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Best Ski Season Jobs to Make Money for Thru-Hiking

Best Ski Season Jobs to Make Money for Thru-Hiking

You’ve just finished a thru-hike and you want to thru-hike next year…but you need more funds.  If you want a job that expects you to come in the fall and quit in the spring, you’ll need to know how to get the best ski season jobs!

I’ve worked seasonal jobs for 6 winters and 2 summers at ski resorts and those ski season jobs paid for my thru-hikes.  I’ll share my tips and tricks to getting you a great ski bum job until your next thru-hike.

Why push your thru-hike off another year when you can work seasonal jobs?  It’s the best of both worlds…you get to adventure all winter working and then go thru-hike in the summer!

Why Ski Bum Jobs Are Perfect for Thru-Hikers

Two skiers happy on a mountain.
Winter Adventuring

Ski bum jobs are PERFECT for thru-hikers. 

First, they expect you to arrive in the fall after your thru-hike.

Second, they expect you to quit in the spring when the ski season ends!

No more lying to potential employers about how long you’re looking to work. 

Moreover, you’ll get to ski for your entertainment ALL WINTER.  On average during my 6 winters, I skied 4-5 days a week the ENTIRE winter!  One season, I even put down 110 days skiing.

What if you don’t ski?  This is the perfect opportunity to learn!  You can pick up some hand-me-down gear and spend the winter learning a new sport.

Lastly, I’ve found that skiing 4-5 days a week kept me in great shape for starting a thru-hike.  Skiing and snowboarding are fantastic at building or maintaining those important leg muscles we use thru-hiking!

The KEY to Making Enough Money for a Thru-Hike

A skier putting their feet up after working two of the best ski season jobs.
In the Gondola

I’ll let you in on my secret to making enough money in ONE ski season for a full thru-hike…

Get 2 jobs! 

However, the underlying secret is to get one ski season job with employee housing and a second one with a free ski pass.

That way, you’ll get discounted housing (housing can be $$$$ at ski resorts) and you’ll get a free ski pass (also $$$$).  And, they’ll be perks of your jobs!

You can get a single job that gives you both discounted housing and a free ski pass, but they usually won’t pay as well.  If you go this route, you’ll need to get a second job with tips!

How to Get a Job at a Ski Resort

Woman skier in the trees with fresh powder
Skiing Tree Powder

The BEST way to get a job at a ski resort is to have housing.

Yes, it can be a bit of a conundrum.  If you’re aiming to get a job with employee housing and the best way is to already have it…what do you do?

First, find all the potential jobs you can that have employee housing as an option.  Get one of these.  You’ll want to look for them between August – November. 

Ski season jobs prefer to have their winter employees locked down in August-October, however, they’re becoming more and more shorthanded.  That means, you can slide in later and later to those last-minute openings. 

Many ski resorts are housed under Vail Resorts. You can find their job listings here.

IT IS HELPFUL to show up in person.  If you’re road tripping around after your thru-hike, show up in person and ask about jobs and housing.  If you’re right in front of an employer, they’ll be more likely to take you on instead of that a random person online.    

Some of the best ski season jobs are starting to pay more as incentives to stay the whole winter.

Once you have a job with housing, move in and THEN search for your second job.  By the time you move in, most full-time jobs will be filled. 

How to Get a Second Job at A Ski Resort

Now, you have one ski season job with housing.  You’ll need a second to make the money you’ll want for another thru-hike.

In, November and December, jobs a ski resorts are looking to fill part-time positions

If you apply for a part-time position in person and say you already live there, that automatically shots you to the top of their list!

What Type of Second Job Should You Look for?

This depends on your first job.

If your first job is outside working on the mountain, look for a second job inside.  This could go vice versa as well.

A lot of jobs that include housing pay less because they consider the discount on housing part of your pay.

You’ll therefore want to look for a job that can bring in more money.  These often include jobs with tips…restaurants, coffee shops, concierges, drivers etc.

And, make sure one of your jobs gives you a free ski pass.  That alone is worth a huge perk!

The best ski season jobs for your second job are ones that pay/have a major perk, and a small time commitment.

