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CSIA vs. PSIA for New Ski Instructor

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Background

I am a level 7/8 skier interested in becoming a ski instructor. I am an American living in Tokyo, Japan, and would like to do the instructor course in English language in Canada or the USA and then return here to work. As a side note, most of the instructors working in Japan do not have certs, according to discussion with the owner of a ski/snowboard school catering to English speaking foreigners.

The CSIA instructor courses are well published and I can easily arrange my schedule to attend, but there do not seem to be many PSIA instructor courses which are not early season hiring camps/tryouts for working at that particular resort. I would like to stick to west coast Canada, or PSIA-W or RM since I do not have experience skiing East coast mountains.

Questions regarding CSIA vs. PSIA

Equivalency

Is CSIA Level 1 equivalent to PSIA Level 1? From previous threads, it appears that CSIA Level 1 is less of an instructor qualification than PSIA Level 1.

Continuing Education Requirements

Does CSIA require continuing education? PSIA requires regular updates (for example, PSIA-W requires the member have 2 current continuing education credits, 1 credit = 1 day). It seems that for CSIA there is a recall requirement for doing the Professional Development Program every 3 years.

Crossover

If I wanted to do instruction in the United States, how would a CSIA cert be looked upon? Or, could it be crossed over?

Teaching Children

I am interested in teaching children, which has better materials/programs, CSIA or PSIA?

Thanks in advance for any and all advice.
post #2 of 20
First, PSIA is an organization made up of regional divisions. It was formed primarily to take the instructor certification process out of the hands of the United States Ski Association, which originally was an organization focused on amateur racing and which attempted to set national standards for how instructing was done totally. By that I mean USSA wanted not only to dictate rigorously what happened between instructors and the public on the snow, but also things like the rate a ski school could charge and the amount paid to the instructor. USSA wasn't willing to take regional factors, such as snow conditions and slope selection choices, into consideration. USSA wanted the same "rules" for destination resorts far from any city and day ski areas adjacent to large metropolitan populations. USSA wanted to follow the same approach to instruction as was accepted in its control of racing rules.

So PSIA developed with the sense that its operations were governed regionally with "guidance" from a national umbrella organization. So, what goes on across the US depends somewhat on what part of the US you are in.

I don't know what occurred in the formation of CSIA, and I don't know what its rules are.

You cannot just sign up for a PSIA certification exam. You can sign up for a PSIA "how to teach skiing" training event, but it does not lead directly to participation in a certification exam. In (I THINK) each division of PSIA, you are required to have some experience teaching at a ski resort of some sort before you take an exam for certification. The requirement may vary from division to division. And the amount of experience required before taking each level of exam may vary. So the pathway to PSIA certification begins with employment at a US PSIA member ski school.

Some divisions don't allow taking at least the top two level exams in the same season. The one exception in these practices is that if you hold another country's certification, you may try out for an equivalent or one step higher PSIA certification directly. For example, if you are an Austrian LII, you may take the PSIA LII or LIII without meeting other requirements.

PSIA does have a children's instruction training program. It is not a separate certification. It leads to a special accreditation.

You can get information on available training materials at www.PSIA.org.

For working in the US, there is no national requirement you have any certification. It's up to the individual employer what requirements it wants to set.
post #3 of 20
Dyna8800,

The only significant difference between the CSIA level 1 and PSIA level 1 that I can see is the PSIA requirement for experience. CSIA requires that you demonstrate the potential to teach skiing. Its a little hard to pass the PSIA level 1 without actually having taught skiing. IMHO, it's not a very not a very big distinction relative to the distinction of having actual teaching experience.

CSIA has an associate membership option designed for people who are not active members. This may be your best option. A CSIA level 1 would not cross over to a PSIA level 1. US resorts would view a CSIA level 1 as the equivalent of going through another US resorts Instructor Training Course. Most US resorts would want you to take their ITC before teaching.

