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Next season,If I can afford to teach full time, I'll go skiing instead !!

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
Reading the posts about the dismal pay we get for teaching skiing just confirms it for me. What the resort offers us in return for all our experience and training is an insult!! Next year I'll work the MINIMUM hours required to get my pass and get MAXIMUM ski time. I will not work full time again until the financial incentive is there. ( Not in this lifetime.....)
How could I have been so dumb for so long?
post #2 of 33
yep! one of my colleagues here is a part time ski and board instructor, he's also a semi retired tax lawyer. And he takes great delight in totting up all the hours of training he's had...way, WAY more than the hours of teaching he's done. He goes to clinics at other company resorts, too. He loves clinics!

I made a throwaway joke that he'd learned to snowboard so he could double the number of clinics he could do, and next thing I know the whole locker room is happily repeating it!

But he's the smart one, he's getting more out of ski school than they are getting out of him. Good on him...
post #3 of 33
I have always assumed ski instructors taught because they want to, and that if they wanted to make some more money they'd find other avenues to support that income. It's been very interesting reading here lately. You're teaching people to ski, not read or write. A few less skilled skiers on the mountain probably won't be missed much in the larger scheme of things.

[ April 22, 2002, 03:22 PM: Message edited by: ryan ]
post #4 of 33
Thank you Ryan.

Unlike Snowdancer, I'd work for a lift ticket, and get another job to support it, because I love the doing of it, and the sharing of it.

And I'm not a victim, and I wasn't a victim, even when I was out there on the line. And I'll be out there on the line again, and I still won't be a victim.

I want everybody to be paid well, and I think we do that in Aspen, but ultimately you gotta make your own choices about who you're gonna be each day. It's a choose your attitude kinda deal.
post #5 of 33
Thread Starter 
I will be happy to teach what I know FOR FREE to anybody out there skiing on the mountain and in fact that's what I'll do. I'd rather give it away than be a low paid uniform company geek that is used by the resort at my expense. If the company you work for puts such a low value on you, what should they expect in return. I love to ski and I love to teach ( 14 years ) but enough is enough. That is the way I feel and if working for peanuts and not being appreciated for your hard work, experience and training is a turn on for you, go for it! [img]tongue.gif[/img]
post #6 of 33
That comes off a bit nasty and judgemental SD! You suggest that anybody who teaches/coaches must have no self respect to continue doing so? I'm sorry that your experience with it has been so negative, but I've found that as I grew in experience that the energy I commited to the profession has bore fruit in return -- and I find it extremely rewarding now.

Anytime you work for somebody else, in any profession, you are usually making more money for them than for yourself. And the pay structure in the ski business requires particular sacrifice/dedication to work with. However, owning a ski area is not an option for most of us, therefore if one loves people, coaching and skiing . . . and wants to do all three. Then the main option left is to work for a ski company.

If one is only in it for oneself, just the personal skiing, and not also for other people (teaching) -- then it is indeed the wrong profession.

No appreciation? If one is dedicated, there is much more appreciation actually than in most jobs. Every day, passionate appreciation from students and/or instructors. Money? Certainly one can make much more money sitting in an office . . . and then they will be sitting in an office.

Too each their own, don't want to play with us? Cool - just don't knock us for it!

[ April 22, 2002, 08:28 PM: Message edited by: Todd M. ]
post #7 of 33

Everyone is not cut out to be an instructor. Some are cut out to be mountain guides. Some are content to ski for ME.

Nothing wrong with that! In fact, if it weren't for people who ski well enough to become instructors themselves, I would not have students who like to ski the same terrain as me. Teaching this level is, in a way, more gratifying than skiing for me. I ski better for them than I do for me, I know. They inspire and challenge me in a different dimension than do the terrain and conditions. They make me reach for ways to relate.

That's why I teach.

It's not for everyone. Thankfully.
post #8 of 33
Originally posted by nolobolono:

I ski better for them than I do for me, I know. They inspire and challenge me in a different dimension than do the terrain and conditions. They make me reach for ways to relate.

