West Central Montana Avalanche Center

POSITION:  Avalanche Center Director

POSITION TYPE: Full-time, seasonal

LOCATION: Missoula, Montana

CLOSING DATE: October 15, 2023

RATE OF PAY: $30.00 – $40.00/hr DOE


The West Central Montana Avalanche Center (WCMAC) is seeking candidates for the position of Avalanche Center Director. The WCMAC is a Type 2 avalanche center provided through the nonprofit West Central Montana Avalanche Foundation (WCMAF). In partnership with the United States Forest Service, it provides avalanche information and education for the west-central Montana forecast area. Avalanche forecasts appear on Missoulaavalanche.org Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday morning throughout the winter operating season (e.g., December – April). Special updates and warnings are issued as needed during periods of high avalanche danger.


The Director of the West Central Montana Avalanche Center oversees and is responsible for all operations of the avalanche center, including developing avalanche forecasts, managing field operations, coordinating program volunteers and outreach, and maintaining collaborative partnerships. The Director supervises up to three full-time avalanche forecasters, mentors professional observers, and advises agency staff when assisting with avalanche center duties. The Director works closely with the West Central Montana Avalanche Foundation Executive Director and collaborates with the Board of Directors.

The position entails administrative duties that include developing forecast program budgets and furthering agreements for the continuance and maintenance of the avalanche center. The successful candidate will pursue and create long term partnerships with private businesses and public agencies to acquire funding and increase cooperation with the various groups. To this end, such responsibilities include presentations, budget tracking, and management of partner agreements. A successful candidate will also be comfortable and adept as the regional point of contact for all avalanche center media communications regarding backcountry avalanches. 

This position requires a strong background in snow science, avalanche dynamics, and mountain weather meteorology. This position requires a professional working knowledge of snow physics, including snow metamorphism, the distribution patterns of common weak layers, the mechanics of slab failure, and the classification of snow crystals. 

This position requires routine fieldwork in remote mountainous terrain and a high level of physical fitness. A successful candidate must possess excellent backcountry travel skills and be proficient in snowmobiling in steep backcountry terrain in adverse weather conditions. 

This position requires detailed planning, reporting, and communicating clearly with a broad audience range. In a supervisory role, the Director must provide guidance and feedback to staff effectively. The aptitude to manage multiple projects at any given time is required. 

This position requires maintaining strong working relationships with the broader national avalanche community and helping advance the WCMAC into a Type 1 avalanche center. A professional background in avalanche education is required to contribute and collaborate within the avalanche education program. 

Additional responsibilities include:

  • Issue backcountry avalanche forecasts for public dissemination.
  • Issue avalanche warnings through Missoulaavalanche.org, the National Weather Service, and local media outlets.
  • Proficiency with video editing software, Microsoft Office, Google Suite, WordPress, and the ability to troubleshoot routine website problems as necessary. 
  • Manage forecaster field operations and oversee professional observation program.
  • Safely conduct avalanche investigations and generate reports when needed.
  • Act as an advisor and mentor for avalanche center forecasters and interns.
  • Safely conduct routine fieldwork (as group leader) in and around avalanche terrain with volunteers.
  • Lead weekly forecaster meetings and serve as program liaison with the National Avalanche Center.
  • Assist the Executive Director in monitoring and maintaining grants and agreements.
  • Interpret National Weather Service products and models to generate mountain weather forecasts.
  • Update website databases with snowpack, avalanche, weather, and other pertinent information for public dissemination.
  • Update social media channels and write website articles on relevant topics.
  • Conduct interviews with local media outlets as requested.
  • Interface with regional avalanche professionals and emergency service organizations.
  • Other duties as assigned.


  • Fieldwork will be performed outdoors in remote mountain environments at least three days a week. This work involves routine mountain travel using vehicles, snowmobiles, skis, or splitboards in and around avalanche terrain.
  • The position requires irregular hours and extended shifts during the operating season to complete fieldwork, monitor the weather, assess the snowpack, and communicate with staff. 


Essential Qualifications: 

  • Experience backcountry avalanche forecasting for a U.S. avalanche center.
  • Strong winter backcountry travel skills and snowmobiling experience in avalanche terrain.
  • American Avalanche Association (A3) PRO 2 or equivalent.
  • Experience in a range of different snow climates.
  • Teaching and public speaking experience.
  • University degree in a technical subject.
  • High-level written and verbal communication skills.
  • Experience delivering presentations in professional and public contexts.
  • Familiarity with using computer hardware, software, and online applications in technical contexts.
  • Able to clearly and effectively communicate avalanche hazards and danger in English, written, and verbal communication.
  • Advanced (80 hour) wilderness first aid course (or equivalent)
  • Valid U.S. driver’s license
  • Successful applicants must possess a diverse skill set and strong work ethic to contribute to daily operations.

Desirable Qualifications: 

  • M.S. degree in a technical subject.
  • Multiple years of backcountry avalanche forecasting for a Type 1 avalanche center.
  • Advanced training in snow science and meteorology.
  • Training and professional experience in technical writing and scientific research.
  • Media experience (radio, T.V., print, social media)
  • Ski guiding certification

OPERATING SEASON: For the winter 2023/2024 operating season, employment begins on November 15, 2023, and concludes on April 30, 2024.

CONTACT: Patrick Black, West Central Montana Avalanche Foundation, Executive Director

TO APPLY: Email [email protected] with the following information:

  • Name, email, and phone number
  • Current Resume
  • Cover Letter briefly describing your qualifications and interest in the position.