It looks like PSIA has a wider variety of educational materials specifically covering teaching children. But you can take advantage of this material without becoming a certified or a member.
post #4 of 20
It is possible to get fully certified as CSIA level III without ever teaching a student -- but just barely.

CSIA level 1 certification can be obtained without teaching. It is at level 1 that you are taught how to teach a lesson.
post #5 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by therusty
Its a little hard to pass the PSIA level 1 without actually having taught skiing.
i respectfully disagree. in the rm division the course is set up in a manner where it is part training and part examination. any intermediate skier can certainly pass.

Quote:
Originally Posted by therusty
Most US resorts would want you to take their ITC before teaching.
again not the case in the west. for three years i ran a hiring process at a small resort above boulder. we needed to hire at least a hundred folks to handle the kid's programs. many of the college kids never did the ITC course.

resorts all over colorado hire ski instructors in late fall/early winter and begin an in house training process long before anyone takes an ITC course from psia-rm.

if you want to teach skiing in the rm division, begin contacting ski schools in the late summer. make an appointment to see a ssd and present yourself in the same manner you would for any job interview.

i'll give you a second route that works equally well. find out who the training manager is and book a half day private lesson. listen carefully and show interest. express your desire to teach and......you'll probably get an offer on the spot.

lastly......by mid march at a few resorts, if you can crawl into a ski school the will probably hire you to teach kids due to mid season attrition.
post #6 of 20
I've been previously certified in both associations, and as an instructor (& coach, and competitor) of exactly with 30 years teaching experience, i'd euphemise the CSIA as being the lesser of either evil.
If you're a serious globetrotter and even more serious athletic educator, pursue certification/licensing in the swiss or austrian schools.
and actually, you'll find an inverse between the the size of a mountain/school, and their adherence to hiring based upon PSIA certification. the smaller, more inauspicious schools rely near soleley upon
said cert., while bigger, more established schools often base hiring and pay scale upon experience and definitive merit of the instructor.
smaller resorts of more modest vertical find fewer challenges for their professional staff, so they typically 'clinic' and 'drill' PSIA technique ad nauseum, and the instructors festoon their apparel with the PSIA logo more so than do the schools based at more formidable mountains.
In most of the Alps and Carpathians, PSIA certification is regarded with the esteem garnered by our much-ballyhooed "Spongebob Square Pants" tm. ....
post #7 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rusty Guy
i respectfully disagree. in the rm division the course is set up in a manner where it is part training and part examination. any intermediate skier can certainly pass.
Thanks for the different perspective Rusty Guy. I was not aware that any resorts put so many pros to work without any training or previous experience. The resort ITC's I was referring to are the "hiring clinics" you refer to. I was aware that there were exceptions to the process. I was simply saying that MOST resorts PREFER to have most of their rookie pros go through their own in house training program. This is what I see in the East. Do you still disagree?

Are you saying that any intermediate skier can pass the RM level 1 exam without any preparation for the teaching portion of the exam? In the East, level 1 used to be a "join the club" exam. This is no longer the case. If you can't teach, you will flunk. There are some intermediate skiers that can't teach. We often see their first time friends.
post #8 of 20
training and experience can be diametrically opposed conditions in terms of ski teaching.
further, i know many, many level III P & C SIA guys who can't teach their way out of a chairlift, they become such boorish techno-dweebs in so many cases that they forget how to demonstrate, and they forget how frequently they should.
many have no sense of class movement or huided discovery, as well.
Both organizations shine, howver, when contrasted to PSIA's sobriqueted little snowboard group, "AASI", which is one of the most tediously verbose and ineffectual organizations since the Daughters of the American Revolution.
I weep for the modern american ski student......
post #9 of 20
I think it will be more convenient for you to get certified in Whistler. They have a lot of certification programs, even into the late season where you can just sign up, pay the fee, get a solid week of lessons about both skiing and teaching and then if you pass both skiing and teaching..walk away with a pin that says you're certified. So far I am finding its a bit difficult to arrange for PSIA certication without being affiliated with an actual school.