As Lisamarie says: YES!!!! YES!!!!

[ April 22, 2002, 09:16 PM: Message edited by: weems ]
post #9 of 33
Godamn, I love this forum! Thanks AC! Group hug! Oh crap, what happened to the season!
post #10 of 33
Thread Starter 
Todd, Forgive me if I insulted you or the profession of "Ski Instruction".I have nothing but the deepest respect for my peers, some of them working two jobs right now so that they can afford to teach again next winter. That is their choice and I admire them for their dedication. I just wish that the people we work for felt the same way. My gripe is with the employers. No matter how much we all love to do this every winter, the truth is that WE ARE NOT GETTING THE RESPECT AND FINANCIAL REWARDS that we deserve. Why is it wrong to expect to be compensated fairly for the work we do? If all full timers did what I plan to do next winter, maybe management would get their wakeup call. On the other hand , they would probably find plenty of willing 'volunteers' ( retirees or trust fund kids ) that would jump in and take our place. They may not have the experience or certification, but management puts little value on that, as we all know. If we don't agree as a group of "professionals" that our services are worth much more than than we are currently getting, how are we ever going to change the situation? Yes, Nolobolono, ski instruction is not for everyone, especially those of us that need to earn a living. Ski instruction at present is not a "profession", it's a hobby.
post #11 of 33
Snowdancer. I, in turn, understand your frustration.

However, I don't think all management is alike in this. You're painting with an awfully big brush.

It's a little like lift depts saying that all ski instructors are arrogant jerks who don't give a damn about anyone on the hill except their students.
post #12 of 33
Either way, Weems and SD, are you not advocating that those of us in this profession (quotes optional) be free agents? Because of Forest Service permit rules, we must be free agents within certain limits, but as Elie Weisel tells us, even in a concentration camp a man can be captain of his ship.

This is not a bromide in favor of the status quo. It is encouragement to be creatively deviant in repressive employment situations.
post #13 of 33
Absolutely we often don't get the respect and financial rewards we deserve, but we are not alone. There are professions with more impact on our society than ski instruction, which also do not get what they deserve.

School teachers for example, have one of the most important jobs there is, and yet get poor pay. But thankfully there are many great school teachers who find it rewarding nonetheless and continue on.

There are many other such examples.

If you do something for a living, it is a profession. Period. If it doesn't count for your definition because of the amount of money earned? Well that is a personal interpretation of the meaning of the word 'profession'. Bill Gates may well not consider anything else but being a CEO a 'profession'!

The profession requires a great deal of passion because of the seasonal lifestyle, pay, dependancy on the weather and etc . . . It requires sacrifice. Its not an easy road, and we certainly can't blame anybody for wanting an easier path.

[ April 23, 2002, 06:33 AM: Message edited by: Todd M. ]
post #14 of 33
nblno, of course.
post #15 of 33
I'm a public school teacher...and I do it for the reward of a smile. I don't do it for the fortune that I am making.

I am also a volunteer ski(PSIA certified) instructor. I also do that for the simple rewards, not the money.

Just yesterday, a seven year old kid that I teach skiing gave me a wonderful gift. I love desk waterfalls, and have rocks engraved with words. The rock word he gave me was "Prosperity". [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #16 of 33

Thank you for the story. It is heartwarming. It is the rock bottom truth. I love it!

But it doesn't mean we can't look for ways to make it pay.

We really should examine why it is that teachers earn so little pay for the rewards they give society rather than just throwing up our hands.

Let's face it: we live in a consumer society. Our children's schools have whole departments dedicated to "consumer science." How do we reach consumers except through marketing? People aren't "sold" on public school. Neither are people "sold" on snow sports lessons.

I have to credit SCSA with getting this one right. The answer to higher rewards in a consumer society is marketing. This is not rocket science, but it is a sociological law which has as much pull as, well, gravity.
post #17 of 33

I think you have not said enough.
The present social system (capitalism, not democracy) allows compensation in terms of "added value" even un-demonstrated added value.

