TravelTravel Advice
Q:

How Can I Become a Ski Patroller?

I’m in my early 20s, and am a lifelong skier here in the East. How do I become a ski patroller?

If you love to ski and want to help people, become a ski patrol! (Photo: Rob Zabrowski/Shutterstock)
ski patrol ski mountains winter medicine emt

Throughout the pandemic, we'll keep publishing news to help you navigate the state of travel today (like whether travel insurance covers the coronavirus), as well as stories about places for you to put on your bucket list once it's safe to start going more far-flung.

A:

It’s easy enough to sign up for ski-patrol training and qualifying courses—provided you live near a resort mountain. The hard part: actually passing the test and earning the privilege of wearing one of those cool red jackets. Here’s how to make that happen.

EXPECT TO MAKE TENS OF DOLLARS
You won’t get rich ski-patrolling, and in many cases, it’s a volunteer position. It has its perks, though, like making first tracks on the mountain in the morning, cutting in front of everyone in the lift line, and, you know, saving lives.

MAKE SURE YOUR CPR CERTIFICATION IS UP TO DATE
CPR certification lasts for two years. If yours has expired, contact the American Heart Association in order to locate the nearest review course, so you can get it renewed. You won’t even be considered for ski patrol without it.

JOIN THE NATIONAL SKI PATROL
The 75-year-old NSP is the official professional organization for ski patrols in the U.S. It certifies patrollers and provides education and training for its members. Most importantly, if you pay the $70 annual dues to join, the cost to enroll in ski-patrol classes at your local resort will usually be discounted. The organization, created by Charles Minot Dole, the founder of the Army’s 10th Mountain Division, includes 28,000 members from 650 patrols.

CONTACT THE PATROL AT YOUR LOCAL RESORT
The expectations and qualifications for ski patrol members vary quite a bit at each mountain. You’ll need to be a decent skier or snowboarder, but not necessarily the second coming of Lindsey Vonn. The baseline qualifying course you’ll be expected to take is Outdoor Emergency Care. It’s administered by the NSP, focuses on medical training, and is usually given in the fall, one night a week for two or three months. If you pass the exam at the end of the course, some smaller resorts will consider you nearly fully qualified to become a patroller. Others—where the conditions and terrain are more dangerous and unpredictable—have more rigorous standards. Squaw Valley, for example, expects you to train for two years as a candidate before you can officially become a ski-patrol member.

Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.
Contribute to Outside
Filed To: Adventure AdviserSnow Sports
Lead Photo: Rob Zabrowski/Shutterstock
More Travel