Working as a Snowboard Instructor
Snowboarding is an action packed sport that is becoming more popular every winter. People of all ages and from all over the world are hopping on a snowboard and learning how to ride the white powder. Anyone that has been on a snowboard will tell you that it's a blast - sliding rails, bonking features, weaving through trees, disappearing in powder, airing natural kickers, flying out of half pipes, flying down groomers, hucking cliffs, throwing tricks, riding switch, or grinding boxes. The mountain is a giant playground.
Do you daydream about snowboarding more than once a day? If so, you should seriously consider spending a winter working as a snowboard instructor. Snowboard instructors spend every day on their boards giving people tips and pointers about how to become better snowboarders.
There are not many jobs out there that pay you to actively do something you love. You even get to take a chairlift to work each morning. The views from your "office" aren't too shabby. Do you think you have what it takes to be a snowboard instructor? Let's take a look at the job in more detail...
Did you know? In 2000, snowboarding became the fastest growing sport in the US. It's only gotten much bigger since then.
The National Ski and Snowboard Retailers Association estimate that 1.7% of the US population snowboards.
Snowboarding is a thriving sport and there is lots of work for guest service oriented professional instructors. Every day is different as a snowboard instructor. Snowboarders teach both group lessons and private lessons. Guests may be expert riders or may never have seen snow before. Snowboarders come in all ages, shapes, and sizes An instructor may be responsible for a herd of 10 year old kids or spend the day cruising around with a young at heart baby boomer.
Snowboard instructors are role models who can ride well, teach well, and show people a good time safely. They need to be at home on their boards at all times - in the terrain park, on the groomers, in the bumps, on the off-piste, in the trees, and definitely on the bunny hill.
Teaching people how to snowboard and make sure they learn and improve is how a snowboard instructor finds success. Guests may need help with basic skills like stopping or getting up. Or they may need help with more developed skills like tipping, twisting, pivoting, or pressuring. Every lesson is designed, developed, and directed for an individual person. It's a talent to be able to read people's desires, fears, and abilities and create a personalized snowboarding experience.
If you want to apply to be a snowboard instructor, apply early. There are plenty of applicants out there. Get a solid resume with excellent references and work experience dealing with people. As with any job, be professional.
Obviously, you also need to be able to snowboard before you apply. Your riding doesn't have to be jaw dropping, but you need to be able to get down a blue run without any effort. Any good ski school will train you to teach.
Take advantage of any training that is offered. Snowboard instructors are always training to improve their movement analysis, riding, teaching techniques, and increase their bag of instructing tricks.
Training is important for any instructor who wants to work and be professional. It is key for any aspiring snowboard instructor.
Being able to fine tune some of the basic moves on a board and develop different teaching progressions is important. Snowboard instruction isn't always about throwing sick air, riding switch, and doing grabs. Most of the time snowboard instructors are teaching basic maneuvers like traverses, sideslips, falling leafs, and linked turns. After teaching the basics, it's time to explore a variety of terrain to apply what the guests learned.
Most ski and ride schools offer training for instructors on their days off. The best way for a snowboard instructor to show they are dedicated to being a professional is to train and earn certifications through the American Association of Snowboard Instructors (AASI). AASI is an internationally recognized professional organization that provides snowboard instructors with up to date info on techniques, equipment, styles, and other cool snowboard instructor stuff.
Snowboard Instructor Salary and Benefits
The biggest benefit of being a snowboard instructor is that you get paid to snowboard every day. Plus they may be able to sneak in a free run before work, during lunch, or at the end of the day. It's all about the riding.
Snowboard instructors may start out making only $8 per hour and sometimes work is scarce. Many instructors start out working several jobs. To be successful, snowboard instructors need to encourage guests to come back for more lessons, which increases their workload.
They also need to be certified. Certification increases your pay, your ability, and your knowledge of the sport. A fully certified, level 3 instructor can make upwards of $19 per hour, plus they are much more likely to get tipped. They may even get to instruct celebrities if they are lucky enough.
Many ski resorts will also supply snowboard instructors with a free season pass, health insurance, housing, food discounts, and other perks as part of the job. Be sure to look into what your ski resort offers you.
- Snowboard instructors get to ride everyday.
- AASI certification helps instructors earn more money and get more work.
- Snowboarding is a booming sport.
- A good instructor can become a good rider, but the opposite is not always true.
- Take advantage of any training because it makes you a better rider.
Did You Know? Members of AASI receive access to deals on over 45 official suppliers such as Anon, Burton, POC, Never Summer, RED, and Subaru.
Are you ready for a season of playing in the snow? Then read the next section to learn how to get hired at a ski resort...