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post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
looking to start second career in ski instruction, i am a very experienced skier who could adapt and learn new techniques with commitment. how would i get started, what pratfalls should i avoid. i am very serious about this. i have more time now than i have ever had to do something like this. i raised 4 children and am good with young people . i could find much pleasure in sharing the fun of learning skiing with others.guidance requested and gratefully recieved. i live nearest to schweitzer and sliver mountain. i am 52 and got the time.
post #2 of 14

Welcome to the party, pal


Call the ski school director or training director at Schweitzer (or Silver) and tell them your story. Let them tell you what it would be like if you signed on. Some schools offer spring training, but you're likely to get invited to indoor fall training and November/December on snow training. Every school does things a little different, but you typically pay me a small fee for the training which essentially doubles as a 4-5 day job interview. If you get hired after the training, they may ask for more money as a deposit for the uniform and you may go through more training before you actually start teaching. Then they will abuse the heck out of you teaching beginners until you are blue in the face. If you're lucky they might teach you a thing or three and let you have a few fun runs or more advanced lessons here and there. You'll either get burned out or actually get the hang of the teaching thing and become part of the family.

While you're at Schweitzer - say hi to Jan and Paula for me (they teach snowboarding), but for God's sake do NOT buy a USED house from them!:
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
thank you rusty , twice in same night. should i just say rusty says hi? i intend to talk face to face to school director if i can on fri ,sat or sun , i will look up paula and get my daughter some instruction.
post #4 of 14
My experiences were a little different than the standard story told here. I have worked two seasons at two different ski areas. I did not teach beginners until I was blue in the face at either job and I absolutely loved the experience while I could afford to do it.

My secret formula for any adult with a little bit of personality is simple. Find a ski area that gets most of their business on weekends. These are usually close to metropolitan areas. These areas are swamped with high quality adult instructors who do it part time on weekends or evenings, but they can be hurting for fulltime and weekday help. At a small ski area in Ohio, I was the only instructor on duty on more than one occasion even though there were technically over 100 instructors on staff. Up here the weekday coverage was a little better, but you could count us on one hand at times. This puts you in a very visible and very appreciated position. It will get you a greater variety of assignments and even some of the really choice assignments. It will assure you smaller average lesson groups on less crowded terrain. Your days off will usually include at least one weekend day. It will even get you frequent free time as there aren't that many lessons during the week. Even in Ohio this could be fun. On powder days, I would often run around the little area and put powder 8's on every face while I waited for the school groups to show up in the late afternoon. The hills were small, but it was usually all mine on those days.

I think it does require a demonstration to the director that you are willing to do anything, but this is usually rewarded when they have some flexibility in scheduling. I was frequently asked to pick what level I wanted to teach. Some of the whiners were not treated as well.

I also recommend that you be aware of the stereotypes. Weekday instructors seem to fit into one of two categories. There are the young people who are perceived to be ski bums or high school students. Either way the stereotype is one of not being serious, responsible, or trustworthy. I don't think you will be mistaken for this group.

The other group is the old people. They are perceived as lacking energy and no fun. Sometimes they are not given choice assignments because the decisions makers want to make sure they provide a fun experience for important guests. My advice is to demonstrate playfulness and energy at every possible moment so that you are not perceived as just another retired person teaching lessons. Step up and interact with the guests. Give people directions to the restroom. Pick up trash. Get a little silly. Sit with the young snowboard instructors at lunch. Act like a kid when teaching kids. Act like a kid when teaching adults. Of course, if you like to teach as much as I do, it really won't be an act anyway. I am sure my director saw me making powder 8's on the 150 foot hills and just shook his head. I am sure it helped him assign me vip lessons and a news crew interview.

The money sucks, but if you can afford to do it, it will be fun and you will be rewarded with a level of physical fitness that most baby boomers can only dream about. Getting started is easy. Just call the director.
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
nicely stated, thank you for your thoughtful reply
post #6 of 14

Yeah - Rusty from the Rider Rally ought to be enough to separate me from any other Rusty's they might know.

Good secrets! My story wasn't like what I wrote either, but it is the stereotype. I too earned a lot of skin by being willing to do anything and showing up when people were needed.
post #7 of 14

