Live the Dream: Ski Patroller

Classic dream jobs and the new rules for landing them

Sep 17, 2012
Outside Magazine
Ski patroller Shutterstock.

Ski patroller Shutterstock.    Photo: Michael Zysman

WHY IT'S GREAT: You’re on the slopes every day.

FIRST KNOW THIS: The hours are long, the weather can be extreme, and you’ll need an off-season job.

GET THE GIG: “Back in the day, you’d typically start as a liftie, then try out for patrol once you knew you could pass the tests: a first-aid card and a proven ability to ski,” says Arlene Cook, ski-patrol director at Idaho’s Schweitzer Mountain Resort. “The rest was on-the-job training.” That’s changed slightly: today, your best first move is to take technical classes, such as the Standard Level 1 Avalanche course, Outdoor Emergency Care, and Mountain Travel and Rescue. Of course, you’ll still need to move through the ranks. Don’t be surprised if after four years you’re still the new guy—but snagging more days on the mountain in one season than most people do in a decade.

START HERE: The National Ski Patrol lists courses and the mountains they operate on at

SALARY: Minimum wage for beginners; $10,000 per winter for tenured patrollers.