How to choose the right ski instructor course for you.
You’ve probably spent quite a bit of time researching instructor courses. You want to do it, but can’t decide on which direction to go. You’ll never regret becoming a ski instructor but knowing what you want out of the experience is a good place to start.
Is it a gap year experience or a career choice?
If it’s a gap year then many of your choices come down to whether you want to learn and earn that year or simply enjoy an experience, free from responsibility. A course gives you the benefit of gaining a qualification that looks great on your CV, and may come in handy for a seasons work in the future. An Internship gets you qualified that season and working as a fully paid instructor at your chosen ski school. There’s a whole debate over which is the best, so much so that we’ve written another blog dedicated to the question, find out more HERE.
After that, it’s where do you want to do it? If you haven’t got any real plans of making a ski instructor your permanent career, then the ticket you qualify in becomes less important. Where would you love to spend a season? What’s the most important factor for you, snow, terrain or night life? If you can rate these in order of preference it can really help to guide you towards the right country and then the right resort. For snow and varied terrain Canada is hard to beat, while the likes of Verbier is renowned for its Apres Ski.
After all of that the biggest final deciding factor may simply be cost. As much as we hate to admit it, your budget is going to have a huge influence on which ski instructor course you choose and for how long. It pays to spend some time looking at exactly what you’re going to get with each provider. Most providers offer very similar packages but write it down so you can compare. You may find that the more expensive course doesn’t actually get you more. We have a huge range of ski instructor courses for all budgets with no hidden extras so you know exactly what you’re booking.
If an instructors job is something that you’re planning on doing more long term then you need to consider which governing body you want to qualify in. Although many tickets are accepted around the world, you will find each country tends to lean towards their own system. If you have a real preference on where you want to work then it makes sense to qualify in that countries system.
All ISIA (International Ski Instructors Association) affiliated ski instructor courses are recognised worldwide and in many cases can be transferred to another body. This doesn’t mean that all courses are the same and the one you choose could affect the direction of your career. Here is a handy guide for qualifications in three of the main governing bodies, you can also check out our Qualifications page for more in depth info.
British Association of Snowsport Instructors
The Career Path
- You can achieve the BASI Alpine level 1 qualification in many of the snow domes and dry slopes within the UK. BASI level 1 allows you to teach on artificial slopes.
- BASI Alpine level 2 has to be taken in the mountains and many course providers combine BASI level 1 & 2 into a 10 week programme. Upon completion of Level 2 you are able to teach beginner to intermediate skiers across much of Europe, Canada, America, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, South America and even Dubai.
- BASI Alpine level 3 allows you to teach up to and beyond parallel skiing across the world – including France (Dependent on instructors becoming a stagiaire or passing the Test Technique – more information on the BASI website)
- BASI Alpine level 4 gives you the highest level of employability, and you can teach up to the highest levels of skiing, it can take 3 – 5 years to reach this level.
The Benefits of BASI
BASI qualifications are recognised across Europe including France, if working within Europe is your main goal then choosing a BASI course could prove to be beneficial when applying for jobs. If you are from the UK, working within the EU can be considered ‘easier’ than other countries such as Canada, America, New Zealand and Australia because you don’t require a working visa.
Most ski instructor qualifications will take you across the world, but there has never been a better time for ski instructor employment within the UK – Britain currently has 6 indoor snow domes with plans for more being submitted every year! Each snow dome has a team of instructors, and your BASI qualification is recognised from level 1.
Canadian Ski Instructors Alliance
The Career Path
- Upon passing the CSIA level 1 ski instructor course you can teach entry level to intermediate skiers. Unlike other courses you are able to teach on the mountain as soon as you have passed your CSIA level 1. Many ski instructor internships include guaranteed jobs as a level 1 for a full season once qualified.
- CSIA level 2 gives you a more in depth understanding of technique and methodology and you can teach up to intermediate parallel skiing.
- CSIA level 3 allows you to teach advanced parallel skiing, off piste and moguls. You can also train instructors in the CSIA level 1 and 2 programmes and examine CSIA level 1. Visa sponsorship for working as an instructor in Canada usually requires level 3 as a minimum.
- CSIA level 4 allows you to develop skiers at all levels and train future instructors, at this level employment opportunities are greatly increased.
The Benefits of CSIA
CSIA qualifications are recognised internationally in Canada, America, Switzerland, New Zealand, Japan, Dubai, Australia and Andorra. The CSIA level 1 ski instructor course is seen as a ‘fast track’ into the industry and is an ‘all mountain’ qualification, however CSIA level 2 and above are comparable with other internationally recognised ski instructor qualifications. European and New Zealand employers expect level 2 as a minimum in all qulifications.
Ski resorts in Canada are different to those across Europe, some resorts and mountains are owned by companies and because the company employs all the staff on the mountain it can be easier to train and gain work within the resort. CSIA qualifications are more recognised in Canada than other international qualifications, so if working within the Canadian Rockies is your ambition, then becoming CSIA certified could be more beneficial for you.
New Zealand Snowsport Instructors Alliance
The Career Path
- NZSIA ski level 1 allows you to teach first time skiers up to advanced wedged turns (beginner skiers). You can teach on the slopes as soon as you have passed.
- NZSIA ski level 2 progresses your career and builds on your skills as an instructor allowing you to teach wedge parallel turns to advanced parallel turns (intermediate skiers).
- NZSIA ski level 3 allows you to teach ‘all mountain situations’. You can take the NZSIA ski level 3 if you hold NZSIA level 2 or an equivalent foreign qualification.
- Unlike other international qualifications the NZSIA operate a 3 level system with the option to take additional ‘speciality’ courses. These courses are in coaching, free ski, teaching children and avalanche awareness, upon completion instructors will be awarded the ISIA stamp.
The Benefits of NZSIA Ski
NZSIA qualifications are recognised worldwide, particularly in the English speaking world. Traditionally outside of New Zealand the minimum for employment is level 2 – although this is typical of many international qualifications.
NZSIA ski qualifications are more recognised in New Zealand than other equivalent certificates, if working in New Zealand is your main goal then NZSIA ski is for you.
You can train for the NZSIA ski qualification during the European summer, being qualified by the end of September means you’re armed and ready with your NZSIA level 2 certification to spend the following season teaching in America, Canada, Europe and more.
What to do next?
Once you have decided on which is the best ski instructor course for you, research the programme thoroughly, make a booking and have the season of a lifetime!