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How good do you need to be to be an instructor?

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
The title says it all. Not neccessarily psia, but that would be the eventual goal.
post #2 of 29
I think this really depends a lot on the area which you will be teaching at. Some of the smaller feeder hills can use mid- to-upper intermediate/advanced if there skills at the level they will be teaching are strong and their technique is sound. Their ability to relate with and teach people is also a consideration. Some top level skiers are not good instructors and some intermediates/advanced are great instructors.
post #3 of 29
You have to feel good enough about your skills, knowledge, and abilities to be comfortable about people paying good money for a lesson with you, otherwise the inauthenticity will kill all your enthusiasm for skiing.
post #4 of 29
What nolo said is what you have to ask yourself. What the resort will want is your ability to show up on time and be able to fog a mirror.
post #5 of 29
How good at what?? Of course we would assume you mean how good a skier, but believe it or not, that is not the most important part of the job. Yes you must be able to ski some but more importantly is your communication skills and your caring for others.

Oh yeah, do you have a "real job" that will support your skiing job? Don't expect to make enough in pay to cover your gas and gear.
post #6 of 29
I got my first job teaching skiing because I had attended a PSIA event where an examiner described lesson procedures so I knew a bit about it and because when I skied for the boss, I could ski slowly. He told me he could teach me what I needed to know for the lessons he'd assign me. The fact I could make turns slowly meant to him I had the ability to demonstrate. And I was 30 years old, well experienced with meeting and greeting folks. I was a pretty poor skier otherwise, but the training clinics and skiing with other instructors took care of that.
post #7 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stache
Oh yeah, do you have a "real job" that will support your skiing job? Don't expect to make enough in pay to cover your gas and gear.
This is pretty disturbing. I am half-serious about the idea of moving out to a big western resort and teaching skiing full-time for a few seasons. I fully expect a pay cut (probably around 65%), but if that is really the case then it sounds like that will be difficult to turn into a reality. Do you have to have two jobs to support yourself? Do most full time instructors during the season?
post #8 of 29
doublediamond223, I would strongly second Kneale's point about the primacy of having the maturity and self-confidence to meet and greet people, put them at ease, give them a sense of confidence that they are in good hands, build a feeling of anticipation that it is going to be fun and advance their goals, etc, etc. etc. This, IMO, is the core; with sincerity and dedication, your skills will follow.

My own history FWIW: When I started 7 years ago, I had been skiing for over 35 years, but unbeknownst to me, was an awful skier from a PSIA standpoint. When I demoed for my Training Director the very first time, he said, and I quote: "I don't know where to start." This after I thought I had looked pretty good. I decided as I drove home that I was going to humble myself to learn to be the best ski teacher I could be. I then embarked on the journey towards that goal, with good progress every year since. (I am going for Level II next season.) But the point I am making is that your skill level is a moving target; if the caring begins within you, you will start to improve the very first day you clinic with your home area people and will continue to do so every time out, as Kneale has suggested as well. And so the most important issue, IMO, is whether you have the maturity to be able to communicate well with others, and as Stache has said, have a natural caring for others, a native interest in people, the ability to put aside your own ego and get your thrills from introducing people to a sport that you are passionate about. Others may feel differently, but that's my story.
Hope that helps.

JoeB
post #9 of 29
I think if you can ski close to open parrallel on groomed blacks you could make the skiing part of instructor for most mountains.Some places are just looking for people with a pulse but they just want bodies. I think as others have stated the most important quality is caring for what you do and enjoy being around people. If you like to see people get better at something and feel you could teach them towards that goal then you will make a fine instructor, one that any good ski area/resort would love to have on staff. If you just want to do it for the "jacket", i.e. ego, free skiing etc. you are better off buying a seasons pass and skiing. As has been said before in other threads and I've heard from our s.s. director "You can be taught to ski better but we can't teach you to be good at caring and empathy."
post #10 of 29
people skills are number one.

The resort trainers can teach you how to teach and make you a better skier.

DC
post #11 of 29
One area that I worked at brought in a few folks who could barely (no kidding) wedge turn.

