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PSIA instrutor level question

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
So, I'm trying to decide which of 2 instructors to request for some lessons this year. I had lessons with both last year and got a lot out of the lessons which each of them. My question is, can I assume if someone does not list it on their card, they are not as highly certified? My assumption would be that people would list the highest levels of certification attained . . . For example, one instructor's card has listed Ski Pro, PSIA Accredited Alpine Trainer and PSIA Certified Level III Telemark. The other one just says PSIA Certified Ski Instructor.
I liked both for different reasons, so I'm debating whether to go with the first one or the second one. I ski at a low intermediate level (beginning intermediate) so am not even sure I need one with the highest level of certification. I'm just trying to figure out if I'm necessarily assuming correctly that the first one is better certified (although since I don't telemark, that level 3 does not really apply to me). thanks
post #2 of 28
Cards might not say it all. It might depend on the Mountain what an instructor is allowed to put on his/her card. Some places have regulations on what is allowed to be placed on your business card so they may not have any or all of their certifications listed. You might want to ask them. Also, ask how long they have taught, etc.

Also, don't assume that because someone isn't certified that they don't have the requisite knowledge to teach. I know some uncertified instructors that are great teachers and have tons of knowledge about skiing and how to teach. They just don't want to take the test. Further, some people are great instructors but don't have the ability to pass the higher tests for certification. They may have all the knowledge that any L-3 has but don't have the "quick feet" to be able to pass the skiing portions of the test.

Bottom line, go with the instructor you are comfortable with, understands you, and helps you advance they way you want to advance. It's a partnership and you must feel comfortable with your partner in learning.
post #3 of 28
You could ask at the desk what level they both are. I would say that the first is dual level III with an additional clinician level certification. That is how it would read in my division. The second could also be a level III, but it could mean something different. Though I would guess it means level III as well. I would just say, pick the one that helped you the most or the one that you connected with the best.
post #4 of 28
I say throw the cards away, and think about what you'd most like to improve on, then try and decide which instructor can help you best with that based on your previous lessons.

If someone is deciding between instructors without having skied with either of them, then by all means use certifications to help decide, but nothing is better than having skied with them before.
post #5 of 28
Thread Starter 
Great, thanks! This is in the Rocky Mountain division (Steamboat). I'll just think about it some more and pick based on past experience.
post #6 of 28
Makes sense. The first one is clearly a student of the sport, and also teaches teachers. This can be good, but it can also lead to a bit more analytical approach and a tendency to talk more and ski less... Not always, mind you.

Since you've skied with them both, you probably have a sense for comfort-level. If you have something specific you want to focus on, you might take it up with them and get their thoughts on working with one or the other.
post #7 of 28
Miramar,

You already know way more about the 2 pros than their business cards will tell you with respect to their value to you. You've got their cards. Have you thought about asking them directly? Certification is just an indicator of what a pro is capable of. On average, you're more likely to have a better lesson experience from a certified level 3 pro than from an uncertified one. Once you've had experience with a pro, you no longer have to gamble if they will be good for you or not. That said, certification can be confusing. Hopefully I can shed some light on this without losing you.

Sometimes people just put a plain "PSIA certified" on their cards because they don't want to sound pretentious or they don't want to throw away cards after they get their next level of certification.

No matter what discipline one receives PSIA certification in, in general:
Level 1 means certified to teach quality beginner lessons
Level 2 means certified to teach quality intermediate lessons
Level 3 means certified to teach quality advanced lessons

Increased levels of certification equates to corresponding increases in both skiing and teaching skills. A person with a higher level of certification in one discipline would imply they have above average teaching skills for a second discipline with a lower level certification because many (but not all) of the teaching skills being tested are independent of the discipline.

"Trainer accreditation" is higher than level 3 status. Please note though that trainer accerditation is not offered in the Eastern division of PSIA, so lack of that status does not necessarily mean that an instructor has lesser skills. In general, trainer accreditation means one has experience as a ski school staff trainer. Being a staff trainer means that the pro has impressive enough teaching and skiing skills that management has chosen them to show other pros how to do it. Getting the accreditation from PSIA means that the pro has also independently proven their skills to PSIA. At my resort, I'm a trainer but I'm only a level 2. We have level 3 certified pros who are better skiers and teachers than I am who are not on the training staff because they choose not to make the time commitment.

