Ski Instructors Have Fun & Rewarding Jobs
Ski instructing is the ultimate on-snow job. You get paid to go skiing. Ski instructors spend the day sliding around teaching people how to improve their skiing.
As a ski instructor, no two days are the same. One day you may be on the bunny hill teaching a group of 7 and 8 year olds how to turn. The next day you may cruise the groomers with businessmen from Texas. Another day you may dodge trees and huck cliffs with a group of daredevil teenagers. Sometimes you might destroy double diamond bump runs all days or explore the blue runs on the mountains with a private lesson. Instructing is all about what the guest wants and creating a customized lesson to fit.
Ski instructors wear many hats - instructors, friends, slope tour guides, role models, and of course, skiers. They get paid very well for the ski industry and it's not uncommon to get a healthy handshake with a fat tip for a job well done in this guest service industry.
Let's take an in-depth look at the job of a ski instructor...
Ski instructors have three main responsibilities - Safety, Fun, and Learning. It is up to a ski instructor to dictate what is safe and what is not safe. For example a beginning skier shouldn't straight line a bump run until they learn the necessary skills to do so. This may mean putting your foot down with demanding clients.
It is important to make things fun. If someone enjoys skiing, they are more likely to return for more lessons. Ski instructing depends on repeat business. In fact much of ski instructing is building your clientele and then you are essentially managing your own schedule because of great service and good skiing.
Lastly, no ski instructor will be successful if they don't know how to teach skiing. It's the bread and butter of the industry. Having a big bag of tricks to improve how people tip, turn, pressure, and balance on their skis is key. People want to improve and that's what ski instruction provides.
Instructor Job Requirements
You can't be a ski instructor if you can't ski. Skiing is what you will be doing everyday, but you don't have to be the world's best skier. Most ski schools hire instructors because they can teach skiing and because they are good with people.
Personalizing each lesson is a necessary skill. People learn differently and enjoy different things - an investment banker won't relate to the same drills as a sci-fi geek. This is an especially important skill to master because you will be working with groups, private lessons, and a variety of ages.
Most ski instructors have to pay their dues by spending a lot of time on the bunny slope teaching beginners "pizza" and "french fries" before they get paid to slay powder, rip bumps, carve corduroy, or kill trees.
Put in your time and train. Before you know it, you'll be getting paid to do the same thing you do on your day off.
Ski instructors can work part time or full time. Most resorts require all ski instructors to be available for work during the busy holidays - Christmas, Presidents Weekend, and Spring Break. It may be hard to work 20 days straight during these times, but it's worth it during the slow times when you get free ski more.
No one is an amazing ski instructor when they are first hired. Instructing is a skill that is learned. Ski instructors are always training to be better. They are always learning about equipment, terrain, movements, tricks and tips, safety, and teaching tactics.
Larger ski schools like those at Vail, Aspen, Steamboat, Deer Valley, or Jackson Hole have a deep pool of career ski instructors that help teach newbies the tricks of the trade. In house training takes place regularly at larger ski schools both indoors and on-snow. The more training you do, the better you will become and the more work your supervisors will send your way.
In-house training helps prepare ski instructors for certifications in different disciplines like alpine, nordic, children, or adaptive through the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA). Certification helps ensure guests receive consistent teaching styles and techniques nationwide. Certifications make a ski instructor a desired asset and gets him better work and higher pay. They also open doors for international work and endless winters.
Did you know? There are 30,000+ PSIA-AASI certified instructors.
Ski Instructor Salary and Benefits
Ski instructing is one of the better paying ski industry careers. Pay depends on where you work, your clientele, and certification. An instructor in Vail, Colorado will make more than an instructor at Beech Mountain, North Carolina. Ski instructors with private clients typically earn more than an instructor teaching group lessons. A veteran certified instructor usually makes more than a new hire.
On average ski instructors starting wage may be $9 per hour. After logging a few seasons, a qualified, professional ski instructor can make upwards of $30 per hour. An instructor that is focused and career oriented can make over $300 a day with tips.
The pay is superb for sliding around on snow, but it is also important to look into what benefits a resort offers. Almost everywhere, a ski instructor will receive a free ski pass for being employed on the mountain. The larger resorts also offer excellent health insurance, dental insurance, subsidized housing, affordable dining, bus passes, and much more.
Did you know? In this guest service industry, it's not uncommon for ski instructors to earn big tips.
- Ski instructors teach both group and private lessons.
- Ski instructing is often one of the better paying gigs in the ski industry.
- Training and certifications are keys to be a successful instructor.
- Plan to teach lots of beginners before you teach experts.
If you want to work as a ski instructor, the next page will teach you about ski instructor training...