Learn a New Skill by Choosing A Ski or Snowboard Internship For Your Gap Year

By Rik Dyson | 7 min Read |  9th June 2023

Here are just some of the reasons for doing an internship in a foreign country and how it will benefit your gap year.

  • Learn new skills.
  • Improve your CV with further qualifications.
  • Pay your way whilst travelling.
  • Utilise a community safety net with a work abroad programme.
  • Make friends easily, all with a common goal.
  • Take a much deeper dive into new cultures.
  • Build your confidence in areas you wouldn’t expect.

Work Abroad Schemes

Are you seeking an adventure that combines personal growth, learning opportunities, and unforgettable experiences? And yes, of course, making some money on the side?? Come on, who isn’t?
To work abroad as a ski or snowboard instructor allows you to engage yourself in a new culture, develop valuable skills, and create memories that will last a lifetime. Whether you have a passion for winter sports like skiing and snowboarding or want to explore new horizons, working abroad can be a transformative experience.

This blog post will explore why working abroad as a ski or snowboard instructor is an inspiring choice, the valuable skills you can acquire, and how to successfully navigate the process. Moreover, it will focus on fun, friendship and learning new skills. These working trips are exceptional.

So, let’s embark on this exciting journey and discover how to work abroad, learn new skills, and make some fabulous memories.

Get Qualified

To pursue a career as a ski or snowboarding instructor, it’s essential to ensure that you have the necessary qualifications. Courses from established providers are a great way to gain the required skills and certifications. Research reputable training programs that offer ski and snowboard instructor courses in your desired location.

The qualifications required may vary depending on the country or region where you plan to work as an instructor. Time to take a look at some popular destinations:


To become a ski or snowboard instructor in Canada, you typically would need certifications from recognised organisations such as the Canadian Ski Instructors’ Alliance (CSIA) or the Canadian Association of Snowboard Instructors (CASI). Currently, one of the best countries to work in due to the number of work visas you can obtain.


In the United States, the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) and the American Association of Snowboard Instructors (AASI) provide nationally recognised certifications for ski and snowboard instructors.


There are too many to note here, but you can use the ISIA members page for reference. Each have their own certification systems, for example, the British Association of Snowsport Instructors (BASI) in the UK and the Ecole du Ski Français (ESF) in France. Research the specific requirements and certifications needed for the country you’re interested in. There has been a decline in the European market since Brexit. Additionally, the ESF system is notoriously difficult to climb through the ranks to reach an employable status. Austria has some good options as does Switzerland. Being eligible to work in Europe is the first hurdle, so make sure you check this first. At the time of writing if you haven’t got a European passport then its difficult to get a job as an instructor.

New Zealand

The New Zealand Snowsports Instructors Alliance (NZSIA) offers certifications for ski and snowboard instructors in New Zealand. These highly regarded certifications provide opportunities to work in the country’s stunning ski resorts. Ski school managers will likely take on most certifications if the instructor is experienced. This system hierarchy is considered more challenging to climb as there are only 3 levels compared to the standard 4 levels in other countries. So each level is a more significant jump up!

For more detailed information on internships and instructor courses, visit our website, where we provide comprehensive guidance and resources to help you kick-start your journey as a ski or snowboarding instructor. It will help you decide whether a Course or Internship is right for you.

Research Where You Want to Work

Before you embark on your journey to work abroad as a ski or snowboard instructor, it’s essential to research and choose the ideal location that aligns with your goals and interests. Start by checking out different resorts and find out what sets them apart. Each resort offers a unique experience, from world-class slopes to vibrant après-ski scenes. Consider factors such as the resort’s reputation, the size of the ski area, the variety of terrain, and the overall atmosphere.

In addition to resort research, it’s crucial to understand the requirements for ski instructors in your chosen destination. Different countries and resorts may have specific qualifications and certifications necessary for instructors. To coin a Warren Miller phrase, ” You can only do 4 things with skis, turn left, turn right, go straight or sell them”.
In our opinion, there are only so many ways to teach skiing, so don’t get too hung up about which certification you do. However, familiarise yourself with the requirements and determine the credentials you need to obtain.

