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Can I get certified?

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

Can anyone give me a little advice on whether it is likely that I can get a Level 1 certification before starting to work for a ski area?  I want to retire in a couple years and start working as an instructor, so I would like to use the time until then preparing for that.  I noticed that the Instructor Training Course calls for a proficiency log, some of which needs signatures from a home school supervisor or trainer under the Professional Development section.  That’s the part I'm wondering about.  The PSIA folks said it can be done, but I'd like a reality check before I spend $285 on a course that I can’t pass until I work for a ski school.  Thx.

post #2 of 25
You generally cannot get a certification without having a history of employment. There are experience requirements for each level of certification. They are certifying you know how to perform. Most ski resorts will hire new instructors and give them basic training before putting them to work. Visit ski areas that appeal to you next season and check in with their ski school about employment.
post #3 of 25

The Rocky Mountain division of PSIA calls their level 1 cert exam - "ITC" (Instructor Training Course). This is somewhat misleading but if the pass rates are anything like the Eastern division (90%), eh - -ok (the main point of the event is to teach you how to teach and they just happen to give you a level 1 cert if you are also good enough) . The proficiency log and a level 1 workbook are available for download at the RM web site. The log implies that having a teaching job is a requirement for the ITC event, but most divisions will do a special exception if you really want to do this without already having a job and have some experience/qualifications/etc (i.e. a chance of passing). The RM division does have a registered membership available to people who do not already have a job teaching. This entitles you to attend the general training events offered by RM. So if you wanted to get a head start on teaching, you could join PSIA and attend an event or two. This would increase your chances of getting hired when you decide you want to teach. But you will be paying annual dues before you start teaching.

 

But you really don't need this. Most resorts offer their own ITC. This is also somewhat misleading because although they do teach you how to teach, they are really seeing how well you ski and what your people skills are to see if they want to offer you a job. Most of these offerings have a cost associated, but usually the cost is little more than the price of lift tickets. You can take these ITCs without intending to actually teach. I did this before I started teaching. When I really did want to start teaching, the second ITC that I took was little boring, but hey - I did learn more than I did the first time! This is a great way to get an idea of what it's like. At most resorts in the US you don't need certification to get hired and you don't need to belong to PSIA to get hired or stay employed. You start with the ITC, they offer you a job, then you decide to join PSIA (and/or get certified) or just be a regular instructor. 

 

In Canada, CSIA expects new instructors to take and pass a Level 1 certification course before they get a job

teaching. Go figure? You could schedule a vacation to Whistler and do one of these things.

 

If you love skiing and you are good with people and you are not afraid of working hard for little money, you will find ski teaching to be very rewarding. People whose primary motivation for teaching is the free pass usually end up disappointed.

post #4 of 25
Thread Starter 

Thanks to both of you, that is helpful.  I wanted to hear reality so I am paying attention to both replies.  As I started to look into this, I talked with the PSIA folks.  Rusty's reply explains why the PSIA rep, said that I could get the certification before hiring, so I did join as a registered member and have been reading and studying the Core Concepts and Aline Technical Manuals.  

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRusty View Post

 The log implies that having a teaching job is a requirement for the ITC event, but most divisions will do a special exception if you really want to do this without already having a job and have some experience/qualifications/etc (i.e. a chance of passing). 

 

  

I know I have things to learn, but I'm not without some skills.  I am not at the "in for a penny, in for a pound' point yet, but I am curious about the  'special exception' part and what they would consider 'experience/qualifications.'  I'm encouraged enough to keep pursuing this one way or another, just looking for the best way.  At any rate, those manuals are well written and I've already learned a bunch I didn't know.  I even picked up the Childrens Manual and look forward to getting into that.

post #5 of 25

I believe the "special exception" was used when Glen Plake decided to become certified. I believe you have to have some pretty strong credentials to qualify.

