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How do I get PSIA Certified without a ski school?

post #1 of 49
Thread Starter 
How do I get PSIA Certified without being a ski school instructor? I really won't have time to take any clinics next season to prepare so how can I do it?
post #2 of 49
Thread Starter 
I have already done the part time instructor thing, didn't really like it. Now I'm a part time race coach.

post #3 of 49
I'm glad you asked this question since I have wondered about this too. I asked about getting into some of the PSIA clinics because I wanted to learn more and was told I had to be a member to go to these clinics.

I'm waiting. I saw somewhere that membership at an associate level might be avail but certain clinics require level xx certification to get into these clinics. Everyone I have talked to that does some instruction said to get better fast the best route is certification. But that takes 3 years (minimum) and a big commitment of time to a ski school. I'm not sure if I have that kind of time. Considering if I want to keep my regular job, the commute to the slopes is 4 hrs each way. I don't think the SS "salary" would even pay for my gas let alone the time and effort. I just gotta win the lottery!
post #4 of 49

Is your race team associated with a particular mountain? If so, talk to the ski school director. Maybe you can get into some of the cert training clinics for the instructors that are prepping for exams. This will go a long way in teaching you the finer points of teaching and movement analysis. There is a possiblility that the director may "sponsor" you as an instructor of his ski school, which would allow you to attend a PSIA registration event, and then, subsequent exams. It all depends on the director's willingness to do this. If the race program people don't normally associate (or in some cases even get along) with the ski school personnel, it may not fly. But we have had instrucotrs that have stopped teaching, and started coaching the race team, who were already PSIA members, be allowed to attend exams by the director. To go to a PSIA exam, you need to have your ski school director's signature on the registration card. If they seem amenable to this concept, they may require you to attend in-house prep clinics to make sure you are ready for the exam. They probably require this of their instructors. And even if not, it would be very wise of you to attend as many as you possibly can. It can only benefit you.
post #5 of 49

Have you been involved in the USSA programs?

They have catagories like Alpine Coach and Alpine Official.

dchan: Certification does not take three years to become a Level 1. It's more like fifty hours combined of clinics and instructional time.

Teaching however, is not for everyone. If you live four hours away it may be rough since you often have to commit to a schedule of something like twenty working days.You have to really ask yourself if you want to drive that far on a rainy day. You also loose that freedom to go somewhere else on a whim.

The sad news is that it sounds like you would be damned good instructor.
post #6 of 49
Thanks Yuki,
I may still do it. and I was thinking about level 3 not just lvl 1
Either way, I'll keep learning and sharing what I learn.
post #7 of 49
It doesn't "take" three years to reach Level III, but it may take three, four, five years to reach the skills levels required to earn your certification.
post #8 of 49
Thread Starter 

Why I coach instead of ski instruct.
1) You don't have to teach beginners, that's OK for a while then it gets really old.
2) You don't have to teach unmotivated people. Like my dad put me in this lesson because I don't want to ski.
3)Race coaching is much more rewarding working with same kids year after year. You get to know their parents, brothers and sisters, It's like having this big ski racing family.

I did some PSIA clinics about 12 years ago. A fair amount of the time the clinician was of lower ability than I was. I would like to learn some of the modern PSIA progressions etc, but don't want to waste my time with a lower level clinician. Not that I am a super awesome skier, I know a lot of skiers better than myself.

John H

There are about 30 ski schools at the area where I coach. Many of the instructor's kids are in our program. So I could probably work something out with one of the ski schools. The problem would be finding good clinic leaders with "Modern" technique.


I am a USSCA Club (old level one) Coach working on State Coach (old level 2) and am also an Alpine Official. A PSIA certificate used to be required for a level 3 coach (it may still be I'm not sure). The coach clinics typically require a large amount of travel to get to, but they are very good with excellent Teachers. Like Ex-US ski team coaches. Unfortunately not very many coaches go because of expense travel and the clinics are often mid-season.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by NordtheBarbarian (edited April 26, 2001).]</FONT>
post #9 of 49
Thread Starter 
I was thinking more of the Ski school run clinics more than the PSIA clinics. The stuff that I have to go through to join PSIA.
post #10 of 49
Level 1 and 2 can easily be done in one year. I ski patrolled and grew bored and switched to teaching and love it. I may sing a different tune in a few years, however, I enjoy teaching beginners. I spent a lot of time with folks who had never set foot on skis and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I skied today with the director of our ski school and he made an interesting comment. He said my skiing improved 300% over the course of the season particularly in bumps and poor snow conditions. I agreed. He asked me why I thought this happened. I cliniced every time I could, however I've got to thank the PSIA curriculum, the common threads we teach, and the fact that as a new instructor I spent most of my time talking about "the basics" with new skiers.

