Becoming a qualified ski instructor is arguably the best job you can get in the mountains as you spend most of your days on the slopes! You do not have to be the best most advanced skier out there to become a ski instructor. Being intermediate level - meaning confident parallel runs on green, blue, and red slopes will usually see you through the first level of instructing.
The first thing you will need to do is research the different ways into becoming an instructor, there are a few different governing bodies out there with different routes. The big main three of these being BASI (British Association of Snow Sports Instructors), CSIA (Canadian Ski Instructors' Alliance) and NZSIA (New Zealand Snow Sports Instructors' Alliance).
To become a ski instructor, there are no initial qualifications needed or entry requirements other than an adequate level of skiing experience and a minimum age of 16.
The first thing to think about is which country you would like to become an instructor in, as different countries ask for different levels and styles of qualifications. It will also help your instructing career if you can speak more than one language, it is never too late to become bilingual, and some countries require you to teach in the country's own language.
Once you have chosen where you would like to instruct, it is time to get booked onto an instructing course relevant to where you want to teach, there are plenty of options for these courses. There are some useful links at the bottom of this page for recommended training companies.
Once you have gained the relevant qualifications and training hours, you can start applying to your chosen country's ski schools. Once you have found work with a ski school, they will support you through your further training and climbing up the ranks.
Most bodies and training courses/companies will be registered to the ISIA, (International Ski Instructor Association) who make sure there is consistency in each country's qualifications. This also means that instructors can transfer their qualifications to continue training under a different body.
There are also now calls for English speaking instructors in Japan and China which would obviously be an incredible experience. Instructing in France is a hard path to go down, you will need to be able to speak and teach in French and have pretty much the highest levels of qualifications. Instructing in France would perhaps be in your 5-10-year plan, not straight away after your first course!
The ski qualification pathway is essentially broken down into four levels and each level earns you credentials on where and how you can teach. Please see below details on these:
This is the first step on the route to becoming a highly qualified ski instructor. Once you have this qualification you can teach others to a basic level on dry ski slopes and indoor ski domes.
This is a big jump from level 1 and gaining the qualification will take much longer, however it does open a lot more doors allowing you to teach part-time or seasonal in the mountains.
Level three is usually gained after hundreds of hours of teaching experience and a lot of extreme training; however, it is incredibly rewarding allowing you to teach advanced skiers as a full-time international instructor.
This is incredibly hard to achieve, and you will only be getting to this stage if ski instructing is going to be your career path, you will be highly regarded as one of the best instructors on the mountain and will be able to instruct all levels of skiers and teach on instructor courses.
Highly recommended ski instructor training companies are:
To become a ski instructor, you have to complete one of the many ski instructor courses. There are many different ski instructor bodies – from the Anwärter in Austria to CSIA (Canadian Ski Instructors Association).
It varies on ability and the course but to pass a level 1 in CSIA some people have done it in less than 7 weeks of skiing however this would be with training from top-level ski instructor professionals for 4 days a week of those 7 weeks.
Again this varies on the course and if you were to need instruction to get you to a level where you could pass the course however you can pay to enter the course. At time of writing the Level 1 Certification in CSIA is $425.
If you’re at the skiing ability to pass the exam, you can pay for the Alpine level 1 full package. It costs $945 and includes 3 days of teaching training and everything else you will need to pass the course.
You will need to gain an ISIA recognised ski instructor qualification - the bodies that are recognised are BASI, CSIA, CASI, PSIA and NZSIA. Ski instructor employment in Japan is highly sought after, and you would more than likely need a level 2 in one of these qualifications. Alternatively, you can pay for an internship programme to learn to be a ski instructor who promises employment after the competition.
Level 1 ski instructor qualification is the most basic and doesn’t require an elite ski level to complete it. You can pay for a level 1 course in any of the main ski instructor bodies which includes training you on the teaching side of things and tips to improve your skiing.