Types of job
It is worth taking some time to consider the different jobs that are available and deciding which one you feel you would be most suited to. Some pointers to think about are:
- Are you handy in the kitchen and enjoy entertaining friends and family on a regular basis? Do you want to work on your own or as part of a small team/couple with your own responsibilities? If so, consider chalet work.
- If this appeals to you but you don’t feel that you have sufficient catering skills at the moment, consider doing a Cookery Course in advance or apply for a chalet assistant role
- If you have catering or hospitality experience but would like to work as part of a bigger team, then maybe a hotel position would suit you.
- If you want to use your language skills or have a strong customer service and/or management background, take a look at resort rep or manager jobs or consider applying to French run companies where your language skills will be necessary.
- If you want to have a sociable time AND get plenty time on the hill, have a look for bar work positions. (NB. Bar work is extremely sought after so prior experience is necessary).
- If you want to use your season to boost your career, then look at overseas office jobs such as accountancy, IT, operational support etc
- If you have a qualification in child care or catering you will find that there are many options in your line of work to choose from with varying degrees of responsibility depending on what you’re after
For more details on what the some of the most commonly advertised positions actually involve, see below:
(NB. Salary levels noted are purely guidelines and only refer to the basic wage)
- Minimum age: 18 years
- Duties: Assisting the Chalet Host or Chef in larger chalets (12 beds +) with meal preparation and serving and clearing at meal times. Your principal role will be maintaining the cleanliness of the chalet, making beds, cleaning bathrooms etc and ensuring guests receive a high level of service.
- Skills Required: Catering experience is useful but not always necessary whilst service industry experience is expected; good organisation and attention to detail and a sociable and chatty personality. **See Cookery Courses**
- Salary: From £60 per week plus tips
- Minimum age: 18 years
- Duties: Responsible for preparing and cooking breakfast, afternoon tea and a 3 or 4 course dinner for up to 12 guests, 6 nights a week. Food is generally expected to be of dinner party standard so previous catering experience is essential. You will also be in charge of the daily cleaning of the chalet to ensure it’s spotless at all times, deal with basic weekly admin and look after the general welfare of your guests.
- Skills Required: Cooking experience, good organisation and attention to detail, sociable and chatty. **See Cookery Courses**
- Salary: £60 - £100 per week, plus tips
- Minimum age: If you have an appropriate qualification and/or a proven ability to cook then it is worth applying regardless of age.
- Duties: Working in a large chalet, hotel or restaurant you will be expected to produce high quality meals within a given budget (including childrens food and special diets etc). You may have to create your menu from scratch or work to a set menu provided by your employer. You will also be responsible for kitchen hygiene and cleanliness and (depending on the level of position) all food ordering, stock control and staff management.
- Skills required: a recognised catering qualification (eg NVQ, City & Guilds), experience working in a professional kitchen, creativity, team player, excellent hygiene standards.
- Salary: Varies greatly depending on your experience and the size of property you are in. As a guideline £180 upwards per week, plus tips, but some companies also offer an end of season bonus based on successful budget and stock management and customer feedback.
Childcare Staff or Nanny
- Minimum age: 18 years
- Duties: Depending on your qualifications you can either work in a crèche or children’s club. Qualified nannies tend to work with the babies and young children in the crèche whilst non-qualified but experienced staff work with the older children in the clubs. Both jobs are demanding and don’t allow you much time to ski but they can be great fun if you’re off out playing in the snow when everyone else is cleaning! You will also be expected to keep your work environment safe and spotless at all times and there is also quite a bit of paperwork to complete and strict procedures to follow.
- Skills required: NNEB or equivalent qualification for nannies and proven experience and good references for children’s reps. A fun and friendly personality is a must and diplomacy skills come in handy for dealing with over-protective parents! Most companies will also ask you to provide a police check to prove that you have no previous criminal convictions.
- Salary: £100 per week, plus tips
- Minimum age: 21 years
- Duties: Meet and greet new arrivals at the airport on transfer day and then ferry guests between their accommodation and the ski slopes each morning and evening. Moving staff and supplies around resort (or sometimes inter-resort) and then taking guests back to the airport at the end of their stay. You will also be expected to keep your vehicle safe and secure at all times and keep it in a clean and serviceable manner. There are now many companies in the Alps that offer resort to airport transfers and so the demand for full time drivers can be high. Hours can be long and road conditions very difficult at times, but you can generally get quite a bit of time on the hill.
- Skills required: Full, clean driving licence held for at least 2 years, good stamina for the long and often unsocial hours on the road, flexibility.
