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How to find a job in winter sports in Austria

Working in winter sports in Austria is a dream for many people. Here's what you need to know about finding a job in the winter sports industry.

How to find a job in winter sports in Austria
Skis on a chairlift at Zell am Ziller, Austria. Photo by Kipras Štreimikis on Unsplash

It’s no secret that tourism is an important industry in Austria – particularly the winter season. 

As a result, winter sports are an important contributor to the Austrian economy and a big employer.

This is mostly due to the geographic nature of Austria – a central European location with mountains and good international accessibility.

Austria has also invested heavily into infrastructure for winter sports, including snow making facilities. This means even during years with limited snowfall, resorts can still operate.

Even during the pandemic winter of 2020/2021, ski lifts still opened in Austria, although border restrictions prevented most tourists from entering the country to go skiing.

But how can people find a job in the winter sports industry in Austria? 

Here’s what you need to know.

 

People get off a chairlift at Neukirchen am Großvenediger, Austria. Photo by Maarten Duineveld on Unsplash

How big is the winter sports industry in Austria?

In the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index 2019, Austria was ranked at number 11 out of 50 countries around the world.

Sport is also a key economic driver in the country and in 2019 it contributed 4.2 percent to GDP in Austria, almost double the EU average of 2.12 percent.

In terms of employment in Austria, sport is even more prominent and accounts for 5.63 percent of GDP (EU average is 2.72 percent).

The result is a thriving sports tourism industry – with winter sports at the centre of it.

READ MORE: How will climate change impact Austria?

To provide a broader perspective, ski resorts in Austria attract more than one million visitors every winter season, and are more popular than resorts in France, Italy, US, Switzerland, Sweden and Andorra. 

In the winter of 2018/2019, 73 million overnight stays were recorded in Austria with winter tourists spending on average €184 per day, compared to €160 per day from summer tourists.

Winter sports gear and goods are another prominent sector in Austria.

In the 2018/2019 season, the Austrian Association of Sporting Goods Manufacturers and Suppliers (VSSÖ) reported Austria had a 12 percent market share of the industry, coming second only to the US.

Winter is big business in Austria and, even though the summer season is gaining in popularity, it is still expected to be the dominant season for the coming years.

A snowboarder jumps high at Stubai Zoo, Neustift im Stubaital, Austria. Photo by Jörg Angeli on Unsplash

Where are winter sports jobs located?

Depending on the type of winter sports job, most roles are located in the west of Austria in the Alps.

Resorts like Kitzbühel, Mayrhofen, St. Anton, Ischgl and Zell am See are some of the hotspots for attracting tourists and generating winter season jobs.

Then there are smaller places like Söll and St. Johann in Tyrol, both of which offer the opportunity to live and work in traditional Austrian mountain towns.

Clare Woolner, from Manchester in the UK, first spent a winter season in St. Johann in 2013 as a resort rep and went on to work seven seasons before changing careers in 2020. 

Clare, who still lives in St. Johann, told The Local she chose the town because of the outdoor lifestyle, and advises others to think about where they would like to be based before applying for a job.

She said: “Before I started applying for jobs in Austria, I thought about what I wanted to experience from working a winter season. 

“I thought about my level of skiing skills, my language ability and my budget in terms of cost of living because some resorts are more expensive than others. 

“I would also recommend anyone else looking for a winter season job in Austria to find a position with accommodation included to save on costs.”

READ MORE: How Britons can move to Austria to live and work post-Brexit

Another key location for winter sports jobs is Innsbruck, the capital of Tyrol, which is the base for nine ski resorts.

However, Innsbruck already has a permanent population of around 130,000 people, so for those searching for a typical mountain resort experience, it won’t be found in Innsbruck.

Likewise, Salzburg can be a convenient base for nearby mountains, but it’s not a popular location for winter sports jobs.

For travel into Austria, Tyrol is well connected to neighbouring Bavaria in Germany, and Munich Airport is the closest main international hub.

There are also airports in Innsbruck and Salzburg, with train connections running between the two cities.

Skiers go down the slope at Kitzsteinhorn, Austria. Photo by Daniel Frank on Unsplash

What types of jobs are available in the winter sports industry?

For many people searching for a winter sports job, hospitality provides an easy foot in the door.

Every resort has hotels and restaurants and they all need seasonal staff in the form of waiters, waitresses, receptionists, cleaners and housekeepers.

Then there are mountain huts dotted across the Alps that serve food and drink throughout the winter and also need staff.

Other winter sports jobs in Austria include ski instructors, park shapers at snowboard parks, lift operators and resort reps.

Alternatively, there are office-based jobs to consider, such as roles in marketing and advertising. 

These positions typically require a certain level of education and professional experience though, and are not always based directly in mountain resorts.

Finally, Austria is a German-speaking country and attracts many tourists from other German-speaking countries.

This means for most customer-facing roles, German-language skills are essential – depending on the location.

For example, places like Mayrhofen in the Zillertal Valley are more popular with English-speaking tourists than towns like Ischgl in the Paznaun Valley.

How to find a job in winter sports?

As with most industries and professions, searching online is usually the first step in finding a job in winter sports in Austria.

There are websites (some in English) dedicated to providing information about working as a snowsports instructor such as skilehrerjobs.at, seasonworkers.com, snowsportsinstructor.com, and snowseasoncentral.com.

Travel companies like TUI advertise latest vacancies on their website, ranging from corporate roles in Vienna to resort-based jobs in St. Johann in Tyrol.

