If you are looking to ski on your gap year, or you’re taking some time off between jobs and want to ski in the gap, you have a few options.
I want a ski gap year!
Firstly, you could work your ass off over the summer, delve into some savings, or mysteriously inherit a fortune… then buy yourself a season-long ski pass and rent an apartment. This full-time ski bum option depends on serious funds, and can actually be a bit solitary at the start.
Secondly, you could get a ski season job – cooking, cleaning or serving sweaty punters (and seasonnaires) in a bar or shop. You probably live with a crew of other employees, providing a ready-made friendship group. Your wages will just about cover your off-piste activities and entertainment, and you’ll bolster your CV with customer service, cooking and cleaning skills – or all of the above. Note: chalet work gives you better ski-hours, whereas shops/restaurants/bars may have you working between 9:00 and 17:00.
Thirdly! Arguably the best way to ski on your gap year, is to train and qualify as a ski or snowboard instructor. Bonus if you do a course with catered accommodation, full of like-minded others. You’ll get by far the most ski time, and nearly every evening and weekend off! Following, you can stay in the mountains working as an instructor. Then spend the rest of your ski gap year chasing the snow, between resorts and hemispheres.
SnowSkoolers mid-training in Méribel
Ski or snowboard instructor courses as part of a gap year
A ski or snowboard instructor course is a program that will qualify you as a ski instructor, over three months or so, while also teaching you to ski better.
Most of these courses (like SnowSkool's) are packaged up to include flights, transfers, accommodation, meals, lift passes, training, exam fees and one or two resort reps.
Once you’ve qualified, you can work globally, from South America to Japan and plenty of places in between. Sounds good so far? You’ll need to also consider the price but, before we get to that, here are five good reasons to do a gap year ski instructor course:
1) Become a ski instructor and have a career abroad
Pretty obvious this one! In fairness, back in the day the route to becoming a ski instructor was to spend a season working as a general dog’s-body in a Ski School in Scotland. Four months of fetching coffees, wiping kids’ noses and commiserating with guests about the lack of snow as yet another deluge of rain drives in sideways.
But who wants that, when nowadays you can jet out to Canada, France or even New Zealand and spend your time shredding the pow and getting your qualifications that way! Then, after qualifying, living and working abroad is an option too – the world can really open up career-wise.
If you don’t 100% know what you want your future career to be – ‘killing time’ as a ski instructor or a snowboard instructor is a way more productive use of a gap year than pushing pints behind a bar.
SnowSkoolers getting qualified in New Zealand
2) You want to bolster your CV
Even if you don’t plan to go onto work as an instructor, a qualification can be a great CV boost. Picture the scene: you’re sitting in an interview for Ernst & Jones, PwG or Deloitte & Touché and the interviewer asks, “describe a situation where you had to use initiative, taking charge of a group of people”. This is where you can lean back in your chair, smile and say, “well Iain, there was the time I was teaching a group to ski powder in the backcountry in Canada and suddenly the weather started to come in...” Slightly more interesting than training a team of new starters how to use the till!
Furthermore, the qualifications are serious – and the legwork to do them takes focus and determination. A ski or snowboard instructor qualification on your CV is like a badge of bad-ass.
3) Friendships for life
When was the last time you made a new friend? For a lot of adults and young adults these days, there is a fair chance that may have been a long while ago. On the first night of a ski instructor course, you will find yourself stood in a room with 30, 40, 50 or even 60 other individuals. You’ve all signed-up for the same course and are all also wondering who they want to talk to and who wants to talk to them. Beers and other tipples help for the first night of course, but you’re going to be hanging out with these people for 11 weeks or more. You’re going to make some friends, share experiences, and form bonds that can last a lifetime.
Friends for life in New Zealand
4) Growing up
We get trainees of all ages on our courses, right up to retirement age! But for the younger trainees, who make up a fair proportion on courses, we get a lot of feedback from parents along the lines of “we sent him away a boy and he came back a man”. The point is that, on a gap year ski instructor course, you are going to have to do some fending for yourself. Yes, this is entry-level fending for yourself (your training schedule is arranged, most of your dinners are prepared for you etc). However, you will have to self-motivate on the course, behave responsibly and plan financially for three to four months. It’s like a fast-track to growing up, with a safety net.
5) Travelling experience
In your formative years, travel is often about drinking cheap, oddly-named beers in different countries. Strange as it may sound, this is an important part of the overall experience. However, as you get older, the benefits of travel become clearer and the hope is that they start to filter into your everyday existence.
Without wishing to be preachy, surely everyone can think of someone who could do with a little more exposure to other cultures, to learn a greater degree of tolerance for people from outside of their own tribe. Now, that said, ski resorts and instructor training courses are not super well-known for their extreme multiculturalism; but training and working abroad is always going to be an experience that’ll open minds, at least a little bit. Our courses feature people from all corners of the world, every year. And the best time to do something like this as part of a gap year experience is when you’re still relatively young.
SnowSkoolers making the most of course downtime in New Zealand
Fancy doing a gap year ski or snowboard instructor course?
To get more of an idea, browse SnowSkool's courses:
Gap year snowboard instructor course in Méribel, France
Gap year snowboard instructor course in Big White, Canada
Gap year snowboard instructor course in Banff, Canada
Gap year snowboard instructor course in Cardrona, NZ