They were hired to fill a "special marketing niche".
post #12 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by onyxjl
This is pretty disturbing. I am half-serious about the idea of moving out to a big western resort and teaching skiing full-time for a few seasons. I fully expect a pay cut (probably around 65%), but if that is really the case then it sounds like that will be difficult to turn into a reality. Do you have to have two jobs to support yourself? Do most full time instructors during the season?
When I originally taught full time (1986-89) I barely made enough in the winter to maintain a shared apt and cheap eats. I bought my gear from the profits of my summer job. Nowadays it is worse, especially in the east. I think the "ski bums" life has always been teach days and wait tables or bartend nights.
I do hear rumors that out west experienced instructors make more but alas the rent is much more too.
post #13 of 29
Can you pick up a four year old?

Yes?........hired
post #14 of 29
Teaching well trumps skiing well.
post #15 of 29
Rusty Guy Nails it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
post #16 of 29
To "counter" the bad things I have been saying about Instructor pay I feel a need to resuscitate this thread:
http://forums.epicski.com/showpost.p...59&postcount=1
post #17 of 29
Can you pick up 2 4y olds at the same time?

Yes!......hired!!!
post #18 of 29
I found that there were differences among the 3 places I taught at. But, overall, I'd say that different clients will look for different things. You get the clients who want to be pushed a little above their current comfort level, you get those who just want a cheerleader and those who just hire you because they think it is the right thing to do.
My most memorable experiences as an instructor happened when I taught for a few years out West. Once I got a timid skier to ski down a black run and he was so proud of himself. Three days later he came back, asked for me, and asked if we could try a double black which we did. He still sends me e-mail. Then there are kids, some are a lot of fun and some a great pain in the ... neck. But, if you can find how to motivate them, things could change quickly. I think that an important component of being an instructor is to find the way to motivate different people. People react differently to different approaches when they are being taught. I like to see them ski more and more difficult runs because it makes the overall experience richer and makes a skier more confident. As most in this forum already know I do not give a rat about the form of skiing. Some form is needed, but too much formal instruction makes the client upset and bored.
post #19 of 29
The question can be answered many ways: cynically, from the mouth of the capitalist employing the instructor; naively, in the words of a credulous student; idealistically, in the thoughts of the do-right instructor. The fact is, it takes a long time to develop into the quality of ski instructor that students will seek out for lessons, and in this country, people are first hired very early in this journey and very few will make it all the way to the destination they'd charted for themselves when they first took on the job.

A question that occurs to me, especially at this time of year, is: how do you know when it's time to quit teaching skiing and move on to something new? (Ski school locker rooms at this time of year are littered with bodies snoozing hungover on benches and slouching around the lunch table--they shoot horses, don't they?)
post #20 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo
A question that occurs to me, especially at this time of year, is: how do you know when it's time to quit teaching skiing and move on to something new?
When the suffering out-weighs the satisfaction.
post #21 of 29
I taught for 15+ years at a small Western resort and experienced a lot of what has been expressed above (poor pay, babysitting 4 year olds, super egos, etc.); but gotta tell you, the experience was absolutely one of the best of my life.

Having worked hiring clinics many times, I'd say that the absolute most essential characteristic for a new hire would be a good, positive attitude. Everything else can be learned on the job if you are genuinely willing to be open, persistent and work hard (believe it or not, nobody is actually born knowing how to ski or teach).

As far as "why do it", if you had unlimited funds and wanted to improve your skiing, you could not make it happen any quicker or better than by teaching skiing. As an instructor you are there skiing all conditions all the time. You have opportunities to observe and learn from the best thru clinics, natural mentoring and the friendships that will develop. In a world wracked with social, economic and political pressures you as a ski instructor will have a very unique opportunity to bring a little "sunshine" into the lives of your charges, which will often make both you and them feel pretty darn good.

Sure as hell beats a part-time job at Wal-Mart!
post #22 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sitzmark
Sure as hell beats a part-time job at Wal-Mart!
But, the local Walmart usually does not take as much in gas to get to. And, food there is cheap.:
post #23 of 29
It has been implied but I'd just like to emphasize the need for patience and at times lots of it. You will expose yourself to all kinds of characters from all different walks of lives. You have to work (or put up) with anyone ranging from your clients (from the very inables to the "I can do it better than you and you're boring me" types) to your peers (who are generally egotistic and opinionated to say the least) to your bosses (who may have a different social status in real life). OTOH, these can be the most enjoyable ppl to deal with on a different day.
post #24 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo
The question can be answered many ways: cynically, from the mouth of the capitalist employing the instructor; naively, in the words of a credulous student; idealistically, in the thoughts of the do-right instructor. The fact is, it takes a long time to develop into the quality of ski instructor that students will seek out for lessons, and in this country, people are first hired very early in this journey and very few will make it all the way to the destination they'd charted for themselves when they first took on the job.