Its great that you now have access to the resources of PSIA, I agree, there are some nice resources, plus you get a pretty good discount on lift tickets if you flash your membership card at any resort.
I wouldn't worry too much about being certified before you get your job though. If you can ski somewhat decently (hey, I'd only been skiing for 3 years when I got hired!) and have good people skills (endless amounts of patience) and a good attitude about improving your own skiing  then you should be able to get a job just about anywhere. 

 

If you were to start preparing now, I would take a lesson at the mountain you are interested in teaching at. Talk to the instructor about their experience. A few questions I wish I'd asked: how are lessons assigned? How do the instructors spend their time at the mountain when they aren't teaching? What kind of in-service training is there? If you ski well, he or she might just put in a good word for you with the supervisor. Hey it worked for me, I went in for a private lesson in December, by the second run I was offered a job, by the afternoon paperwork was being signed and I had started training! 

post #6 of 25

My personal belief around any arbitrary working requirements:

 

if a participant can demonstrate the skills and knowledge required to pass, they should be entitled to take the course and pass. It's not rocket science teaching at a beginner and intermediate level, particularly not for individuals who have taken a lot of lessons prior to instructor training.

 

Moreover, if you require people to teach before they take the level 1, you're essentially advocating teaching without instructor certification and marginalizing your program's value. 

post #7 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by coregguy View Post

but I am curious about the  'special exception' part and what they would consider 'experience/qualifications.'  

The thing about breaking the rules is that there are no rules about how you break them. Most people try to be reasonable. If you can tell a good story with a smile on your face and you don't ask for much, it's pretty easy. Now that you've joined, attend an event. At the event, explain your situation to the clinician and ask for his advice. If you want to go for level 1 cert before you get hired, ask if he will write a letter of recommendation for you, then call the PSIA division office and explain your situation and what you want to do and see if they will accommodate you. Experience/qualifications would include ski experience, any teaching or coaching experience of any kind. 

 

Most resorts provide enough training to new hires for them to be able to provide a quality experience for teaching beginners. PSIA Level 1 certification is "proof" that one can deliver that quality experience and a statement that one has the tools to provide an exceptional experience for beginners. Most PSIA members joined the organization through the level 1 cert exam. In that perspective, the level 1 cert is primarily a "taste the Kool-Aid" experience. A level 1 pin really means that you've listened to what your mentors have taught you (you're teachable), you have demonstrated some talent for skiing and teaching and you have professed a desire to grow that talent beyond an "average" instructor.

 

The debate about whether one should get certified before teaching is a reasonable one. Canada says prove that you have the skills to teach before you teach. US says we trust the resorts to do that, we want to see proof of skills based on experience. Both approaches "work".

post #8 of 25
Thread Starter 

Thanks again for more good suggestions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Metaphor_ View Post

My personal belief around any arbitrary working requirements:

 

if a participant can demonstrate the skills and knowledge required to pass, they should be entitled to take the course and pass. It's not rocket science teaching at a beginner and intermediate level, particularly not for individuals who have taken a lot of lessons prior to instructor training.

 

Moreover, if you require people to teach before they take the level 1, you're essentially advocating teaching without instructor certification and marginalizing your program's value. 

Metaphor, I completely agree with this.  If the purpose of the ITC is to teach you how to teach a very basic lesson, then let one have the chance to pass.  I imagine good instructors are desirous of learning more progressively and don't really look at their current skills as the 'end product' anyway.  They should be rewarded for their experience.  They probably are rewarded somewhat when people request them personally and keep them busy.

 

(Still working on the quote buttons) 

Rusty's quote: 

Most resorts provide enough training to new hires for them to be able to provide a quality experience for teaching beginners. PSIA Level 1 certification is "proof" that one can deliver that quality experience and a statement that one has the tools to provide an exceptional experience for beginners. Most PSIA members joined the organization through the level 1 cert exam. In that perspective, the level 1 cert is primarily a "taste the Kool-Aid" experience. A level 1 pin really means that you've listened to what your mentors have taught you (you're teachable), you have demonstrated some talent for skiing and teaching and you have professed a desire to grow that talent beyond an "average" instructor.