Recall, the Vail big guy gets his bonus while the rest get sanctions.

We espouse human equality and lavishly reward people who are good at being who they are not. (celebrities and politicians etc.)

Kill your television! Know who you are voting for!

Humans are not stupid, we just fall for tricks easily!

post #18 of 33
Maybe we're not stupid, but we are lazy. This makes us accepting.
post #19 of 33
Here is one for you.
If I teach a day at Vail, I get paid X.
If I give a day of training to instructors, I get paid Y (X-35%).
If I do a clinic for PSIA-RM, I get paid Z(X-50%).

Now, I don't complain too much about my Vail pay, it's adequate, but I'd be a moron to say I wouldn't appreciate more. But when it comes to training, that's ridiculous! 2/3's for the best my brain and body have to offer (which some may tell you is still too much), so their staff can go out and be more successful ($$$)?

Vail did not teach me my craft! Like most top end pros, I did it on my own, with some help from a few mentors. But none of them are here in Vail. But they feel they can take advantage of my knowledge and hard work for peanuts. That's what I told them- NUTS!

I removed myself from the trainer pool this winter, and now only work with those individuals who come to me and ask for my help. I give my assistance willingly, without reservation. AND FREE! I will not accept anything from any of them, but I do insist that they put in as much effort as I do. The moment they don't, I'm gone.

This is my way of defying their system. It may sound weird, but the reality is, those that I work with come away with comments like "why didn't we get this info from the other clinics" , or statements to that effect. I tell them to ask the training supervisors, and leave it at that. The sup's have no answer for them...

When I first came to Vail in '85, we had 650 instructors, and a training budget of almost 1.5 MILLION dollars! These were Vail's glory days, the days of Chris Ryman, Jens Husted, Walt Chauner, John Boles, and dozens of pros that were unbelievable!

Now we have twice that number of pros, and each of the 4 pods gets a paltry 50K for training each season. Look at our reputation. It's rather tarnished after having been arguably the finest ski school in the world.

Why did the top pros from around the country gravitate to places like Aspen, Vail, Deer Valley, etc? It wasn't solely for the money. It was the environment for learning! It was like grad school for ski pros!

Now we all wallow in the quicksand of the corporate ski area. No, not all are as bad as some others. (I hear Weems coming in) But right now, the average ski school does NOT have the ears of the owners. They acknowledge that we (ski pros) have the greatest personal impact on our guests vacations, and their decisions to come back again at a later date. But nothing is shown to the pros to recognize that fact!

Why do I keep working for the division? Because I believe it's important. Upholding the standards, and keeping the "faith" as it were. But wouldn't it be something if the ski areas actually respected PSIA as something more than a necessary evil. And actually SUPPORTED PSIA? It would help keep costs to members down and realisticly compensate those doing the training which the areas benefit from? Would we feel better about working for less if we knew the companies were 100% behind us in our efforts to train better instructors?


I'll get off my soap box now....

post #20 of 33
I'm with you 100% VS.

It is a great irony that most of us trainers make less $ training our staff, than the staff makes using the training. I've been doing mostly instructor training for long enough now that its what I'm really geared towards now. But when I used to teach recreational skiers full time, once I was on top of the pack and doing privates most of the time . . . I was pulling in at least as much $ when it was slow, and a hell of a lot more on weekends and holidays.

I've long thought the PSIA should not just be a certification and training agency. But as the largest organization of instructors in America, it should be an advocate FOR instructors. Nobody else is, or likely will ever be, in a position to rally instructors as effectively as the PSIA is.

I didn't realize that Vails training budgets had undergone such a drastic reduction, that is especially absurd given the radical growth of the mountain and ski school. I remember those glory days for Vail, as an outsider. From the mid 80's through the 90's I usually went to at least one PSIA clinic at Vail each winter. I remember being star struck the first few times I went with the staff and training resources they clearly had access to. By the mid 90's we were starting to come away saying things more like "Well its certainly big, but bigger is clearly not always better". Well, as you pointed out - in this era of corporate short term vision, Vail is not alone in having had this fall from glory.
post #21 of 33
Thread Starter 
Thank You - Vailsnopro - Todd - Nolobolono- Weems- CalG - for your insights. The answer is out there......
post #22 of 33
It's not uncommon for trainers to be paid less than what their students will be making after graduating.

