To anyone interested in commenting. I am a Level II instructor. I just completed my 4th season teaching (2010/2011) and was full time for the past two seasons. Recent discussions with fellow instructors often leads to complaints with PSIA or our ski school.
In the simplest analysis, ski instruction (in addition to the student) involves the instructor, PSIA, and the ski school (or "industry"). In virtually every PSIA publication, at least one article discusses the value of PSIA membership. For instructors, you pay dues, get publications, pro-form, and attend clinics or take exams for certification. Theorethically, in our country's economic system, certification, licensing, or whatever you'd like to call it would be recognized as being valuable and some form of increased compensation would arise due to that "certified" unique and valuable skill. At the mountain where I have taught, I recently learned that NO raises are given for any type of certification.
PSIA's continuing discussions of "value" to members (Fall 2011 32 Degrees President's Column, for instance) suggests that it has a brand problem, as it appears that the Industry does not recognize the value of PSIA membership or certification. Where I have taught, PSIA membership or certification is not discussed, encouraged or rewarded. Yet, the ski school proudly hangs a PSIA plaque on the wall and the mountain's website touts "our PSIA" instructors. The ski school is run by a level III who chairs a division committee.
I recognize that PSIA is not a labor union. My question is what rules, if any, apply to ski schools that display that PSIA plaque?
I am experiencing a classic "free rider" problem, I pay dues, get certification, and the mountain gets my skills, but doesn't pay me or any other instructor for it, and gladly hires "unskilled" labor at similar rates. If PSIA is spending marketing dollars on the "go with a pro" program, wouldn't it in some (enforceable) way be helpful if any consumer could identify that ski schools are participating in the program, literally and figuratively, so that the consumer can choose intelligently what ski school to purchase instruction from? (I hope you can see where I'm going with this reasoning). Under the situation I experience, the poor student (consumer) is essentially playing russian roulette with their dollars when purchasing their inital lesson, especially when ski school supervisors who assign lessons have no certification, and assign lessons to instructors who are uncertified, etc. If not, meaning beginning skiers are ignorant as to whether a ski school plays by PSIA rules, etc., what I see continuing is: (1) PSIA gets paid its dues: (2) certified ski instructors will continue to be paid poorly (and hence question why they pay PSIA dues); (3) mountains/industry will continue to hire uncertified instructors; and (4) new students will not become returning students because there is no industry standard for ski instructors.
Popular comments from PSIA supporters seem to be that ski instruction is a "lifestyle" job or certification is a "personal reward". I could accept that when I was 21 and I passed my basic ski patroller exam and joined National Ski Patrol as a member of a volunteer patrol. The mountain didn't charge for my work. Now, as an instructor, and an employee (under any set of laws, state or federal), the mountain charges for my time and makes a margin like a software company. If I don't want more certification, or it isn't economically rewarding, and I can get pro-form from another cheaper source, then PSIA become more and more irrelevant, especially as it increases the cost, prerequisites and commitments for additional certification when industry won't pay for it.