Each country has its own governing body. For instance, the Canadian Ski Instructors’ Alliance (CSIA) certification is highly regarded in Canada, NZ, Japan, China, and South America, States, among other countries. Research the certifications required in your desired location and plan accordingly.

To gain insights into alternative ski destinations, check out our blog post on “5 Alternatives to Whistler for your Ski Instructor Training.” It highlights unique ski resorts worldwide that offer incredible experiences beyond well-known destinations. Exploring these alternatives might unveil hidden gems and open new possibilities for your winter adventure.

ski instructor with pupils completing a turn

Apply for an Internship or an Instructor Course

Once you have determined the qualifications needed and researched the training programs, it’s time to apply for an internship or an instructor course that suits your goals and aspirations. Consider the following factors when making your decision:

Which one is right for you?

Choosing between an internship and an instructor course depends on your preferences and objectives. An internship typically offers a more immersive experience, allowing you to work and gain practical teaching experience while receiving training.

On the other hand, an instructor course focuses primarily on acquiring the necessary certifications. It may provide a more structured learning environment. Check out our 50-page free guide, The Ultimate Ski & Snowboard Internship Guide, Canada 2023.

Gather the essential documents:

Ensure you have all the required documents before applying for a job. These may include your updated resume, passport, references, and other necessary paperwork. Having these prepared in advance will streamline the application process. If you are applying for an Internship, your provider will guide you to what is required and when.

Which is the best ski instructor course?

Choosing the right instructor course is crucial for your development and overall experience. Check out our blog post on “Choosing the Best Ski Instructor Course to gain valuable insights and guidance on selecting the program that aligns with your needs.

Which is the best snowboarding instructor course?

If snowboarding is your passion, you’ll want to explore the best options for snowboarding instructor courses. Our blog post on “Choosing the Best Snowboarding Instructor Courses” provides detailed information on reputable programs to help you enhance your snowboarding skills while becoming a certified instructor.

Make Preparations

Before embarking on your adventure working abroad, preparations are essential to ensure a smooth transition and an enjoyable experience. Here are some key aspects to consider:

Learn about local culture, customs, and language: Familiarise yourself with your chosen destination’s culture and customs. Understanding the local etiquette and traditions will help you adapt more quickly and interact respectfully with the local community. 

For example, working and training in Japan, Quebec, Austria, Argentina or China, which all have strong cultures, helps to learn these local habits and some basic phrases in the local language will be beneficial and enhance your overall experience and might keep you out of trouble! 


Research housing options:

Look into options available near the resort or the surrounding area. Some resorts offer employee housing or assistance in finding suitable accommodation. Research online platforms and local rental agencies, or connect with fellow instructors to explore shared housing opportunities.


Ensure you have the suitable kit ready:

Make a checklist of the essential gear and equipment you’ll need for your job as a ski or snowboarding instructor. This may include skis, snowboards, boots, and appropriate clothing. Depending on the resort and position, some gear may be provided, so checking with the resort beforehand is essential.


Brush up on your fitness:

Working as a ski or snowboarding instructor requires physical stamina and endurance. Engage in pre-season fitness training to prepare your body for the job’s demands. Strengthen your core, improve your cardiovascular fitness, and focus on exercises that target the muscles used in skiing or snowboarding. Consider checking out our recommended Snow Ready Fitness Program for winter sports enthusiasts for more guidance. We always say turn up fit and on the right gear and you are halfway there to passing your exams!


Pack for the Adventure

Packing appropriately for your experience is essential to ensure you have everything you need while keeping your luggage manageable. Here are some considerations for packing:

Consider checking with the resort about what gear is provided or if you need to bring your equipment. Some resorts may offer rentals or provide necessary gear for instructors, such as skis, snowboards, or helmets. 

Now, let’s take a look at a suggested packing list for your working abroad adventure:

Here is a summary.

