Welcome to our guide on finding jobs in Whistler. With these tips, you’ll maximize your chances of not just finding a job, but finding the job you want. But before we dive in, a word of advice . . .
If you are still looking for accommodation in Whistler, it is crucial to make this a priority as supply is limited. There is no point in securing a job if you can’t make it to work. Read our guide to accommodation in Whistler and the surrounding areas before going any further.
If you love the outdoors, there are a multitude of jobs in Whistler that will support your passion.
First things first
In order to get hired for any job in Canada, make sure you have completed the following formalities:
- If you are not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, make sure you have acquired your Canadian work permit. You must have the right to take up employment in Canada before beginning work.
- You have a Canadian Social Insurance Number (SIN).
- You have opened a Canadian chequing account.
- You have Canadianized your resume.
- If you plan to take up bar work, you will need a BC ‘Serving it Right’ qualification.
If you plan to work with minors, ensure you have applied for and obtained a RCMP criminal check. This may be relevant for work at Whistler Blackcomb.
One thing nobody (except us) tells you
Before you take a job, be clear on why you’re going to Whistler in the first place. If the reason is to improve at a certain skill, or to spend more time in the great outdoors, make sure you choose a job that accommodates your hobby. Choose accommodation that is well within your budget, so you don’t have to work extra hours to make ends meet.
Do I need to be an expert skier or boarder?
No! Unless you land a job in Snow School or Ski Patrol for Whistler Blackcomb, skiing or boarding is not mandatory. From lift operations to kitchen service, and other on-mountain roles, there are plenty of jobs in Whistler that won’t require you to don a pair of skis.
If you do apply for an on-mountain role that dictates skiing as part of your duties, make sure you are totally honest about your skill level. Whistler Blackcomb has mandatory ride assessments, required for health and safety purposes, as part of the hiring process.
Wages for jobs in Whistler
Wages are pretty consistent across jobs in Whistler. Working in most entry-level guest service roles or retail, you’ll earn around $13 per hour. Whistler Blackcomb (owned by Vail resorts) raised wages from $11.25 to $13 for the 2018 season, with a lot of other establishments following suit. Supervisors can earn up to $18 per hour with the required experience. Managers will earn considerably more. Many roles also come with additional benefits. You might be offered staff accommodation, subsidised meals, tips or ski passes, or some combination of the aforementioned, depending on your employer.
Where to look
The go-to resource for advertisements for jobs in Whistler are the local newspapers, notably Pique, which can easily be found around Whistler village.
Other resources include:
- Whistler Blackcomb’s job site.
- The Whistler municipality website, with posts on behalf of many local businesses.
- Indeed.ca lists local jobs in Whistler.
- The British Columbia employment service site.
- The websites of the leading hotels, which are sizeable employers in their own right. Check out The Fairmont, The Four Seasons and The Westin.
The Work BC office in Function Junction has access to computers, printers, and photocopiers, if you are in need to get your search off the ground.
Job fairs are a great avenue to finding your dream mountain role in Whistler. They are run twice a year by the major employers in cities across Canada. They are advertised locally, and you must register in advance to attend. A quick internet search will provide you with information on the next one in your area, or check the Vail resorts employment website to find out more.
Job fair tips:
- Register in advance for the job fairs you want to attend, as they fill up quickly.
- Good grooming is taken very seriously, as most jobs in Whistler are customer-facing service industry roles. Take care to present yourself in a professional manner, dressing formally and looking tidy.
- Take multiple copies of your resume.
- Job fairs sometimes require you to bring two written references. Prepare these in advance and bring multiple copies.
- Meeting potential employers at a job fair means you need to be prepared to talk about your skills and experience. Think of examples of times when you’ve gone above and beyond what was asked of you, dealt with a tricky customer, or solved a problem. For the best tips on making an impression, read our article on networking.
When to look
Winter jobs in Whistler tend to be advertised from September, for start dates in November or December. Summer roles tend to be advertised from April, for employment starting in June. These are merely windows of opportunity when seasonal roles are advertised; you should be able to secure a role year-round in Whistler.