Since you have a couple of choices of ski areas - I think there is a 3rd near you, and you may be able to go north of the border to find some very nice ski areas (Red, Fernie, etc?). I don't know what it would take to get employed in Canada, but it might be worth investigating.... As for any ski areas you may be interested in working for, see if you can "accidentally" ride the lift with some instructors - (ride with one at a time, and with multiple instructors at a time, so that you get group and individual input) and ask what it's like to teach there. Find some 1st and 2nd year instructors as well as veterans to talk to.
  • Be sure to ask about the good and the bad aspects.
  • Ask about pay scales, work duties and requirements, hours/schedule requirements,
  • Ask about benefits (everything from food discounts to passes for dependents or comp passes for friends), do they subsidize attendence at PSIA clinics and/or exams?
  • Ask about free skiing time
  • Ask how long until you might be able to teach non-beginners,
  • Ask how many employees of the ski school are on the PSIA Education Staff (this is important for your development as an instructor and for training you for cert exams), their policy on instructor clinics for skiing and teaching,
  • ask about skiing when you are not scheduled to teach - do they make you show up to line-up and possibly make you work, or are you free to do what you please
  • How well does everyone get along within the ski school (skiers vs boarders) and with patrol and other workers onthe mountain
  • Ask about teaching kids - their policies on class sizes, ages, pay. Teaching 4 year old never-evers can be hard on the back of someone older, especially if you are really tall.
  • speaking of class sizes, ask the instructors about class sizes (policy vs reality), especially if you are going to work weekends
Also ask all this of the SS Director, but asking the working instructors will give you an idea of how well the ski school follows through and whether some goals are realistically attainable. For example, the SSD may say that you get paid more for teaching above X# of hrs, but an instrcutor may say that getting to that number of hours is close to impossible if you ever want to make a free run or that there are so many instructyors fighting for the lessons during the week, that you'll never get there. Or the SSD might say that you'll be able to teach upper levels, but the instructors may say that it never happens. The SSD may say that they have great training, but the working instructors might say that the good trainers are never there during the week, won't show up to help during the week, and don't seem to care about weekday folks, and they haven't had a weekday guy pass a L2 cert in years.

Ask the SSD about whay he/she sees as the bad aspects of teaching and of teaching there. Basically, treat it like a real job interview for your primary career. You have a lot to offer them, what do they have to offer you?
post #8 of 14
GarryZ, you are the future of ski instruction. Ain't nothing like the Boomers for fueling ski schools. And why not? My friend RicB, who posts here, began teaching after he and his wife raised a family and he retired from a first career as a builder. That wasn't many years ago. Today RicB is one of the top instructors in the school, pulls down an impressive monetary reward for his work, passed Level 3 last year and is working toward becoming a division trainer and maybe an examiner down the road.

As someone whose only career, other than being a mom and ranch wife, has been ski teaching or professionally volunteering for ski teaching organizations and groups, I am inspired by guys like RicB, whose enthusiasm and high motivation in taking this path elevates the entire profession.

So do join up, Garry, ski instruction needs guys like you who have lived with teenagers! Who have worked to build a career, understand professionalism and work ethic, and whose motivation to join what is essentially a helping profession is both unselfish to give unto others the joy of skiing and selfish for the pleasure of becoming really, really good at it.
post #9 of 14
GarryZ, it's a wonderful profession. Every day is an adventure.
It's all about people, skiing is just the medium.
To get to the badge, embrace the process.
True Master Instructors are obsessed with developing the skills to to teach anyone, anytime, anywhere.

Don't hang too much with the ones who "just want to teach adults...or upper levels".
Love your lower levels and tell them all the little secrets of the skiing culture (carry your skis with toepieces above the shoulder, step on the back of your bindings to take off the skis, to get up forget the poles and push with your hands, on a snowy day don't take the goggles off ever till you go inside, and tuck with your poles held horizontally alongside not stuck up in the air...),
Ski and eat candy with the kids (they have the true terrain skiers' attitude, for them technique simply serves terrain exploration).
Embrace the head cases and bring them to healing.
Save the black-traumatized beginners from their friends.
Be one less problem for the supervisors, and the sparkplug of the locker room. If you don't like the culture there, make your own.

It's not just a job, it's a calling.
Have a marvelous time.
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
the support i feel here is very inspiring. i think i have the right stuff to work with any group of people, i spending tonite and sat ,sun at schweitzer and i will pursue these questions with as many people as i can have contact with. i was thinking the director of ski instruction might be very busy in the morning .i can see how this might not be a good time to try to have a face to face. is it common for him/her to be there overnight on a friday ? or weekends . i was thinking an off time for him/her would be better for a quiet talk. or at least as the day has wound down.thank you all so much .
post #11 of 14

If you can't call ahead to make arrangements, you can usually play tag through the ski school desk until you meet up. Either the SSD or the training director should be able to hook up with you for at least a few minutes at some point while you are there.
post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 
thank you sir
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
where can i get information to learn some of what i need to know for first year of instruction. i know i will get instruction about this next fall but i would like to learn all i can before that point. i live near idaho wa border. nearest towns c d a and spokane
post #14 of 14

You can order some of the manuals from the PSIA web site at the non-member prices (you might need to call vs ordering online). I would recommend the Core Concepts Manual, the Alpine Technical Manual and the Vail/Beaver Creek instructor handbook.

There is a lot of free information available on the National site and on some of the division web sites. The Eastern Division site has an exam study guide that could easily double as a study guide for new instructors.

Other things you can do to get ready include brushing up on psychology & biomechanics, practice memorizing names of new acquaintances, practice listening skills, practice people watching/body language interpretation and practice smiling at people.

If you've never taught anything before, practice teaching something simple and familiar on a group of friends (e.g. juggling, how to kick a soccer ball, a stretch exercise). Do it in 10 minutes or less.

But please reailize that all of these activities (other than prior teaching experience) are overkill relative to what is expected of you as a prospective rookie instructor.

It's also possible that a resort near you is holding a spring hiring clinic. Call around, you may want to attend one even though you have no intent of working at that resort.

Finally, there are plenty of folks here to answer your questions.
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