Certification is neither a guarantee of quality nor lack of certification a guarantee for lack of quality. Certification merely means that one cares enough about their profession or hobby to make an independent investment in improving their skills and has spent the time and money to have PSIA verify their teaching and skiing abilities. There are many pros who have the skills to pass a certification exam who don't do so for many reasons and there are plenty of pros who's skills have eroded since they passed their exam (again for many reasons).
post #8 of 28
When I was certified (1973), there was certified and associate certified (which I had become the year before). No levels. I don't recall when levels came about, but it's possible the one has my kind of "certified". My PSIA card now says Level III.
post #9 of 28
Another thing to think about is their "eye" or Movement Analysis abilities. The thing I've been the most impressed with in higher level Instructors is their ability to look at a skier and pick out the one or two most important things they should be working on at that time.

You might have a good sense of this from having skied with them, or perhaps not. If the second instructor is a Level I (which I am) they probably don't have as sophisticated an eye as a Level III might.

That being said i agree with what others have said here that teaching is a different skill then skiing - and a lower level Instructor could be a better teacher then a higher level one in some cases.
post #10 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by therusty View Post
A person with a higher level of certification in one discipline would imply they have above average teaching skills for a second discipline with a lower level certification because many (but not all) of the teaching skills being tested are independent of the discipline.
i respectfully disagree

Quote:
Originally Posted by therusty View Post
Certification merely means that one cares enough about their profession or hobby to make an independent investment in improving their skills and has spent the time and money to have PSIA verify their teaching and skiing abilities.
merely????

well stated from a level II cert who has sought a level III certification and failed

miramar,

go with the trainer accred. if you can find an examiner even better.
post #11 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkiMangoJazz View Post
Another thing to think about is their "eye" or Movement Analysis abilities....
Dec 4, 2007

Hi Miramar:

From a consumer of ski coaching point of view, I agree with the above. The reason is that I assume you're taking lessons to get better. Someone with a good eye can spot right away what you need to work on. Furthermore, once your coach has determined what needs to be done, he/she also has to be able to "impart" that to you for you to work on i.e. a good teacher/coach for you're learning style. This is where the levels don't matter as much any more. At this point, you want to ask yourself, which coach is more compatible with your learning modality. Finally, it is up to you. You have to go practice, practice, practice to get the movements/techniques into your muscle memory. Each time you go skiing you should work on your lessons for a while. After that "go have fun".

Think snow,

CP

PS: the hard part is to determine who has a good eye and also is a good teacher.
post #12 of 28
Picky Picky, Rusty Guy

In Central Division, a LII can take/pass the trainer accreditation.
post #13 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rusty Guy View Post
well stated from a level II cert who has sought a level III certification and failed
Whoa! Did you really just say that?
post #14 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kneale Brownson View Post
Picky Picky, Rusty Guy

In Central Division, a LII can take/pass the trainer accreditation.
by linking four great turns
post #15 of 28
4? They had better be short radius turns.
post #16 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by epic View Post
Whoa! Did you really just say that?
Yup!
post #17 of 28

A little below the belt?

Quote:
Originally Posted by therusty
Certification merely means that one cares enough about their profession or hobby to make an independent investment in improving their skills and has spent the time and money to have PSIA verify their teaching and skiing abilities.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rusty Guy View Post
merely????

well stated from a level II cert who has sought a level III certification and failed

Well, since you opened that door, Rusty Guy... and obviously disagree with therusty...

what does PSIA certification mean to you?
post #18 of 28
Funny thread... Certification means that the instructor paid the money and passed the tests. I helps to insure that the consumer knows what they are getting. Many really great instructors with great eyes and many years of experience choose not to participate in PSIA. I know a few level 3 guys who could confuse the hell out of you. If you had no other input I would say go for the higher cert. It does mean something. Dual certs are also good. My primary discipline is Alpine, but I also Tele and Snowboard. It has helped me be better all around. If nothing else certification shows dedication to the "proffesion". For you I would say go with your gut and choose the instructor who gave you the lesson you got the most out of. In my case I don't have a card, because my certs are low and are going up. I do have 18 seasons of freeskiing at my resort so I'm not exactly a noob. There is no doubt in my mind that I am constantly improving as an instructor. My current certs after one year teaching are...

PSIA Lv 1 alpine
PSIA Lv 1 tele
AAI Lv 2 avalanche
NSP alpine patroller
NSP avalanche instructor
NSP mountian travel & rescue instructor

This year I intend to get
PSIA Lv 2 alpine
PSIA Lv 2 tele
PSIA Lv 1 snowboard
PSIA backcountry cert
NSP senior patroller
NAS avalanche

The mountians and the snow don't care what it says on my card.
post #19 of 28
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replys. I ended up picking instructor #2.
post #20 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Miramar View Post
Thanks for the replys. I ended up picking instructor #2.
Dec 5, 2007

Hi Miramar:

Is it because "he/she tries harder"? (old,old Avis joke).

