There are 37 states with ski resorts. That provides a lot of opportunities
for ski and snowboard instructors to take their careers downhill. And for
a snow pro, that's a good thing!
Many ski resorts provide pre-season training of their own teaching staff. So
a good way to get training is to get a job.
"For instructors that do not have any training, we have them go through
a three-day hiring college at the beginning of the season," explains Nicholas
Herrin. He is the assistant director of a ski and snowboard school in Colorado.
"In that three-day course they will have the opportunity to work on their
personal skiing, learn teaching progressions, as well as have practice teaching
in front of their peers," says Herrin.
You can also enroll in a ski or snowboard school for teacher training.
That's a good option if you are new to the hills.
"We look for applicants with a strong interest in skiing or snowboarding.
Beginner to advanced level skiers and snowboarders can participate," says
Jonathon Beckingsale. He is the director of an education and adventure tourism
company in Lake Tahoe.
It takes more than just a love of powder to make a good ski or snowboard
"Other qualities that we look for are communication skills and athletic
ability," says Garett Shore. He is the director of a ski school in Keystone,
Once you begin teaching, you may decide to become certified.
"Throughout the season we encourage all instructors to continue their training
by attending Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) and American
Association of Snowboard Instructors (AASI) certification courses," says
The PSIA offers four levels of certification in Nordic, Alpine and Adaptive
skiing disciplines. The AASI also offers four levels of certification. To
become certified you will be judged on your own skiing or riding, experience
teaching, and how well you know and apply knowledge from their manual.
Each program is only about four or five days. But most people will take
the programs over the course of several years. It is not possible to
take all the courses at once, as your skills will need time to improve to
move from one level to the next.
"Passion, dedication, love of the sport, communication, empathy, creativity,
patience, a sense of responsibility, organization, safety awareness, a fun
personality, street sense, anticipation and much more are only few of the
qualities required to start teaching," says Michel Lamothe. He is the chief
executive officer of ski instructors' association.
To prepare for a job as an instructor, you need to stay in great shape
and you might want to volunteer in a teaching environment.
"Great examples would be coaching soccer or another youth program or working
at a local community center," says Herrin.
First aid training is a good idea. Speaking another language is an asset.
A well-rounded variety of high school courses will help you out.
"It is important to be able to socialize with guests on many different
subjects. There is a lot of time spent on chair lifts," advises Herrin.
"Educational and business background and related work experience will often
complete the portfolio of the pro and no doubt helps," says Lamothe.
There might be additional costs for travel to the slopes, insurance, lift
passes, clothing and equipment. A uniform may be provided by the ski resort.
Occupational Outlook HandbookFor information related to this field of study, see: Athletes,
Coaches, Umpires and Related Workers
Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA)Resources for snow sports and teaching
American Association of Snowboard Instructors (AASI)Resources and education for boarders