe are in the countries of Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Spain and Andorra. Here is a quick rundown on where you could be working and skiing in Europe next season.
Work and Ski in Austria
Lech, Austria – a place to work and ski
For skiers, Austria offers a mix of old-world charm, chalet- studded villages, lift-linked ski areas, lively mountain huts, rustic wood-panelled restaurants and exciting nightlife and après-ski. It is also a country where hospitality is deemed as important as great skiing. In fact, Austrians go out of their way to make visitors feel at home. All this makes Austria one of the skiing capitals of the world and an exciting place to work.
The Alps cover most of Austria so there are plenty of ski resorts to find work in. Some of them are world-renowned including Kitzbuhel where you find Hahnenkamm racecourse, the most challenging on the World Cup circuit. Also world-renowned is Innsbruck where the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics were held. Contrary to some expectations, Innsbruck is not an alpine ski village but a bustling city of over one hundred thousand inhabitants. It is nestled into a narrow valley beneath rugged mountain peaks making it an excellent destination for those who seek a European experience.
The Austrian Alps have three major ski areas: the Northern Limestone Alps, the High Alps and the Southern Limestone Alps. The Northern Limestone Alps have many natural valleys and are home of resorts such as Lech, St. Anton and Kitzbuhl. While the High Alps are anchored by the Oetztal resorts of Sölden and Obergurgl and stretch to Innsbruck. Here you will find Brenner Pass and Grossglockner famous for their road, tunnel and bridge engineering which allows traffic to move north to south and vice versa. Finally, the Southern Limestone Alps form the border with Italy and Slovenia. All these areas offer lots of snow and are great places to work and ski.
Work and Ski in France
The French have been on the slopes for a long time. This is reflected in the fact that many of the modern French resorts have been purpose-built for skiing. This means entire villages such as Avoriaz, Tignes, Courchevel, Flaine, La Plagne and Les Arcs have been created with skiing uppermost in the designers’ minds. The result has been thousands of apartments and hotels that offer visitors the convenience of walking out their door, stepping into their skis and skiing some of the most extensive slopes in the world. In addition, the après-ski life is great and the food and wine reflect France at its best. With all that is on offer, there is a variety of jobs to be found.
France has two main ski areas, the Alps and the Pyrenees. The French Alps have some world renowned resorts including Alpe d’Huez, Chamonix, Chamrousse, Les Portes du Soleil, Les Trois Vallées (Courchevel, Les Ménuires, Méribel, Val Thorens), Saint Gervais, Tignes and Val d’Isère to name a few. While the Pyrnees are home to Bareges/La Mongie, Les Angles, Luz-Ardiden, Saint Lary-Soulan and Superbagneres/Luchon.
READ MORE: France Working Holiday
Work and Ski in Germany
It’s a lot flatter in Germany – great for cross country skiing
Germany is a rather flat country compared to its neighbours Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland. Thus skiing in this country and finding employment, isn’t as popular as the other European ski countries. Most employers prefer EU passport holders only and prefer you have at least A level French or German. For those from Australia or New Zealand without an EU passport, Germany could be a good option as these two countries have reciprocal working holiday arrangements with Germany. Germany has two main ski areas: Garmisch-Partenkirchen on the Austrian border and the spa resort of Oberstdorf in the Bavarian Mountains south of Kempten.
READ MORE: Germany Working Holiday
Work and Ski in Italy
Enjoy a Chianti or Two in the Italian Alps
Italy has some fantastic skiing areas thanks to the Dolomite Ranges, often considered the most spectacular ski mountain area in the world. Italy also has Mont Blanc. The highest mountain in Europe straddling the French-Italian border and the Matterhorn on the Swiss-Italian border.
Working in the Italian ski resorts will allow you to enjoy not only the skiing but the Italian way of skiing. It could be said that no one takes skiing seriously in Italy. Italians are known to enjoy long lunches between 1pm and 3pm and ski around this pleasant time of the day.
