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Ski Instructor

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
How does one become a ski instructor? I've been skiing for 28 years, have never taken a lesson and am a low to mid level expert. I have recently retired and I live near the northern California resorts.
post #2 of 22
In Australia you need to attend a hiring clinic at the start of the season. You have to pay for, this 4-5 days lessons both theory and practical then you are examined (theory & practical). If you pass and the ski school likes you they will offer you a place. Once in then you train for your levels (also costs), with an exam at the end. The higher your level the more money you earn and the higher level you can teach.
post #3 of 22
I went through this process just two years ago.

Start by calling around resorts and talking to ski school directors, check the PSIA-W website for job openings, and find out when the hiring job fairs are. Then start meeting with as many people as you can that are instructors.

get your foot in the door, and go from there. Learn as much as you can about all the different teaching methods and keep an open mind.

Good luck.
post #4 of 22
One option is to go on a specific course to get your qualification ... some of these courses (like International Academy) are more aimed at school leavers / early twenties. I chose to go with Dempsey Tours based in Whistler ... did my CSIA (Canadian Ski Instructor Alliance) level 1 & 2 last season. Going back this season to do my level 3. There's bound to be something similar at Tahoe for the US qualification... assuming that's where you would wish to go being from northern CA. You should get much more info on

Enjoy !
post #5 of 22
Why do you want to become an instructor? This is important for several reasons.

There are many motives. Why don't you list a few here. [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]

[ July 29, 2003, 06:22 PM: Message edited by: yuki ]
post #6 of 22
Try this site in site for California. It also list ski school that are looking for instructors.
PSIA west
post #7 of 22
Bec, I think this "hiring clinic" thing is unique to Oz. Elsewhere if you have the qualifications you can apply for a vacancy.
post #8 of 22

As has been suggested, the time-honored procedure for inexperienced instructors in most US ski schools is the "hiring clinic" in the fall. Do not mistake this for Hollywood's hiring clinic in Aspen Extreme--it's not quite like that! It can be anything from a one day casual thing to a multi-day, intensive process that includes some job training. Either way, here's what you need to get hired at most ski schools in the US:

1) A great attitude! You have to be able to demonstrate to the hiring clinicians (usually supervisors or senior staff and trainers of the ski school) that you love working with people, that you are friendly, and that you have contagious enthusiasm for helping people enjoy the sport of skiing. You need to both love skiing, and love helping others share your joy. You should not have to work at this, because it should be the obvious truth, on both accounts. Believe me, you don't want the job if it isn't!

2) Interpersonal and communication skills--both verbal and non--to support your desire to help people. Desire is NOT everything--you have to bring some ability to the table as well. The clinicians will test you--they'll observe to see how you communicate with them, with other people on the slope, and with lift operators and other employees. They may put you in front of the group to see how you perform (although they will not expect you to know much about the technical side of ski teaching--and don't try to fool them if you don't). Are you multi-lingual? Do you have any experience or education in teaching? Do you have other life or job experience or education that would help you teach skiing more effectively? Bring these up!

3) Professionalism. Do you present yourself in a way that would reflect well on the ski school and the resort? Are you presentable? You don't have to dress in the snappiest and latest outfits, and have brand new equipment, but your clothing should be appropriate for skiing and reasonably clean and untorn. You should look like a pro--shaved or recently trimmed, and so on. If you show up looking like a dirt bag, they probably won't even give you a chance for a second impression. Learn and obey the rules of safety and etiquette for the slopes, ski safely, and above all else, do not scare the clinicians, or beat up any guests!

4) Last, and possibly least (which may come as a surprise to some), you need only a modicum of skiing ability. While teaching high level students requires strong skiing skills, teaching beginners does not. Great learners usually make better teachers than great skiers who have stopped learning themselves. More important than your current ability, for most ski schools, is your desire and ability to learn. Are you coachable? Of all the qualities that make great ski instructors, skiing skills are the easiest for the ski school trainers to teach you. Show them that you love to learn--all great teachers do!

