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Becoming an instructor

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
I have been looking on various resort websites for the past couple of years, planning my move to become an instructor for a couple of years after college (only freshman now!). Anyways, what are the exact requirments to become an instructor? I know you have to be PSIA certified and have certain levels and stuff. And of course you have to be an good skiier, I'm already an advanced level skiier so I have that out of the way.
post #2 of 26
Can you pick up 3 yo's after they've peed their pants?
Would a kid barfing while you're on the lift with them not bother you?
Do you have a pulse?

If so, you, too, can be a ski instructor.

PSIA and certs come after you've starting working.
post #3 of 26
Thread Starter 
Don't worry...I worked with severe special education kids all last year- 18 year olds in diapers, no worry I can handle the gross out factor.
post #4 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by wasatchskier View Post
And of course you have to be an good skiier, I'm already an advanced level skiier so I have that out of the way.
Could your ego take being told that perhaps you're not as good as you think technically?

Can you cope with your skiing technique being dismantled and nit-picked apart?

post #5 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by wasatchskier View Post
Don't worry...I worked with severe special education kids all last year- 18 year olds in diapers, no worry I can handle the gross out factor.
Can you handle the menial, boring part of the work factor?

It's not as glamorous as you may think. My suggestion: if your going to work part-time in college, get a job wherever you transfer as a weekend instructor. It's completely guaranteed that you'll be working with kids, probably 3 & 4 year old never ever skiers your first year. If you come back for a second year, then you get more responsibility and harder classes.

Can you stand not skiing as much as you think instructors get? I free skied 15 days last year, spent over 100 days on snow. That is pretty typical. Expect to spend 20 days in a wedge all day for every day you actually get to teach wedge christies or even (I should be so lucky) parallel turns.

It's worth trying, but if you're expecting glamor, get a job as a bartender.
post #6 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by veeeight View Post
Could your ego take being told that perhaps you're not as good as you think technically?

Can you cope with your skiing technique being dismantled and nit-picked apart?

Well if you would like to be that way fine. I'm just trying to give everyone a background here. I didn't say expert, I said advanced. I'm just trying to put myself into a category to know where to start at in the instructor process. And I judge this on the type of terrain I do, how I do it, etc.

I didn't need any negative feedback here, I was just trying to let everyone know where I stand. No need to be so harsh. I work well with children, one of my specialties, so mentally I'm cut out to be an instructor.
post #7 of 26
Those are viable questions and not negative at all.
You most likely have enough skills to be an instructor as some don't ski all that well but have a desire to improve . Teaching kids will be your specialty so it sounds like you can handle that.
They are not being negative towards you but honest
post #8 of 26
If you can make a wedge turn, can take instruction in how to make a wedge turn correctly, respond to that instruction and change your technique as needed, and are more interested in how your students are doing than in taking them down the runs you want to ski, you'll do fine.

We're not really trying to be negative, just realistic. We've all seen new instructors that said they were advanced/expert/super skiers that couldn't buy a turn, must less teach someone how to make a turn. You'll get much further with friendliness than great skiing. Many schools would rather have a great teacher that they can teach how to ski, than a great skier that they can't train how to teach.

And, I couldn't imagine doing anything else during the winter. But it's better for you to hear the negative side of instructing, rather than thinking in rose colored terms.
post #9 of 26
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all of the advice. Of course I'm not a perfect skiier and I always look to improve. I'm not thinking about do this now, but in 4 years or so. I'm just starting college now and it will be after then, maybe part-time during college, maybe not. But it is something that I have always wanted to do, and I know it's not all glamerous- whiny kids, freezing temps, blizzard, rude parents, bunny hill for days on end.

Thanks for the advice.
post #10 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by veeeight View Post
Could your ego take being told that perhaps you're not as good as you think technically?

Can you cope with your skiing technique being dismantled and nit-picked apart?

Gee, and for all these years I thought I was the only one they did that to.
post #11 of 26

Becoming an Instructor

WASATCHSKIER, Ignoring some of the negative feedback you got.

