With the world’s largest interconnected ski areas and an après culture to match, it’s no wonder skiing in Europe features some of the most exciting ski resorts in the world.
Countries in Europe also generally have the highest hourly rate of pay for instructors - and although living costs can be higher, working in Europe is a great career opportunity.
So where do you start in working as a ski instructor there? Here is our guide on how to become a ski instructor in Europe.
- 1) Gain a recognised qualification
- 2) Consider achieving proficiency in a second language
- 3) Apply for and be successful in gaining work European visa (if you need one)
- 4) Job applications – send off as many as possible
- 5) Get through a phone interview to secure the job
1) Gain a recognised ski instructor qualification!
The first step is logical: you’ll need to gain an internationally recognised qualification that will allow you to work throughout Europe.
You can gain your CSIA Level 2 in Banff or Big White in Canada, BASI Level 2 in The Three Valleys in France - or NZSIA Level 2 in New Zealand’s Cardrona. All of these qualifications can be gained through SnowSkool courses and will allow you to work throughout Europe, and also the rest of the world. However, there are two slight exceptions to this:
- France - To work in France, you will need higher qualifications but the pay is a lot higher. It’s not an easy or quick process, but a long-term goal. For the full details on how to work in France, please see our detailed article on the process in France.
- Italy - Each region in Italy has slightly different requirements when it comes to getting a job as a ski instructor – and often their requirements change per resort or per school. You can land short-term contracts of approximately two weeks with large tour ops from outside of Italy but, for a full-time role, you are advised to contact each region.
It could be argued that a European qualification will always be more respected and recognised in Europe, and there’s some truth in that due to the longer, more intense, demanding and difficult examination process. But the fact still remains: Canadian and New Zealand qualifications are officially recognised with the ISIA (International Ski Instructors Association) and, as such, allow you to work through Europe and the world with other ISIA recognised countries.
2) Consider achieving proficiency in a second language
Learning a second language is difficult for a lot of people; lack of interest, motivation or previous efforts that have tried and failed. However, this is something everyone should take seriously if working in Europe is of interest.
That said, popular resorts in Austria, Switzerland and Italy do often hire only English-speaking instructors. However, the more languages you can get under your belt (conversational or not-so-conversational) the more you will stand out to employers over other applicants. A second language will also open up more work opportunities within the ski school if you are successful. If you only speak English, you will only get English speaking guests, but if you know a little of another language then you have an opening when that language skill is required for guests.
And a second language proficiency is a must have in order to achieve Level 3 and above - and progress further in your career.
3) Apply for and gain a European work visa
Now that you are qualified, you need to get your working holiday visa. Many resorts will not consider your application unless you have this visa pre-arranged, this allows employers to offer you a job after a successful interview. The work visa application process will differ from country to country, some will find it easier than others.
Luckily for those in the EU, freedom to work within other EU countries is a great perk to have, no visa applications needed. A special mention needs to go out to Switzerland, one country not in the EU. Many ski schools will help with the visa application process for those in the EU but it’s more difficult if you are not in the EU. Enquire directly with the Swiss ski school for more specific information relating to your nationality.
- Switzerland – To find out more about the requirements for your country, please see here
- Non-European citizens – You will need a work visa, requirements are different for each country and for each non-EU nationality applying, so do your research and plan in advance.
4) Job applications – send off as many as possible
As soon as you've completed your ski instructor course, and gained your qualification, it's time to get your name out there! However, don’t be too picky. Apply to many places so you’ve got the best chance of getting an interview. Every resort and country that you can get a visa for should be applied for and considered, especially if this is your first job application into the ski instructor world.
Remember you can always move to your preferred area when you have more experience and It’s always good to have a backup plan if you cannot get a work visa for your first country of choice. So keep your options open.
5) Get through a phone interview
If your initial application is successful, you will then be onto the next step, an interview! Some resorts do offer interview days, to test your practical ability as well as a face-to-face interview. If you happen to be in the country at the time or can get there, then go to them, showing interest in person is always a positive start, but for most, as long as you have proof of a confirmed work visa (or have had a discussion over potential sponsorship if applicable) then a job can be offered following a successful phone interview alone.
Then, if all steps have been followed, this is where we and your employers say CONGRATULATIONS, job in the bag, well done! This is the end result we all want and hope for, and if you put the effort in through your instructor training, visa applications, resort and ski school research as well as the final interviews, you can make this dream a reality.
We can help: choosing a ski instructor course
So, if working as a ski instructor in Europe is at the top of your list, a SnowSkool ski instructor course can make that happen. Want to know which instructor course is best for you, why our course in France may be your best starting option for a career in Europe, how you go about gaining work post course, the next steps or what life is actually like in as an instructor in Europe, look no further:
> Life as a Ski Instructor in Switzerland (following a CSIA course in Canada)
> See our article on ski instructor salaries for a quick overview of how Europe compares to the rest of the world when it comes to pay
Of course, if you have more questions, get in touch with a member of the SnowSkool team!