What is the typical ski instructor salary? Of all the SnowSkool FAQs, it's our most commonly asked question! It's also totally understandable, considering it takes a lot of time and money to become a ski instructor in the first place. You'll want to know:
- How long it will take you to recuperate the funds for your instructor training and exams
- If you can sustain yourself on a seasonal (winter) job
- Where you should look for a ski instructing job (and how to secure one!)
Unfortunately, concrete information is thin on the ground! And the answers are not nearly as forthcoming as the questions. This is mainly because there are a ton of variables that can influence ski instructor salaries: your experience and your qualification levels, the country, the resort, the ski school, as well as the economic factors affecting the overall demand for lessons and the strength of a currency. All these things mean the answer to the question 'how much do ski instructors get paid' changes every year, and is different between each resort.
Answering your ski instructor pay questions
Don't worry! We shan't be shying away from answering your (difficult) question on the typical ski instructor salary. We want to give you as much information, ahead of booking your ski instructor course, as possible.
We’ve spoken to a gallimaufry of SnowSkool graduates and ski instructors, around the world, to get you some guideline figures depending on location and experience. So, how much do ski instructors make?
Experience and qualifications
Before we move on to the specifics of ski instructor pay, it’s good to know what you’re working with. Your experience and qualifications will set the bounds of what salary you’ll be able to attain. If you’re still in training we suggest you enrol on the qualifications system that best reflects your goals and where you want to end up. Remember: with the right training, you can turn a thrilling hobby or seasonal side hustle into a serious career.
At BASI 1 or any international equivalent, you don’t quite have the qualifications to lay the foundations of a career just yet. There’ll be some teaching opportunities across Europe and the USA in non-mountain environments. These are mostly at a rookie level and on a salary between $18 and $24 maximum.
Level 2 is a great qualification to have as you can work worldwide (minus France) on a reliable income stream. At this level, you can expect to earn from $20 to $29 per hour at most resorts.
A BASI, ISIA or other interchangeable Level 3 will get you a higher salary than a level 2 instructor by up to 20%. In many countries, this qualification could see you glide smoothly up the priority list and grab some more interesting work.
If you’ve reached level 4, the sky’s the limit! With this level of experience, you can earn from $50 to $85 in France and grasp the higher end of ski instructor pay across Europe. Only in the USA, can you expect the salary to be slightly lower.
Depending on which ski resort you end up on, you could be earning anywhere from $12 an hour to $70 per hour. Some countries pay ski instructors much higher than others as we’re about to find out…
Ski Instructor Salaries in Europe
Generally speaking, the average ski instructor salary is much higher in mainland Europe compared to the rest of the world.
For skiers with more advanced experience, France is your best bet to make the bigger bucks, although weaving through the qualification system is more complex. For skiers still at a rookie level, Switzerland offers the highest salaries for skiers with lower qualifications due to their higher cost of living.
Ski Instructor pay in France
The highest-paid ski instructors work in France, but this comes with a caveat of difficulty. Becoming a ski instructor in France works a bit differently and you need more advanced qualifications.
BASI Level 2
Getting work is tougher here than in any other country, but once you have your BASI Level 2 ski instructor qualification and have passed the infamous 'test technique', which is a timed slalom, you can then teach on marked pistes. Until you achieve BASI level 4 with ‘stagiare’ status, your rate of pay will start from about $29 per hour (€29 per hour).
BASI Level 4
If you work at a certified French ski school as a ‘stagiaire’ for four years, during which you must continue with instructor ‘qualifications’, you can become accredited to the French equivalent of BASI Level 4. This is the highest possible instructor level and will enable you to teach independently.
Once you have qualified as a BASI Level 4 instructor you can then expect to start on or above $50 per hour (€50 per hour). This can go up to as much as $75/85 (€75/€85) per hour depending on the ski school, experience, clients etc.
Ski Instructor pay in Switzerland
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 $62-70 per hour. In German-speaking Gstaad, a rookie instructor should expect to earn $45 per hour - and in French-speaking Villars, the starting rate is about $34 per hour (and if you're on the SnowSkool instructor internship programme in Switzerland then this is what you'll earn in those regions). Lots of students from our ski instructor course in France think Switzerland is the best option for them - if you can brush up on your French or German your CV will be super desirable.
Ski Instructor pay in Spain
Spain isn’t the first region you'd think of if someone asked you where ski instructors work. 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.
Ski Instructor pay in Andorra
The tiny Catalan-speaking nation in the Pyrenees has plenty of opportunities for ski instructors. However, like in 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.
Ski Instructor pay in Finland
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 $22 / $25 per hour.
If you get a season instructor post, the minimum salary will be about $20 per hour. And you'll have a 38-hour working week.
Ski Instructor pay in Norway
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 $8 and a bottle of the local brew more than $15! That all said, the mountains are stunning, and the people are lovely so you are sure to have a great season.
Ski Instructor pay in Austria
Austrian resorts pay a monthly salary that is guaranteed regardless of the demand for ski school lessons. Level 2 instructors should expect to earn $2550 per month, before tax, based on working 36 hours per week. That works out at around $20 per hour. However, if you've not qualified via the BASI or Landes systems it can be more difficult to find work as an instructor.
Ski Instructor pay in Sweden
The salary for a ski instructor in Sweden sits just below their Norwegian neighbours, and also Denmark. That said, ski instructing is a coveted and respected career in Sweden and the pay reflects that.
As with Norway, there are job opportunities for Level 1 and Level 2 equivalent instructors in Sweden, but most of the top dogs will hold an ISIA qualification or above.
Ski Instructor pay in Poland
Poland is becoming a popular ski destination due to the relatively low cost of living, easy access from within Europe, and the growing popularity of interesting new destinations that allow skiers and snowboarders to get away from the typically crowded French and Swiss Alps.