Congratulations and remember that by selecting a particular coach now doesn't mean you're married to him/her. As you progress, you're needs/circumstances may change and you should make arrangements which reflect these new requirements.

Think snow,

CP
post #21 of 28
what psia divisions offer a trainer certification??
post #22 of 28
PSIA-E has Development Team and Training Squad
PSIA-RM has Trainer Accred
PSIA-W have Dev Team and Technical Team
PSIA-NRM have DCE

Those are the ones I checked...

Interesting how VERY different all their websites are!
post #23 of 28
Having taught in the western division for 27 years. Our bi -laws have no psia designation for trainers etc. once you have achieved level 3 that's it. You can choose to further your education by attending various forums to increase your proficiency but they hold no accreditation in PSIA-w. ed-core is open to all level 3's. Tech team is for those wanting to be examiners. Strictly voluntary and some by invitation. Demo team tryouts for those wanting to go on to national demo team etc. ski areas can hire for a "Trainer" position but these are not by any psia sanctions. I have never seen a psia trainer pin or anything similar in this division. Our mission statement states that PSIA is for certifying instructors up to Level 3. That's it. If other divisions have a different set up, I'd like to hear more..
post #24 of 28
Are trainers accredited at all in PSIA-W, Wrangler? They are in PSIA-RM. I suppose it's not really a "certification" per se, and there are no cert details on their website for it. Yet, there is a description and detail here:

http://psia-rm.org/productcatalog.ph...neTA&type=cert
post #25 of 28
Intermountian division has the DECL which I believe stands for Divisional Educational Clinic Leader. They are instructors who travel through the division and help to standardize the clinics and accredidations. At least I think thats what they do.
post #26 of 28
ssh...
psia-w has an ed-core clinic (level 3 prerequisite) once a year for those who are assisting in training at their own areas or helping with in house level 1 certification. The Tech Team is a clinic/tryout situation basically for moving on to examiner. You can stay on the Tech Team tryout roster as long as you like. A person going the Tech Team route may not aspire to be an examiner but wants to keep up with whats new and help out with training at their own area. Some Tech team people are used for clinics throughout the year and at convention. Examiner is by invitation, usually from the Tech Team cadre. Examiners usually start out doing level 1's and continue to move on to 2 and 3 as their skills increase or senior examiners leave the program. At one time psia-w had a DCL (Division Clinic Leader) program but everyone labeled it Level 4 certification and that was not the intention. Most traveling clinics are assigned by the education v.p. You get to do that after shadowing a lot of clinics and being a squeaky wheel. The more you show up, show interest and play the politics, the more clinics you get to do. To my knowledge there is no certification involved beyond level 3. There are various designations that have come up over the years IE. children's specialist, Senior Specialist (new in our division this year) etc. These do not require previous certifications of any kind.

Side note; It is interesting to note that there are so many differences in each division. We talk a lot about the inconsistencies in ski instruction and by looking at the various psia web sites, this diversity on this forum and all the get good quick schemes out there, its a wonder that the public can put a long term consistent program together that will benefit them. I guess it all comes down to the individual instructor and what he/she does with the information at hand????
post #27 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wrangler View Post
Side note; It is interesting to note that there are so many differences in each division. We talk a lot about the inconsistencies in ski instruction and by looking at the various psia web sites, this diversity on this forum and all the get good quick schemes out there, its a wonder that the public can put a long term consistent program together that will benefit them. I guess it all comes down to the individual instructor and what he/she does with the information at hand????
Ain't that the truth! Consistency, especially over the years, is certainly a difficulty.
post #28 of 28
Wrangler,
Here in PSIA-NW we have Divisional Clinic Leaders (aka DCL). This qualifies the pro to travel the division and provide clinics for ski schools and for Divisional Academy and Symposium... We are actually ind. contractors for PSIA-NW. We have a try out every two years to make or maintain the status. The selectors are on our Technical Team (read divisional Demo Team). There is not a "pin" or patch with this designation. Gold is still the top pin in our division too.
As for Miramer going to Steamboat, my card just says "certified" as well, not sure why, just seems a bit snooty for my style. Most pro's are busy with return business like yours because of the experience as you are finding out. My clients do know that I help train instructors as well, they seem to like that bit.
Thanks for supporting our profession.
Greg
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