A question that occurs to me, especially at this time of year, is: how do you know when it's time to quit teaching skiing and move on to something new? (Ski school locker rooms at this time of year are littered with bodies snoozing hungover on benches and slouching around the lunch table--they shoot horses, don't they?)
Nolo, go back and re-read "Who moved my Cheese"!
post #25 of 29
Actually, I have had some thoughts recently about this mobile cheese, Sitz. I think I have found the answer to my dilemma of wanting to leave the ski school but not my students. We'll start a ski club, members will pay dues, and I will be the president. Who could object?

Seriously, after 25 years of engaging in the sport as an employee of a ski school, I want to see what skiing (and teaching) is like when it's just for fun. The people in my classes are fun to ski with and I don't like skiing alone so I'm sure we'll be skiing together informally from time to time. If they want to continue skiing together regularly, I would probably join them at times.

It would be sort of a club, but I was joking about dues and officers.
post #26 of 29
Interesting! I strongly sense that professional ski teaching is far too entwined in your DNA for you to simply go "do something new"; but, you may indeed find "new cheese" in what you are proposing. In the chaotic world of big business, burnout of top talent is quite common. Often times these people drop out then come back as consultants (usually at much higher rates of income). I wonder if that would work for highly credentialed Ski Instructors (like yourself)?
post #27 of 29
To get a job as a ski instructor, you need to be able to do wicked inverts off moguls, and look darn cute for the rich married girls. Personality and ability to teach aren't considered. Oh, wait, that's Aspen Extreme.

I've never taught, but I've been considering doing it part-time at a small East Coast resort that has all but begged me to sign up. I've had multiple job offers from them, and invitations to apply from instructors. As far as I can tell, ski skill is completely unneccessary. First-year instructors teach never-evers, so as long as you can manage a wedge turn on a bunny slope you can do everything you'll be teaching. Since instructors can get free lessons, you'll be given opportunities to progress.

I've even been asked to teach snowboarding, since the resort is more desperate for snowboard instructors. They figured they could teach me to snowboard if I'd be willing to teach it for them.

My advice would be to not concentrate on the skiing part, but the teaching. Maybe try part-time teaching at a local resort for a season before quitting your day job?
post #28 of 29
I think you need to bring a couple primary skills to the party.
Compassion, and appetite for learning.

They won’t care how much you know,
Till they know how much you care.

Pick a ski school that is committed to teaching you. To teach you the: who, what, why, how, when and where to be taught to the students. To teach you how to Learn to Ski, so as to understand what you will be teaching, and to ski well enough to present clear, meaningful and consistent images that your students can learn from.
post #29 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo
The question can be answered many ways: cynically, from the mouth of the capitalist employing the instructor; naively, in the words of a credulous student; idealistically, in the thoughts of the do-right instructor. The fact is, it takes a long time to develop into the quality of ski instructor that students will seek out for lessons, and in this country, people are first hired very early in this journey and very few will make it all the way to the destination they'd charted for themselves when they first took on the job.

A question that occurs to me, especially at this time of year, is: how do you know when it's time to quit teaching skiing and move on to something new? (Ski school locker rooms at this time of year are littered with bodies snoozing hungover on benches and slouching around the lunch table--they shoot horses, don't they?)

As an ITC instructor, I would rather hire an advanced intermediate who will be there to work when scheduled, and be willing to teach guests of any age with enthusiasum.
It is also important to me that they understand teaching concetps and basic movement patterns (my job to educate them). Some of the new hires from this season are far better instructors than some of the "deadwood" veterans that aren't good enough teachers to teach young children, or are not current enough in their own technique to be effective teachers in many cases. It's too bad that the best instructors are not being given the intermediates and expert lessons because they have to carry the slack of the less talented and less self-motivated instructors. When I hear "I don't teach kids or beginners", it means to me that they can't teach.


Doublediamone223, I hope this gives you some insite on the answer to your question, and I hope it doesn't discourage you either. It is a very interesting journey that has rewards and challenges that you won't find anywhere else.
RW
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