Instructors won’t earn as much here as in other European resorts but, with far lower living costs, they may actually have more spending and saving power. With at least a valid BASI Level 2 (or equivalent Level 2) you can apply to any ski/snowboard school in Poland.
Ski Instructor pay in the United Kingdom
In the UK opportunities to work outdoors, on snow, are mainly limited to the resorts in the Scottish Highlands, of which Glenshee is the most extensive with a respectable 36km of pistes. However, elsewhere there are hundreds of dry slopes and a rising number of indoor artificial pistes. You'll normally need a Level 2 qualification to work in the outdoor resorts, but a Level 1 will suffice on dry slopes and indoors.
Pay doesn't compare too badly with other regions but the conditions are far less predictable than the higher resorts in Europe, so hours aren't as guaranteed. Nonetheless, working in the UK can be a fairly comfortable way to gain experience before moving elsewhere.
Ski Instructor salaries in the Americas
The average ski instructor salary for those working in the Americas can differ quite widely, but on the whole, the job is less well paid here in comparison to equivalent European positions. If you’re in it for the experience (rather than the pay) picking this continent to start your skiing career could be a brilliant choice for you! In Canada and the USA, there is also the added bonus of tips, which adds a nice incentive to quality teaching.
Ski Instructor pay in the USA
Wages seem to differ between the resorts throughout America. On the east coast, the resorts in Vermont pay around $18-20 for a Level 1 instructor and $20-23 for a Level 2 instructor. In Aspen, instructors with the same qualifications can earn significantly more, beyond $45 per hour. Further west in the Californian resorts, the rates drop again a little to between $18 and $25. Again, many instructors’ seasons will stand or fall on the number of tips they receive, although it seems that tipping becomes less prevalent in recent years.
Ski Instructor pay in Canada
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 $15 per hour and a Level 2 instructor should expect $18 to $22 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.
Ski Instructor pay in Chile
Chile is an exciting new frontier for ski instructors looking to work in South America. And with a fairly high average salary (especially when compared with North America), great snow, unspoilt slopes, and the growing interest in emerging ski resorts around the world – it’s becoming an attractive option. Demand is increasing and so is the number of jobs becoming available.
Instructors looking to work here should note that Spanish-language skills are obligatory, though, not just desirable - and at least an L3 qualification is normally needed.
Ski Instructor salaries in Asia
Asia is a less common choice for skiers based in Europe, but if you’re interested in an opportunity to immerse yourself in a vibrant different culture this might be right up your street. Again, the rates over here are slightly lower than the average across many European countries, but there are a whole host of excellent comprehensive packages that include flights and accommodation.
Ski Instructor pay in China
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, visas, and daily meals. There’s not usually a 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 on 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 $2500 / $2750 per month.
BASI Level 3 (plus 3 seasons experience in Europe) - from $3000 / $3500 per month.
Beijing City + Ski Resorts
BASI Level 2 (plus 1 season’s experience) - $,1500 base salary + $25 per instructing day, including free flights, accommodation and visa.
Chongli Ski Resorts
BASI Level 3 ISIA (8 years teaching experience) - from 130CNY ($19pd if no work) and 260-325CNY ($38-$57) per hour, including paid accommodation.
Ski Instructor pay in Japan
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 $24 per hour and a Level 2 instructor, $29 per hour.
However, some Japanese resorts have been known to use a progressive payment system - like in Australia - where instructor pay increases by 5% for every 75 hours worked. Typically, starting rates are a bit lower under this arrangement, at $20-$22 per hour.
Ski instructor salaries in Australasia
When you think of skiing resorts Australasia might not be the first thing that springs to mind! While you might be conjuring up images of sun-kissed beaches, it’s useful to note that there are some exciting skiing opportunities here. The typical ski instructor pay for rookies in Australasia isn’t the best when compared to European rates, but as soon as you achieve your level 2 or higher qualification, you’ll see a positive increase.
Ski Instructor pay in Australia
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 $23 per hour. After 75 hours, this will increase to around $28 per hour and then increase dramatically to $45 per hour after 300 hours of logged work.
Ski Instructor pay in New Zealand
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 $15 per hour. Level 2 instructors fare a little better and should expect to earn $20-25 per hour.
Ski Instructor hours
The salary of a ski instructor can work out to $25,000 annually if they work solidly across a five-month period. You might think this requires stable slope conditions and good snowfall, and you would be right! That’s why it’s important to keep in mind that hours won’t always be consistent, despite your experience and intentions. For example, in France, 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 and many other factors. If the resort conditions aren’t up to par expect to see a slight decline in pay.
As we’ve seen, skiing teachers have the potential to be paid handsomely. Ski instructor pay in France, Switzerland and other affluent European countries are typically the highest at up to $75 per hour, followed by Spain, the USA and New Zealand where the average ski instructor salary is between $15 and $25 per hour. Trailing slightly behind are the UK and Poland which pay between $17 and $15.
Now, whichever country you’re keen to get teaching in, we’re sure to have the ski instructor course to cater to your needs and to help you along your journey to becoming an experienced teacher. We wish you luck!
- This data is a combination of ski seasons 18/19 and 19/20.
- For comparison, all figures are in $ USD, they are pre-tax and do not include tips.
- 'Experienced' is generally based on a Level 2 ski instructor qualification (via BASI, CSIA, NZSIA etc).
- 'Experienced' in France and Chile is slightly different (see becoming an instructor in France).
- 'Rookie' is generally based on a Level 1 ski instructor qualification (via BASI, CSIA, NZSIA etc).
- In general, you can apply the same to how much snowboard instructors get paid, or see our snowboard instructor salaries post here.
- We welcome your comments and own experiences - it will help us to update/put together a more detailed resource in the future!