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So... how does one become a ski instructor?

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
Yep, I've been thinking hard about teaching skiing professionally. How do you get started. Is it possible for somebody in their first year to be full-time?

Also, which of the Northern Vermont hills have good ski-schools. Hopefully Stowe or Sugarbush do as we are leaning toward living in that area. We had been planning on moving out West, but Bonnie is expecting this winter and wants to be closer to the parents so we will be moving to Vermont.

I'm sure I have many other questions about this, but just don't know it yet.
post #2 of 29
I worked full time in my first season at Eldora. Most places have a hiring clinic where a variety of assesments are made.

After being hired, most resorts start a process of in house training.

In the first year an instructor can begin the PSIA cert process. PSIA has essentially three levels of certification.

Plan on hard work and low pay. Given those conditions, I love what I do.
post #3 of 29
Epic,

Have you been thinking hard about what you bring to the job and can thus use to sell yourself, since you have no experience or training? If you consider Stowe, you might also consider Smuggler's, its less glamorous neighbor. Smuggs ski school is well regarded (not that Stowe's isn't) and is often hard up for instructors. Just an alternative idea. The area is lovely with 4-seasons of attractions.
post #4 of 29
As the others have suggested, Epic, you certainly CAN become a full-time instructor in your first season. It will be a lot easier for you, though, if you have a little money put away, so you aren't living from paycheck to paycheck. Those checks probably won't be too reliable. Teaching kids is often steadier than teaching adults at first, but either way, "full-time" does not mean "steady check."

Nolo has a great point too--you probably have many experiences that will help you become a better instructor. Think about them--recall times when you taught someone something--anything--or times you helped someone in a challenging situation. Ponder what you did well (or not), what attributes you have that make you effective--empathy, communication skills, education, passion....

Consider also what it was that YOU found rewarding from the experience. Since the rewards of teaching skiing are largely NOT financial, you want to really look at what is in it for you. For the right person, the rewards are endless and unbounded. But it's not for everyone!

If you go for it, take Rusty's advice and seek all the training you can get. Look for a mentor, register with PSIA and get involved in the education and certification process, pick the brains of experienced instructors, and learn all you can. Remember too to go out and just ski for fun. Lots!

To answer your question--how does one become a ski instructor--you will probably need to attend a "hiring clinic" in the fall. This will consist at the minimum of an interview, and most likely it will involve at least a day or two on snow with an experienced instructor or supervisor of a ski school. They'll ski with you (in a group, probably), ride the lift with you, talk with you, ask you questions, perhaps have you teach something (don't worry--knowing you have no prior ski-teaching experience, they won't be critical of the technical content of what you teach. They're looking for HOW you do it, your ability to connect with others and communicate). They'll be observing you, really, every moment--not just when you're "on stage." They'll notice how you interact with lift operators, general public, other candidates and instructors, and with the clinician him/herself. They're looking for empathy, warmth, a ready and genuine smile, real concern for others, communication skills, enthusiasm, trainability and the ability to accept and process constructive feedback. They won't require an extraordinarily high level of skiing skill, but they'll want to see that you can learn!

Contact the ski school directors of all the areas you think you might be interested in--right away. They'll let you know what their needs and expectations are, when their hiring clinics will be, and what you'll need to do.

Enjoy!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #5 of 29
Thread Starter 
Since the training is done in-house, it's important to get in the right "house". Who consistently produces good instructors?
post #6 of 29
Falls Creek
post #7 of 29
You have to find a resort that will hire a non-certified instructor. I'm hesitant to name places that seem to turn out good folks or bad.

Bob B has said some nice things about the folks he has met from Eldora at exams. We have had a strong clinician leading our training for the last five years. Unfortuneately he has left the ski industry.

There are a few very good applicants to take his place.

In Colorado I would say Vail, Breckenridge, Copper, Winter Park.The question is how much hiring that they plan to do of non-certs given the economy.

Ant was fairly critical of the training clinics at Keystone. I will say I cliniced with a lot of folks from Keystone who came to exams well prepared. All the Loveland folks came to Eldora to train with Chris Easton. I have heard things are a little fouled up at A-Basin.

I know of a couple of real strong teachers who have tossed their hat in the ring at Eldora so I feel certain we'll be fine. I think we enjoyed a high pass rate at PSIA exams in the past. We'll find someone great.

I know Eldora will be hiring non certs this year. Send a P.M. if you're interested.
post #8 of 29
Spend a couple of days riding a snowboard. Then you can give snowboard lessons on slow days.
post #9 of 29
Hey Epic,

Barnsey's reply says it all. The main thing that I would add - or emphasize - is that those checking you out will be more excited about your positive people skills rather than your skiing experieince/skills. As I am evidence - they can always teach you to ski.

Also - consider a small intimate hill, there are many in New England and then move up after you get a little under your belt. You may want to continue as a consumer. This is not the greatest world. It has changed a lot with the big "Corporatization" of the industry during the 90's.