Where are you, yourname indicates Utah but youre in Ga? Check out PSIA website, NASTC website. You are an advanced skier, you are good enough to be a ski instructor. Level I, beginner lever is realatively easy to pass with a little bit of instructions in what PSIA wants; Written, Ski Trest, Ski on the snow Instruction Test. I havetaught for 5 years, all part time and in Tahoe and No. Idaho. I teachmore adullts than kids. Recommend preparing a concise Ski/Teach/Organize Abilities resume. Checking out the areas you will apply to and maybe getting certified before you apply,i.e., NASTC website (I did this clinic).

Some facts about being a part time instructor. You will not make much money unless you are at a destination resort i.e., Aspen,Squaw, Heavenly, Vail etc. and you have a great personality and teaching gift. The more experie3nced instructors will get all the privates etc. Senority. Will you get some classes youwill really dislike-sure but in my experience I get more good classes than bad classes and had a few really great classes. I can only remember one really bad class in 5 years. Just in general. I think being an instructor is a great experience and can be very personally rewarding. Helping people learn how to ski and overcome their fears has always brought me great satisfaction. Money, at Tahoe I made more in tips than salary and in No., IDAHO the tips are almost nonexistant and always small.

So obviously $is not a good motivation. However there are some real positive reasons to jump in and try it. FIRST, you will make some great friends and always have someone to ski with you SECOND. You can ski a lot if you want to THIRD most ski areas are connected in one way or another and get free or good discounts from other ski areas and you will get the satisfaction of doing something you wanted to do. Do it well and its even more rewarding.

I think there are more positives than negatives. Here in No Idaho the bigggest negatives are the $ or lack of and the unbelieablely poor mgt.
As mentioned in the previous post "can you take constant instruction etc.", hey thereis always an instructor or 2 that's ego is bigger than the mountain. These people are easy to handle because their brain doesn't even come close to their Ego's.

Good luck, give it a try, you might like/love being an instructor.
post #12 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by wasatchskier View Post
I have been looking on various resort websites for the past couple of years, planning my move to become an instructor for a couple of years after college (only freshman now!). Anyways, what are the exact requirments to become an instructor? I know you have to be PSIA certified and have certain levels and stuff. And of course you have to be an good skiier, I'm already an advanced level skiier so I have that out of the way.
The ski resort you are seeking employment with can give you their specific requirements for being employed as an instructor but there are a few general but important qualifications:
  • You must be comfortable speaking in front of a group of people
  • Be able to maintaine your composure in the midst of total chaos
  • Unlimited patience
  • Good communication skills
  • Strong enough to lift five year olds all day
  • The ability to demonstrate the movements you are trying to teach
  • Being a great teacher is far more important than being a great skier
Hope that helps.
post #13 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete No. Idaho View Post
WASATCHSKIER, Ignoring some of the negative feedback you got.

Where are you, yourname indicates Utah but youre in Ga? Check out PSIA website, NASTC website. You are an advanced skier, you are good enough to be a ski instructor. Level I, beginner lever is realatively easy to pass with a little bit of instructions in what PSIA wants; Written, Ski Trest, Ski on the snow Instruction Test. I havetaught for 5 years, all part time and in Tahoe and No. Idaho. I teachmore adullts than kids. Recommend preparing a concise Ski/Teach/Organize Abilities resume. Checking out the areas you will apply to and maybe getting certified before you apply,i.e., NASTC website (I did this clinic).

Some facts about being a part time instructor. You will not make much money unless you are at a destination resort i.e., Aspen,Squaw, Heavenly, Vail etc. and you have a great personality and teaching gift. The more experie3nced instructors will get all the privates etc. Senority. Will you get some classes youwill really dislike-sure but in my experience I get more good classes than bad classes and had a few really great classes. I can only remember one really bad class in 5 years. Just in general. I think being an instructor is a great experience and can be very personally rewarding. Helping people learn how to ski and overcome their fears has always brought me great satisfaction. Money, at Tahoe I made more in tips than salary and in No., IDAHO the tips are almost nonexistant and always small.

