How to Become a Ski Patroller

Ski Patrol is one of the most coveted and important ski resort jobs. They provide an invaluable service to everyone who skis at their mountain. So much so that your safety and life can literally be in their hands. Patrollers have a tremendous responsibility to keep everyone safe and out of danger. That is why so many young skiers aspire to join their ranks.

While many skiers dream of becoming patrollers, it is not an easy position to get. It takes a lot of training and, while you do get to hit the slopes a lot, it doesn’t pay that well. Only pursue the career if you truly have a deep love of skiing and wish to aid others.

To help you decide if being a patroller is right for you, this guide will analyze the different requirements and show you the best way to get them under your belt.

First Things First

In order to become a ski patroller, you have to be one of the best skiers on the mountain. Seriously. As you must rescue people from tough situations, you need to be able to ski anywhere under any condition.

Sometimes you may also have to brave such conditions with a hurt skier attached to your waist by a sled. The job demands the skills and abilities of an expert skier. Without them, you won’t be able to save those in need.

If you’re just learning how to ski and want to become a patroller someday, you need to start skiing as often as you can. The more experience you have, the better you will become. Make skiing your life.

Try to catch as many runs as you can in a day and always work on your technique. Ski with other skilled skiers to challenge and push yourself each and every day.

Don’t Do It for the Money

Another thing to note before you get started is that you should never become a ski patroller for the money. Patrollers do not get rich doing their job.

In fact, they make pretty low wages that are sometimes barely enough for rent in the ski towns where they work. That’s a simple reality of the profession. While I would fully support paying patrollers more money, it is a traditionally low-paying job.

You need to have a passion for the profession. You need to live, eat, and breathe skiing. On top of that, you must be willing to take other people’s lives into your hands.

Becoming a ski patroller is a valiant pursuit. You’re going to perform heroic tasks and save lives. However, understand that you won’t be rewarded with a hefty bank account.

Get Your Certifications

Ski patrollers must get the proper first aid certifications to apply for the job. Because you are going to be dealing with life-threatening situations, you must be highly qualified.

Certifications are a requirement to become a patroller, and they can be achieved through different courses and classes.

Common certifications that ski patrollers must get are the National Ski Patrol’s Outdoor Emergency Care cert and a CPR certification of some kind.

The National Ski Patrol certification is designed specifically for patrollers and includes a bunch of different training that can directly be applied to the job. EMT certifications are sometimes accepted as well if you’re coming from that profession into the ski industry.

These certifications will provide you with the proper medical training to address any and all situations you might find yourself in as a ski patroller.

It is paramount that patrollers stay up to date on their certifications so they know the most accurate and effective methods to treat injuries and address other intense situations they are sure to find themselves.

Contact Your Ski Resort

After you’ve gained an expert-level skiing ability and have completed your medical certifications, you can go talk to your local ski resort about available ski patroller positions.

It’s a good idea to reach out to the resort before the season starts, even in the summer, to make sure they are hiring and that you have a possible job opportunity. Some resorts fill their positions up quickly every year, so the earlier the better.

Sometimes resorts will even want to see your skiing abilities before considering you for a job. You might want to inquire about the area you want to work for the winter prior to working so you can demonstrate your abilities.

This is a good opportunity to meet other ski patrollers and develop a relationship with the other employees you might work with or report to.

Get Trained

After you inquire with your local ski area, they will decide whether you are a qualified potential candidate and will either offer you a ski patrol job or not.

If they do, congratulations, you are now very close to holding one of the most important positions on the mountain. However, you still need to go through training specific to the mountain you will work at.

This training typically occurs every year and familiarizes patrollers with the particular needs and requirements of the mountain.

You’ll learn daily responsibilities and brush up on your first aid. You will conduct or learn about the avalanche concerns and requirements as well.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, becoming a ski patroller is not a simple process. It requires expert skiing ability, and you must also be highly trained and qualified.

Even though ski patrollers do not make a lot of money, it’s an important and respectable job. Ski patrollers are the heroes of the mountain. Without them, none of us would be able to ski as often as we do.

Do you know anyone who works as a ski patroller? How long have they held the position and where do they work? Let us know in the comments below.

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  • John Eckle

    I’m a volunterr patroller at Heavenly. I’m 61 yrs old, and wrapping up my 10th year on the mountain as a patroller.

    • Christine

      Hi John,

      That’s so cool you’ve been doing volunteer patrolling for so long. I’m sure it’s very rewarding and a lot of fun. Hope you are getting stoked for winter!