Working a ski season in Canada
Do you need a visa: As a UK citizen you will need a working holiday visa to
allow you the right permission to take employment in Canada. For more
information please visit this article: Ski season visas.
Do you have to learn another language:
Ô Canada! Terre de nos aïeux. You might thing that English is the official language of Canada, but in fact French has an equal footing. If you are heading to work in the East of the country, you will find French is actually the main language, especially Quebec, where more than 90% have French as their first language. In the West, English is more popular. As a rough guide, make sure you can get by in French if you are working in Quebec, else English with a smattering of French will be fine.
So what is it like to live and work in an Austrian ski resort?
In a word, lovely. Austria has a lot going for it, not least the food and friendly welcoming atmosphere. And the fact that you won't feel like you are spending half your wages on food and drink is a big plus. Like all alpine ski resorts, the winter population is a largely cosmopolitan affair, but many of the more popular resorts still manage to hold on to their unique Tyrolean and Alpine charm and 'Austrian-ness', perhaps because they are slightly smaller and less sprawling than the popular French resorts - the resort of Alpbach that we mentioned above is a great example - the kind of place that you could see yourself living all year round, let alone during the winter. Perhaps this is a bit of a generalization and won't be true of all resorts, but many Austrian ski villages seem less commercial than in other parts of the Alps. Of course they exist to make money, but somehow it is not quite so obvious.
The main resorts offering jobs
Canada has more than fifty dedicated ski resorts, many of them world class, and with the majority split between the West of the country, in the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, and the East of the country, in Quebec and Ontario. Most would say the pick of the resorts, including the famous Whistler, Silver Star, Big White and Cypress, are in British Columbia, but the French-feel resorts of Quebec have a lot to offer too: places like Mont Sainte-Anne and Le Massif.
What experience do you need?
If you want to teach people to ski or snowboard then you should consider either CSIA (Ski) or CASI (Snowboard) qualifications as these tend to be preferred by ski schools in Canada. If you have a high ISIA recognised qualification and some previous experience, then you may also be in luck. You can read more about specific instructor qualifications here: www.bestskijobs.co.uk/articles/ski-snowboard-instructor-qualifications.php. Away from the slopes there is plenty of casual work to be had such as hospitality jobs in hotels and restaurants. As with any job, past experience will always work in your favour, but for many of the entry level, waiting, bar tending, shop work jobs, experience is not always vital. The bigger the resort the more people they need to service it. By all means try your luck at the less well known, but the resorts mentioned above are your best bet to start your search.
Even if you cannot find a paying job immediately, a good way in would be to take a course such as those we offer below. Not only will you improve your qualifications but you will get to spend part of the season in Canada, and from there it is surely easier to move on to paid employment, either in the same season, or for the following season.