- Salary: £100 per week
- Minimum age: 25 years
- Duties: Responsible for the efficient running of a hotel which may vary in size from 40 – 250 beds. This includes guest service, weekly accounts, budgeting, stock control, problem solving, staff management, setting and maintenance of cleaning and service standards and local supplier liaison.
- Skills required: Previous hotel and/or hospitality management experience and preferably good language skills.
- Salary: Varies depending on size of property but generally from £200 per week, plus performance bonus.
- Minumum age: 18 years
- Duties: General hosts are responsible for room cleaning and front of house meal service. Other hotel positions include kitchen porter, responsible for washing up and assisting the chefs with basic food preparation, and night porter, ensuring the hotel is secure overnight and has a number of cleaning and breakfast preparation duties to carry out whilst on shift.
- Skills required: Good customer service skills, stamina and some hospitality experience is helpful.
- Salary: From £60 per week, plus pooled tips.
Maintenance or Handyman
- Minimum age: 21 years
- Duties: The list can be long and varied for the maintenance man! Ranging from general building repairs, blocked toilets, painting and decorating, basic electrical and plumbing tasks (depending on skills) and snow clearing. Change over day can be an absolute nightmare! If you have maintenance skills in a ski resort, you will never be short of work for long!
- Skills required: A trade eg. electrician, plumber, carpenter etc or general “handy” experience. You may be required to bring your own tools and have a clean driving licence.
- Salary: £100 per week
Resort Manager & Rep
- Minimum age: 21 years
- Duties: Responsible for the overall smooth running of the resort, you will oversee all aspects of the guests' holiday, including; accommodation, organising lift passes, ski lessons and equipment hire, co-ordinating airport transfers, acting as a source of local information and dealing with all aspects of guest and staff welfare. Being a rep/manager is a varied and challenging role which will require you to work long hours and at times, take the heat for things that aren’t your fault. There is also a considerable amount of paperwork to complete each week with resort accounts, weekly reports, health & safety checks, loss and injury forms etc that must all be completed in a timely and accurate fashion. You will also have regular dealings with the local suppliers.
- Skills required: Good language skills, customer service and management experience, stamina, ability to work under pressure and problem solve and excellent organisation skills.
- Salary: £150 - £300 plus commission from local sales
If you have set your heart on being a ski instructor for the season then you are going to need a qualification first, so plan ahead! There are a number of organisations that offer ski and snowboard instructor courses, either for the budding teacher or for those who simply want to see a dramatic improvement in their own ski ability. A basic qualification will generally take 5 days but if you are planning on teaching professionally then ensure that your chosen course provides an internationally recognised qualification as what works in one country, may not in another.
The BASI Ski and Snowboard Teacher qualification is now internationally recognised and Brits have been using this qualification in France without any problem since 2008. Although the basic course which allows you to instruct in the rest of the world will only take three weeks the Teacher qualification take at least three years to attain and can be very expensive. Once you have it you'll be free to jump queues and take four hour lunches.
With the majority of ski shops in the Alps looking for qualified and experienced ski technicians to maintain their equipment, you might want to consider doing a Ski Tech course prior to heading out. It will give you a comprehensive grounding in all aspects of ski and snowboard repair and maintenance as well as boot fitting. However, whilst the course is fully certified and recognised within the industry the certificate you receive at the end is confirmation of attendance rather than of competence, so to maximise your chances of employment overseas, you should try and get yourself some on-the-job experience before you go.
If you feel that getting a job is going to eat into your mountain and partying time too much, then why not 'bum' a season? In a nutshell, this comes down to doing little or no work, leaving you all day every day to ski or board with any left over time in the bar! Sounds perfect! Well in order to succeed at being a ski bum you need to ensure that you have sufficient funds behind you to pay for your accommodation for the season AND still have enough to live on/buy your lift pass etc. Getting to resort early is essential if you want to stand any chance of getting a good deal on an apartment but, in many resorts, seasonal accommodation is becoming harder to find due to sheer demand and rents have gone through the roof. Once you secured a place to live, you can of course cram in as many people as possible to keep costs down but this leads to fairly unpleasant living conditions for all concerned and will not be tolerated by many apartment owners. As a result, many ski bums (and seasonnaires) opt to live in a camper or caravan for the winter.
If money is not a problem, once you have accommodation and your lift pass, it should be pretty much plain sailing from then on. However, you might find that you have to do the odd bit of work here and there just to make ends meet. Making yourself available for any freelance work, such as snow clearing, airport transfer repping, driving, dish washing etc, can bring in much needed cash without impinging too much on your time on the hill. Tour operator and bar staff are good to get to know early on a) for putting bits of work your way and b) for free food and drinks! If your means allow, then bumming can be a great way to do a season; you’ll spend more time on the mountain than anyone else and get to know a broad cross-section of people in resort.
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