 

I think for the price of lessons that resorts charge, the customers should get an excellent experience. I also think even beginner teachers come with different abilities.  A nineteen-year-old kid that wants to start out and is footloose and fancy free might have some skiing ability and experience, probably more energy than I have, but limited life experience.  Because s/he can get hired readily and start little kids and older ones out on the magic carpet for 25 hours (seems I read somewhere that was a number used)   then take the ITC, doesn't instill more confidence in me than someone older that has also been through the ITC but has experience with kids, skiing, differences between men and women, seniors, disabled ones, knows what it took for mom and dad to even get the kids to the mountain, etc, etc...  I don't begrudge the nineteen-year-old at all, just different circumstances.  A good supervisor likely knows how to tap both beginner teachers for their strengths.  At least, I can hope so.

 

Marymack quote:

"If you were to start preparing now, I would take a lesson at the mountain you are interested in teaching at. Talk to the instructor about their experience. A few questions I wish I'd asked: how are lessons assigned? How do the instructors spend their time at the mountain when they aren't teaching? What kind of in-service training is there? If you ski well, he or she might just put in a good word for you with the supervisor. Hey it worked for me, I went in for a private lesson in December, by the second run I was offered a job, by the afternoon paperwork was being signed and I had started training!

 

Great questions suggestion.  I might try the lesson suggestion too.  I've had passes for a long time, so lifts aren't an issue, but maybe my membership can get a little lesson discount.  

 

Anybody have comment on how the part-timers do?  Are schools somewhat flexible in scheduling? Or do they have enough wanna be employees that they offer what they want and that's it.

 

Thanks again

post #9 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by coregguy View Post

 

(Still working on the quote buttons) 

 

 

One trick you can use is to start with the quote to get the original post quoted in your new post, then cut and paste. Sometimes that will be already highlighted like a quote. If not, then highlight that and select the quote button (next to the smiley button)

 

 

 

Quote:

Rusty's quote: 

Most resorts provide enough training to new hires for them to be able to provide a quality experience for teaching beginners. PSIA Level 1 certification is "proof" that one can deliver that quality experience and a statement that one has the tools to provide an exceptional experience for beginners. Most PSIA members joined the organization through the level 1 cert exam. In that perspective, the level 1 cert is primarily a "taste the Kool-Aid" experience. A level 1 pin really means that you've listened to what your mentors have taught you (you're teachable), you have demonstrated some talent for skiing and teaching and you have professed a desire to grow that talent beyond an "average" instructor.

 

I think for the price of lessons that resorts charge, the customers should get an excellent experience. I also think even beginner teachers come with different abilities.  A nineteen-year-old kid that wants to start out and is footloose and fancy free might have some skiing ability and experience, probably more energy than I have, but limited life experience.  Because s/he can get hired readily and start little kids and older ones out on the magic carpet for 25 hours (seems I read somewhere that was a number used)   then take the ITC, doesn't instill more confidence in me than someone older that has also been through the ITC but has experience with kids, skiing, differences between men and women, seniors, disabled ones, knows what it took for mom and dad to even get the kids to the mountain, etc, etc...  I don't begrudge the nineteen-year-old at all, just different circumstances.  A good supervisor likely knows how to tap both beginner teachers for their strengths.  At least, I can hope so.

 

Every resort wishes every lesson was excellent, but at the end of the day, the newbies have to teach some lessons to handle their share of the load and get the experience to become one of the great ones. Supervisors are under appreciated because they do mission impossible every day.

 

Anybody have comment on how the part-timers do?  Are schools somewhat flexible in scheduling? Or do they have enough wanna be employees that they offer what they want and that's it.

