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Get a job as a ski instructor

Updated on June 22, 2012

What does a ski instructor do?

You have probably decided that sitting behind a desk for the rest of your life isn't really for you, and that you would much rather put your skiing skills to good use. And who can blame you; living and working at altitude, with snow covered mountains to look at when you wake up every morning would rate as job satisfaction for most of us. Add to that the feeling you get when you give people the confidence to take their first run down the piste! But how do you go about getting a ski instructor job? Let's start by talking about what a ski instructor does.

This may sound obvious, but instructors are employed either by resort-run ski schools, or directly by private companies, to teach holiday makers how to get the most from their time on the slopes. On a typical day your job will be to take a group of up to ten people, depending upon the skill level of the individuals, and teach them anything from basic turns to black run techniques. As well as improving their technique, you will also be responsible for their safety at all times, which isn't always easy on potentially dangerous terrain that may be completely new for them. Hours of work could be something like 9am until 4pm, six days per week. At first glance, the salary won't be much to write home about, but when you think that many companies will pay all your living costs, and sometimes your flights, your take home pay can actually be pretty good. Plus, this is not a career to go into if you want to make lots of money anyway.

Get qualified

You may not be surprised to learn that you cannot just turn up in a ski resort, claim to be able to handle a red slope with ease, and be given a job as an instructor. To even begin to be considered you will need an internationally recognised qualification. Many countries have their own version of the ski instructor qualification, but most will conform to the standards required by the ISIA (International Ski Instructors Association). So it is up to you whether you choose the British BASI qualification, the Canadian CSIA, or any other, but make sure you research which country accepts which qualification first. Most countries are fine with any ISIA standard, but others are more fussy.

Choosing which company to train with is another big decision. Take your time here and don't just go with the first company you find that sounds ok. The same course can last from one week to more than a month. Give them a call and ask why their course is better than the others. Some companies have strong links with local ski schools, which means they give you a much better chance of getting a job following your course. Some even go as far as offering a guaranteed job to anyone who completes the course and passes the exam. The option to train, qualify and work all in a single winter season is a great selling point, but make sure the job being offered is a genuine one before you sign up.

Finally, consider getting a higher qualification than just the standard entry level. Lots of people already have this. If you are serious about teaching then take it up a step. You'll have a better chance of employment, and you will earn more too.

Secure a teaching job

Once you have qualified it is time to hunt for jobs. As already mentioned, you may have the chance to work for the company you trained with, or one of its affiliates. But if you are in the seasonal pool of qualified instructors looking for work, make sure your CV stands out. Previous experience of teaching is a definite advantage. If you are looking for your first chance to teach skiing, why not spend the summer months getting teaching experience in another form. Volunteer for your local scout group, or in your village school. Your skiing skills may be second to none, but if are not able to convince the company that you can teach, you won't be much use to them as a ski instructor. But above all, make sure you get your application in as early as possible. It is a competitive market, so don't leave it until the season is about to begin or you will find that they are fully recruited for the coming season.

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