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I want to be a ski instructor...where do I start?

post #1 of 27
And you gotta be really good lookin', like me.

[ October 23, 2002, 05:40 AM: Message edited by: weems ]
post #2 of 27
Ant's accurate.

In Aspen, unless you're full cert, we generally only hire new folks into part time (Christmas, Feb, and March holidays) positions. We always advise that they will need another job to support themselves (and meet potential clientele) as well.

It's not an easy road, but if you love it, it's worth it.
post #3 of 27
What's the difference between a ski instructor and a pizza?

A pizza can feed a family of four.


John

[ October 23, 2002, 06:08 AM: Message edited by: John Dowling ]
post #4 of 27
weems,

You ought to be ashamed! I'm as ugly as they come and Chris Easton hired me. Every morning there is less hair on my head. If it would only all fall out in one place!

Laertes....good advice from Ant. I think the desire to work hard and to provide customer service is the key. Contact a few of the smaller resorts and plan on working hard on PSIA certification. You will start with kids. Plan on lots of Kleenex due to runny noses. No matter how many times you ask......you'll get them all dressed after lunch, out on the magic carpet, and one will have to use the john! It is still a blast. I'm the proud pappa of a nine year old, and am forever indebted to the folks who took my daughter four years ago, and transitioned her from a crying ball of mush, into a pretty darn good skier in one season.

I just got a recruiting letter yesterday from Ski Apache. I don't know for certain whether they do a hiring clinic, however, they say the cost of living nearby is reasonable.

We do a hiring clinic and the paperwork is online at:

www.eldora.com

I would suggest living in the Boulder area is far from cheap, however, it can be done.

I have taught full time for three years. Can you "make a living"?
A few folks do. Are instructors paid a fair wage? It's a matter of raging debate.

Plan on making a about eight to ten dollars an hour your first year. You may get a little extra for "head count" and a few tips. You will have to work seven days a week in god-awful weather. Level III certs make between $15.00 and $20.00 per hour and that is a good basis to budget. I recently saw someone post here a stat saying it takes on average four years to obtain a level III cert. If you study hard, clinic all you can, and are a strong teacher/skier it's possible to get your level III in two or three years.

Remember, if you are clinicing and working on your skiing/teaching with a mentor you aren't making money!

Hope this helps. I love teaching and encourage anyone who loves the sport to give it a try.
post #5 of 27
Thread Starter 

I want to be a ski instructor...where do I start?

What do people who want to become ski instructors typically do in order to get hired, get a job, etc? Are there any resorts that will train people to be instructors? Can you make enough money doing this to survive at a resort for the winter? I just graduated from college and am looking into the possibility for this coming winter. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!! =)

Thanks,
John
post #6 of 27
I take it you're from the US. Most hills have an early season 'hiring clinic" which is a course held over about a week or shorter, where they both look at your skiing and how you do things, while teaching you how to teach skiing. They assess you and then either hire you or don't. You generally have to pay to attend this.

As for pay...if you can find somewhere very cheap to live, and the resort is busy, you should be able to survive. Note that instructors only get paid IF allocated a class. You can turn up and stand around every day and not get work. So check out that situation before choosing a hill.

And in teh US in particular, being able to ski like a god won't cut it if you are not interested in the teaching aspect; that's what they really focus on. Someone who actually likes teaching people. In your first year, expect to teach a LOT of beginner groups.

Look up your favourite hill, give them a call and talk to them about their hiring clinic...make a list of questions before you make the call!
post #7 of 27
Becoming an instructor seems to be like becoming an actor.

As an actor, you can't get an acting job unless you are in SAG/AFTRA. But you can't get into SAG/AFTRA unless you have worked on a SAG/AFTRA set. But you can't work on a SAG/AFTRA set unless you are in SAG/AFTRA. :

To become an instructor you must be certified. But to get certified you need a minimum of 50 hours teaching, but you can't get 50 hours teaching unless you are certified.

Of course there are some ways around this. Find a small hill that hires uncertified instructors, get your 50 hours in, take the level 1 cert test, pass. I'm going to give it a try this winter at a small local hill.

The question is, once certified am I good looking enough to work with Weems and get my picture on the Aspen poster - like that dude from Aspen Extreme? [img]smile.gif[/img]

Weems, was that moving accurate? Do you send the wannabe instructors down a bump run and say whoever is left standing gets a job?
post #8 of 27
Quote:
Originally posted by Rusty Guy:
I recently saw someone post here a stat saying it takes on average four years to obtain a level III cert. If you study hard, clinic all you can, and are a strong teacher/skier it's possible to get your level III in two or three years.
I think it takes a minimum of four years to get to Level III, at least in the East. Maybe that's not exactly right. You must be in at least your fourth season of PSIA membership to take the Level III exams.