Good luck - send a PM if you want to chat.
post #10 of 29
and best of luck to you and Bonnie - z
post #11 of 29
Hey Epic.....I have been a full-time instructor at Stowe for 5 years, and prior to that 4 years at Sugarbush.
Smuggs has a good ski school, but you have to enjoy teaching kids, as they are a predominantly family resort.
Stowe has a very loyal staff-little change from season to season so an inexperienced instructor might have trouble getting on here, but, once again, we are always looking for people who are good with kids. Excellent Director(Dave Merriam, head coach of PSIA Demo team).
Sugarbush has a great staff of pros, but management and ownership has been shaky for a few years. They have a fairly new Director who seems to be getting things organized.
Mad River Glen-great director (Terry Barbour), but irregular work and the resort opens late, closes early, very limited snow-making.
Bolton-who knows-it might open or it might not!
Jay-good, friendly staff, lots of snow-very cooold
..not sure how much work there is.
If you have any questions, I will be happy to help you.
post #12 of 29
First, you must flush all money and posessions down the toilet.

Next, apply for every crappy night job in town. (pray that you get three of them)

Once these things are accomplished, go to a hiring clinic and be prepared to face these realities:
1) You will never sleep again.
2) Your skiing needs work... as does your personality.
3) You will never be rich. half the time you won't be able to buy that candy bar you've had your eye on.
4) You will always be teaching 7 adult beginners on a powder day... oh yeah, only one of them speaks your language.
5) Your perfectly-fitting new boots will no longer fit after two weeks if you are full-time.
6) The number of three-year-olds in your class is directly proportional to the number of tequilas you slammed the night before.
7) Women will find you sexy, but they will always be there with someone who has more money than you. I say always because your net worth will be $0.00.
8) Ketchup will become a food group. (not that you'll have time to partake in such pleasures. Your three-year-olds are waiting!!)
9) Things like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter? Yeah. Bye-Bye. You'll be working. St. Patricks Day and Cinco De Mayo will become the most important holidays on your calendar.
10) It will be the most rewarding, wonderful and educational experience you've ever taken part in... next to Watching the 'Wings win the Cup. (Sorry Robin. Couldn't let it slide.)

Epic, Good luck and always remember to take a few runs at the end of the day, regardless of how mentally drained you may end up. Best advice I got.

Stay cool,
Spag :
post #13 of 29
Yep, Noto's got it! Except--one of them does NOT necessarily have to speak your language!

A bunch of years ago I was presented to my group of beginners who had flown in all the way from the Orient to take their turn at preventing me from skiing the powder that day. I introduced myself, made my usual introductory statements about welcoming them to skiing and the resort, and the snow is great, and the weather is fantastic--does everyone have sunscreen? and congratulations--you're about to embark on an experience of the greatest sport on earth, and whatever other drivel I would have spouted back in those days, and is everyone ready to go?
.
.
.
.
.

"Heh-roh. HOW...do...you...DO?" one of them finally replied, with a bow, after a very long silence. I looked up at the foot of new snow, and realized that I might NEVER see it....



Best regards,
Bob Barnes

PS--check out the grocery stores--when it's in season, you can find ramen noodles for as little as 20 for a dollar. Stock up....
post #14 of 29
Bob

In Japan one day I had a nice identically dressed class of Japanese teenagers, all with numbered SS bibs on, and had just finished my introductions in my fractured Oz accent Japanese when one kid promply turned and ran away and joined a Japanese instructors class. Not a word just gone. I asked the others why and finally one said that he couldn't understand a word I said and that as a Diajin I freaked him out.

I guess it works both ways .... but yes it too was a powder day.

Epic

Make your goal to be the best skier you can (no excuses), find a mentor, stay out of the SS politics and live for the day. Instructing is one job that will take you round the world and open many, many doors ......

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #15 of 29
Hi guys,

There are so many cup 1/2 empty or 1/2 full scenarios. One's attitude has so much to do with how an experience will be interpretted. My second year teaching was in a small resort near LA. Among the special programs that were instituted was to bring some of the kids from the "bad neighborhoods" to the mountain. On this particular day - late March, if I remember correctly, was raining cats and dogs. There was no business at ski school - no business at the mountain, for all intents and purposes. The Director asked for volunteers to work with this group. All the possible negative scenarios were bantered around the locker room. One of the Supervisors and myself volunteered. It was wet, and slippery. It was warm and cold and crappy weather sownto the bone. It was absolutelly the pits.

The one thing we didn't factor in - because it was such a variable - was the kids. It was probably the first time some of them had been more than a mile from their homes no less out of the city. It's very difficult to put into words the incredible positive memories of that experience. I learned so much about human nature. As an instructor I was humbled. AND IT WAS THE MOST FUN OF THE SEASON.

So it goes. Don't know about the wings, but hold onto NOTO's # 10 as a pit bull guards his t-bones.
post #16 of 29
Sorry about the above typo - sownto.... should read "down to" - the phrase is down to the skin.
post #17 of 29

Bump for Throwback Thursday 

@epic  Look how far you've come! 

post #18 of 29

I'd forgotten that there was ever a time when you weren't a full-certified, experienced, master instructor, Epic!

 

So, the big question--are you glad you did it?

