The Season Workers Guide: Common Ski Instructor Course Misunderstandings

This is the first in a series of help articles for anyone considering a ski instructor course as part of a gap year or new career. The series is brought to you in conjunction with Educating Adventures, a leading snow sports training organisation.

Can a Training Organisation Get Me a Job?

This is often a common misunderstanding. Completing a ski or snowboard training program and obtaining a teaching certificate does not guarantee you will gain a job as an instructor. Many resorts require practical experience, and in some cases the particular qualification you obtain may not be held in high regard by the resort you are looking to obtain work at. Some training organisations state they will be able to get you a job in the industry after completing their course. Unfortunately, this is not always true because the critical factor in obtaining instructional work is practical experience. Always check the details of claims made to this effect by training organisations.

Are the qualifications the same between trainers?

No, not all qualifications are made equal. The following table shows equivalency of some of the world’s most well known ski and snowboard instructor qualifications. If you are looking to establish a career in the ski & snowboard industry we recommend you aim to obtain an ‘Intermediate’ level instructional certificate. This will improve your chances of international employment greatly.

The International Ski Instructors Association (ISIA) is the world body for professional ski instructors. The following table shows the level required to become a member of the ISIA. In general it takes a minimum of three years training and teaching to reach this, which is the highest possible level.

Country Ski
Organisation
Snowboard
Organisation
Highest ISIA Equivt Intermed Entry
New Zealand NZSIA NZSIA Trainer Level II Level I Level I
USA PSIA AASI Examiner Level III Level II Level I
Great Britain BASI BASI Diploma Teacher Level II Level I
Australia APSI APSI Trainer Level III Level II Level I
Argentina AADIDE AADIDE Trainer Level III Level II Level I
Canada CSIA CASI Level IV Level III Level II Level I

Am I guaranteed to pass?

Through most well operated training programs the chances of passing are high - but there is no guarantee you will pass an instructional exam. In some cases you will be able to sit an ‘amateur level accreditation’ which is easier than an exam. Those on shorter courses should enquire regarding the availability of this option; this will ensure you can still obtain a certifi cate to show you have gained valuable skills. Another way to guarantee success is to choose an internship program that offers training and instructional employment over the full season. Then if you do not pass the exam the first time you can re-take it later in the season when you have more experience.

Is prior experience a big deal?

Your prior experience will determine how easy or hard it will be for you to pass the skiing or snowboarding portion of an instructional exam. However, this is only one part of becoming a successful instructor. Most entry level instructor qualifi cations place a greater emphasis on a candidate’s ability to ‘teach’ others. For those with good interpersonal skills and an outgoing nature this is easy! If you have never skied or snowboarded before we recommend taking part in a full season training or internship program. With a full season training program this gives you greater time for success. With an internship program if you do not pass the exam the fi rst time you can re-take it later in the season when you have more experience.

What about the quality of the training?

It is essential that the training you receive is going to set you up to reach your goals. If your goals include passing an instructional exam, then trainers who are certifi ed to examine will be best suited to train you. It is crucial that your trainers are experienced in training and examining under the same ski or snowboard organisation in which you will be sitting the exam (refer qualifi cations table above). The best way to ensure the training you receive will be to the standard you require is to ask questions of the training provider such as “will the trainers be certifi ed to examine for the same certifi cate I am hoping to obtain?” and “how many training hours or days per week will there be?”.

All these programs seem expensive - are they all like that?

No, not all programs are expensive. The price you can pay to go through a training program can vary a great deal. While some are very expensive you can pay as little as $500 / £300 for a short improvement course. There is a great deal of variety when it comes to the price you pay. When comparing programs it is important that you look at what is included. Things to consider when choosing a program include:

  • Accommodation, including the standard and location
  • Transport to and from the mountain (if required)
  • How many training days there will be per week
  • Lift passes and whether a season pass is included
  • Exam costs including affiliations to the national organisation
  • Flight costs and any required domestic transfers
  • The opportunity to earn money during the course

Sources Of Information on doing a Ski Instructor Course

Ski Instructor Course Listings

Ski Patroller Training Programme

With: Winter Sports Company

Ski Instructor Internship

With: Alltracks Academy

Zermatt Ski Instructor Course

With: Subzero Coaching

BASI Ski Instructor Course - Tignes, France

With: Winter Sports Company

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