That's about it. Talk to the ski school directors at whatever resorts you're interested in working at, and find out when their hiring clinics are. The more flexible you are, both in what you can do--kids, adults, seniors, snowboard, terrain park--and when you can be available, the better (especially for part-time instructors).

Once you are hired, plan to do some serious learning. You will probably revisit your skiing skills from the ground up. They will coach you in current teaching theory and methodology. They'll teach you any specifics that are important to the ski school's individual philosophy and particular needs. There will be inhouse learning opportunities, some required, some optional. Some ski schools, especially the large ones, have extensive training programs that will take your skiing and teaching skills to very high levels. Others have only minimal programs.

Plan to join PSIA (in the US), or the national instructor education/certification body of whatever country you are working in. In the US, it is not too difficult to become certified Level 1 in your first season, if you attend a few clinics and put some effort into it. Full Certification takes several years, usually, so get started on it as soon as you can.

It's often said that teaching skiing is a great life, but a lousy way to make a living. Don't get into it for the wrong reasons! No one's ever gotten rich teaching skiing, and you'll have to watch from the beginner hill as others make first tracks on more than a few great powder days. But if you're right for it, nothing else will ever be so rewarding!

Most importantly, keep us all posted on your progress! There's a lot of good help here at EpicSki--lots of instructors of every level of experience, and lots of skiers to bounce your ideas off. And I, for one, am eager to hear how it goes for you. Best of luck!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #9 of 22
How to become a ski instructor in 2004

1. Shave
2. Nice haircut
3. New skis
4. Clean skivvy
5. Wear technical ski gear

But I jest; the most important thing is

Ask for job when it is BUSY. Tell a small little lie about having taught before on some obscure hill\high school\army team etc (do not worry you will tell much bigger porkies during your career) and YOU are IN.

It is that simple .............

Oz :
post #10 of 22
Oz you forgot this one....

Wait until they are desperate for an instructor (any instructor) - do some turns that are better than the CRAP their new hires(half of whom wanted to be boarding instructors) can do.... get asked if you want to teach....
post #11 of 22
Hey! I actually learned a few things at the one week doo-dah!

Be sure to check if they are going to charge you for the clinic (they probably will) ........ BUT you should get the money back if you get hired.

Check around. Some hills hire at minimum wage and treat you ..... well, pretty poorly. Others are a bit more fair.

Keep it in perspective. There is a pecking order. You are probably going to be pushing lots of beginners for a year or two.
When the boss asks you if you can do an L-8 ..... it's probably gonna be the lesson from hell ....
post #12 of 22
Oz and Dis, not sure what you've found, but I had a bit of a sniff around at a couple of local fields this year and was basically told "Great! Please try to make the hiring clinic next year". The ironic thing was that virtually none of the instructors I met had actually done the clinic because they knew [insert name here].

It seemed a strange way to run a business when a large number of experienced instructors are off sick with the flu (even privates were being knocked back) yet they won't consider mid season recruitment of junior instructors to free up the available full certs.
post #13 of 22
I was just having a little fun. As we have pointed out getting a job as a ski instructor is a mess. I have 18 winters and full cert and I know I would have to do the hiring clinic at PB because I have never worked there before. Threddas maybe if my timing was out. All other Oz resorts definetly (thats if they would hire a plain speaker like myself )

I once did a morning high end private for a day ticket at Threddas. In the USA it was my rep & my report card. I guess timing is everything. PB is a little weird though. Run by inflexible power hungry "fundamentalists". Even the Austrians quit. But I guess thats the only job SS management are ever gonna get so they protect it with all thier "power". SS a laugh a minute. There are some bloody good instructors stuck in this mess and many more just playing the game each season. Full price lessons no matter what your instructors experience. RIP OFF.

Turning this weekend and some new snow to boot.

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #14 of 22
Like I say Oz, it sure seems like a strange way to run a business.

Money Man: “Hi I’d like to book a mega-dollar private lesson for myself. I can ski “ok” so I’d like a full cert instructor please”.