This is not to say that CSIA is a cakewalk...but its just a bit more convenient to arrange a trip to america to make it happen.

Additionally, I was able to use my level II CSIA and work in Keystone without any issues whatsoever, except I did not get level II PSIA hourly pay rates..I got got PSIA I rates. But my skills were recognized and I was able to teach lessons and privates of various different levels without regard to whether I was PSIA or CSIA.

As far as the differences in skiing, I was always of the opinion that CSIA is doing a few critical things absolutely wrong. Supposedly they were better before and then someone decided to change it up. Most notably, they were really big for a while into having people with a rearward stance, hips over the heels or even further back if possible. I was staunchly against this technique but learned to demo it well enough to pass my level II. Unfortunately I just couldn't ride my tails well enough for their level III, even though they said I was brilliant in the bumps. Truth is, I needed more teaching experience for a level III anyway. I have heard from another CSIA guy recently that they have not emphasized to him the hips-back idea...so perhaps they finally realized after 5 years of it that this was an insane idea. I know the canadian race coaches all thought the CSIA folks were crazy for teaching it that way.

There are other positive aspects to their method though, so I don't want to sound like its all bad, but unfortunately I am now going through a process of trying to force myself to unlearn the garbage they taught me as part of that certification process. It was just plain wrong for high performance skiing and possibly for lower levels too. But perhaps they are past that now.

I don't know a lot about PSIA yet because I haven't certified with them yet. My discussions in keystone lead me to believe that their preferred approach focuses more on lateral/forward movements. However the tendency I see is for PSIA based skiers to look kind of static and I feel they should be using more pressure control. I don't really know much more about them or their approach to teaching either.

On the positive side for CSIA I will say that I really liked their whole skills based approach which basically says all skiers at all levels need to work on one of 4 basic skills. I also like that they don't get into a lot of technical mumbo jumbo with students. Instructors have to learn it, but they emphasize that instructors should teach students by just getting them to feel certain sensations. So for example, you don't usually use the term counter-rotation with a student. Instead you get them to feel the pinch in their outside hip. Etc..

From what i have heard around, I think both PSIA and CSIA would be fine either way for you...they both have their ups and downs...the members all think they are the best and you will never get an unbiased answer most likely. Go for the most convenient, which is probably CSIA.

As far as differences between levels, opinions vary....mostly all biased opinions as well. My impression is that at level I they are both about the same in terms of skiing ability. If you have already taught...then either one will be equally attainable. At level II, CSIA might be a notch below PSIA in terms of skiing ability and teaching. Basically in CSIA, anyone with some solid skiing skills and athleticism can pass it if they are good in front of people...even without any teaching experience, as long as they can properly emonstrate the level II skiing skills and be able to teach it. The hardest skill at that level is easy blue bumps skiing.

I think PSIA might be tougher at that level. Beyond level II, both programs get markedly more difficult and pretty much expect to have been working in that region with those folks and skiing "their" way and doing clinics with them, over several years, etc..to even think about it.
post #10 of 20
ps - there aren't too many americans doing CSIA..I think I was about the only one in whistler at the time, and I think they kind of like it that way to be honest. I was always met with friendly but raised eyebrows. At one point one of the certifiers commented that my skiing style was more similar to PSIA and I should maybe just think about moving back to america and working there.
post #11 of 20
Dewdman42, they call it "the Canadian Crouch" with good reason!
post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the Responses

Kneale Brownson, thanks for the explanation of PSIA. I found that the information on the CSIA snowpro.com site was much better organized and easier to understand than the PSIA sites.

therusty, that's a good suggestion to be able to use materials from any training agency, not just the one I would be certified with.

Rusty Guy, excellent advice. I am planning to have some private lessons with a ski school director to find out what would be necessary to use the CSIA or PSIA cert. to work in Japan and how to transfer it or apply to the similar Japanese organization.

