How to become a ski or snowboard instructor

Today's post comes from Alenka Butturini of EA Ski & Snowboard Training, which specializes in training courses and internships for those interested in becoming a ski or snowboard instructor. Get the scoop below with Alenka's tips on how to become a ski or snowboard instructor. 

It’s no secret, that if you find yourself here, or have spent any amount of time around Lake Tahoe, you probably love the mountains. Perhaps it even runs in your veins. The mountain is your happy place, while a weekend skiing, snowboarding or exploring the backcountry is cloud nine. But then Monday rolls around, and it’s back to the office or classroom, as you work for the next ski weekend.

If this sounds like you, then a snow career may be calling your name. And what better job than getting paid to ski or snowboard, imparting your love for the mountains to others. So today I’m sharing five tips on how to become a ski or snowboard instructor.

5 tips to become a ski or snowboard instructor

Be committed

Simply put, you’ve got to be committed and put in the time, be it volunteering to put up ski school flags, shadowing an instructor or improving your skills. If you’re serious about becoming a ski or snowboard instructor, your commitment will make or break the opportunity. Ski movies typically only show the wild side of the ski instructor life, often characterized by partying all night or calling in sick on a powder day. However, you will only get out of it what you put into it. According to Eryn Cutler, managing director of EA Ski & Snowboard Training, “With more than 300 skiers and snowboarders going through the training program and into employment each winter, it's easy to identify the difference between what makes or breaks an instructor career.” As such, your opportunities will directly be affected by the work you put into it.

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Work and live in a ski town for a season

For a ski resort career, you really have to live and breathe the mountain. And there’s no better way to do this than by working at a ski resort and living in a ski town. First of all, it immerses you into the ski resort, showing you if a snow career is really for you. Plus, you’ll meet like-minded people, be it on the job, on the lift or at apres-ski, who may be your “in” to your next big ski resort job.

Get certified

To become a ski or snowboard instructor, you need to achieve a minimum of level 1 instructor qualification. To start this process, then look no further than the EA Ski & Snowboard training program operating at Northstar. The program provides interns with the opportunity to train on snow with top instructors and gain a respected qualification from an internationally recognized snow sport school. Think of instructor training like any other qualification, that there is a certain level of prestige that goes alongside certain educational institutions. Getting qualified at Northstar, or any of Vail Resorts' other locations, sets you up with a significant advantage when applying for instructor jobs around the world.

Find a job

Next, you’ll need experience to get a ski or snowboard instructor job. And you’ll need a job to get experience. An instructor internship program is one of the best ways to do this, guaranteeing your employment. However the future of your employment, including subsequent seasons, relies on your ability to work well within the wider snow sports school, commit to the position and be a positive influence in the team. If you are serious about being an instructor, the best asset is your attitude, towards customers, your employers and your colleagues. 

Continuing education

Completing an instructor internship, such as with EA Ski & Snowboard, will not only guarantee you a job offer at Northstar California, but also provide you with an internationally recognized PSIA-AASI certification. That way you’ll be able to work as an instructor worldwide. However, if you are eager to improve your riding and get more work, I’d recommend continuing your education with level 2 Instructors in the same season. Gaining this qualification will ensure you are higher up the instructor priority list, since many ski resorts have a points system based on experience and qualifications. Not to mention, you’ll get better lessons, since with level 2 you are off the beginner slopes and teaching on intermediate terrain. Plus, you'll enjoy a higher pay rate!

Ready to transition from learning how to become a ski or snowboard instructor to actually becoming one? Vail Resorts partners with only the top instructor training programs to offer a gateway to the ski instruction industry. If you are interested in becoming an instructor, download your instructor starter kit here for further details on how to get started.