Here is what the PSIA-E says is the fastest progression:[*]To join, you must be employed, have 25 hours of training/teaching experience, and take a First Tracks event.
[*]To take the Level I exam, you must be a PSIA member and have 50 hours of training/teaching under your belt.
[*]In your third season you can take the Level II exams.
[*]In your fourth season, you can take the Level III exams.

Is it different in other regions?
post #9 of 27
Hey! I resemble a robber's dog, but they hire me (although they usually goggle in horror when I turn up and annouce who I am...).

They wouldn't put me on any posters, however.
post #10 of 27
I know of no requirement in PSIA-RM that states you must have worked a particular number of years. Hours teaching yes. I know several people who have done their levels I and II in their first year.
post #11 of 27
Quote:
Originally posted by Rusty Guy:
I know of no requirement in PSIA-RM that states you must have worked a particular number of years.
Interesting. I guess that doesn't surprise me a whole lot. I don't know why it is, but we in the northeast tend to have a lot more rules than the rest of the country.
post #12 of 27
I don't want to hijack the thread, I ought to respond to Laertes: I became an instructor last season at Sugarbush. My observation is that most ski areas, except for those with the most cachet, are usually desperate for instructors. [edit: that is, desperate for those who have substantially more interest in teaching than in a free pass.] This may be more true in the east than out west, but I think if you start contacting ski school directors it won't be long before you're provisionally hired.

The advice others have given about a desire to help people learn to ski being more important than skiing like a god is true.

Supporting yourself by teaching skiing is not going to be easy. You may find that you need a backup source of income (working nights in a shop or a restaurant, for example) since generally you only get paid for teaching if you get a class. Most places pay more for privates, still more for requested privates, but those are few and far between for first-year instructors. That's really the only way to make a go of it as a full-time pro, but it takes years to build a clientele that will ask for you by name.

Personally, I don't think that system makes sense in that the top instructors are encouraged to teach high-level skiers who are already committed to the sport, and the inexperienced (like you & me) are charged with giving the never-evers an experience that will turn them into repeat customers. But that has been discussed before, probably ad nauseum.

[ October 24, 2002, 12:39 PM: Message edited by: daevious ]
post #13 of 27
Thread Starter 
I just wanted to say thanks for all the wonderful advice! I'm looking around at a few resorts in Colorado, Utah, and VT and will let you all know how it goes. Thanks!!

Think snow,
John
post #14 of 27
Laertes,

There is a lot of good advice here. Most larger ski schools have in-house training once you are on staff. You must show them a desire to learn and be coachable. Do what ever they ask. Kids aren't so bad, it's a foot in the door.

You might have to work 2 jobs. I worked 3 jobs one season just to make ends meet. I did live in a nice house though. I would make one of the jobs in a restaurant if you can. This way you get free or cheap meals. At least they should be free the shift you work. But remember, if you want to teach, teaching is job #1. Let the second and third job bosses know you are working extra jobs. Hopefully they will understand.

Good luck,

Jim
post #15 of 27
Quote:
Originally posted by weems:
And you gotta be really good lookin', like me.
I saw you drive by the other day. You weren't that good looking! [img]tongue.gif[/img] -------Wigs
post #16 of 27
You need big googles and style like Stacy ....



Assistant coach, Stacy Hatch, is also a mogul skiing expert, ripping it up since 1985 and blessed with the ability to shred any mountain - anywhere, anytime.
Stacy is anxious to help teach you. too, to become an
Extremo Mountain Dude!

http://www.gforcefreestyle.com/coachbios.htm

DB
post #17 of 27
Bullet,

>>Weems, was that moving accurate? Do you send the wannabe instructors down a bump run and say whoever is left standing gets a job?<<

I think Weems will say no, it isn't accurate. I was here when they shot the movie and know the director/writer rather well. He was an instructor here at Snowmass back in the mid 80s. The story is about him and another guy who came to Aspen to teach skiing. Of coarse, he added a lot of stuff that never happened to make the movie interesting : Like Weems said in an earlier post, one must be fully certified to get on the full time staff here. It's pretty amazing when you look around this school and see how many of the pros here that have been teaching this sport for over 20 years! : --------Wigs
post #18 of 27
It takes 4.8 years to get PSIA Level III the last time they checked.

In the olden days, we paid Registered member dues ($20) at the outset of an Associate Preclinic that lasted five days ($120) and then took the two day exam ($85) and either came out a Registered member or an Associate member ($15 incl. pin). The next year the really hot shots took their Full Preclinic and Exam. The pass rate when I was going through the system was 65% Associate and 35% Full. That was in the early '80s.