Shoulder or ‘dead’ season
The period between Labour Day in early September and mid-December is known as ‘dead season,’ when many seasonal jobs in Whistler dry up and lay-offs are inevitable. Part and parcel of working in an industry that depends on seasonal tourism is making ends meet during the ’off’ months. It is not unusual for businesses to lay off their staff for these weeks, only to re-hire them closer to Christmas. If you foresee this being an issue, it is a good idea to save during the busier months to get you through the downtime. It’s also a great time to take a vacation or visit home.
Likewise, there is also a shoulder season in spring where the Village transitions from winter to summer operations. This short season lasts from April to June.
Inform yourself of your rights. Employment standards are taken seriously by most employers, but in the unlikely event you do have a complaint, there are organisations you can turn to. It’s worth knowing that there are 10 statutory holidays during the year, during which hourly employees are entitled to an increased wage. It’s also worth knowing that there are policies in place dictating the minimum amount of rest you should have between shifts, which is usually eight hours in British Columbia.
It’s pretty common in Whistler for people to hold down a number of jobs simultaneously. As an expensive place to live, sometimes you might not get enough hours to make ends meet, so it’s common to supplement your income with a second job. Employers are generally accommodating with this, if you can be upfront about it. Find out if a minimum number of hours are guaranteed throughout the season.
Types of work available in Whistler
Whistler is a haven for fans of outdoor adventures, whether it’s the thrill of speeding down the great white mountain in winter or climbing to the top to see stunning views of BC in the summer. If you want to spend a season on the mountain, you will more than likely have to work to get by. Luckily, Whistler has a focus on serving guests who come from all corners of the world, so most jobs in Whistler exist to support its tourism industry.
Working for ‘The Mountain’ / Whistler Blackcomb
Locally referred to as ‘The Mountain’, Whistler Blackcomb is the largest employer in the town. Undertaking the mammoth task of operating the 8,171-acre ski area and several of the commercial establishments on the mountain and in Whistler Village, it offers a wealth of roles where employees might avail of staff accommodation and a free ski lift pass.
Some of the larger departments recruiting at Whistler Blackcomb include:
Whistler Blackcomb Snow School is right up there as one of the largest employers in the town. Over 1,000 snow school instructors work for the mountain, a huge number of staff by any measure. Instructors specialise in either ski or snowboarding lessons, and you will spot them in their teal and orange jackets, respectively.
This role is one of the most sought-after in any ski resort, but not impossible to get. Typically, instructors need to have a skiing or boarding qualification, such as a qualification from CASI (Canadian Association of Snowboard Instructors) or CSIA (Canadian Ski Instructors Alliance). These institutions schedule courses and assessments on a regular basis, which can be booked online. As a guide, a Level 1 ski instructor course costs around $600, taking place over three days. You will be taught the basics of instruction, concluding with an assessment.
The level of qualification you have will determine your pay and the skill level of classes that you are allocated. Instructors with higher-level qualifications get paid more and get the opportunity to teach more advanced pupils on more difficult terrain.
Ski instructors work between 20 and 40 hours per week, with the opportunity to earn more during busy periods like Christmas and Easter.
Job postings for instructors usually go live much earlier than other mountain roles, so keep your eyes peeled from early May onwards for roles commencing the following winter season.
‘Lifties’ operate the chairlifts and gondolas, getting the hoards of skiers and snowboarders up and down the mountain safely. Lifties need to respond rapidly to issues, keep calm under pressure, and tolerate working in freezing temperatures for extended periods of time. Working in lift operations gives employees the chance to ski as an integral part of their job and frequent ride breaks in a compressed four-day schedule, allowing three free days to ski.
If you don’t ski, don’t worry. Many lifties are placed on the mountain where skiing to their assigned duties is not a requirement.
Work hours vary, with shifts often lasting 12 hours. Given there’s a whole mountain to get open before 8 a.m., there’s a huge variety of shifts starting as early as 5 a.m. and finishing as late as 8 p.m.