 

Best regards,

Bob

post #19 of 29

This was a great bump for Throwback Thursday.  Thumbs Up

post #20 of 29

I wonder what Merriam would think of the humble beginnings of epic considering his current instructing capabilities.

 

And on another note, here is a cool headline about Merriam

http://www.stowetoday.com/stowe_reporter/news/business_news/article_8b8aabf6-03b2-11e0-8035-001cc4c03286.html?mode=image


Edited by Trekchick - 11/20/14 at 11:06am
post #21 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes View Post

A bunch of years ago I was presented to my group of beginners who had flown in all the way from the Orient to take their turn at preventing me from skiing the powder that day. I introduced myself, made my usual introductory statements about welcoming them to skiing and the resort, and the snow is great, and the weather is fantastic--does everyone have sunscreen? and congratulations--you're about to embark on an experience of the greatest sport on earth, and whatever other drivel I would have spouted back in those days, and is everyone ready to go?
.
.
.
.
.

"Heh-roh. HOW...do...you...DO?" one of them finally replied, with a bow, after a very long silence. I looked up at the foot of new snow, and realized that I might NEVER see it....

 

And while we're going down memory lane here, I see your powder-day lesson methodology has changed somewhat.  I seem to recall the exchange when I was present went more along these lines:

Bob:  So there are two rules on a powder day.  Rule#1:  Zip up everything.

Devoted students faithfully check to see if everything is indeed zipped up

Bob:  Rule#2...  don't let this happen.

Devoted students...  "don't let what happen?" at which point Bob pushes off to ski about a dozen turns of untracked Alta fluff while yelling back something to the effect of "don't allow someone else to go first...".

 

Which led to the quote that has been attributed to me but that I don't believe I actually said of "Not only do you not have a friend on a powder day, you don't have an instructor either".

 

:cool

post #22 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinF View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes View Post

A bunch of years ago I was presented to my group of beginners who had flown in all the way from the Orient to take their turn at preventing me from skiing the powder that day. I introduced myself, made my usual introductory statements about welcoming them to skiing and the resort, and the snow is great, and the weather is fantastic--does everyone have sunscreen? and congratulations--you're about to embark on an experience of the greatest sport on earth, and whatever other drivel I would have spouted back in those days, and is everyone ready to go?
.
.
.
.
.

"Heh-roh. HOW...do...you...DO?" one of them finally replied, with a bow, after a very long silence. I looked up at the foot of new snow, and realized that I might NEVER see it....

 

And while we're going down memory lane here, I see your powder-day lesson methodology has changed somewhat.  I seem to recall the exchange when I was present went more along these lines:

Bob:  So there are two rules on a powder day.  Rule#1:  Zip up everything.

Devoted students faithfully check to see if everything is indeed zipped up

Bob:  Rule#2...  don't let this happen.

Devoted students...  "don't let what happen?" at which point Bob pushes off to ski about a dozen turns of untracked Alta fluff while yelling back something to the effect of "don't allow someone else to go first...".

 

Which led to the quote that has been attributed to me but that I don't believe I actually said of "Not only do you not have a friend on a powder day, you don't have an instructor either".

 

:cool


Is that where @nolo  came up with the line - "Sometimes you have to let your bad self ski"?

post #23 of 29

You said it, Kevin. I heard it. I don't believe I had said all those things, at least not in this particular incident. But I do recall pushing off into some nice powder and hearing Kevin's voice say, quietly, "I guess there aren't even instructors on a powder day...."

 

As I recall, it stopped me dead in my tracks. You can't ski well when you're doubled over laughing!

 

;)

 

Best regards,

Bob

post #24 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes View Post
 

You said it, Kevin. I heard it. I don't believe I had said all those things, at least not in this particular incident. But I do recall pushing off into some nice powder and hearing Kevin's voice say, quietly, "I guess there aren't even instructors on a powder day...."

 

As I recall, it stopped me dead in my tracks. You can't ski well when you're doubled over laughing!

 

;)

 

Best regards,

Bob

Reminds me of a day at Jackson Hole with @tetonpwdrjunkie @cgeib @Philpug @FairToMiddlin.  IIRC I was about to make my first turn into a gully when @Bob Barnes said "WAIT TREK!" 

My run was less than smooth. 

I guess that was an unfair story to share because Bob was my [clearing throat] friend [/clearing throat] that day, not my instructor. 

post #25 of 29

Friends...same thing. There aren't any of those on a powder day either. 

 

But everybody knows that....

 

;)

 

Best regards,

Bob

post #26 of 29

When I have a powder class on a powder day I just explain that to do the best MA I have to see them skiing down to me so I have to go first. Usually works for two or three runs.

 

fom

post #27 of 29

My coach has a simple rule on powder days:  keep up.

 

Mike

post #28 of 29
Thread Starter 

Well here's a zombie thread if there ever was one. I have to say, I was lucky to have Dave and Stu when I was starting out. I still often think "What would Stu do?".

post #29 of 29
Thread Starter 

I actually love teaching people on a powder day. It should be the most fun thing ever and I've had full grown adults crying because they can't do it. Those people are the ones you have to be there for. They need to at least get a taste of why it is great. You can always get first laps before and find a stash after.

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