The beauty of this is the fact that these "common threads" apply to all of us and teaching helps reinforce good habits.
post #11 of 49
Kneale Brownson,
I know may take more than 3, 4 or even 5 years to get there. I think depending on which division, 3 years would be the minimum due to some require a certain amount of teaching time and some only allow 1 exam level per year.
I think I have most of the skills required to get my level 1 as far as skiing. Teaching them would be a totally unknown to me at this point. Again I "think" on the skills part too. JohnH is the only instructor I spent a whole day free skiing with so he might be able to give me a better assesment. Lyle maybe too but I didn't ask him. We spent a week skiing together (2 hrs a day) and a whole day in Alta but it wasn't just free skiing. We were working on some very specific skills.
post #12 of 49
Come down under over summer, check out

post #13 of 49
a little reality check for the part time ski instructor...

I started teaching in '83, became a registered member (somewhat similar to the current Level 1) in '84, got my Level II (then called "Associate Cert") in '88, and my Level 3 in '95. While it can be dome quicker than that, and I have known a couple of people to go from level 1 through 3 in 3 years, it is not common. Realistically, you should count on 4-6 years. For the folks who ski a lot before becoming instructors, and have gotten fairly good at skiing, getting through the skiing part of the level 2 is fairly easy. But getting past the teaching and tech parts is not so easy. Then, to get through level 3 is even harder. I think the thing that takes the longest for people who come in as talented skiers, is understanding movement analysis, correction and detection, and the ability to communicate and teach what needs to be taught. Learning "special populations" (kids, timid women, older adults) is a whole 'nother bag of stuff you need to learn. In the L3 exam, you'll also need to teach bumps and gates. The acedemic stuff isn't all that bad because you can read books and hang out on internet forums all summer, but practicing it is not as accessable.

Also, Rusty Guy. you can only take one exam per year. So you can't do level 1 and 2 in the same year. I don't know how all of the divisions work (I'm in the eastern division, and there are some minor differences between divisions, in their requirements), but you will need to take prerequisite PSIA for-credit clinics to be able to attend some exams. Only certain clinics are considered legit prereqs for certain exams. The PSIA-run clinics and exams usually take place on weekdays, as to avoid weekend crowds, and in some cases (the Easterns Level 3 exam) the exam is run in 2 seperate parts, one is 2 days and the other is 3 days (may both become 3 days soon). So expect to need to take some time off work and travel to clinics and exams. I've had to travel from the DC area to New Hampshire and Vermont quite a bit (8-11 hr drives) for "events". However, for dchan, where he has a number of large resorts in the tahoe area, he may be able to attend events in Tahoe, without having to travel outside the area much. This is probably also true for other areas such as Summit County CO or Utah as well. It's just that our little mountains down here are not challeneging enough to even hold a level 3 exam. I think the furthest south that they have ever held a Level 3 exam in the east is Hunter or Windham in NY.

However, with all of this said, I don't think anyone should teach skiing just because they want the goal of a cert pin. That would be a disservice to the customers. Sure, give it a try, but stick with it only if you like it and enjoy teaching people the sport you love. Otherwise, you'll be a detriment to your ski school and to the students you teach. There was a stupid (but yet relevant) saying that goes around once in a while, that talks about the ski instructor/student relationship; "they won't care how much you know, until they know how much you care". Basically, we don't need any Dennis Rodmans out there.
post #14 of 49
When I first started skiing, I took a workshop at Sunday River, where a few of the instructors were working on getting from level 2 to level 3. They were actually quite excellent, because their goal orientation made them driven, as opposed to blase.

At the time, I was working very hard to get out of level 3 and into level 4. Some of the instructors commented that the transitions, both physical and psychological of a skier from level 3 to 4 is similar to that of an instructor going from level 11 to level 111.
post #15 of 49
I think you're understating the difficulty for Level II in the Central Division, Pierre,eh? It's true that the emphasis is on teaching more than on skiing ability, so it's not such a tough test for folks who are fairly good skiers, but, again, the real focus here is on teaching ability and the demands for general knowledge, understanding and application of that knowledge are almost as rigorous as for Level III. The teaching maneuver level is somewhat less complicated for Level II, but the knowledge requirements associated with the teaching are still high. A lot more folks fail Level II exams because they do a poor job of addressing the problems associated with learning the assigned skills than because they can't ski well enough. A lot more folks fail Level III exams because their skiing is not up to the expectations and that plays a part in their ability to understand and demonstrate what they're trying to teach.
post #16 of 49
It's interesting to learn how other divisions treat the cert process. Do any of the divisions, other than East, run their level III (or even L2) exams in 2 parts, the way that East does their Level 3 (a 2 day skiing exam which muct be passed before you can attend the 3 day Teaching/PK exam)?
post #17 of 49

