Avalanche Technician  What They Do

Just the Facts


Insider Info

dotAn avalanche technician is trained to monitor the condition of layered snow, called snowpacks, to determine if there is a risk for an avalanche. These snow experts are also trained in the different types of avalanches and how severe an avalanche might be according to the current conditions.

dotForecasting avalanche conditions is only part of the job. For example, an avalanche technician who works for the transportation department might determine that an avalanche will probably happen in a particular area.

Rather than shutting down a road or risking injury for travelers, the technician will create a controlled avalanche using explosives. The explosives are set to trigger an avalanche at a particular time instead of waiting for nature to take its course.

dotAvalanche technicians work in a variety of roles. They could be guides who escort recreational groups on skiing, snowmobiling or hiking trips. They might be forestry workers in charge of avalanche forecasting. Or they could be transportation department employees in charge of avalanche clearing.

dotThis work requires physical strength. Avalanche technicians spend most of their time outside. They examine weather patterns, snowfall and wind conditions. And they actually dig in the snow to determine how solidly or loosely the snow is packed.

dotOf course, since snow only lasts from November to April each year, even in higher elevations, most avalanche technicians hold different jobs from May through November. During these off-season months, many technicians are employed in forestry services or as recreational guides for mountain climbing and hiking.

dotYou must be very physically fit. People with handicaps can participate by doing weather studies and predictions. Or they could be analysts who draw conclusions from research done by others in the field.

At a Glance

Look out for falling snow

  • You have to be physically fit for this job
  • Some technicians create controlled avalanches
  • A degree in geography, geology, meteorology or civil engineering is good