In the last 5-10 years taking a ski or snowboard instructor course has become a popular option with those finishing education, starting a new career, or those wishing to take a break from a current career.
The average age of those joining courses and doing seasons is quite young, however this does not mean that older people can’t do the same. And we’re actually seeing more and more interest from people over the age of 40 – in fact we sometimes get people on courses in their late 50s.
SnowSkool runs a selection of courses around the world, in varying countries and with varying course durations depending on a participant's chosen location.
Here are our FAQs on becoming a mature ski or snowboard instructor.
Is it too late to do an instructor course?
It is never too late to become a ski or snowboard instructor. Our courses are suitable for anyone aged 17+, and every year we get participants in their 40s and 50s.
Whether you married with kids, heading into retirement, having a mid life crisis and in need of snow relief - or just pursuing a new career late in life - an instructor course can be a great thing to do.
How would I fit in with a load of gap year kids?
While taking a gap year is a popular reason to join our courses, not all of our courses have an abundance of twenty-somethings partying and burning the wick and both ends.
Speaking to any member of our SnowSkool staff will help to point out the courses that have higher age demographics and are most appealing to those with more life experience.
We offer private rooms on our courses too, which are usually more suitable for older trainees.
Are there any resorts that are more suitable for older people?
Some course locations do favour a younger age demographic but there are others that attract more mature participants because of their mountain communities, amenities, more sophisticated après scene – as well as the mountain scenery and terrain.
This means that no matter your age there is a course that will suit you and your abilities. For older students we particularly recommend Meribel in France, and Big White in Canada. Both have a great range of activities and amenities for all age groups.
How fit do I have to be?
It’s harder to maintain your level of fitness as you get older but you do not have to be an athlete to participate in an instructor course.
Of course the fitter and stronger you are for the course then the more you will adapt to and benefit from the training - and the quicker your body will recover in the first few weeks particularly.
But, in summary, if you’re reasonably fit and healthy then you will be fine.
What are my employment chances, will my age put me at a disadvantage?
No! After successfully passing the ski or snowboard instructor exams on any of our long courses, your employment chances are high, and the opportunities are worldwide.
Being older than the average participant does not put you at a disadvantage, it actually puts you at an advantage. With more years of life experience, job experience, and worldy knowledge, you will be a more reliable and appealing employee.
For these reasons, it’s not uncommon to meet older ski and snowboard instructors on the slopes because they are highly employable and often some of the best instructors around.
However, this does not mean that you will get a job over a younger applicant based on life experience alone, you will still need to pursue additional qualification and attributes to back up your CV. And a great reference and some contacts are always helpful too.
For more information on what do after completing an instructor course, see our blog post on what to do after an instructor course.
What countries can I work in, are visas an issue?
The list of countries you can work in does not change the older you get, however gaining a work visa for certain countries does end after you hit the age of 30 or 35.
Do not fret, you can still gain work visas – but by sponsorship!
Each resort generally has the ability to sponsor a few people each season but different resorts will have different specifications.
Visa Sponsorship costs the resort and government money, so the sponsored person has to be right. A resort may specify they will only sponsor Level 3 instructors and above; some may sponsor based on Level 2 and a certain number of seasons experience; it changes and differs per resort.
But speaking generally you normally need higher qualifications and/or a certain number of seasons/years of experience to get sponsorship.
For instance, if you have level 2 certification, dual certification, multiple seasons' experience or a higher Level qualification (L3 or L4) you should easily be able to find a resort to sponsor you for a visa.
This is why gaining additional qualifications and attributes can really go in your favour.
Do you have any case studies of other people on your courses?
Yes, Jim Allan recently did the SnowSkool Big White ski instructor course at the age of 56 – and is now enjoying teaching in Perisher in Australia. Read the interview with Jim to see how he got on.