So obviously $is not a good motivation. However there are some real positive reasons to jump in and try it. FIRST, you will make some great friends and always have someone to ski with you SECOND. You can ski a lot if you want to THIRD most ski areas are connected in one way or another and get free or good discounts from other ski areas and you will get the satisfaction of doing something you wanted to do. Do it well and its even more rewarding.

I think there are more positives than negatives. Here in No Idaho the bigggest negatives are the $ or lack of and the unbelieablely poor mgt.
As mentioned in the previous post "can you take constant instruction etc.", hey thereis always an instructor or 2 that's ego is bigger than the mountain. These people are easy to handle because their brain doesn't even come close to their Ego's.

Good luck, give it a try, you might like/love being an instructor.
Thanks this is the kind of info I was looking for. I live in GA, but I ski in Utah every year-that's the place we always go. I wish I lived there. Hopefully I can attend college there next year.

I think it would be a great experience. I know the money isn't great, but this would be a job that I would do right out of college/part time in college where I could just enjoying doing what I love before I have to go get a "real" job and do that for 40+ years. Why not have some fun while you can?
post #14 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by wasatchskier View Post
Anyways, what are the exact requirments to become an instructor?
The exact requirements will vary by resort. At one point Alta was only hiring experienced instructors who had level 2 or higher certification. I don't know if that is still true. Most resorts hire people with no previous ski teaching experience every year. While being an advanced skier helps to get a job, being "trainable" is more important. Having some previous other kind of teaching experience is always helpful. Having a good attitude, good communication skills (speaking and listening), good people skills is usually the difference that gets you hired versus not hired.

Most resorts have some kind of hiring clinic that usually involves indoor (pre season) and on snow (early or late season) training. During the clinic you will be evaluated by your clinicians. At the end, the school will either offer jobs to the top candidates to fill the number of openings they have, or they will offer jobs to everyone who meets their minimum criteria if there are more jobs than candidates. During critical times, a school may offer jobs on the spot to "walk ins".
post #15 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by wasatchskier View Post
Well if you would like to be that way fine. ...................

I didn't need any negative feedback here, I was just trying to let everyone know where I stand. No need to be so harsh. I work well with children, one of my specialties, so mentally I'm cut out to be an instructor.
Being an active listener helps

One of an active listeners best traits is that they will make sure the know what was being said to them, for example, repeat what they think the other person is trying to say, to check for understanding, before acting upon a miscommunication.
post #16 of 26

Ski Instruction

Wasatchskier, good for you, give it a try. Sorry late getting back went and played 9 holes. Birdied the 9th, the other 8 were not so good. Can't help you on Utah, query some of the Utah people on that. They'll all be back on Epic in the Fall. Get PSIA Certified Level 1 if you can, if you can't do a small resume and accent skiing, teaching, communication skills, reliability and flexibility. My lst job at Tahoe I told the ski school boss I was available for whatever schedule if desired. He needed instructors mid-week as he had a lot of people to instruct on weekends. This was great because I got to ski alot, clinic a lot and hardly taught any little kids. I'd show up at the ski school at non line up times and got a good # of privates. Tips were b better than the pay and had a great lst year teaching. When I came to Idaho the boss also asked if I could work Thur and Fri-yep-did a lot of skiing that year as N Idaho is not Lake Tahoe for lessons etc. Again good luck!!!
post #17 of 26
Hey Wasatch Skier--welcome to EpicSKi!

I know it sounded like some of these guys were being harsh or avoiding your question, but I think they really were giving you the right answers.

Getting a job and becoming a successful ski instructor (your original question) really is much more about your attitude, personality, and realistic expectations than your credentials. Most ski schools, even the major resorts, hire instructors with no ski teaching experience, training, or certification whatsoever. They're looking for attitude, warmth, communication skill, eye contact, an easy smile, and enthusiasm, along with adaptability and trainability. They will want you to ski well, and understand and demonstrate clean, contemporary ski technique, but they can (and will) train the right people in those areas.

