To become a ski instructor, the first qualification you will need is a Level 1 ski instructor qualification. Once you have the qualification, you are slightly limited with where you can teach, but it is the first step on the route to becoming an internationally-recognised snowsports teacher. The course aims to provide you with the information and skills that will enable you to instruct other skiers to a basic level on dry ski slopes and at indoor ski slopes.
The Level 2 ski instructor qualification is next and will take more training and practice. Once achieved, this is the tipping point in your career and will open doors to pretty much any mountain in the world! The Level 2 develops your ability to analyse and improve others’ skiing, and give feedback, but it is also focused on improving your skiing as well as your teaching.
The Level 3 ski instructor qualification is usually attempted after a couple of seasons teaching and riding experience. It’s a whole different kettle of fish and things start to get pretty serious! Once achieved, you will be regarded as a highly-skilled expert. It also allows you to earn a bit more per hour than the Level 2 rate, as ski instructor pay is closely linked to qualification level.
The fourth and final step on this particular ladder, is the Level 4 ski instructor qualification (or the trainers (examiners) certification). Level 4 is by far the most challenging and only for the most experienced ski instructors. It takes years to qualify. At this point, snowsports is probably your fully-fledged career choice. You will be regarded as the best in the business; an elite instructor with skills to match.
*To work in France, you will need additional qualifications. Some level 1 qualifications will let you work elsewhere in the world, like Japan, dependant on working visas.
Do I need academic qualifications to qualify for a ski instructor course?
Ski instructing attracts people from all walks of life but academic qualifications aren’t part of the criteria for starting a course. The prerequisites for the Level 1 are mainly age-based: you’ll need to be at least 16 years old.
How good at skiing do I have to be?
Your skiing ability is also important but not quite as advanced as you'd think. To begin with you'll need to be be able to control speed and maintain parallel turns on blue runs. Bear in mind developing your skiing level is also one of the aims of a course.
Who provides the qualifications?
Some of the big names in the game are BASI (British Association of Snow Sports Instructors), CSIA (Canadian Ski Instructors' Alliance) and NZSIA (New Zealand Snow Sports Instructors' Alliance).
These governing bodies oversee the training and qualifying of instructors. They make sure candidates meet the requisite skill level to qualify as an instructor. Each governing body has a slightly different style, but all are constantly researching new techniques and skills, with the aim of being known as the best in the business! All are technically equal but, within Europe, BASI has a particularly strong reputation.
The governing bodies all enter an annual event called Interksi, an event where the best instructors from around the world can show off their skills, techniques, and training tips - in an effort to share teaching methods and obviously show off a little!
How do I get the qualifications to be a ski instructor?
The Level 1 and 2 can usually be obtained within a season. One of the most popular routes people take is throught an instructor training course. This involves being at a resort for 11-13 weeks with a group of like-minded people, all working towards the same goal. You'll qualify for your Level 1 first, then move on to tackle Level 2 on the same course. An organised ski instructor course from a company such as SnowSkool typically includes:
Season lift pass
Tuition from Level 3 or above
It’s an inclusive package designed to give you the best chance possible of obtaining your ski instructor qualification. And once you’re hopefully qualified to Level 2, you can go on to teach skiing all over the world.
How do I get a job after I’ve got my qualification?
Most mountain resorts are looking for instructors each season. It's all about being proactive and getting as many applications out as possible. We recommend you start at the smaller ski hills/resorts to gain some teaching experience, build your confidence and develop your CV. Rookie instructors may find it harder to get more hours of work at the bigger ski hills, as the more experienced and established instructors tend to be based there.
Once you’ve proved you can successfully teach for a season, you can turn your gaze to the bigger and busier ski hills! Let’s face it, waking up and skiing everyday is already better than sitting in an office Monday-Friday, 9-5... any ski resort is better than no ski resort!
Here's a bit more from SnowSkool on finding work as a ski instructor.
How do I get started with a course?
SnowSkool can help with that! Here are links to our Level 2 ski and snowboard instructor courses in Canada, France, and New Zealand:
Paid Ski Instructor Internships are also available in Austria and Switzerland.
And if you’d like a bit more info you can get in touch on the form below, or start a live chat if we’re around, we're happy to chat through your options.