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Everything Students And Graduates Need To Know About Becoming A Ski Instructor

There are many types of jobs available to people who would like to to temporary seasonal work in a ski resort. If you haven’t already read them, take a look at the E4S articles, A Guide To The Types Of Jobs Gap Year Students And Graduates Could Find In A Ski Resort and Working As A Seasonaire In A Ski Resort. These articles will give you an idea of the sheer variety of posts available to wannabe seasonaires (you might be surprised) and tips about how you can get ahead of the crowd so you can land one of the more popular jobs that have a lot of competition.
One skiing job that is competitive is that of the ski instructor. When dreaming of working in a ski resort, it’s perhaps this role that springs to mind as it is seen as one of the most glamorous positions. You’re out all day on the ski slopes - and after all, isn’t that what people work in ski resorts for; to get as much time as possible on the mountains? So in theory, becoming a ski instructor is the best way to do that. But is it really the job for you? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the position and also, how you get to that position in the first place.

Who Becomes A Ski Instructor?
In theory, anyone who wants to do so can become a ski instructor. According to the various recruitment companies, gap year students, graduates, young professionals or other young people looking to take a break and time out before they decide on their next move all apply to work in ski resorts as ski instructors. Also, some experienced seasonaires (people who do seasonal work in a ski resort) love the mountain and resort life so much that they return year after year and eventually go on to become ski instructors.

But working as a ski instructor doesn’t have to be just a temporary seasonal position. A lot of students and graduates who take on holiday or part time work end up making a dedicated full time career out of it. The role of ski instructor is a good example of this. A winter seasonal post in any of the traditional resorts like France, Italy or Canada can give you such a passion for your job that you could come back to the UK and work there.

Did you know that the UK now has over 60 dry ski slopes and an increasing number of indoor ski centres? The reverse side of the coin of making a career from ski instruction in the UK is that working on a dry ski slope or in an indoor centre could be a useful option for students who are looking to do holiday work throughout the long summer break and even at evenings and weekends. The UK ski centres are committed to the ongoing training of their staff so these places can be a good option for gaining more experience and coaching qualifications before trying to get a post as a ski instructor in one of the ski resorts abroad. Competition is stiff for ski instructor jobs so the more experience you can get beforehand, the better.

Fast track your instructor dreams!
How Do I Go About Becoming A Ski Instructor?
Most students and graduates like the idea of becoming a ski instructor so they can indulge their passion for skiing and snowboarding whilst earning a living at the same time. However, the process of becoming a ski instructor takes a lot of time and money so this is not a job to take lightly. You will need to be qualified before you can take up work. Check out the British Association of Snowsports Instructors website for details of what this will involve.

Also, ask yourself do you want to ski or do you want to teach? Being an excellent skier does not necessarily mean you will make a fantastic ski instructor. You will be teaching people of all ages and levels so you need to think about if you have the patience to do that and whether this job is for you. If working with people to help them become more competent skiers sounds like your perfect job, let’s look at what you need to do:
Educating Adventures

Do I need to be a good, experienced skier?
This is an interesting one isn’t it? You don’t necessarily need to be a competent or massively experienced skier to find a ski instructor job. As we said above, if you have lots of hours on the slopes under your belt, that might not make you a good teacher. In fact, just as drivers start to develop bad habits after they have passed their driving test, this is also true of skiing and snowboarding. Experienced skiers who decide to become instructors are often told they need to learn the basics again so they are not passing their own bad habits onto new skiers.

Going back to the driving analogy, if you have taken your driving test as a student or graduate, you can probably remember all the skills your driving instructor taught you about how to drive the car correctly. This is the same for becoming a ski instructor. If you have the money and you really love the idea of working a season as a ski instructor, it is possible to do an intensive ski course. This can actually set you ahead of an experienced skier because you will know about all the latest equipment and the correct way to carry the various skiing moves will still be completely fresh in your mind. What’s important here is that you are a good instructor as well as a good skier. To get you started, why not take a look at our E4S article on skiing tips for beginners and intermediates.

We Are Sno

What Qualifications Do I Need To Become A Ski Instructor And How Do I Get Them?
If you are a graduate or a gap year student, you have more options open to you because it is possible for you to go abroad to train to be a ski instructor. However, all is not lost if you are still a student with university commitments. It’s also possible to train within the UK in one of the increasing number indoor ski centres. This could be done at evenings and weekends, in your spare time.

The British qualification is awarded by BASI (the British Association of Skiing Instructors) but if you do have the money and time to go abroad to train to be a ski instructor, countries such as Canada and New Zealand offer similar courses with recognised qualifications. In Canada, you could do a ski instructor course through the Alltracks Academy, a small, family run business that offers accommodation along with their courses and claims to have some of the best ski and snowboard instructor courses on the market.