If you really want to make a career of it, even for just a few years after college, don't wait until you graduate. If your school is in ski country, seek out a small, friendly, family-oriented local ski hill nearby and try to get hired part-time. You may work weekends and holidays, perhaps an evening or two. Take advantage of any training they offer. Find a mentor if you can to guide your progress. Join PSIA and attend a few clinics and work toward your Level 1 certification. It's fun! And the experience--and the pin--will go far toward your first job at a major ski school. While you may get hired either way, if you're certified and experienced you'll have a huge leg up on the priority roster at a big resort, and I think you'll enjoy your first full-time season a lot more.

I speak from experience, by the way. I happened across an ad in the local paper for "ski instructors wanted" at a small hill near my school my sophomore year. It hadn't crossed my mind until then, but I gave 'em a call. I taught very part-time, nights and weekends. I met some great people, and learned a lot about skiing--not the least of which was that I was much more of a hack than the hot shot I had thought I was. I was hooked. Took the next two years off to teach skiing in Colorado, then returned to the little part-time hill until I graduated. I've been at it ever since. Be warned!

And stick around EpicSki, too. I don't know a better place to get your skiing questions answered, or to try out your own ideas on a pretty savvy group of skiers. I look forward to hearing how it goes for you!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #18 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by wasatchskier View Post
Thanks for all of the advice. Of course I'm not a perfect skiier and I always look to improve.
Since I think you missed the point that the guys were trying to give you, I thought I'd take a stab at it. It's really not a matter of how well you ski. It's that a big part of teaching skiing is learning how to see, feel, and demonstrate what skiers are doing.

The first place this impacts is our own skiing. So, your skiing--no matter how expert--will be nitpicked by your clinicians. It can be really hard to hear. It was for me, at least!

After more than 30 years of skiing, some years racing, and a real passion for the sport, to be told just how much I had to change was a real "wake-up call". However, I took it on. As a result, I am a far better skier than I was 3 years ago when I first dropped in on EpicSki, met Rusty Guy and Bob Barnes/Colorado, and started teaching skiing. I am only a part-time guide and instructor (and may always be), but it's been a great (albeit humbling!) experience all the way. And there's no way (other than attending the ESA!) that I know to improve your own skiing so quickly as hanging out in clinics both at a solid ski school and at PSIA events.
post #19 of 26
Hi, wasatchskier.

You've already received a lot of good, down-to-earth advice. I'll just add one more suggestion...

If you already know the ski area where you would like to teach, start the process right now. Find out who the ski school director (SSD) is and send him/her a letter about your desire to be an instructor. Follow that up with a phone call and ask to meet in person if that's at all possible.

Make it clear that you're interested in the *teaching* aspect of the profession, not just the free pass or the cheap gear or the chance to hang with the bro's. Also make it clear that you can use the next two or three seasons to work on any skills or development that SSD might like to see when you come to work.

The experience you've already developed in working with difficult kids will be enormously attractive to most SSD's. They want instructors who can relate to clients on all kinds of levels. Good skiers are a dime a dozen, good instructors are a much, much rarer breed and ski schools are always looking for more.

If you establish a relationship with an SSD today, they'll be enormously impressed if you show up three years from now looking for a job. That shows planning, commitment, and follow-through. You'd be a shoe-in.

Good luck.
post #20 of 26
I just saw a help wanted ad for The Canyons. They are looking for a few new instructors.
post #21 of 26

Go Get 'em!!!

Do not hesitate. Jump right in.

All the advice above is sound and experienced based.

I took up instructing part-time two seasons ago. I knew one of the supervisors running the program my kids were enrolled in and I thought it would be a way to make the skiing family concept more affordable.

My only regret is that I didn't try it out sooner.

The people I've met have been supercool. But of course they would be...they ski.

My own skiing has improved. The training pays off. I too get sent back to the remedial group from time to time.