Smiley Ski School: “I’m sorry all our full certs are off doing first timer group lessons and aren’t available. In fact we don’t have any instructors available for private lessons today … or tomorrow … hmm well actually we don’t have any available any day!”

MM: “Oh … ok. Umm, can’t you employ more instructors?”

SSS: “Oh yes we would love to have more instructors. All they need to do is the hiring clinic and if all goes well we’ll give them a job.”

MM: “But wasn’t the hiring clinic 2 months ago?”

SS: “Yes it’s run in June. So all they need to do is the hiring clinic and if all goes well we’ll give them a job.”

MM: “But that was in the past!”

SSS: “Yes that’s right. So all they need to do is the hiring clinic and if all goes well we’ll give them a job.”

MM: “So you’ll have more instructors available once they do the hiring clinic which was held 2 months ago?”

SSS: “Yes that’s right. We’ll have plenty of instructors then. All they need to do is the hiring clinic and if all goes well we’ll give them a … hey Mr Money Man where are you going? …. Oh … dank you, come again”
post #15 of 22
I am in the process of planning a hiring clinic. I must say it's a great deal of work. Last year we had 125 applicants and hired about 60.

I really don't know how you could do it two or three times a year.
post #16 of 22
Rusty, I can only imagine the difficulties in arranging this, however the whole process just seems bizarre if compared to any other business model. Fair enough if you were looking to employ only totally inexperienced candidates. You would need to have a really good look at them and expect to conduct quite a lot of training. However why should the same process apply to somebody with years of experience in the industry?

Perhaps I’m naïve, but I see the role of the ski school as bringing students and instructors together such that the ski school gains a profit, the students receive instruction, and the instructors receive paid employment. It seems ludicrous that with the present situation you can have a potential student standing at the counter asking to pay good money to receive instruction, a qualified instructor standing next to them asking to provide instruction, yet the ski school is unable to match the two because the latter didn’t do an introductory course at that particular school. Surely in situations where you are turning away customers it’s worth a senior member of the staff taking a few hours to interview and evaluate the candidate at that particular time? It seems to work in every other service industry I can think of so why is this one so different?
post #17 of 22

The clinic is usually the first week that the hill can provide on snow training.

Additional staff are hired during the season but without certification, they have to spend the week with a few instructors, without pay, out on the line learning the ropes.

With a current PSIA membership it is a bit easier, a day of "orientation" regarding "company philosophy", a shadow or two and you are in.
post #18 of 22
yuki is right. In the US we have three levels of certification. If someone walks in with some certification they may get hired. The question always begs why the mid season change.

I doubt a level III cert could walk into the ski school at Vail, Aspen, or Copper and get hired at Christmas. First of all it would be too busy to process the paperwork. A slow day in January might be different. I simply don't know.

At our resort we start the year with approximately twenty full timers and one hundred fifty part timers. Lots of weekend folks. Attrition takes it's toll all year long. I think would hire a full cert at most any time as long as they weren't an axe murderer.

At spring break or Christmas we would take a cross between Paul Bunyon and Jack the Ripper if he/she likes to teach groups.
post #19 of 22
The perfect oportunity for you is at hand;

Now Hiring Instructors!!!!!


(I couldn't resist it any longer.)

[ August 18, 2003, 11:56 AM: Message edited by: teledave ]
post #20 of 22
Yuki that may well be the case in the YOU ESS. Oz, Dis and myself were refering to the situation in Australia, hence the hiring clinics in June. Down here it's basically no hiring clinic, no work.


post #21 of 22
Yep & I was not kidding - I'm told Thredbo pushed would be boarding instructors into ski instruction in the hiring clinic they were so desperate....

Saw a few VERY fresh faces taking out privates today.... arrrrrrggggghhhhh.....

Oz - they were so short this year they may well have taken you without the clinic...

I have heard Monika repeatedly having no instructors to send for privates & this weeks SLAP groups were 7 people large... NOT the usual sizes... but it was send less experienced instructors or have larger groups ... they ent the larger groups....
post #22 of 22
Seems resorts are more worried about image than substance these days.
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