If you love to ski or snowboard on top of an avid desire to help people, you might just be the right candidate for learning how to become a ski patroller.
The National Ski Patrol has been around since the late 1930s and, thanks to the ever-increasing need for safety on the slopes, has been growing ever since.
The NSP is the leading authority of on-mountain safety, employing over 30,000 members and serving roughly 650 patrols across the U.S.
On top of that, most slopes have their own version of a ski patrol with varying minimum requirements for joining their ski patrol teams.
If you want to learn how to become ski patrol yourself, in your area or on a slope you love, here are some of the widespread requirements you’ll need to meet.
What to Know Before Becoming a Ski Patrol
Tally Your Knowledge
This may seem pretty simple, but do you know how to ski everything from the bunny hill to the double black diamond slopes?
Do you have any skill in rough and untested terrain, like the sheer faces of hills and mountains that some professional skiers or snowboarders might find themselves stranded on?
When it comes down to it, you might find yourself with the responsibility of their lives resting on your shoulders, so you have to be able to control your skis with the utmost precision and skill.
On top of that, if you’re answering the call of someone in trouble, chances are, they can’t get down the mountain themselves. So, you’ll need to know how to handle a toboggan and the weight you’ll be pulling with it.
Lastly, most ski patrols require that you either take a course on Outdoor Emergency Care or have been an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) for long enough to have equivalent knowledge.
Both of these courses usually involve CPR classes, but if they don’t, you’ll need to make sure you have equivalent knowledge in Basic Life Support.
Expand Your Knowledge
As with most professional sports, you’ll typically need to start from the bottom and work your way up the ranks.
Most ski patrols and resorts will teach you how to become a ski patroller in a way they consider most efficient and safe, but if you want to really be an asset, you’ll expand your knowledge to include a wide range of mountains, slopes, and even snow.
It would be a good idea to consider getting certifications from organizations such as the American Institute of Avalanche Research and Education, and National Ski Patrol (NSP), or even the Professional Ski Instructors of America.
The more you learn, the better off you and your potential ward down the mountain will be.
Contacting Your Local Ski Patrol
You’ve got your knowledge and you’ve got the guts – now you just need the job itself.
As a side note, most resorts and their respective patrols will require that you join the National Ski Patrol, and even if you have no intention of working at only one resort forever, this is generally considered a good move.
Not only does it put you in touch with a vast network of people to learn from, but paying the $70 yearly dues will usually score you discounted ski patrol courses and classes at whatever resort you’re aiming for.
On the same hand, consider the skill level needed to work at the resort you desire to be a ski patroller at.
Some resorts are so intense that they require a minimum of a few years of training before someone can even hope to gain employment with their team.
And still, more rely on heavy volunteer support to keep their ranks filled as well as the general skiing public safe.
Consider Your Needs
Whether you just want to help out for a season or become an experienced veteran in your local team, don’t plan on making a ton of money.
In many cases, it’s a volunteer position, but it does come with perks – such as getting to make the first tracks on your favorite slope in the morning, saving lives (of course), and cutting in the lift line to make it to those in need on time.
When you start to consider this position, make sure it’s what you really want. It isn’t necessarily a thankless position, but it isn’t going to be the highest paid slot at the resort by any stretch of the imagination.
Get Out There and Ski
With the right tools, the right network of teachers, and the willingness to learn as well as help people, you really can obtain this position.
The most important aspect of becoming a ski patroller is to do just that: ski. Get in touch with your local resort and join the community.
Check out the slopes and learn to read the snow for dangers and safe tracks. Above all, expand your knowledge and your network, and make sure to keep up to date on all your certifications.
One day, you too could be counted on to save someone’s life, and there’s hardly a better feeling in the world than doing just what you set out to.
Here’s a video showing a day with ski patrol.
Do you have any tips or info on ski patrol jobs?