Why become a ski instructor?
What is being an instructor all about?
Working as a ski instructor is not just a career choice, it’s a lifestyle choice. If you love skiing or snowboarding and love being in the mountain then becoming a ski instructor is the ultimate way to live. If a boring office job, long commutes and living in a place where your only view is of the neighbour’s bathroom, then maybe living and working in a ski resort is a good option for you.
To become an working instructor you will need to be a seriously enthusiastic skier as your passion will soon become your life as you live, breath and ski your career. As a qualified instructor living and working in the mountains on the slopes all day, you will be responsible for helping people develop a passion for the sport that you love, now that is a serious responsibility. Sure it’s knackering, and there are days when your legs are killing and you don’t have the energy to get up the chair lift again, but you just have to pinch yourself, remember where you are, and get stoked off everyone else’s stoke!
Make the Mountains your Office
Cliche Alert… you really do “make the mountains your office”. This is where you turn up for work, build relationships, and complete the job at hand, but on the mountains instead of an office in Reading. As well as the fantastic skiing opportunities that come with the job there is also a great social element to becoming a ski instructor.
“Living and working with like minded people, you can be sure to build long lasting friendships”
No matter where you end up working there will always be a buzzing social scene both on and off the slopes and the saying work hard play hard really comes true. Working as a ski instructor you’ll also, meet new people all the time such as clients, other insturctors of people living the resort. And with all these new contacts you will build lasting relationships and some of these can lead to opportunities that you never imagined. The never ending social scene in the mountains, paired with the incredible skiing opportunity are definite pros for many of us that make a living as instructors.
Perks of the Job
Aside from the fact that you get to ski every day, you get a free lift pass, ski uniform, discounts all around town, and pretty decent pay. It is generally more lucrative than many other resort jobs, as a rookie instructor you can earn a decent amount and as you become more qualified and experienced you can continue to earn more.
There are also some small rewards that come with the job. Clients will put their trust in you and you can replace their fear and insecurity with confidence and pride which is a truly rewarding experience. You can watch their improvement and the joy they get out of becoming better at skiing and know it’s a result of your work. Over the years you’ll build up loyalties from returning customers and your employers and it great to know that people put their faith in you completely. And if all these emotions aren’t enough to motivate you maybe the tips will be!
“We know working as a ski instructor is the best way to spend a winter!”
What do you do if you want to become a ski instructor and live one of the ultimate lifestyles on the planet…?
Becoming a Ski Instructor : Our Guide
We know Choosing an instructor course can seem slightly overwhelming as there are so many options and variables to chose from, making picking the best course feel like an impossible task. Let us guide you through the stages and if you want anymore help just give us a call or drop us an email.
What Qualifications to Choose?
There are many different qualifications available all over the world, including BASI, which is the British qualification, CASI / CSIA which is Canadian and the New Zealand NZSIA / SBINZ. All these qualifications come under one governing body known as the ISIA. This makes them all internationally recognised and highly regarded. Globally, Level 2 is the minimum requirement needed to work as an Instructor in the Mountains, however you can generally teach domestically (in the country of your qualifications) after completing just your Level 1. For more information check out this more in-depth guide to ski instructor qualifications.
Working as a Ski Instructor in France
Teaching skiing and snowboarding in France is slightly more complicated but not as impossible as everyone first thinks. As a skier, once you have completed your Level 1 & 2 qualifications, you basically need to pass the Test Technique, which is a speed trial, and you need to come within a high percentage of the course openers time, if you can the you’re allowed to work as a ‘stagiere’ and can work at a number of listed ski schools. You then have 4 years to pass the Eurotest, this is the same principal as the Test Technique but on a Giant Slalom course. At the same time you need to gain the BASI Level 4, which by default supplies you with an ISTD liscense .
To become a snowboard instructor in France the process in similar but instead of the Test Technique you have to gain a certain number of points during a boarder cross competition.
Basecamp Director, Linley Lewis, was asked to write an article on the matter for the Telegraph, you can read his full article here.
So why do an Ski Instructor course?
A ski instructor courses provide everything for you which will ensure sure you have the best possible chance of qualifying and it can open up a lot of doors in the process! Once you have qualified the snowy mountains become your office and a bubble lift your daily commute.
An Instructor Course is also great value for money you simply cannot do it cheaper on your own if you want a decent amount of training as well. Our courses include your airport transfer, catered accommodation, lift pass, training and exam fees. You also get a cool looking uniform to wear while you’re training.
Most importantly we take the stress out of the organisation allowing you to focus on your training
Another great thing about completing an Instructor course is the network of new contacts you will make along the way, from people on your course to potential employees, the winter sports industry is a small world and you never know where a chat on a chair lift could lead.
Being fully prepared for your exams means that the time and money you have invested in qualifying will be worth your while and training 5 days a week with the highest qualified instructors ensures you are. The courses are so much more than just training however, they allow you to experience every aspect of living in a ski resort and all it has to offer, fomHeli-skiing in Canada to Aprés sessions at the Folie Douce in the Three Valleys, an Instructor course is jam packed with experiences.
How good at skiing do I need to be to do a ski instructor course?
One question we get asked a lot is how good do I need to be before the course starts. As a rough guide we say you should be confident on a red run and happy on a black. There is a link below to a video of our Head Ski Coach in Val d’Isere demonstrating the standard required for the Ski Instructor Course. Good people skills are also essential and patience, especially when it comes to teaching kids!