Prices for courses that train you how to become a ski instructor can run into the thousands, up to 6 and 7, if you want to train abroad in places like New Zealand, Canada, France, Argentina, Switzerland or the USA. You do your course in the type of skiing you want to specialise in - snowboarding, cross country, Alpine skiing, for example. Many gap year students manage to get the money together to take on these courses and, although this is not by any means guaranteed, there is always a possibility of getting invited back to the place where you trained to be a ski instructor for the season. If they trained you, they know how you are going to teach their guests so it’s easier for the company to take you on rather than a ski instructor who has trained elsewhere.

There are many different qualifications that you can do and most of them are recognised worldwide so that once you have qualified, you are able to work in a country of your choice. The following is a list that you might consider:

Canada: Canada is a popular choice for gap year students and graduates and the ski resorts there run courses for skiers and snowboarders. The most in demand course are CSIA for skiers (the Canadian Ski Instructors’ Alliance) and CASI for snowboarders (the Canadian Association of Snowboard Instructors) and the country has a good reputation for instruction.
USA: The USA awards body is the PSIA for skiers (Professional Ski Instructors of America) and that AASI for snowboarders (American Association of Snowboard Instructors).
New Zealand: In New Zealand, the ski instructor qualification is awarded by the NZSIA (the New Zealand Snowsports Instructors Alliance).
Britain: If going abroad is not an option for you for whatever reason, remaining in Britain to do an instructor course awarded by the BASI (British Association of Snowsports Instructors). Remaining in Britain means you would only qualify to teach on artificial slopes and extra courses would be needed for you to be able to teach on the mountains. However, if you are a student at university, this could be a good starter option for you. If you enjoy the course, you can either choose to work in one of Britain’s indoor centres or continue with BASI and do one of their mountain course abroad once you complete your degree.

There are different levels of ski instructor qualification that students and graduates can do to try to get a job in a ski resort. The good news is that once you have been awarded Level 1, you will be qualified to teach beginners in learning how to ski so in theory, you could start to look for work after you complete Level 1.

With only a Level 1 qualification, you would be limiting yourself because ski instructor jobs have a lot of competition. It’s worth noting that a Level 2 qualification qualifies you to teach intermediate to advanced and this would make you much more employable by ski resorts. Once you have Level 2, you are qualified to teach anywhere in the world with the exception of France. They have their own, difficult tests and if you are desperate to work in France, you will need to research and check out companies that specialise in this. Alltracks Academy in Canada offer 6 week courses for Level 2 qualification.

Getting A Job As A Ski Instructor - The Pros and Cons:
Getting a job as a ski instructor can be difficult - but not impossible. As we said above, some people are lucky enough to be invited back to the resort they did their course in the following year. Do your research, be proactive by asking companies about their requirements and what you can do to improve your chances of getting a job. Demonstrate how keen you are.

If you really want to work in the United States of America, remember you will need to arrange a permission to work visa just as if you were working in a summer camp over there. BUNAC specialise in obtaining work visas for the Unite States. France is even more difficult as ski instructors are required to do a French-based qualification and the tests are rigorous with no guarantee of a job at the end. If you are looking to work while on a gap year or you just want to do a winter season, other countries are probably a better bet.

The Downsides Of Being A Ski Instructor
Although working a ski season as a ski instructor is seen as the most glamorous job you can do on a ski resort, all jobs come with their downsides. Gap year students and graduates who are lucky enough to find work as a ski or snowboard instructor will soon discover that this position is no exception.

During the busy weeks of high season, ski and snowboard instructors will likely be on the slopes all day, teaching. This is the time when many beginners and skiers with little experience need to be taught how to ski properly. While you dreamed of being out on the piste, the reality is you could end up teaching group after group out on the nursery slopes. You will be repeating the same instructions over and over again, sometimes to the same people - not everyone is a natural skier. Of course, if you enjoy the teaching aspect of being a ski instructor, this can also be extremely rewarding as well as tiring.

The Upsides Of Being A Ski Instructor
Although the pay for being a ski instructor is not a lot, it is one of the best paid jobs for students and graduates working in a ski resort.

On busy weeks, you might be on the nursery slopes teaching children all day but in the low and high season, during the quiet weeks, you will have the days to yourself to go out there and ski as much as you like - and that’s what most people work in a ski resort for.

You will build lots of friendships, have good fun and good laughs both with the guests you are working with and with other ski resort staff. A lot of those laughs are going to be in the nightlife that you also get to enjoy.

And, even if you want to follow your graduate career in a completely different line of work, becoming a ski instructor can be very useful in helping students and graduates get a foot in the ladder of their chosen career. While you are working, you will develop management and teaching skills that are transferable to many other jobs.
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