Though many entry-level management positions at ski resorts are routinely filled by students holding general lodging and hospitality degrees, graduates with the more targeted ski resort management associate's or bachelor's degree may have the advantage of specific technical training unique to ski areas. Courses in these programs can range from risk management and public relations to mountain operations and lodging design. In an associate's level program, classes may include hospitality supervision, cost control or restaurant accounting. At the bachelor's level, degree programs equip prospective ski resort managers for a wide range of responsibilities, though not all ski resort managers are involved in every aspect of running a large resort. Some programs may require internships or an independent study with an established ski company or resort.
Associate of Science in Ski Resort Management
Those who enjoy skiing, are attracted to mountain living and appreciate the dynamic atmosphere of ski resorts should consider an associate's degree in ski resort management. This high-pressure job - where long hours are the norm during short revenue-generating seasons - has broad applications and can lead to resort employment in some of the most beautiful areas of the world. Employees with ski industry skills are better equipped to manage unique technical aspects of the ski industry, particularly if they obtain their education and training in or near a ski resort. Advantages of enrolling in or near a ski resort town are the unique partnerships formed between schools and working experts. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED and meet certain physical standards. Some topics covered in an associate's degree program include:
- Housekeeping management
- Hospitality law
- Mountain operations
- Ski area risk management
- Ski area planning
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Bachelor of Science in Ski Resort Management
Some aspects focus on mountain operations, others on real estate development, while a great many work in those areas where money is exchanged on a daily basis like restaurants, nightly lodging and lift ticket purchases.
Many managers in this field aren't required to possess a bachelor's degree in ski resort management per se, though it certainly helps. A bachelor's degree in hospitality or resort management may qualify the applicant for entry-level positions without the need for targeted ski resort management knowledge. Students who wish to enter a bachelor's program must have an associate's degree, a high school diploma or GED and satisfactory ACT/SAT scores.
Students in the program usually take courses dealing with the management of ski schools, alpine and Nordic races, restaurants, drinking establishments and the full spectrum of nightly resort lodging. They should develop an understanding of daily and seasonal lift ticket pricing and sales, ski rental and repair facilities, and retail shopping outlets. The program may take up to five years to complete.
Managing staff is often an important aspect of a ski resort manager's duties. Other coursework extends to mountain operations like artificial snow making, the ski patrol, lift operations, lift maintenance, snow removal and grooming.
Real estate development is a significant revenue generator and requires working knowledge of:
- Subdivision planning
- Hotel and lodge design
- Condominium construction
- Golf course development
Sales and marketing are likewise essential to a resort's long term viability. This might entail classes in:
- Strategic planning
- Public relations
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (www.bls.gov), it is anticipated that employment for lodging managers in general will increase eight percent from 2014 to 2024. While salaries fluctuate greatly, the median salary for lodging managers in May 2015 was $49,720, the BLS reported.
Continuing Education Information
A certificate of completion in ski resort management is also available at institutions offering an associate's ski resort management degree. Internships are often a vital component of the certificate program. And, for students pursuing a general 2-year hospitality or business degree, a certificate in ski resort management is regarded as a useful complement when entering this field.
Students wishing to work as a ski lodge manager or in a related field may complete an undergraduate program in ski resort management. Associate's and bachelor's degree programs in this field often include coursework in housekeeping management, hospitality and planning as well as hands-on training in ski area operations.