 

It all depends on the school and who is running it this year. Under promising availability and over delivering is a sure way to get noticed. Also try showing up when the need is the greatest. Do both consistently and you will find scheduling becomes a lot more flexible.

post #10 of 25

I was a part-timer (still in graduate school). I had my assigned days and I could reasonably expect to get lessons on those days, especially when we had the multi-week school groups coming in (I was assigned a group for the full time they were participating). Then, during school vacation weeks and long weekends I would do my best to be there and would get additional work. 

post #11 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by coregguy View Post

(Still working on the quote buttons) 

Use the "Multi" button to the left of "Quote" first to select the posts you want to quote in the same reply.  Then click on "Quote" on the last one.  You should get all of them that way.

post #12 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by coregguy View Post

 

Anybody have comment on how the part-timers do?  Are schools somewhat flexible in scheduling? Or do they have enough wanna be employees that they offer what they want and that's it.

 

Thanks again

I would think ski schools vary a great deal on how they staff depending on whether the resort is a large destination or a smaller place that has a larger percentage of locals or caters more to families with young kids.

 

For example, my little hill in VA is very flexible for part-timers.  They would like more instructors on holiday weekends and even on weekdays since they have students from a nearby university who teach.  They can easily train as many people as they can find because there are several Level 3 instructors, as well as a PSIA Examiner on staff.  Most of the people taking lessons are first-timers, advanced beginners, plus a few intermediates since there isn't any terrain that would qualify as black in the Rockies.  Lots of kids in the well run ski school every weekend during the short season late Dec-Feb.

post #13 of 25

My advice would be to talk to the Director at the areas you are considering working at. Find out what experience they look for and what they require. This will give you an opportunity to find out what training they offer new hires and how they use new hires. I think a snowsports school with a solid new hire training program would be more beneficial than simply taking a graded clinic at the start. At Bridger we have two days of on and off snow pre season training, then 12 hours of on snow training, and then you have to shadow a lesson before you get to wear the jacket. In our division you pretty much have to teach and develop your teaching and demo skills before you are ready to attend a level one exam and pass. So again, my advice is to find a school that will train you before you have to teach and then learn everything you can before taking the level I. I help train new hires every year, and my experience is that they are just not ready to pass level I right out of the gate, at least not in our division. We do Level ones in house at our school and they are either done by an examiner or a clinician. So go get hired, you'll enjoy it more than you think.
 

post #14 of 25

Sun Peaks Resort ran an intensive program this past winter. I'm not sure how long it ran for (6 or 8 weeks?) but a group of skiers from the UK came over for a program that included accommodation, lift tickets and ski instructor training for 5 or 6 days a week.

 

Again I don't know the exact particulars, but at some point they took the CSIA level 1 test and if successful took the CSIA level 2 test at the end of the program.

 

A great way to fast track a ski instruction career and no doubt a money maker for the resort and CSIA.

post #15 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanoT View Post

Sun Peaks Resort ran an intensive program this past winter. I'm not sure how long it ran for (6 or 8 weeks?) but a group of skiers from the UK came over for a program that included accommodation, lift tickets and ski instructor training for 5 or 6 days a week.

 

Again I don't know the exact particulars, but at some point they took the CSIA level 1 test and if successful took the CSIA level 2 test at the end of the program.

 

A great way to fast track a ski instruction career and no doubt a money maker for the resort and CSIA.


These are very common, called "Gap Programs", as they cater to kids on their "Gap Year" (a year off between highschool and uni).

 

Whistler has a bunch, as do most western resorts.  Our very own "Skinerd" owns and runs one - Section 8.  "Mike Dempsey Tours" was the orginal.  The CSIA only makes its usual course fee.  The resort gets some ski school commision which varies.

 

Programs Include:

 

Section 8

Yes

All Tracks

Base Camp

International Academy

NA Ski Training Center

 

There are others as well.  Intially these were set up for young people, but they do attract people of all ages.

post #16 of 25
Thread Starter 

Lots to digest, There are numerous good suggestions above.  I really wouldn't mind the standard approach that areas use around here.  I was just trying to get a head start on the process and use the time I have before retirement to do it.  I have also noticed that a prerequisite to the clinics through the Rocky Mountain division call for a Level 1 cert, so I was hoping to be able to take the next couple winters and get some clinic work in.  I'll start some lines of communication with the schools around here.  I'm fortunate to live close to a bunch of them.