Look at the professor pay scale at any top graduate or professional school - business, comp sci, law, etc. Then look at what graduating students are getting. (Then again, prof hours are probably a lot better than investment banker hours).
post #23 of 33
And I'll bet that professor has a lower probability of stress related illnesses than the investment banker!

[ April 24, 2002, 06:58 AM: Message edited by: Todd M. ]
post #24 of 33
Maybe. I have worked closely with professors the past few years and found that the ivory tower is actually a hotbed of dog eat dog politics and grubbing for "MY department" funding. I recall the adage: "The reason politics are so vicious in higher education is because the stakes are so low." There's only so much pie.

Investment bankers have a way of making the pie very large indeed, which allows more to prosper by it.

I bring this up to suggest that the way to greater prosperity for instructors is to create a bigger pie from which to take their slice.

NSGA statistics tell us that per capita participation in snowsports has not increased since Reagan was in the White House.

I will tell you, because I have checked, that not a single snow sports group is interested in launching a national marketing campaign to increase our customer base. They have said that they are satisfied with the status quo.

Forget the pie: we are going to eat cake!
post #25 of 33
Originally posted by Todd M.:
And I'll bet that professor has a lower probability of stress related illnesses than the investment banker!
Todd - you are absolutely right. Just yesterday, one of my former post-docs (that I hadn't heard from in 15 years) called me out of the blue with a deep general (not technical) question about the overall direction and applicability of his present research. Fortunately, I was able to help him out. The last thing he said before we hung up was, "I knew you would be the one to call about this."

As various teachers on this forum have pointed out, a comment like that goes a long way towards making up for the (usual) lower pay of teachers in all subject areas including skiing. To me, feedback like that is a stress-reducing reward more effective than (almost) any pay raise. In fact, when I came home last night, long before I told her about this telephone call, my wife commented on how relaxed I seemed. We do it for more than just $$$, people.

Tom / PM

PS - As somebody pointed out, the hours aren't bad either - grin.
post #26 of 33

It's interesting what you say about training pay. Our trainers get less pay for training than they do for teaching as well. However, this was a decision made by our pros' elected leaders, not by the management.

The feeling of the pros is that these trainers have an "unfair" advantage already in that they get work early in the season, when the others don't have it. (This is very important for moving up in our pay grid.) I sort of laugh at that the assertion of "unfairness"; no amount of pay will ever pay me back for what I have invested in becoming a trainer. But I acquiesce, because the fact that it comes from the pros is very important for me. I don't agree with all their decisions, but it's great to have them influence the policies, and create them where possible.

We do offer our trainers extra "hours credit" when they go on the road for PSIA. This will reflect in higher pay for teaching later.

However, we still have a lot of our trainers go out and train for free--as you do. I'm really grateful to them and proud of them for their spirit of contribution.

I applaud you for it as well, and hope that you can work out what you need to with your company.
post #27 of 33
More work and more stressful work, in order to make more $ for fancier toys . . . which you then have less time to play with, and a less relaxed life in which to enjoy them in? It has never seemed a worthwhile trade. A consistant common thread of most major religious and philisophical teachers through history is that materialism is not the key to happiness. It is a consistant lesson of history as well. And though it is perhaps the most common of all lessons, it is the least learned.

I'll continue to accept enough work to keep my family and I under a roof and eating, but not so much work that I miss time with my daughter. I get to spend far more time with my kid than any other father I know, and I'd have it no other way!
post #28 of 33
Originally posted by nolobolono:
Maybe. I have worked closely with professors the past few years and found that the ivory tower is actually a hotbed of dog eat dog politics and grubbing for "MY department" funding. ... I bring this up to suggest that the way to greater prosperity for instructors is to create a bigger pie from which to take their slice. ...
While I like your suggestion about creating a bigger pie, I have reservations about the academic example you used.

