If the SnowSkool FAQ page were a team-sheet and questions were names, the first name on that team-sheet would be: How much does an instructor earn? It is an obvious question to ask given the investment of time and money that would have to be made to get working the slopes. 

But unfortunately information is thin on the ground! And the answer is not as forthcoming as the question either because there are a ton of variables that can influence earnings: the country, the resort, the ski school, your experience and your qualification levels, as well as economic factors affecting the overall demand for lessons and the strength of a currency. Who would have thought that the recent decline of the Russian Rouble would impact your pay packet?

Broad-shouldered as ever, SnowSkool is not going to shy away from answering your (difficult) question. So we’ve spoken to a gallimaufry of SnowSkool graduates, working across the globe, to get you the guideline figures:

Ski Instructor Salaries: Overview (2017/18 Figures)

Notes:

  • For comparison, all figures are in $ USD. All figures are pre-tax.
  • 'Experienced' level is based on a Level 2 ski instructor qualification (qualified through BASI, CSIA/ CASI, NZSIA/ SBINZ or similar) except in France where the qualifications are different (see below - and our separate page on becoming an instructor in France).
  • We also have some earning information for rookie instructors for most regions (qualified to level 1 or equivalent).
  • The same numbers can generally be applied to snowboarding instructors. But you can see our snowboard instructor salaries post here.
  • We welcome your comments and experiences which will only further our knowledge in this space and help us to put together a detailed resource for aspiring instructors in the future.

Australia

  • Experienced: $24
  • Rookie: $15

Most resorts in Australia have a very progressive payment system that rewards long-serving staff members. The starting rates for Level 2 instructors tend to be around $18 per hour. After 75 hours, this will increase to around $24 per hour and then increase dramatically to $45 per hour after 300 hours of logged work.

Austria

  • Experienced: $20
  • Rookie: $15

Austrian resorts pay a monthly salary that is guaranteed regardless of the demand for ski school lessons. Level 2 instructors should expect to earn $2450 per month based on working 36 hours per week. That works out at around $20 per hour. 

Norway

  • Experienced: $45
  • Rookie:  $25

The home of Telemark Skiing offers mountains aplenty for regular skiers and where there are skiers, there are ski resorts and ski instructors. Opportunities do exist in the country for Level 1 and Level 2 equivalent instructors but largely as trainee instructors and most instructors plying their trade will hold an ISIA qualification or above.

In a country that, along with Switzerland, has the highest average wage in Europe (and one of the highest GDPs per capita in the world) it is no surprise that hourly rates for instructors in Norway are generous. But this generosity reflects the cost of living in a country where a loaf of bread will set you back US $5 and a bottle of the local brew more than $10!

That all said, the mountains are stunning and the people are lovely so you are sure to have a great season.

Finland

  • Experienced: $20
  • Rookie: $15

The forward-thinking Finns love flexible work culture - and most ski instructors in Finland work as freelancers and get paid by the hour, with a salary of around 20€ / $22 per hour.

If you get a season instructor post, the minimum salary will be about 11€ / $12 per hour. And you'll have a 38-hour working week.

Spain

  • Experienced: $20
  • Rookie:  $15

Spain isn’t the first region you'd think of if someone asked you "where are the ski instructors?" But there are quite a lot of opportunities to instruct in mountain areas like the Pyrenees in the north and the Sierra Nevada in the south, where there are popular ski resorts.

Instructors we’ve spoken to earn well in comparison with most other European countries (except France and Switzerland) but with a much lower cost of living than in the Alps: prices in Spain are up to three times lower than these prestigious resorts in the north.

Becoming qualified to teach isn’t quite as tough as in France but expect a bit more difficulty if you’re not qualified to an ISIA level (such as BASI Level 3) or above.

Andorra

  • Experienced: $22
  • Rookie: $15

The tiny Catalan-speaking nation in the Pyrenees has plenty of opportunities for ski instructors.  However, like Spain you'll normally need at least a Level 2 qualification to find work. Expect around €20 / $22 per hour. This can increase with higher qualifications.

Bear in mind the French and Spanish flock to Andorra but it's not as popular as the Alps for English speakers, and Brits. If you can speak decent Spanish or French, then you're more likely to get a job and earn more monies.

Canada

  • Experienced: $17
  • Rookie: $12

Canadian resorts offer probably the most transparent payment structure and it is very clearly distinguished by the level of qualification that you have. A Level 1 instructor should expect to start on a little around $12 per hour and a Level 2 instructor should expect $15 to $17 per hour.

One big factor of working in Canada is the North American tipping culture which can double seasonal income! However, a lot of the instructors we spoke to mentioned that tips are becoming harder to come by.

