Originally Posted by justanotherskipro
It's funny how the concept of only making that hypothetical $15k from skiing has turned into a debate about what every instructor make away from the slopes. I earn what I earn and to be quite frank it is nobody's business but mine and my wife's, on snow or off. Do I provide a service that my ski clients find to be a good value? Is it worth what they paid for that lesson? The only way for me to measure that is by how many of my clients choose to do business with me on a repeat basis. The majority do exactly that, so I must be doing something right. BTW, I don't rely on season long programs, or season long race coaching assignments but my client base has helped me live the lifestyle I choose and do it fairly comfortably. Just like their jobs allow them to do the same on and off the snow. Is it my business what they make? Nope. Do they ask me what I make? Nope, never. Would I tell them if they asked, probably not.
I get that many instructors struggle but in many cases it's their own doings, or lack of doings that creates their situation. All I really know is my clients are always invited over to my place for après' beverages and a home cooked dinner. Some say that is over the top customer service but to me that is simply me wanting to spend time off the snow with my on the snow friends. For those newbies in employee housing drinks and dinner are a bit harder to pull off without frequenting a restaurant / bar but I simply don't see a lot of staff that engage with their clients after the lesson ends. In some cases it's the clients situation and group vacation dynamics but I would think a friendly invitation near the end of the day is only being a good host. It doesn't mean everyone will take up that offer but a fair amount do. Steph and I love to entertain and do so several time a week, in fact that is how our relationship went from ski client / coach and eventually bloomed into a very wonderful marriage.
I tend to agree with many points posted by justanotherskipro.
There is no limit with what you can do by socializing with your clients.
I have been out of the coaching-teaching business for several decades and reading these different posts, I am happy that I am not part of the ski instructor job seeker world anymore.
As I am concerned as a French fully certified foreign ski instructor and coach, my semi-annual pay check was between 32K and 38K before taxes and other SS withdrawals in the late sixties and early seventies. This was a lot of money 45 years ago. On top of my pay check, my return flight Geneva - New York or Boston and my lodging was paid by the ski resorts which employed me.
I had to pay my food, drinks, gas (I bought my 5 years old Chevrolet Station Wagon for 900 dollars in Burlington, I had a good deal, the head of the local ski patrol was a GM dealer and he took it back after 3 years for 600 dollars).
Usually my ski gear was donated by manufacturers in France or their US representatives. Most of it was sold at the end of the season adding a few dollars to my income.
My contract started November 1st and ended April 31st.
On top of the ski school management duties (organizing the weekly schedule, hiring the ski instructors, entertaining the ski-week parties with ski movies, fondue and raclette evenings, recreational racing for the intermediate and advanced skiers, awards ceremony, etc...) I had to do the promotion of the resort at different ski-shows across the country when needed.
My first employer was a Vermont ski resort, host of the North American Alpine Championships in 1970.
I was part of the organizing committee and in charge of setting the courses, forerunning some of them and setting up the timing equipment with the help of Longines. (Their were no Super G in those days) but 2 downhills. Glen Ellen was the only resort in the East to have a FIS certified downhill, well before Whiteface, NY for the Lake Placid 1980 Olympics.
In 1969, this resort was one of the first NASTAR approved ski resorts. So I had to go for the pacesetter trials in Waterville Valley for 2 days of races (5 per day) to get my handicap by racing against Pepi Stiegler, the 0 handicap. That was end of November.
Another couple of days of seminars with Nastar Coordinators Gloria Chadwick, Bob Beattie, and the sponsors about equipment, advertising, how to run the GS, how to fill the forms with the results and send them after each race to Colorado Springs, setting up Nastar parties with sponsors, send press releases, etc..
With the help of one secretary, we managed to have 2 races a week (very popular with the local kids).
My contract allowed me to race on the pro-circuit as a promotion for my resort. Most races were organized at night in New England. I could keep the gains but after paying the travel expenses, the food and drinks, races were just for promotion and mostly for networking with other racers, ski equipment manufacturers, coaches, ski resort owners, etc...
So converted in 2015 dollars, with the perks and benefits, my total income before taxes was above the 100K.
Ski school work was only 25 to 30% of my time and if I had done no more than teaching my income would have been in proportion.
By contract I had one day off but I rarely took it, except for administrative work (Visa, Driving License, Car registration renewal, etc..)
One must consider that times were totally different in those days:
- Ski was not as much democratic as today.
- The economy was booming (even with the burden of the Vietnam war and China was not part of the economic landscape yet).
- They were very few US or Canadian ski instructors, most being from European alpine countries where the profession was well organized and regulated even before world war II. As they were making good money in Europe, Japan, Iran and Lebanon, US resorts had to add a premium as a bait to hire them.
- We had a hard time finding US certified instructors and during the holidays we hired on part-time basis some racers from local universities to handle the teenager classes.
- After the 1966 World Championships in Portillo and the 1968 Olympics (Killy's 3 gold medals) French instructors were in high demand around the world.
In those days Eastern resorts were paying much better wages than western resorts and you were not as much isolated from the major centres and the hockey arenas for the Stanley Cup.
I f it had been only for the money I would have worked on small hills in a 2 hour radius from NY but there is a limit to what you can endure.
The following years I added other sources of income by organizing racing camps for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.
These camps done in the east and the midwest dedicated to FIS classified young racers and we would be paid $100 per day + lodging, food and travel expenses.
We were 4 coaches with 12 racers each. So we were successful and even has a few racers who later joined the US Ski Team.
When I was director of the Sunday River Ski School, we had 2 or 3 soft days in mid-week especially in January and February so to keep everybody busy (including the bars, restaurants and local doctors) I negotiated a contract with the US Army to teach skiing to a regiment of soldiers from Fort Devens in Mass. I had the Colonel and his wife as clients. Some would come by bus other by helicopters and land in the parking lot. Noise was deafening.
This program was a huge success (even after a few broken legs) and even if there was no need for skiing soldiers in Vietnam, they loved the outdoors in Maine.
So if you want to make a living with teaching and coaching, you have to go out of your comfort zone and market yourself.
Your pay check shall reflect your skills, your attitude with the clientele. There are more and more opportunities to ski 9 or 10 months a year; some wealthy clients may hire you to discover skiing in the southern hemisphere, then you add your skills of travel agent by booking the hotels, rent the equipment, airline tickets, make sure the snow conditions at your destination are perfect for the time of the trip.
Clients become your friends, keep in touch with all of them and If you can add a mountain guide diploma, heli-skiing (in BC) and hiking - skiing activities (Haute Route Chamonix - Zermatt for example) would add more dollars to your yearly income and extend your skiing days.