Training to Become a Ski Instructor
It takes lots of practice to be good at something. No skier can show up on their very first day and charge the hardest line on the mountain. Skiing is a sport that takes fine-tuning and dedication to become an expert. If you want to make a living as a ski instructor, you must be committed.
No matter what niche of the ski world you choose to pursue, you'll need to devote time and energy to master it. Ski instructors want to be able to make the perfect turn, get air in the park, hit the bumps, flow through the powder, or cruise through the trees. To do this and make it look natural and effortless, a ski instructor must understand the techniques, tactics, and dynamics of skiing.
The only way to do this is by training hard. Training takes place both on snow and off snow. It is a never-ending process because technology and tactics are always changing. To stay on top of the game, ski instructors must train regularly. It's part of their job.
Most ski schools offer superb in-house and on-mountain training, where ski instructors can learn about the sport and art of instructing from qualified members of their ski school. To become a professional ski instructor, you'll have to train and earn certifications from an internationally recognized organization like PSIA.
Ski Instructor Organizations
The main professional ski instructing organization in the United States is the Professional Ski Instructor Association (PSIA). PSIA is an internationally recognized organization that trains ski instructors in teaching methods, techniques, modern technology, and movements. Divided into 9 regional divisions, PSIA provides ski instructors with a nationally consistent ways to teach.
PSIA offers certifications and courses in several snowsport niches. Ski instructors can develop their skills focused on alpine, nordic (telemark and cross country), adaptive, freestyle, racing, or children. In 1996, PSIA began the American Association of Snowboard Instructors (AASI) to give snowboard instructors a legitimate certifying organization.
Many ski instructors stick to one skiing niche, while others diversify and learn about several different skiing niches. An instructor that branches out and is able to teach a variety of lessons is a true asset to any ski school.
Did You Know? The 9 divisions of PSIA are: Alaska, Central, Eastern, Intermountain, Northern Intermountain, Northern Rocky Mountain, Northwest, Rocky Mountain, and Western.
You don't need experience to be hired as a ski instructor, but you'll need certifications if you want to make ski instructing a career. Earning PSIA certifications shows that a ski instructor is a dedicated professional.
Guests who are shelling out hundreds of dollars for a private lesson, deserve someone who is committed to their career and is able to teach at the highest level.
In each instructing niche, there is a certification ladder that must be climbed to become the best. Instructors start by earning level 1, level 2, and level 3. Level 3 is considered full cert in the US. After level 3, ski instructors can become trainers, examiners, or demo team members. Certified instructors put in hours of training both indoors and on-snow and have gone through the stress of rigorous skiing and teaching exams. Certification is not an easy task.
Each level is challenging and it is quite common for instructors to fail multiple times before passing. This ensures that instructors meet a standard and are capable of movement analysis, instructing, and skiing at a desired level.
The best ski instructors are always training. PSIA offers continuing education for instructors to constantly improve. They also offer a website full of hot tips and a professional journal called 32 Degrees: The Journal of Professional Snowsports Instruction.
Every ski school wants certified, well-trained ski instructors on their staff. By meeting a national standard, ski instructors bring solid techniques, consistency, skill, and professionalism to the table. Having qualified instructors allows ski schools to sell a better lesson product and provides higher quality in-house training.
Career ski instructors must be certified. Certifications typically mean a bump in pay. An unqualified instructor may only make $9 per hour, while a certified instructor can make upwards of $30 per hour.
Ski instructors work so they can ski. Higher certification allows instructors to teach higher ability levels. A new hire instructor will spend lots of time on the bunny hill before they get to fine-tune a client's bump skiing or tweak a skier's line choice through some aspen trees.
Proper training and certification opens up international opportunities. Not many foreign ski schools will deal with getting a work visa for an uncertified new hire, but a fully certified, multi-talented instructor can work all over the world - Switzerland, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Chile, Argentina, Dubai, China, Sweden, Austria, Japan.
Not only does ski instructing allow you to travel the world and get paid to go skiing, it has the ability to turn ski instructing into a full time year round job opportunity. Many ski instructors chase the endless winter by spending the North American winters in the States and the North American summers in South America, New Zealand, or Australia.
PSIA is the professional organization for ski instructors in the United States, but each country has it's own association. The International Ski Instructors Association (ISIA) oversees ski instructing worldwide. If PSIA isn't the best option for you, try CSIA, BASI, APSI, NZSIA, or one of the many other training organizations.
Did You Know? PSIA offers members access to professional pricing from over 45 official suppliers such as Volkl, Yakima, GoPro, Patagonia, YakTrak, and Smith.
PSIA's official website is www.thesnowpros.org.
If you think you'd rather train with AASI than PSIA, then read on to learn about working as a snowboard instructor.
- Certification is the key to a ski instructing career.
- PSIA oversees ski instructors in the United States.
- Training and certification open up both year round and international opportunities.
- The best instructors are always training.