I've seen some multi-week programs here, but they are about $6K before lodging, so I'm not pursuing those options, but there seems to be a lot of opportunities other than that.

Thanks for all the advice, I appreciate it!

post #17 of 25

RM should have some clinics that are open to Registered members. Perhaps Bob Barnes can recommend a couple?

 

Go to a ski school office and ask to talk to the director. You might find one that will let you "shadow" some classes and training clinics. If not you can always politely snoop on a lesson from a respectable distance for a respectably short period of time. You might also find it interesting to shadow a line up to watch how students get grouped up and instructors get assigned to groups.

post #18 of 25
Thread Starter 

Perhaps I am teachable, the quotes worked the way I wanted.smile.gif

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheRusty View Post

RM should have some clinics that are open to Registered members. Perhaps Bob Barnes can recommend a couple?

 

Go to a ski school office and ask to talk to the director. You might find one that will let you "shadow" some classes and training clinics.

My pass this year is for Copper Mountain/ Winter Park, so I hoping to meet Mr. Barnes sometime.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RicB View Post

 At Bridger we have two days of on and off snow pre season training, then 12 hours of on snow training, and then you have to shadow a lesson before you get to wear the jacket.

When everyone referred to "training" from a home area.  The shadowing a lesson part was part of what I envisioned.  I'm glad you confirmed it.  That is exactly what I will try to do as part of opening up a little communication with an area director.  The worst they can say is no.  If I have to go the underground way to scope out a lesson, I won't let them key in on meduck.gif

post #19 of 25
If you can commit to 14 days, you can get hired at Breck now (or I should say for next season) and take advantage of a bunch of FREE training by RM examiners who work at Breck. And you'll have whatever experience you need to take the Level I exam. You'll also have a free pass, a slopeside locker and free parking.
post #20 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kneale Brownson View Post

If you can commit to 14 days, you can get hired at Breck now (or I should say for next season) and take advantage of a bunch of FREE training by RM examiners who work at Breck. And you'll have whatever experience you need to take the Level I exam. You'll also have a free pass, a slopeside locker and free parking.

So you work for 14 days, get free training from high level examiners, pass, locker, and parking? Heck I'd go for it if I lived closed.
post #21 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kneale Brownson View Post

If you can commit to 14 days, you can get hired at Breck now (or I should say for next season) and take advantage of a bunch of FREE training by RM examiners who work at Breck. And you'll have whatever experience you need to take the Level I exam. You'll also have a free pass, a slopeside locker and free parking.

This sounds like a great opportunity. Thanks!  I want to look further into this.

post #22 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kneale Brownson View Post

If you can commit to 14 days, you can get hired at Breck now (or I should say for next season) and take advantage of a bunch of FREE training by RM examiners who work at Breck. And you'll have whatever experience you need to take the Level I exam. You'll also have a free pass, a slopeside locker and free parking.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by coregguy View Post

This sounds like a great opportunity. Thanks!  I want to look further into this.

 

 

Welcome to the unexpected world of ski instruction!

post #23 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post

 

 

Welcome to the unexpected world of ski instruction

Thanks, I think it will be fun, A little like grand kids, You hope they had fun and learned something, but you can still send them home at the end of the day.

post #24 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by coregguy View Post

My pass this year is for Copper Mountain/ Winter Park, so I hoping to meet Mr. Barnes sometime.

You should be aware that the Mr. Barnes who is director of the Winter Park Ski School is not the same Mr. Barnes who participates in EpicSki.

post #25 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jhcooley View Post

You should be aware that the Mr. Barnes who is director of the Winter Park Ski School is not the same Mr. Barnes who participates in EpicSki.

Thanks, I knew that there were two.  Both are PSIA examiners (I think), I didn't know the one was the ski school director at WP, but I thought the epicski coach and participant is an instructor at Copper Mountain.

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