It wasn't a way to bring in more money. I actually get sort of annoyed when people think this (PSIA clinics and cert) is just a big money making scheme. PSIA-E just about breaks even every year, and the top people in the division are far from wealthy. I think they do a great service for the membership.

The reason they went to the 2 part exam was reasonable and logical. Because of the number of part time instructors in the east who have other careers, there were a lot of people who have taught for many years and had gotten good at teaching and tech stuff, but were unable to ski the standard because they don't get enough ski time. Therefore, a LOT of people were going to the L3 exam and not passing the skiing part. So they seperated it out. However, if they were to go to 2 seperate 3 day exams, I think they should just put it back to the way it originally was (and the L2 still is) and make it all one exam. It is easy enough for the examiners to tell whether your skiing is up to par or not. They could probably even get away with doing a one day skiing exam as opposed to the 2 day. The problem is getting everyone in front of 3 examiners. The 2nd day of the skiing exam, you ski with one examiner before lunch, and another after lunch. You end up really pressed for time.

BTW, I have heard that Rocky Mountain does the same thing, but in reverse (teaching/pk before skiing) because they have the opposite problem of lots of hot skiers who don't know how to teach. But I'm not sure, that's why I asked.<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by JohnH (edited April 27, 2001).]</FONT>
post #18 of 49
I wanted to toss out one idea concerning attaining two levels of certification in one year. I apoligize in advance if it offends anyone. Bob B and I have had a few "discussions" online concerning remuneration in the ski industry and his eloquence has changed my mind.

I am retired from an earlier profession at age 45 and am blessed to not have to rely upon my instructor income. I worked six days a week teaching this year and met quite a few folks who were having a tough time making ends meet as an instructor. Attaining two levels of certification in one year helped put food in their mouths and pay the rent. I think a young man or young woman who clinics, attends m.a. seminars, and teaches five or six days a week obviously gains as much experience in one season as a part time employee who works one or two days a week over two or three seasons. The cert process is a neat goal to look forward to and a mechanism to increase earning power.

I hope no PSIA division would arbitrarily say one can't do something in a year. The teaching hours and thirty day time frame between clinic and exam are an excellent time frame to digest course work and put the knowledge gained to practice with the public.
post #19 of 49
Thread Starter 
So how many years did it take AJ Kitt to get his Level 3?

How much time would it take to get ready for level 1 if I already could do the skiing parts? Level 2?
<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by NordtheBarbarian (edited April 27, 2001).]</FONT>
post #20 of 49
Level 1 in a year is a breeze. It would be tricky to do one and two in a year,although, as has been stated, I know a few folks who did it this year. You have all the requirements stated in this thread or via the PSIA website. You simply have to plan the clinics carefully, study diligently, and work continually on movement analysis. Obviously you have to be able to ski fairly well incorporating appropriate movement pools/blend from the ATM.

I think the key is finding the right place to work. By this I mean a place with a strong educational staff who is adept at preparing folks for the exams. I took Mondays off and was able to clinic all day. Not all the work was geared towards PSIA exams, however, much of it was. Find out the resorts with educational staffs that are energetic. The ongoing/continuing education that I receive is the main reason that I enjoyed teaching. Our Monday clinics attracted folks from 100 miles away. It was fun and we all improved our skiing and teaching.
post #21 of 49
Thread Starter 
I just looked at the level 1 certificate requirements on the PSIA website. It pretty much looks like the PSIA stuff I saw 12 years ago.
Now to answer your earlier question. Why I wanted to get a PSIA cert. I thought maybe the PSIA would have some new progressions dealing with shaped skis/ modern ski technique. There was some mention of that in the the last issue of the Professional skier in a article on the Swiss ski instructors association. Does this exist? Also, at one point in time a PSIA certification was required for USSCA level 3, I don't think that requirement exists anymore.