Japan

  • Experienced: $25
  • Rookie: $20

From the most transparent payment structure to the least transparent payment structure, we have managed to get some figures from a sample of ski resorts on both the Islands of Honshu and Hokkaido to give you some indicative levels. A Level 1 instructor should expect to earn $20 per hour and a Level 2 instructor, $25 per hour.

However some Japanese resorts have been known to use a progressive payment system - like in Australia - where instructor pay increases 5% for every 75 hours worked. Typically, starting rates are a bit lower under this arrangement, at $17-$18 per hour.

New Zealand

  • Experienced: $20
  • Rookie: $12

On the whole, Kiwi resorts are not as generous as their counterparts over the Tasman Sea in Australia. Newbies with a Level 1 qualification will not only struggle to get work but even when they do, the hourly rate is likely to be around $12 per hour. Level 2 instructors fare a little better and should expect to earn $18-20 per hour. 

China

  • Experienced: $30
  • Rookie: $20

China's population has boomed over the past decades - and so have the nation’s ski resorts. 

Rates are variable depending on the resort but can be lucrative considering the low cost of living. Even then, base rates can be above European levels and even nearby Japan.

Packages tend to be comprehensive too and can also include accommodation, flights, visa, and daily meals.

There’s not usually the requirement to speak Chinese as there are plenty of opportunities for English-speaking Instructors. However, Chinese-language skills would be a boost to your CV.

We've agreed an average in our graph but here's some more on what you can earn in the major resorts, and cities.

Thaiwoo Ski Resort Area

BASI Level 2 (plus 3 seasons experience in Europe - from €2000 / $2200 per month
BASI Level 3 (plus 3 seasons experience in Europe) - from €2,700 / $3000 per month

Beijing City + Ski Resorts

BASI Level 2 (plus 1 seasons experience) - £1,000 base salary + £15 per instructing day
Free flights, accommodation and visa.

Chongli Ski Resorts

BASI Level 3 ISIA (8 years teaching experience)
100CNY ($15pd if no work) 200-300CNY ($28-$45 per hour + paid accommodation

Switzerland

  • Experienced: $55
  • Rookie: $40

Reflecting the cost of living in Switzerland, the Swiss ski schools pay generous hourly rates for their employees to teach skiing and snowboarding - and experienced instructors can earn $55-65 per hour. In German-speaking Gstaad, a rookie instructor should expect to earn $40 per hour - and in French-speaking Villars, the starting rate is about $30 per hour (and if you're on our instructor internship programme in Switzerland then this is what you'll earn in those regions).

USA

  • Experienced: $20
  • Rookie: $15

Wages seem to differ between the resorts throughout America. On the east coast, the resorts in Vermont pay around $15 for a Level 1 instructor and $20 for a Level 2 instructor. In Aspen instructors will the same qualifications can earn $23 and $28 per hour respectively. But further west in the Californian resorts, the rates drop again a little to between $15 and $20. Again, many instructors’ seasons will stand or fall on the amount of tips they receive.

France

  • Experienced: $65
  • Rookie: $28

Now France works a bit differently and you need more advanced qualifications. Getting work is tougher than in any other country. But once you have your BASI Level 2 and have passed the infamous 'test technique', which is a timed slalom, you can then work at a certified French ski school as a ‘stagiaire’ for 4 years during which you must become accredited to the French equivalent of BASI Level 4. This is the highest possible instructor level and will enable you to teach independently.

Until you achieve that level, with ‘stagiare’ status your rate of pay will start from about $28 per hour (€25 Euro per hour). And once you have qualified as a BASI Level 4 instructor you can then expect to start on or above $50 per hour (€45 Euro per hour). This can go up to as much as $75/85 (€65/€75) per hour depending on the ski school, experience, clients etc.

The hours of work you can get over the season can be anywhere from 200 - 600 hours depending on the ski school, the snowfall, busy seasons etc.

Conclusion

So we can glean from this that snowsports instructing is not a fast-track to becoming a millionaire but then if you love skiing or snowboarding, and you could earn enough to live off, then why wouldn’t you want to do it over what you’re doing now? And the job sells itself on the lifestyle: living and working in stunning mountain environments, keeping fit, breathing the freshest air and doing what you love and getting paid for it! How can you put a price on that?

But we also know that many of you will have had different experiences in different resorts within the countries mentioned, or even in countries that we’ve not covered. So we welcome your comments and experiences which will only further our knowledge in this space and help us to put together a detailed resource for aspiring instructors in the future.

Related Content:

Here’s another SnowSkool piece on life as a ski or snowboard instructor.

Or try our ski instructor internship programme in Gstaad, Switzerland, where you'd earn $30 - $40 per hour.

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