Working as a Ski Instructor
Once you have qualified you’ll then have the opportunity to work in Europe, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, etc., with internal training within the ski and snowboard school to further your progression. If you have completed your qualifications with Basecamp we then help you find employment, with links to Interski in Italy, Lake Lousie Ski and Snowboard School over in Banff and Club Med in Japan to name only a few.
What do People Say?
Every year we see a handful of people go of and get jobs all over the world! Check out the Life After Basecamp video below, or you might like to read Jame’s experience in Banff, Lake Louise.
What’s the next step??
We’re here to help you make the right choice, and are always happy to provide impartial advise. We have a team of past instructors who have been on our courses on hand to help chat you through all the different options and answer all the questions or concerns you might have.
You can check out our Ski Instructor Courses here, and start building up your credentials to and grab a job in the best industry in the world!
Which Ski Instructor qualification should I choose?
Choice can sometimes get the better of you, and deciding which ski instructor qualification to do can be a difficult decision. It’s common knowledge that you can teach skiing all around the world, however, which qualification to do is a question that has a lot of answers, pros and cons, which in turn can leave an aspiring ski instructor rather bemused. So we’ve tried to tackle the key issues and hopefully help you make an informed decision!
What ski instructor qualifications are there?
On the Basecamp courses we offer BASI, CSIA and NZSIA ski instructor qualifications. BASI is the British Association of Snowsport Instructors, CSIA the Canadian Ski Instructors Association and NZSIA the New Zealand Ski Instructor Association.
What is the difference?
There are all centrally governed by the ISIA (International Ski Instructor Association), and all offer worldwide recognition. So, in short they are all similar certifications, with similar recognition worldwide, and all have more domestic clout in their own country.
If I want to work around the world what level do I need to get to?
As a general rule of you can work in the domestic country with a Level 1 certification. For example if you have a CSIA Level 1, you can work in Canada – but no other country, with a BASI Level 1, you can work in Britain (good for snow domes) and so on. Only when you have a Level 2 qualification can you work internationally.
With BASI Level 2, you can work in Switzerland, Austria, regions of Italy, Andorra, Canada, America, South America, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, and The Canadian qualifications are recognised in Canada, America, Switzerland, Andorra, New Zealand, Australia and Japan. In order to work in France you need to pass their additional speed tests, which we’ll touch on below.
So with both options you can work all around the world, and generally speaking BASI has better recognition in Europe.
Any general tips?
It can be argued the Canadian instructor qualifications are a better option for those that are looking for a fast track into the industry, as you can gain employment in the mountains straight away (provided you have the appropriate visas) as the structure of ski resorts over in Canada make it much easier to work and qualify in the resort you have been trained in, and hence give new instructors plenty of opportunities within the ski industry. Take the Lake Louise Ski School as an example. Each season they employ 120 instructors, 50 of which are new, and of those 50, 30 are graduates from ski and snowboard instructor courses. In Canada and America, one company owns each mountain, so everyone on the mountain is employed within. This makes applying for instructor work more simple. It’s a matter of deciding which resort you want to be in, rather than finding a ski school to apply to, which in Europe can be difficult.
One thing to consider is that is that you can work in the mountains with a CSIA Level 1, whereas, with a BASI Level 1 you are restricted to artificial slopes, snow domes, and Scottish ski slopes, so you need to go that one step further to get work on the piste.
Why do a BASI qualification?
Many UK citizens see working within Europe, and especially the French mountains as the ultimate goal, and for those wishing to fulfil this dream doing a BASI qualification has an advantage over the Canadian system because it’s better recognised within Europe, and opens the gateway to the French dream much more clearly.
How do I work in France?
Commonly considered holy grail of ski instructing positions. You can expect this process to take up to 8 years to complete, with some considerable investment as well.
This is the process in a nutshell:
1. Hold the BASI Alpine Level 2 Instructor Qualification or the BASI Alpine Level 3 ISIA Qualification.
2. You then must pass the “Test Technique” – which is a slalom speed trial. This enables you to work as a ‘stagiaire’ with an approved ski school.
3. Having entered the stagiaire system, you have a 3-year period to complete the BASI Level 4 ISTD Qualification, which includes the European Speed Test.
Are the certifications transferable?
The initial qualification you gain is not the qualification you’re stuck with. It is possible to transfer if you decide it’s of benefit to change your certification. As a rule of thumb you will need to sit the certification on the new system you want to choose, which is of equal standing to your current level.
For example, if you head out to Canada, and work as a couple of seasons with a CSIA Level 2, if you decided to head back to Europe and wanted to benefit from BASI recognition, you can transfer your certification and would just need to take your BASI 2.
Think about where you want to be
From our perspective both certifications are strong, and generally speaking people get a bit too focussed on what system to go through. Both are globally recognised, and both offer long term prospects. Choosing the qualification that you think is best suited to you is important so bear the below in mind:
1. Where do I want to do my instructors qualification? Then just do the certification on offer in that country as default.
2. Do I want to end up teaching in France? If so then BASI is probably the route for you
3. Where do I see myself spending future seasons? Choose it by the location, and if you pick Canada initially decide to switch to Europe it is possible to transfer your certification without too much trouble.
With the information in this article and the three questions above, an informed decision on how to become a ski instructor and which qualification route to take will hopefully be simpler.
We hope that helped you a bit. If you have any other questions fire them off below, drop us an email, or reach out on Twitter.