I had worked for one season before getting Associate, I tried Full the next year and didn't pass. I took my race kids to the Snowbird Race Camp that June, got Jens Husted as my coach, and passed Full the next year at the top of the group. Jens was flat-out awesome and a huge inspiration to me.

Laertes, the rewards of Level III are like earning a rating in another sport, such as a low handicap in golf or a black belt in martial arts. It is an imprimatur. It gets you a meeting. But who you are ("character is destiny" says the fortune coookie) is what gets you the locker, the clientele, the style that people want. Leadership qualities--that's the key to the job.

There's this kid, who isn't really a kid any more, but well on his way to medical school and a great career, that I met at a podunk ski area in Montana when he was 14. I watched him teach a class of beginner "ski P.E." kids one morning. He had them in the palm of his hand, leaning on every word. What he was saying was teasing and fun and everyone was laughing a lot. I was an examiner by that time and I knew I was in the presence of a master. Today he is an examiner, and I know he's on his way to becoming a damn good one. It was plain to see when he was 14.

Certification is the seal of approval, but the qualities are in the person.
post #19 of 27
"Of coarse, he added a lot of stuff that never happened to make the movie interesting"

Yep! One of my students was "friendly" with the dude when she taught at Aspen, and has told me the same thing!

WIGS!!! Where have you been and are you teaching at the Academy? [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #20 of 27
You mean he didn't really ski down a frozen waterfall, leaving the Evil Patrollers shaking their fists at him? Damn, my illusions are shattered! And the locker room wasn't infested with Spandau Ballet members doing funny Austrian accents. Well.

re picture, why is that man not wearing a shirt under his suit? Can you imagine how stinky that suit would get? His mother ought to give him a good talking-to.

I don't know if I'll try for Level 3. I had intended to start training for it this year, just to have a bit of a look. But the feeling's worn off. I don't think I will ever be good enough at moguls to be in with a chance...they scare me. Maybe I'll try and get my Australian level 2, and with that get my Isia stamp, and maybe leave it at that.
post #21 of 27
Here in Mammoth we hire no exp/no certs as F/T instructors. They spend 80% of thier time teacing 4-6 never evers through wedge turners. They will occasionally teach similar level 7-12 year olds, but just about never teach adults. There are a few exceptions. Once you get Level 2, your horizons broaden considerably.

PSIA Level 3 can be passed on your third season if you have a solid skiing background, good training, and work hard. I did it, and so have quite a few of my buddies. This would be very hard at a small hill, with out as many examiners as trainers, and without challenging terrain/snow.

The record time for passing Level 3, was AJ Kitt during his first year teaching. I guess if you have a couple WC podiums, they make exceptions.
post #22 of 27
This season I am definitely going to get my PSIA L1 and I am just wondering if it is unrealistic to go for getting L2 quals as well.
post #23 of 27
Lisamarie,

I have been doing summer things. Mainly fly fishing. That’s what I do for a living in the summer months. But I’m looking out the window right now and it’s snowing to beat the band, and they turn the lifts on in a month. So I guess I should start thinking about going left and right and I thought I should look into the forum and see whazzzzzz upppp????

As for coming to the Bears convention this winter. I would love to but it’s a bit too far to come, and I am usually pretty busy at that time. If we ever decide to have one here in CO, I’ll be there. But my offer to make you a better skier still stands.-----Wigs

[ October 28, 2002, 07:42 AM: Message edited by: Wigs ]
post #24 of 27
[quote]Originally posted by ant:
[QB]You mean he didn't really ski down a frozen waterfall, leaving the Evil Patrollers shaking their fists at him? Damn, my illusions are shattered!<<

Ant,

Well the guy in the movie is obviously real. And he did ski down the waterfall. His nick name is Sal, and he teaches kids here at Snowmass He’s an outstanding skier I might add. He and a guy named Scotty Nichols did most of the skiing stunt work in the movie. Weems wanted in on some of the skiing stunt work, but Patrick Hassburg, the writer/director told him he was tooooooo good looking for the part! [img]tongue.gif[/img] Anyway, Sal did ski down that waterfall and ended up breaking his ankle in the process. That didn’t stop him doing the rest of the stunt work in the movie though.-------Wigs
post #25 of 27
Well, I'm impressed. always thought that was a fairly cheesy 80s movie, but next time I watch it, it'll be with a bit more respect! I like the way they've recorded the sound skis make...and the avalanche scene was pretty amazing.
post #26 of 27
See this also: Previous thread
post #27 of 27
Quote:
Originally posted by Seth:
This season I am definitely going to get my PSIA L1 and I am just wondering if it is unrealistic to go for getting L2 quals as well?
Anyone?
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