My kids think I am cool...even their friends. Probably not much longer.

I now look at it as one of the most rewarding of my many endeavors. So much, that my plan is to continue after retirement...if I make it past 2023.

Of course it is work. But all I do is teach. I look at it as pretty fortunate that I do not have to sweat any of the administrative stuff. Scheduling, budgeting, training, etc...

I would like to get to other places to ski more often, but that can wait.

Can I get a big Wahoo?
post #22 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by wasatchskier View Post
I have been looking on various resort websites for the past couple of years, planning my move to become an instructor for a couple of years after college (only freshman now!). Anyways, what are the exact requirments to become an instructor? I know you have to be PSIA certified and have certain levels and stuff. And of course you have to be an good skiier, I'm already an advanced level skiier so I have that out of the way.
Since you are in GA, I would recommend teaching skiing during your winter breaks in the mid atlantic. It's easy to get in the door and get some experience teaching. That way, when you head west, you'll have some experience, and at least your level 1 cert, which will make it a lot easier to get into the big western resorts. I started teaching my sr year of HS, and taught all through college during my winter breaks and on weekends (I set up my schedule to not have classes on fridays so I could teach). My Sr year of college I got my Level 2 cert, then went out west and taught at Breckenridge. When I met with the SSD and handed him my application, he saw I had my L2, and just told me what day he wanted me to start and said I didn't need to attend the hiring clinic. If you go out west with a cert, especially a level2, you are pretty much guaranteed a job at the mountain of your choice.
post #23 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by skiprob View Post
Can I get a big Wahoo?
Wahoo!
post #24 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by wasatchskier View Post
Well if you would like to be that way fine. I'm just trying to give everyone a background here. I didn't say expert, I said advanced. I'm just trying to put myself into a category to know where to start at in the instructor process. And I judge this on the type of terrain I do, how I do it, etc.

I didn't need any negative feedback here, I was just trying to let everyone know where I stand. No need to be so harsh. I work well with children, one of my specialties, so mentally I'm cut out to be an instructor.
Whether you think you "need" negative feedback or not, you're going to get it working as an instructor. A short temper is not a good feature of a well rounded instructor. Veeeight asked a perfectly reasonable question and knowing him as I do I know it was not intended as a personal attack ... however if that's how you take criticism (which really his comments weren't ... they were just questions) then perhaps this is the wrong occupation for you. Again my comments are not meant as an attack but rather as friendly advice and something for you to seriously consider before going down this route ... there are a lot of egos in the ski teaching trade (I am not suggesting you have an over inflated ego for a second) and nobody likes harsh criticism that much, but it happens to all of us. You will come across plenty trainers/instructors & even clients who believe they are superior to you, whether justified or not, and you need the skills / personality to be able to handle this in a professional manner.
post #25 of 26
wasatchskier,

Welcome to Epic.

Great advice from a few above.

Some questions you may start to consider before you attend an ITC (instructors training course).

1. Where you will be locating after school and if it is within driving range of a ski resort.

2. What type of ski instruction program do you see yourself working in (small children, children ages 8 - 12, line-up instructor (groups and privates, adults), race programs, freestyle programs, adult seasonal programs (hard to get into as a new instructor)?

3. Making the commitment for weekends and holidays for 12 weeks + training.

4. Am I financially secure enough to do it?

These are the requirements I have for new instructors.

1. Advanced intermediate or better skier.

2. Complete ITC and ongoing further training.

3. Availability to work weekends and busy times + holidays.

4. Excellent communication skills.

5. Ability to think on your skis.

6. Neat professional appearance.

7. Love skiing.

I hope this helps you. If you have further questions that I can help with, please let me know.

RW
post #26 of 26
Visit many schools and get a feel for how you are treated as a person standing near lineups.
watch for egomanic activity.
watch the lessons that go out
watch them as they come in.
When you find a school which treats you well as a stranger, and puts out a good product (nothing lofty, just look for "good"), ask about trying out with them.
It may just change your life.

Hem
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