Duties: Teaches fundamentals of skiing to individuals and groups at ski mountains and resorts
Alternate Title(s): Snowboard Instructor
Salary Range: $12 to $25.00 per hour and up
Best Geographical Location(s): Any U.S. location with ski mountains and resorts, including the West (Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, etc.) and Northeast (Vermont, Maine, etc.), as well as internationally
- Education and Training—No particular educational requirements, although many Ski Instructors are college students or graduates; extensive ski training
- Experience —Prior years of experience skiing and working with people
- Special Skills and Personality Traits — Excellent technical skiing skills; patience; good communication and interpersonal skills; teaching ability; sense of humour.
- Special Requirements — Ski Instructors may need to become certified by the Professional Ski Instructors of America
Ski Instructor Supervisor or Ski School Director
Ski Instructor Skier
- Do you have a passion for skiing? Is the idea of spending your work hours doing what you love appealing to you? Ski Instructors are typically longtime skiers who want to share their passion by teaching others this skill. Essentially, they get paid to train others in their hobby and vocation.
- Ski Instructors work at ski resorts and mountains teaching individuals and groups the fundamentals of skiing. They may begin at the lowest level: teaching children and beginners in groups. Ski Instructors work on techniques, drills, and basics with those who have not skied before, such as getting on and off a chairlift, stopping, and more.
- Advanced Ski Instructors work with more talented skiers, which give them the opportunity to ski the more varied and challenging terrain. They work with students on speed, moguls, jumps, and other advanced techniques.
- In addition to being expert skiers, Ski Instructors also need excellent interpersonal skills. Their objective is not only to teach people to ski, but also to enhance their overall resort experience and to ensure that they are having fun on the slopes and meeting their goals. Ski Instructors try to instill enjoyment and dispel fear. Like others in the hospitality industry, their ultimate goal is customer satisfaction with the services received.
- A typical workday for Ski Instructors might begin with setting up the instruction area with cones, ropes, and other teaching tools. Ski Instructors may spend time at the base of the mountain waiting for groups to begin. They can teach from four to eight hours per day, in combinations of group and private lessons.
- A day could end by attending clinics to help improve their teaching and technique. Frequently, Ski Instructors work six to seven days per week during the ski season, with hours that including early mornings.
- Creativity is required to devise lessons and teaching methods to fit the population. A good Ski Instructor can work with senior citizens, children, and young adults alike. Ski Instructors who work with children develop games and activities that are age-appropriate.
- Their job has more of a teaching/child care approach to it, while Ski Instructors who give private lessons to strong skiers gear their work toward advancing skills and technique. It is important for Ski Instructors to be flexible and able to adapt to the needs of different groups.
- Some instructors may specialize in snowboarding rather than skiing. Since less technique is required, more lesson time is devoted to learning the sport and having fun.
Additional duties may include:
- representing their resort at preseason shows, promotions, special events, or races
- serving as an ambassador for their mountain
- accompanying students on chairlifts
- dealing with emergency situations and calling for help if necessary
- training students on safety precautions
The work conditions for a Ski Instructor can be harsh, as they are out in very cold weather, often with high wind chill factors, snow, sleet, and/or strong sun. Ski Instructors need to be able to brave the elements and be comfortable with these factors. They typically dress in the ski attire required by their mountain, for example, each Ski Instructor might wear the same red jacket.
Ski Instructors may work part-time or full-time, and their work is seasonal. Many ski resorts operate for about five to six months of the year, from November to March or April. Some Ski Instructors are college students who work during their school breaks or days off, as well as recent graduates taking some time off before entering the “real world.”
Others work in the adventure travel industry, as Ski Instructors during the winter and white-water rafting guides during the summer. Yet others are professional career Ski Instructors who love the work and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Nothing beats the experience of going to work each day and it not feeling like work.