My entire adult life (I'm now 55) has been spent either in academia myself, or while in government and the private sector, working daily with faculty members as co-investigators on joint projects, consultants, project managers, etc, so I bring a different perspective to your comment.

The funding squabbles that you described ALWAYS involve a faculty member who has inadequate (often zero!!!) independent (ie, external) source of funding. As you correctly pointed out, such people are grovelling / squabbling for very limited internal resources. The solution in most cases is pretty obvious: Stop squabbling and use the time to get a few grants or research contracts, and poof, the problem and its stress-inducing side effects disappears.

I realize, of course, that there are small colleges as well as entire academic areas at larger universities (usually in fairly stagnent fields like Classics) where it is difficult to get external grant money to execute the solution I suggested above.

I may sound harsh, but I would suggest that virtually all faculty members in these departments knew about this situation as early as grad school, and in spite of this knowledge, decided anyway to persue a career in this field (or at this institution). I would suggest to them that they either:

(a) decide to settle into the field / institution they picked, and get good at squabbling for the limited internal funds;

(b) set their goals lower (eg, reduce the number of grad students or projects they need to support) so they don't have to squabble so much;

(c) try to figure out novel external funding mechanisms in the field (eg, involve a grad student in an academic book project and offer them a cut in exchange for their work); or,

(d) change institutions and/or branch out into related fields in which the prospect of external funding is better.

As in all jobs, stress is less related to the job itself than to a person's perception of how much control they have over their own life. My personal experience, however, is like Todd's - Generally, academics are less stressed out than people like bankers.

Just my $0.02,

Tom / PM
post #29 of 33
Since it has come up...

I very well may just opt for a season pass next season also (although I'll keep my membership and continue to attend PSIA traiing events).

My problem, is that after 19 years of teaching, the absolute disrespect that my ski area gives to instructors, has gone beyond the point of reason. And, unfortunately, I have worked at the only other local hill, and it's just too small of a ski area to want to ski it very often.

At my ski area, not only has the "pro room" been a decrepit double wide trailer for the past 9 years, but this past season, they got new uniforms. At the pre-season meeting, I dutifully put down my $75 deposit for my new jacket and told them the size that I needed. When I showed up for my first day of work, I was told that they didn't have any more jackets in my size, and that I would have to borrow one. Well, this went on for the entire season. Not only did I not get a jacket, but they would not give me my deposit back (got it the day before yesterday). On top of this, because I now have an infant at home, and can only work one day a week, they took me off the trainer's list, because I "didn't work enough hours".

On top of this fiasco, before the season started, I even showed up for 2 days to volunteer my tools and manual labor to help rebuild the interior of our double-wide, so that we could have "jacket jail", where we built 200 7" wide lockers, because mgt was so concerned about people stealing jackets that they comondeered 1/3 of our trailer to house jackets, as they would not allow people to take them home. That's the thanks I get for helping, huh? They gave no consideration to people who have been working there for more than a year or two, and were obviously not going to walk off with their uniforms.

More insult to injury... Last time I checked, ski/board school instructors were on-hill employees. Guess what? We were the only on-hill department employed at the ski area to NOT get season passes. If I wanted to go free-ski, I had to go to my SS admin and get a voucher, then take it to guest services and get a lift ticket. They also did this for dependent passes. One woman (a very good friend of mine, level 2 cert with 7 years experience) who has a husband and 2 teenage kids, got so pissed, that she quit on the spot and walked over to Skier Safety, where she promptly obtained employment and season passes for herself, husband and 2 kids.

So next season, I may end up as a Skier Safety employee or a season pass holder. I feel like a good level 3 cert trainer with 19 years of experience means absolutely nothing to these people.

The year after next, when my daughter is old enough to drag around a bit, I may look at working at a ski area that is a bit further away (3-4 hours), and get an apartment for the season, as I used to at my current ski area.
post #30 of 33
I wouldn't have made it 19 years in that environment. Maybe not even 19 days.
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