Italy’s ski areas spread from the French border in the west to The Dolomites in the east. Languages spoken in various ski areas include French, German and of course, Italian. As many of the resorts are owned and operated by European companies it will depend on who owns them as to what language will be spoken. For instance, in the French-owned and operated resorts you would expect to predominantly find French people staying. Thus the ability to speak French would be a great advantage to you obtaining work. If you only speak English you may be luckier finding a position through one of the establishments aimed at English speaking visitors.
There are a number of resorts including Alagna Valsesia, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Gressoney, Madonna di Campiglio, Santa Caterina and Val Tournenche to name a few.
READ MORE: Italy Working Holiday
Work and Ski in Switzerland
Arrive in style to Work and Ski in Switzerland
For many, Switzerland ‘is the Alps’ and the Alps is ‘skiing in Europe’. However, only part of the Alps is in Switzerland, but as the heart of the Alps and the home of Alpine skiing, Switzerland deserves all its superlatives. Its skiing is excellent. Resorts efficient. Tourist offices well organised. Lift systems well run and its hotels exceptional. All good news for those wanting to holiday in, or seek employment in the ski resorts.
Switzerland has four official languages: German, Italian, French and Romansh and it is preferred you have some basic to extensive knowledge of one or more of these.
Switzerland has some of the most famous ski resorts including Andermatt, Château d’Oex, Crans-Montana, Davos, Engelberg, Flims – Laax, Grindelwald, Gstaad, Interlaken/Jungfrau region, Klosters, Les Portes du Soleil, Montreux, St. Moritz, Verbier, Villars, Wengen and Zermatt. What a buzz it would be to work and ski in these resorts.
Work and Ski in Spain
Ensure your boots fit to avoid blisters
Skiing is rarely the first thing that springs to mind when thinking of travelling to Spain. Most go armed with sunscreen and swim wear rather than ski suits and snow goggles! But Spain does have some fantastic ski resorts where skiers go to avoid the crowd, commercialism and extortionate prices of some of the popular resorts in France, Austria, Italy and Switzerland. As Spanish ski resorts attract mainly Spanish clientele being able to understand and speak Spanish will be a great advantage when applying for jobs.
In many cases the resorts are only a couple of hours away from some of the famous beach-side resorts of the Costa del Sol. If you don’t find work in a ski resort you may find work here and then commute to the ski fields to ski. An indoor ski resort Xanadu, that is open all year round, is in Madrid so you could definitely have an endless winter even during the middle of summer if you found work here.
The majority of Spain’s ski resorts are to be found in the Pyrenees (Aragon and Catalonian Pyrenees) bordering France and Andorra. However, there are a number of resorts in the southern part of the country around Sierra Nevada. The oldest ski resort in Spain is La Molina.
Work and Ski in Andorra
Enjoy the party atmosphere when skiing in Andorra
Andorra is a tiny principality nestled between France and Spain and takes up an area of just 450 square kilometres. It provides an alternative for a ski holiday away from the busier slopes of France, Austria, Switzerland and Italy. It is famous for its duty free shopping, quality skiing and its very lively apres ski scene so if you are looking to party hard this may be the place for you.
The resorts can be found in Arinsal, Encamp, Pal, Pas de la Case and Soldeu el Tarter. The official language of Andorra is Catalan, but many Andorrans also speak Spanish and/or French. So a grasp of the local language will help you in your job search.
Resources to find a ski job in Europe
Specialist ski companies that own their own resorts in Europe include:
Crystal Holidays, Flexiski, Inghams, Mark Warner, Neilson Ski, PGL, Powder Byrne, Simply Ski and Snowcoach. I am sure there are many more so if you know of any please leave their details in the comments following.
And don’t forget, you can contact the resorts directly through their websites.
Final words on working and skiing Europe
As you have read, Europe has some world-renowned ski resorts. And they require staff to help them run smoothly and efficiently. If you would like to ski for 5 months while playing and working hard, then get a job in a European ski resort. If you have worked and skied Europe I would love to hear in the comments following.