Ski or snowboard equipment: If you have your own equipment, bring it along. Include skis, snowboards, boots, bindings, poles, and a helmet. If you’re renting gear or if the resort provides it, consider bringing essentials like goggles and gloves.

Appropriate clothing: Pack various layers suitable for different weather conditions on the mountain. Include thermal base layers, mid-layers, waterproof outerwear, socks, gloves, and hats. Remember to pack proper footwear for off-mountain activities. It can get slushy at the bottom! Some winters in certain countries can be much colder than others so check first.

Personal items and toiletries: From hangovers to hamstrings. What are you prone to? Bring toiletries, medications, and any necessary insurance documents or identification. Consider bringing a small first aid kit with painkillers, scissors, tweezers, and strapping tape for minor injuries or ailments. 

Electronics and accessories: Remember your phone, charger, camera, and other electronic devices you may need. Pack adapters if necessary, and consider a power bank for on-the-go charging. But think about the voltage in that country, does it match yours? Ladies, ditch the hairdryer if it isn’t!

Other essentials: Remember to pack essentials such as a reusable water bottle, sunscreen, sunglasses, a backpack, and a lock for your locker. 


Embrace the Experience

Working abroad as a ski or snowboard instructor is not just about honing your teaching skills but immersing yourself in a new culture, forging lifelong friendships, and creating unforgettable memories. Here are some tips to make the most of your experience:

Get involved in resort activities and events:

Resorts often host various activities and events for staff. Some are really ramshackle and hilarious, some are professional events. Meet other instructors, learn from experienced professionals, and make new friends. 

Explore the local area:

Explore the surroundings beyond the slopes. Discover nearby towns, try local cuisine, and engage in activities unique to the region. Whether ice fishing, dog sledging, or relaxing in natural hot springs, immersing yourself in the local culture will enrich your time abroad.

Document your journey:

Capture your experiences through photos, videos, or a journal. I’m not saying brag your way around the world but use social media to save your memories. Life starts to blur together after a while, and it’s great to look back or stay connected with family.


workers standing in front of the snow school building smiling

Arrive At The Resort Ready To Learn

Our best advice to you is get a good idea of what is required from you when you arrive, that way you will know what to expect and won’t be caught off guard. Ask your provider and yourself:

Do I need lessons before I arrive?

Should I take a beginners course or something more appropriate to my level?

Always approach the training, the job and the industry with a humble mind. Every day is a school day and there are always people around you young and old that can teach you a thing or too. So try not to be the know it all or the over confident one. “Be the sponge” as Confucius says, soak up the knowledge and wisdom from all those individuals and as someone equally philosophical said “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what your going to get”


Working abroad as a ski or snowboard instructor is an incredible opportunity to combine your passion for winter sports with personal and professional growth. Sure, you will make some mistakes, but don’t we all?

You’re not trying hard enough if you aren’t! Just don’t let them define you! You will gain invaluable wisdom from them and flourish as a result whatever your age. You can embark on a fun, friendship-filled once-in-a-lifetime journey. Embrace the experience, create lifelong memories, and open doors to new possibilities while working abroad as a ski or snowboard instructor.

With The Wintersports Company Internships, we’re here to support you every step of the way, providing guidance, resources, and a network of fellow snow enthusiasts. Above all, we are obsessed with helping you achieve your goals. 

 So, what are you waiting for? Start your adventure now and make your dream of working abroad a reality!

Get to it!!

Got Some Other Questions?

People also ask……

What should I expect from my Internship?

They are an entire season long programme with training and work placement guaranteed. You will get your Level 1 and can take further advanced Level 2 training.

Do I need a visa?

Yes you need to be eligible for an IEC Working Holiday visa. Find out more with one of our free guides. 


When do I need to start applying?

Generally speaking you need to apply before the visa office opens in January so that you get the best pick of the internships. By June, most of the internships will have already disappeared.

Who else will I be doing this with?

Internships mostly suit people wanting a gap year experience so expect pre and post uni students to be applying, however we always get quite a few 25-30 year olds applying too.


Find out all of the most frequently asked questions