Then there are niche jobs at companies like ski manufacturer Atomic, which is headquarted in Altenmarkt im Pongau in the province of Salzburg. Roles include sales, marketing and production.

Another useful approach is to contact resorts or hotels directly to find out when they are hiring for the winter season and the types of roles that will be available.

Or get in touch with friends that have previously worked in the winter sports industry in Austria and ask for a recommendation.

However, if applying for a German-speaking role, it is always a good idea to translate a CV into German before applying.

FOR MEMBERS: Everything you need to know about preparing your CV in Austria

Coming from overseas?

Moving to a European country to work a winter season is a dream for many people from English-speaking countries like the UK, Australia and New Zealand. 

Unfortunately, for UK passport holders, this is now more difficult after Brexit.

For people already living in Austria or elsewhere in the EU (with freedom of movement around the bloc), working a winter season in Austria is still possible though.

For people from countries outside of the EU, a work permit is often required to work in Austria, such as the Red-White-Red Card.

* The Local used statistics from the 2018/2019 winter season as the 2020/2021 season was impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

EXPLAINED: How to apply for a residency permit in Austria

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EXPLAINED: How to find a summer job in Austria?

Though Austria is mainly known for its winter resorts, there is no shortage of possibilities for those looking for seasonal jobs in summer.

EXPLAINED: How to find a summer job in Austria?

Summer is coming up, and those few hot months are a perfect opportunity for many people to get a seasonal job and earn some extra cash.

Austria’s economy is heavily based on tourism. But even though the winter resorts and sports are what the alpine country is most well-known for, the summer months are also hectic in the tourism and gastronomy sectors.

The demand for seasonal workers usually is high but has increased even more in the last few years. According to the Austrian employment agency AMS, there are more than 15,000 open positions in gastronomy and tourism still lacking workers.

The pandemic widened the gap, as the sector was hardly hit by lockdowns and changes in consumer behaviour. With coronavirus restrictions, the field lost some of its attraction. It is still having trouble finding new labour, AMS boss Johannes Kopf told broadcaster ORF.

A summer without coronavirus restrictions

However, for the first time since the pandemic started, Austria will see a summer with almost no coronavirus restrictions.

The country has recently dropped its 3G rule for entry for travellers, meaning that tourists (and residents) no longer have to show proof that they were vaccinated against Covid-19, recently recovered from the disease or tested negative.

The expectation is high that this will boost tourism, especially as the 3G rules and the mask mandate also fell in most indoor areas.

READ MORE: LATEST: What are Austria’s current Covid-19 rules?

Last year, even with some restrictions still in place, the sector saw a recovery compared to 2020 but was still not at pre-pandemic levels, according to Statistik Austria.

Still, the May to October season had more than 66 million overnight stays, with almost half of them (42.7 per cent) coming from Germany.

From imperial cities to lakes and mountains, Austria has no shortage of offers during summer. As travelling resumes, the sector is desperately looking for workers.

vienna, pratter

Vienna is big touristic destination also during summer months (Photo by Anton on Unsplash)

Where can I find summer jobs in Austria?

The capital is undoubtedly where most visitors come, according to Statistik Austria. However, it is also where many establishments have a year-round crew, and seasonal work might not be as easy to find.

It is far from impossible, though, and it is worth the search if you have your eyes set on Vienna.

READ ALSO: One day in Vienna: How to spend 24 hours in the Austrian capital

However, other major Austrian cities also have openings, most notably the touristic towns of and around Innsbruck and Salzburg. Of course, the mountainous region of Austria might be most famous for its ski slopes. Still, they also offer breathtaking summer views, cool and beautiful alpine lakes, and numerous hiking trails.

Plus excellent hotels for people to stay in and great Austrian restaurants – all looking for employees.

What types of jobs are available?

There are many job openings to skim through, but most will be the most traditional service work in tourism and gastronomy: waitressing, housekeeping, cooking, and reception.

If you look outside of Vienna, several professions in the tourism and gastronomy sector are included in Austria’s list of shortage occupations.

READ ALSO: How Austria is making it easier for non-EU workers to get residence permits

Those include some surprising ones like department store sales clerks, waiters and waitresses, masseuses, and others. If you don’t have a right to work in Austria (non-EU citizens without a work permit, for example), being skilled in a shortage occupation makes it easier to be hired and get a residence permit.

Most of these jobs will require a certain level of German, especially since Germans are an overwhelming part of tourists entering Austria. However, the high demand for workers might help those who do not speak the language yet, especially for positions that don’t require much customer interaction.

READ ALSO: Austria: Six German expressions to entice your Wanderlust

Another popular job for summer is instructor, or caretaker, in summer camps. As many of them are bilingual or in English, German is not usually a mandatory language – there are also positions for English teachers, especially in camps and schools with summer courses.

Where can I find these jobs?

As with most industries and professions, searching online is usually the first step in finding a summer job in Austria.

Outside of known employment platforms such as Glassdoor and LinkedIn, Austria’s Karriere.at might be a good place to look.

READ ALSO: Six official websites to know if you’re planning to work in Austria

Hogastjob is also a local platform with plenty of seasonal offers in Austria, Germany and Italy (South Tyrol region).

Another approach is to contact resorts or hotels directly to find out when they are hiring for the summer season and the types of roles that will be available – they should also have a job vacancies page on official websites that you can check.

Or get in touch with friends that have previously worked in the summer season in Austria and ask for a recommendation.

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