Internship Vs. Course – The Big Debate

In the last 3 years the popularity of ski instructor internships has soared and we are now inundated with applications for level 1 internships in Canada and New Zealand. This article will help answer some questions we often get asked about internships and ski instructor courses – and hopefully it will help you decide which to choose!

1) What is the difference between a ski instructor course and a ski instructor internship?

Ski internship or course – you’re all part of the same team!

In the first few weeks, there isn’t much difference at all! When you start an internship you take part in one of our level 1 ski instructor courses, you’ll receive the same benefits as those on a regular course (hotel accommodation, meals, lift pass etc) – as well as be introduced to your new employer. The only difference really, is during the first few weeks you’ll be set up with a bank account and Social Insurance Number and once you have taken the level 1 ski instructor exam you’ll move into staff accommodation and begin working for the ski school. Once in staff accommodation you then begin paying rent for your room and purchase your own meals.
On a season-long course, after the level 1 exam you remain in the hotel and continue to train towards level 2 and still be on the meal plan etc.

2) Is it cheaper to do an internship or a course? 

The upfront cost of a ski instructor internship is cheaper than the cost of an 11 week course, however once you take into account the cost of accommodation for the season, they work out a similar price overall.

A full season ski internship costs £5400, whereas an 11 week ski instructor course costs £6800.

The price difference is £1350 – given the 11 week course includes an additional 8 weeks of accommodation in the centre of a ski resort, a comprehensive meal plan, lift pass and expert tuition, it’s only £169 per week for those last 8 weeks!

After the initial 3 week training period, the intern is responsible for paying for accommodation and meals, this cost is usually between £500 – £1000 per month, depending on your accommodation and choice in food. Those on a shoe-string budget can make it work out cheaper than a course, however if you have a mid-expensive taste in food and prefer high-quality accommodation in a central location, an internship may end up costing more than a course overall!

3) I’m on a Gap Year, what looks better on my university and job applications? 

Both a ski instructor internship and course will give you a head start on applications. You receive profession ski tuition on both, and have the opportunity to come away with an internationally recognised qualification. The only difference is that on an internship you will have been paid for your work experience, whereas on a course you will have volunteer hours as a ski instructor. A benefit of being a trainee on a course is that you can shadow a wide range of lessons, from beginner to advanced whereas interns will predominantly get experience teaching beginners and low-level intermediates, and have the opportunity to shadow higher level classes on days off.

4) I want to work in Canada long term – what’s my best option?

For this option, a course is the best option. On a ski instructor course you don’t need a work permit, so your first winter in Canada is spent on a holiday visa. You can then apply for a working holiday visa (a 2 year work permit) and spend the next 2 years working as an instructor building up your experience. This way, you get 3 winters in Canada instead of just 2 winters like you would on an internship as you will use the 2 year working holiday visa as part of the first season.

5) I want a guaranteed job – can I get this on an internship or a course?

We have limited intern places because we offer a guaranteed job upon level 1 qualification, however this doesn’t mean you aren’t highly likely to get a job if you do a course. Winter Sports Company have great working relationships with several ski schools, and we always help trainees find work. If you want to work in Canada, Japan or Europe after your course we have very good contacts to help you find a job.


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