How to Become a Certified Ski Instructor

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What if you could get out on the hills every day and actually be paid for it? It might seem too good to be true, but that’s not the case. Being a ski instructor is a popular job worldwide, and almost anyone who skis can do it. 

I love everything about skiing and have turned that passion into a lifelong pursuit. Working in the ski industry is always alluring, and I’ve done a lot of research to find out what it takes to become a ski instructor. 

I’ll highlight all of the important steps of becoming a ski instructor in this post. From certifications to necessary skills to everything else you need to know, I’ll cover it in-depth here. 

Let’s get rolling. 

Widely-recognized Ski Instructor Qualifications

There are a handful of different ski instructor qualification programs out there. Most resorts will require you to have at least one of these to ensure you have the necessary skills and experience to teach others how to ski correctly.

The qualifications are available in different tiers. Level 1 is the most basic and often the first certification you need to get started. From there, you can get other qualifications to earn more money or teach more advanced-level skiers. 

Here are a few of the most widely-recognized ski instructor qualifications: 

ISIA – International Ski Instructors Association

The ISIA is the main governing body for all other ski instructor qualifications. This association provides a database that helps people earn qualifications based on the region of the world in which they live. All other credible associations should be members of the ISIA.

PSIA – Professional Ski Instructors of America 

This is the main ski instructor qualification program in the US. It provides many qualification courses and standards that are required for many of the ski resorts in North America. 

CSIA – Canadian Ski Instructor’s Alliance 

This is the most widely recognized ski instructor qualification in Canada. It offers various certification programs and other resources for potential ski instructors. 

BASI – British Association of Snowsport Instructors

This is the ski and snowboard instructor qualification program in the US. It’s another member of the ISIA and is recognized across the globe. 

How to Become a Certified Ski Instructor: Step-by-Step

Here are the steps you need to take to become a certified ski instructor.  

1. Outline Your Goals

Before you ever become an instructor, you need to develop a plan and have some goals. This is something people should do before embarking on any career change, including being a ski instructor. 

Goal-setting helps keep you on track and motivated throughout your potentially long journey. You need to think about things like where you want to work, what type of skiing you want to teach, and what kinds of people you want to teach. 

Considering all of these things will help you come up with a plan of how you want to achieve your goals. Without goals, the process of becoming an instructor could be longer and more stressful.

2. Be a Skilled Skier

To be a ski instructor, you need to be a talented skier. No one will want to be instructed by an individual who can hardly ski themselves. You should have a lot of experience and be comfortable on a range of different terrains in various weather conditions.

However, don’t think you need to have Olympic quality talent. It is more about your passion for the sport, your patience, and your ability to help others learn the basics. These are all qualities of a good instructor.

Even though you may already be a talented skier, you will likely want to take some private lessons yourself. These can help you brush up on your fundamentals, and better prepare you to teach others. 

Learning how other instructors work and present themselves can also be of value

3. Have a Lot of Patience

If you want to be a successful ski instructor, you need to have a lot of patience. People aren’t always going to grasp what you are teaching them immediately, and if that frustrates you, being a ski instructor likely isn’t right for you.

Also, people will learn at different paces and in different ways, so you need to be prepared for that. Not only that, but the process of becoming a successful ski instructor can be a lengthy one. 

You need to have the patience to spend months or potentially years honing your craft and building up your skills and qualifications. Even once you’re qualified and certified, there are no guarantees that you’ll find a position.

4. Register with the Governing Body in Your Country

In most areas, in order to work as a ski instructor and find success, you will need to register with a governing body. There are various ones across the world, but in the USA, the major association is the PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America). 

They are responsible for issuing qualifications and helping teach people to improve their skills. Simply by registering doesn’t mean you’re an instructor yet. You simply now have better access to information and resources to help you improve your knowledge and skills. 

You should attend seminars, learn about what being a ski instructor entails in your area and eventually, begin your training to become certified.

5. Train and Work Towards Getting Certified

The ultimate goal is to be certified as an instructor. There are many different levels of certification. Most systems have three or four levels of certification. You can get Level I, II, or III certifications from the PSIA.

The PSIA clearly outlines its process for getting certified to keep it as easy as possible. Before trying to become certified, be sure to put some time into training and studying, as that could be the difference between passing or failing your exam.

How to Get a Job After Becoming a Certified Ski Instructor

Once you get your certification, it’s time to start your job hunt. Nearly every ski resort lists available job opportunities online, and that’s a great way to begin your search for a ski instructor job. 

If you know the ideal location or area you want to work in, search the websites of the resorts in that area. Once you find an available ski instructor job, the application process should be easy to follow online. 

Check to see that you meet all of the job requirements, such as certification level or previous experience. And it always helps to have a good reference or two from other people you might have skied or worked with in the past. 

If you can’t find a job through a ski resort website, you can always visit the location in person. If you go to the ski and snowboard lessons location of the resort, you’ll be able to find someone who can direct you to a hiring manager or at least give you a job application.  

FAQs

Here are some quick answers to the most commonly asked questions about becoming a ski instructor. 

Do I need to be able to speak a second language to become a ski instructor? 

This depends on what your native language is. Typically, you’ll need to speak the language of the country you want to be a ski instructor in. So if you’re in the US, you’ll need to speak English. Make sure to check any language requirements when you apply for a job. 

How long does it take to become a ski instructor? 

A typical Level 1 certification usually takes anywhere from 2-5 weeks, and then you can start working. Advanced level certifications will take quite a bit longer, and you can expect anywhere from 10-16 weeks for Level 2 and Level 3. 

How much does it cost to become a ski instructor? 

Most ski instructor qualification courses will cost you $5,000 to $7,000 to complete. That’s a pretty considerable investment, but you will have access to good jobs, and the cost usually includes a ski pass as well. 

How much do you get paid as a ski instructor? 

The average pay for a Level 1 ski instructor is about $20/hour but can vary from resort to resort and location to location. You’ll earn more with higher-level certifications. Anywhere from $15 to $40+ an hour can be expected. 

Read More: How Much Do Ski Instructors Make

Final Words

Becoming a ski instructor can be a very fun and rewarding job, especially if you want to get paid to ski. There aren’t many jobs out there that let you stay on the snow all day long and help others develop the same love of the sport that you have. 

It will cost some money upfront to get certified, but once you have done that, you will have access to many different job opportunities around the world. You also get a free ski pass, which is always a benefit!

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