Jay Westerveld, quite some interesting comments, thanks for your experience in both fields.

dewdman42, it looks like Whistler offers the easiest scheduling, with a course every week. Thanks for the info, it was on my short list of places to train.

It seems that CSIA Level 1 is sort of an apprentice level and they want you to progress to Level 2 within 3 years or have a recall requirement to do a PDP.

Thanks to everyone who posted.
post #13 of 20
Let me clarify..they don't offer certification courses EVERY week. But they have them at various points throughout the season, and its easy to sign up for it and get the training and cert all in one week long experience.
post #14 of 20
My dad ran a CSIA School here in the states in the 60s and early 70s, both he and my mom were canuck certs, albeit american citizens.
(indeed, PSIA's darkest hour)
later, when my mom took over my late dad's school, she decided to become a PSIA school, so I obtained both certs while still relatively young.
I allowed both to die dignified deaths upon receiving my austrian cert and swiss instructing license.
Both the PSIA and the CSIA disciplines have experienced considerable improvement...
still, the instructor to avoid at any resort is the "Pinhead", that is, the professional whom wears , simultaneously, a PSIA-logoed cap, a PSIA logoed buttpack, a PSIA logoed turtleneck, all in concert with his/her pin.

Mother of all Red Flags: PSIA patch on an instructor whom is not an examiner.
insignia, for many, is a shortcut to actual skill.
post #15 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Westerveld
Both the PSIA and the CSIA disciplines have experienced considerable improvement...
still, the instructor to avoid at any resort is the "Pinhead", that is, the professional whom wears , simultaneously, a PSIA-logoed cap, a PSIA logoed buttpack, a PSIA logoed turtleneck, all in concert with his/her pin.

Mother of all Red Flags: PSIA patch on an instructor whom is not an examiner.
insignia, for many, is a shortcut to actual skill.
ROFL I lost my gold pin and have not bought another yet.
post #16 of 20
Whistler has the level 1 course on their website, here it is:

4 Days $429
Dates November 28 - Dec 1, 2005
December 5-8, 12-15, 19-22, 2005
January 9-12, 23-26, 2006
January 7/8, 14/15, 2006
January 28/29 - February 4/5, 2006
February 13-16, 2006
February 27 - March 2, 2006
March 4/5 - 11/12, 2006
March 13-16, 27-30, 2006
April 1/2 - 8/9, 2006
April 3-6, 10-13, 2006
post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pierre
ROFL I lost my gold pin and have not bought another yet.
I didn't wear mine for quite a while. Still don't unless teaching or at an event. But when they sent me the 30-year pin, I figured it was worth displaying.
post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kneale Brownson
I didn't wear mine for quite a while. Still don't unless teaching or at an event. But when they sent me the 30-year pin, I figured it was worth displaying.
I may be old fashioned but yes, I think it's worth displaying, and even teh odd polish now and again. Really.
post #19 of 20
I don't walk around wearing my ribbons and medals, so why would I festoon my person with pins?
I have my swiss license sewn to my vest, along with the patch of the last school at which i taught (samnaun, CH)....no need to taunt lightning with extranneous metal objects....i'll leave that madness to the pinheads
post #20 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thank you all very much for helping me to decide which route to go, CSIA or PSIA. In the end, I decided to do the CSIA Level 1 course in Canada due to logistical reasons as well as the availability of pre-study course materials online.

After successfully passing both the Skiing and Teaching portions, I was awarded the CSIA pin and Level 1 Ski Instructor Certification Card.

In an interesting note, most of the people in my group were from Australia, on working holiday visas, as well as a few from the UK in other groups as well.

After the course finished, the successful candidates who passed (who could legally work in Canada) were offered part time work during the Christmas season with the chance for some more work if/when available.

Interestingly enough, one of my fellow group members was also from Los Angeles!

Thanks and look for my pin the next time you see me on the slopes teaching (grin).
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