How to Become a Ski Patroller

Cori Gramms
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First Things First

So, you have your ski patroller training, and you’re ready to hit the slopes. But where do you begin?

How can you become a ski patroller? Where do you get your first ski patroller job? Where do you work? What are the benefits of being a ski patroller? And how much is the salary?

These are just some of the questions that I’m often asked. And, while I can’t answer all your questions, this article will give you some insight and an inside view of what it’s really like to be a ski patroller.

Don’t Do It For the Money

Being a ski patroller is hard work. You’ll have to get up early, often do everyone else’s work, and give up your weekends. Patrolling at a ski resort is sometimes considered a means for skiers and snowboarders to pay their bills. You’ll regularly have to make decisions that turn out to be unpopular, and 85 % of the time, people hate you.

Despite these challenges, ski patrollers do not earn a lot of money. In fact, their earnings are considerably lower than that of the US average. Where ski patrollers' average hourly wage is $15.79, the US average is $26.94. A similar trend exists for average annual income. Patrollers, on average, earn $28,557 a year, but the average American will receive an annual earning of $51,916.27.

Nonetheless, not all ski patrollers make the same amount. Differences in salary exist according to location, time of year, experience and qualifications, and job responsibilities.

Receive Training and Get Certified

Ski patrollers are often referred to as "the Ambulance of the Mountain," and all ski patrollers must be trained before entering the profession. This is for the welfare of the patroller and all other people who come to use the ski resort area.

If you want to become a ski patroller and live in the United States, look for schools in different areas so that you can choose the one that is most convenient for you to get to. Please note that it is important that you attend an accredited school. The National Ski Patrol (NSP) has certified schools and programs available in almost all the ski resorts scattered across the continent.

Other training includes getting mentally and physically prepared for the job. A ski patroller is expected to lift at least 100 pounds! You also need training to develop expert-level skiing skills. You will need to be able to ski on all terrains and all tracks in any weather condition.

After completing the training at a National Ski Patrol’s school, you will obtain an Outdoor Emergency Care certification or an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) license.

Additionally, ski patrollers must have valid CPR and First Aid certificates. Bear in mind that you will need to complete bi-annual refresher courses to maintain each certification.

Contact Your Ski Resort

Once you are familiar with the training and testing, it is recommended that you visit your local ski resorts. Talk with their professional ski patrollers about how to get an apprenticeship. You will be able to build your contacts early on while you are waiting to get certified.

You can ask the ski patroller-in-charge if he or she can include you in a trail crew assigning you some work to do, like grooming or moving lift towers. This is a great way to get on-the-job training, even though you will not be renumerated for this work.

Becoming a volunteer also gives you an opportunity to walk in the shoes of a ski patroller and receive first-hand experience with all the duties and responsibilities of this profession. For some, it might not be as glamorous as they previously thought. This will save them time, effort, and money before they start the training process.

However, there will be many volunteers that thoroughly enjoy their first-hand experience. Volunteering is certainly not a waste of time, as volunteers can prove their capabilities, often leading to a paying ski patrol position.

Final Thoughts

Be sure to enjoy yourself out there and get home in one piece! It’s very rewarding, challenging, and fulfilling to be a ski patroller – I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone if I didn’t think they could do it!

With that said, this isn’t an easy life. It’s can be stressful at times and can be a very demanding position. You’ll come to realize that although it’s perceived as a dream job, it’s really just a job and requires extremely hard work. If you’re thinking about it, I’d ask you to make sure that you’re committed to the ski area and to make it your life because you love it and enjoy it.