Another quintessential ski resort role is that of the rental technician. If you nerd-out on the latest equipment and can size a skier’s weight and height with a quick glance, this is the ideal role for you. Rental technicians earn around $13 per hour and typically have a schedule that caters towards the peak morning rush of skiers and boarders getting kitted out and ready for their day. Split shifts are common for rental technicians, allowing for valuable skiing time and/or breaks in the afternoon before the lifts close. Shifts are typically six to eight hours per day, five days per week.
Food & Beverage
There are a wide of jobs in Whistler involving serving food and bevarages to tourists, seasonal workers and locals alike. Roles in food and beverage are varied, ranging from front-of-house service to kitchen staff. Working with food will usually require you to have a Food Safe Level 1 Certificate.
Working in a role that involves serving alcohol will require a “Serving it Right” certificate, British Columbia’s mandatory self-study course that educates licensees, managers and servers about their legal responsibilities when serving alcohol.
Roles outside Whistler Blackcomb resort
There are more opportunities for employment in Whistler outside the Whistler Blackcomb family. Many roles also offer the perks of staff accommodation and ski passes or store discounts.
Whistler has a bustling town centre with a variety of stores, generally paying upwards of $13 an hour.
Bar work and serving
Whistler has a multitude of watering holes, from family pubs to nightclubs, as well as plenty of restaurants and upscale hotels catering to every taste and budget. There are far too many to mention, but here is a helpful, non-exhaustive list.
These roles generally suit those who are eager to embrace morning skiing, thanks to the later start times. Bar workers and servers usually earn around $13 per hour, but this can increase greatly when tips are included. Bar work is one of the more competitive roles in Whistler, with many people beginning by collecting glasses or bussing tables, and working their way up.
As previously mentioned, the most prominent hotels are The Fairmont, The Four Seasons, The Westin, The Hilton and The Pan Pacific. Apart from the roles mentioned above, other jobs can include room attendants, cleaners, maintenance staff, shuttle drivers and reception staff.
One of the most rewarding jobs in Whistler is working as a guide. If you get on with people, love sharing your passion for the outdoors, and are a bit of an adrenaline junkie, this is the ideal job for you. Guiding jobs are usually outdoors and can be fantastic fun; so much fun you’ll be forgiven for thinking that you’re not actually working. Guiding jobs can range in wages from $14 per hour for entry-level zipline guides, to $18 per hour for those with advanced experience and qualifications. Guides get a fantastic opportunity to establish rapport with guests and earn tips as well.
Some companies curate high-octane adrenaline experiences for guests that are all-skiied-out and just want to try something a bit different. One such company is The Adventure Group at Cougar Mountain base, just a 10-minute drive outside Whistler. They also own Superfly Ziplines and Wedge Rafting. Here you can find winter roles as diverse as being a snowmobile guide, zipline guide or in summer, a rafting, razr or treetops adventure guide, to name a few.
While guiding roles are great for being outdoors and are inherently great fun, they are also very safety-orientated. A guide’s primary responsibility is to ensure guests understand their safety briefing, even if English isn’t their first language. Great communication skills are a must.
Moreover, while rigorous training will be provided for most guiding roles, it is expected that you will already have a 16-hour first aid qualification. For some of the more advanced guide roles, a much more advanced 80-hour first aid, or wilderness first aid, qualification is mandatory, with certificate renewal required every three years. For rafting guide roles, a water safety qualification like Swiftwater Rescue Training is also required. There are many organisations in the Whistler area that offer these qualifications and courses on a rolling basis. A 16-hour first aid qualification, completed over a two-day course, will cost you around $150. Your employer or job description will specify what is required.
Off the beaten path
If you don’t fancy guiding, serving or working on the mountain, Whistler still has roles that are not related to the tourism industry. Specialised skills, such as construction workers or car mechanics, are always needed. There are plenty of opportunities out there, you just have to network and find the right role for you.
Tony Gilmore worked as a Zipline Guide at Superfly Ziplines and as a Lift Operator at Whistler Blackcomb in the 2017 Winter and Summer seasons before joining the Moving2Canada team.