How to become a Ski Instructor in France
The journey to becoming a ski instructor in France is often shrouded with confusion and misinformation – we’ll take you through everything you need to know to make it a little clearer.
Ok so first and foremost it’s not going to be easy but not impossible. If you’re a skier then its a long but achievable process but if you’re sights are set on being a snowboard instructor it’s another story. Snow boarding is not treated as an independent discipline in France and there is no slalom for boarders – you need to be a competent ski racer to pass the speed tests.
France has a ski-race culture, most French ski instructors have grown up racing, and the chosen minimum standard for being a ski instructor in France is the completion of a grand slalom speed test – set by a French pro racer. There is no point beating around the bush with this one, if you can’t take the pace, you will not be able to teach in France.
Dispelling the myths: It is no easier for a Frenchman to become an instructor in France than it is for an Englishman. Becoming a ski instructor in France is a competitive career path – so the standards have been set very high, it is not a disservice to the industry (after all we all want competent instructors our there), it is just a different way of doing things from a level 1-4 based system.
And finally… if you can’t already, start learning French because top level instructors must be bi-lingual.
Enter The French System From The Bottom
Step 1 – The Test Technique
The Test Technique is a timed slalom – at the start of the day a professional skier will set a time, and you have to get within a percentage of that time (usually within 15-18%). The Test Technique requires training – and a lot of it. You will not become a ski racer overnight, and essentially, you won’t be able to teach in France unless you meet the calibre of a professional racer.
Step 2 – Preformation
This stage 2 examination alongside the Test Technique allows you to move forward into paid employment within a French Ski School as a Stagiere.
Step 3 – Stagiare Status
This means you are a trainee, and you will complete an apprenticeship under the French system. In France you do not qualify at different levels, you are either a trainee instructor, or a fully qualified instructor – there is no in between. You will be required to take part in training and complete modules as a Stagiare over the course of four years.
Step 4 – Eurotest
The Eurotest is a giant slalom speed test – it is tougher than the Test Technique. The Eurotest is no easy feat, the time is set by a pro ski racer and you must get within a percentage of that time (around 10%) to pass. Your technique has to be flawless and you’ve got to be fast!
Once you have completed all French modules and passed the Eurotest, you are now qualified to teach in France.
Enter The French System As A BASI Level 2
Step 1 – Get your Level 2 Ski Instructor qualification
The ESF recognise BASI level 2 as an entry level qualification in to their system. Spend a season or two getting your level 2, then work towards the test technique.
Step 2 – The Test Technique
The Test Technique is a prerequisite of teaching in France – you will not get around it! The timed slalom is set by a professional skier and you have to get within a percentage of their time. The test technique requires training, you will not become a racing skier overnight.
Step 3 – Stagiare Status
Once you have BASI level 2 certification under your belt and have passed the Test Technique, you can apply to join a French Ski School as a trainee (called Stagiare status). You then have 4 years to reach BASI Level 4.
Step 4 – Eurotest
The Eurotest is a giant slalom speed test. This is no mean feat – the time is set by a pro ski racer, and you must get within a percentage of that time (usually around 10%) to pass. Your technique has to be flawless and you’ve got to be fast!
Once you have completed all BASI level 4 modules and passed the Eurotest, you are now qualified to teach in France. You should expect all of this to take a minimum of 4 – 6 years.
Train to BASI-ISTD
BASI is one of only a few national instructor bodies in the world recognised by the French system.
The difference between entering the French system and completing your BASI journey independently is time and place. As part of the French system, you will be in France, usually in the same resort and must achieve level 4 status within 4 years. If you choose to complete your BASI training outside of France, you will have the opportunity to work and train across the world, you can also take your time and not worry about not completing within four years. (Although, doing those slalom tests at a younger age will greatly increase you chances of passing).