Common Ski Season Jobs

On Mountain JobsIn-Town Jobs
Ski InstructorRetail – Sales Associate
Lift OperatorRetail – Manager
Ski PatrolRestaurant – Host/Hostess
Safety PatrolRestaurant – Server
Ticket ScannerRestaurant – Bartender
Ski Concierge Retail – Boot Fitter
Restaurant – On MountainRetail – Ski Rental
Retail – On MountainHotel – Front Desk
Hotel – Hospitality
Shuttle Driver

Which Jobs Pay the Most?

Snowboarder going through fresh snow
Freshies All Day

Most jobs working for the ski resort itself pay the least.  Unless the full-time ski resort job is giving you discounted housing and a ski pass, don’t get it!

Look at jobs in the town or village around the ski resort.  Jobs that are independent of the resort usually pay more! (These are usually the best ski season jobs!)

Jobs with tips usually pay the most.  These include restaurants, ski instructor jobs, driving, ski concierge, spas, etc.

Don’t be afraid to look into the retail jobs at resorts either.  They’ll offer steady pay and be inside in the coldest weather.  Some will even have commissions if you’re a good salesperson. 

Basically, make sure you mix up your jobs.  It’s good to have a change of pace.  I worked a retail position with housing outside of the resort and a hospitality job part-time with the resort.  This enabled me cheaper housing, a ski pass, and plenty of time to save for thru-hiking.

Ski Season Jobs for Adventure Lovers

Woman skier shredding powder.
Fresh Pow All Day

If retail and restaurants bore you, consider looking into a few different opportunities.

Ski/Snowboard Instructor: You’ll definitely have your hands full teaching others to ski.  It will get you on the mountain often and in all kinds of weather conditions.

Ski Patrol: If you’ve already got a WFR or you’re an EMT and you’re a competent skier, this is the job for you.  It will pay decently and the job will shift daily depending on the patients.

Snowmobile Guide: If you know what you’re doing on a snowmobile, look around at companies near a ski resort.  It’s one of the best ski season jobs if you have the skills ahead of time. 

Snowshoeing or Skate Skiing Guide: At some resorts, you’ll have opportunities to snowshoe or skate ski.  Check around the resorts for these jobs.

Bonus Tricks to Save More Money

The best way to make more money is to spend less money.

Therefore, while you’re working your 2 ski season jobs, spend as little money as possible.

First, ski resorts can have a similar vibe to college towns.  There is the opportunity to go drinking any day of the week.  Because most ski season jobs require you to work on weekends, your friends will have all different days off in the week.  Going to the bars often will drain your hard-earned savings for your thru-hike.

Second, you’ll be tempted to eat out frequently going from skiing to your first job, then your next job.  Try to spend a few hours once a week doing meal prep.  The best ski season jobs have break rooms with microwaves.  Keep your costs down by cooking.

➡️ If you combine those two tips, you’ll save a lot more money for your next thru-hike. 

Remember: Skiing/snowboarding is your main source of entertainment, not the local bars.

Getting the Best Ski Season Jobs for You: Final Thoughts

Two skiers enjoying the snow working the best ski season jobs.
Bluebird Day!

What can be better than skiing all winter and hiking all summer?  Not much!

If you’re ready to put your nose to the grindstone, I’ve found working 2 jobs at a ski resort can free you to thru-hike on a regular basis. 

Working ski season jobs can get you away from the 9-5 grind, let you save money, and live an adventurous lifestyle.

I hope this post helps you narrow down the best ski season jobs for you.  Remember: you’re working hard to save money fast.  Even if you don’t love the job, it’s only for 4-6 months.  I you complete the season, you can use that as a recommendation for the following year to try something new.

While you’re saving up money, you can use this post to prepare for your next thru-hike.

As they say in ski towns, “My life is your vacation!”


Wednesday 1st of November 2023

Now you have me thinking lol. This could work towards retirement too if I want to work half the year in my late 50s and slow the grind.


Thursday 2nd of November 2023

Definitely! The possibilities are endless when you think a little differently. Mini retirements are totally possible. You could also pick up a job to supplement your retirement. Or, retire a little early and use smaller seasonal jobs to supplement yourself until social security kicks in.


Wednesday 1st of November 2023

Super informative, thank you for sharing your experience and advice!


Wednesday 1st of November 2023

Of course! Thank you for reading 😊. I hope it helps!

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