There are a few ways to become a ski instructor, but they all involve a similar path and require the same level of dedication.
In brief, you’re going to need:
- A Recognised Ski Instructor Qualification
- Relevant Experience
- A CV and Reference
- Working Visa
But how good do you have to be?
If you’re looking to take a ski instructor course, then you need to have some basic skills. But you don’t need to be as advanced as you might think. If your happy linking turns on a blue run and can control your speed, you’re probably ok to join either a Level 1 course or an 11 week Level 1 and 2, but phone us to find out first. We’ve even had a client come out and learn to ski in a week, before joining a course (Scott’s now a Level 3 instructor, you can read about his incredible journey Here). Courses give you the most time to work on your techniques and skills, while having everything organised for you.
If you’re planning on doing this independently, then you need to be a confident and experienced skier. You should be linking turns at speed on red runs and ideally had lessons so that your technique is already up to scratch.
1) Get Qualified!
You can do this in numerous ways and in many countries. Most governing bodies have qualifications that run from levels 1 to 4. To find work internationally you’ll need to set your sights on reaching Level 2 as a minimum. That’s not to say you can’t work with a Level 1 ticket, but it limits your options. Large resorts often reserve their Level 1 instructor positions for those on designated internships or with proven teaching experience. If you’re happy to work at a more rural ski hill then a Level 1 may be enough to get your foot in the door.
The most popular English speaking qualifications are with the CSIA (Canada), BASI (British) and NZSIA (New Zealand). They are all members of the ISIA and, as such are recognised in 37 other ISIA member countries. If you want to know more about the recommended qualifications, go to What qualifications do you need to be a ski instructor?
Ski Instructor Course
If you don’t live in the appropriate country already, the quickest and simplest way to become qualified is to join a Ski instructor Course. Courses provide you with everything you need from the training to accommodation, travel and food. On a typical 11 week program, you’ll have the chance to take both your level 1 and 2, while being supported the whole way. You can expect to train for 3 weeks, then take the level 1 exam. After which, you’ll have a short break before training for 6 weeks to take the level 2 exam. With all the arrangements made, you can focus on training, having fun and enjoying the experience.
Ski Instructor Internship
Popular among 18-30-year-olds, an internship is a great way to become an instructor if you are eligible for a Canadian or New Zealand working holiday visa. Interns tend to achieve Level 1 and 2 in one season but start work straight after completing their Level 1. An Internship opens up the door to work at large mountain resorts, which otherwise would not be possible for a newly qualified Level 1. An internship is a cheaper initial cost. However, once qualified, you’ll be moving into staff accommodation which you then have to pay for, as well as your food.
There’s nothing to stop you from signing up for a level 1 exam and subsequent level 2 independently. Your only issue is finding accommodation if you don’t already live in that country and also any subsequent training. If you’re an advanced skier then you may be able to take the level 1 exam without too much extra training but level 2 is a big step up. Without a course, you need to aim to have a couple of seasons’ work under your belt before attempting it. To find work with your Level 1, you may have to look to the rural and smaller resorts to start with. But it’s all achievable if you’re willing to compromise.
2) Get relevant experience
It’s hard to get the experience before you get your first real ski instructor job, and its hard to get the job without experience. Welcome to catch 22! So how do you get around this problem?
You’ll get lots of time to shadow real ski lessons on a ski instructor course. Shadowing helps to build up your experience for the exams but is also something that you can put on your CV. Don’t underestimate the relevance of shadow teaching. It shows the ski school that you’re committed and have worked within the ski school environment, even if unpaid.
Ski instructor internships navigate this problem and it’s one reason why they’re so popular. It gets you straight in the door at a large resort with a Level 1 certificate but no instructor experience. But be prepared to prove that you’re the type of person they want. Remeber you’ll still have to send a cv and have an interview, even on an internship.
The good news is that you don’t have to have just ski instructor experience. Ski schools are looking for all relevant experience. That might be teaching another sport, coaching kids or being responsible for small groups. Maybe you’ve got your Duke of Edinburgh or volunteered at your local Scouts. It’s all good stuff to have and it’s what a ski school is looking for in a new instructor. If you haven’t yet got anything, then look in your local area. Find how you can help out, it’s never too late and it all helps to make a great CV.
3) Writing a CV and getting a reference.
You’re going to need to write a CV/Resume. It doesn’t need to be a novel, just 1 page but it needs to clearly state any relevant qualifications and experience for the position. Ideally, you also need to add a reference. This might be from an employer, a teacher or even your Rep if you’ve attended a ski instructor course.
It also helps to write a covering letter explaining why you want to be a ski instructor at that school. It’s all pretty simple stuff but you want to get it right and we’ve compiled a list of useful hints in the following ‘How to write a CV’ Blog.
4) Working Holiday Visa
You may be fortunate enough to live in a country with ski resorts right on your doorstep, lucky you! You may also have dual nationality for one of these wonderful countries, which gets your foot in the door. But if you’re like us mear non-alpine mortals, you’re going to have to rely on a working holiday visa. As you work up the Levels and become more experienced, you may be able to look to sponsorship. However, to start off the working holiday visa is your best option. Most countries provide visas for 18 – 35-year-olds and are easy to obtain in some cases. It can be a lottery for other countries, which can be rather nerve-racking and takes pre-planning.
When applying for a ski instructor job, the first thing your future employer will want to know is ‘have you got the right to work’. If you don’t, then they’re very unlikely to even consider you for an interview. For this reason, you need to think ahead and sort out your visa as soon as possible. For further details on working holiday visa applications, look to our dedicated Visa Page.
So now you’ve got an idea of what’s involved. You need to start thinking about where you want to go and which is going to be the best course for you? Either jump on our Blog ‘which is the best ski instructor course’ or start looking at courses on our Ski Instructor Courses page.
If you need to chat or have any questions, we’re more than happy to point you in the right direction to help find the right course for you.