I was at Blackcomb the day after the Instructors/Demo competition, and saw quite a few of the team members freeskiing. So I'm quite aware of abilities of the upper levels of PSIA instructors. I'm not worried about wasting my time with instructors like that. More concerned with how I can train with instructors like that.
post #22 of 49
Rusty Guy, I totally agree with you regarding being able to do 2 levels in a season. I did my level 1 at the end of this season, and was surprised to be told that I would have had a good shot at passing my level 2, and if I'd actually studied and gone to tech talks etc, would have passed it (in the examiners' opinion).
However, it was a moot point as you can't sit 2 levels in one season.

This was a big disadvantage to me, as I had travelled to the US to do this job, and was being paid peanuts, living hand to mouth every week. I didn't break even on this trip, didn't earn enough to pay my airfare. I worked 7 days a week, generally.

More than that, landing a job and a visa for next season is tricky with only my level 1 (which in my opinion is too easy to get, they passed my whole class, several of whom could not do parallel turns and who certainly could not teach!).

I want to become a year-round instructor. Getting a job here in Australia won't be an issue, but when you have to scrounge an H2B visa along with the job, as I have to to work in the US, things like levels become an issue. And apparently I "am" level 2, but the rules won't let me be certified as such.

Gravity may have a contrary opinion on this!!!!!!

post #23 of 49
Gravity- I agree with you whole heartedly that teaching experience is of paramount importance. My point is this, PSIA should decide the number of hours of teaching that is requisit and leave it at that. It would then be up to the ski schools to certify or verify those hours. I know this is in place to a minimal degree at present. I simply suggest a person who works full time teaching five or six hours per day, seven days a week, gains the same experience as the part-time employee who teaches one or two days a week on the weekends over a two or three year period. Both cases involve the same number of hours with the public.

I did level one this year and got a very high score. I have no objection to waiting a year to do level two. Who knows, it may take me years to receive my level three certification. I enjoyed the process and learned a great deal.
post #24 of 49
Wow! Hyperchange cafe your site? Awesome!!!
Sort of a philososphy of skiing along with a technical discussion. Awhile ago, I referred to it in a thread on this site, which unfortunately got deleted.
I personally like the idea of recreational skiers being able to take the exams, or at least some of the courses. By I may be a very specific case. I'm a fitness instructor interested in designing programs for skiers. The technical information would be valuable for me. I'm not sure how other recreational skiers would react to this. Most that I know, think I'm way too technical already.

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #25 of 49
Welcome aboard nolobolono.
Now all we need to do is shorten that handle Hmmm.
Anyway, I'll pop over there some time today. I am very interested in the possibility of taking some PSIA courses or even the skiing exams. I think more of the courses though. In my current profession of choice I don't have the time to commit to teaching even part time but I would love to take advantage of some of the clinics often offered to the instructors.

thanks for the info.
post #26 of 49
D-chan, and others. Click on the "Beliefs" icon. This was the stuff I refenced in the infamous "Paul" thread. For me, it sums up my philosophy about teaching ANYTHING. Come to think of it, anything in that belief page would make an excellent topic. Hmmmm. Let me know what you think.
Nobolono, d-chan and I are the two "professional" ski students on this board. I'm not quite sure of how much we represent the general population of recreational skiers.

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #27 of 49

Question for you. Why would you want to take a PSIA skiing cert exam? It's simply an exam. An experience, but not necessarily a learning experience, except to be able to say "I ski as well as a level X cert instructor". I mean, if it's just for the ego thing, then I guess that's okay. But it would be an expensive ego boost. Otherwise, it's fairly useless to the skiing public. It would be like me going out and getting an MCSE (Microsoft cert), because I like to play computer games. I'm just curious. Not trying to bust on anyone.
post #28 of 49
I think it's more of the clinics I'm interested in. The exam for me would probably be a way to measure my own performance/progress. It would also be incentive to "practice harder" if I knew I had an exam coming up. You are right though, no real tangible reason to take the exam.

The only other reason would maybe to get my cert sooner if I do decide to start teaching down the road. I would have some of the certs done?
post #29 of 49
Hey AC,
Did you catch that?
nolobolono says we are a professional and commercial designed site!
Does that mean you just got promoted?

nolobolono, ac might respond to this too but you might be suprised that epicski is pretty much a one man's passion for the sport and a little bit of computer savy. AC put this whole site together and funds it out of his pocket. When I skied with AC earlier this year, we chatted a little about it. It's a labor of love. As the group grew, his costs grew and a lot of us pitched in to help him out. Just some insight.. Your sight has some great stuff. Thanks.
post #30 of 49
There was at one time a ski test called the "Star Test" sponsored by the PSIA, and offered by some resorts. It must not have been popular as it lasted only a few years.
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