We all have that friend who has been working as a Ski Instructor for years, constantly posting photos of fresh powder, good parties and breathtaking sunrises atop mountains. And we’ve all thought about doing the same. However, once you start to give it some real thought, it all seems quite complicated. From completing certifications to purchasing expensive equipment to finding the right ski school. The process of getting to your first lesson all seems rather daunting and stressful. If you ask your ski instructor friend how to best proceed, he’ll answer simply: “get your level 1, find a ski school and you’re all set!” However, most of us have no idea what the term Level 1 means, nor do we know how best to find a ski school. Here we will help you, step by step, to become a ski instructor.
Do I meet the requirements to become a Ski Instructor?
You don’t need to be a pro skier, be able to do any special tricks or bomb down a moguls run as if there’s no tomorrow. All you need is to be able to ski reasonably well. According to the Tirolean Ski Instructor Association that means: ski long and short turns down red slopes in a controlled manner. To work as a ski instructor is not only about performing perfectly carved turns and shredding short turns like Speedy Gonzalez. Interpersonal skills, confident demeanor as well as a sense of responsibility are all traits that are over often overlooked but essential to have a ski instructor.
Minimum age requirement: 16 years
- You can ski long and short turns
- You can ski red slopes comfortably and in control
- You have a good basic technique
- Open and confident demeanor
- Organizational skills
- You don’t shy away from responsibility
What equipment do I need and therefore need to pay for myself?
Normally, you will get a uniform from the ski school consisting of a jacket and pants. In many ski schools you will also get some extras like a softshell or fleece. In less common cases backpacks, first aid packs and helmets will also be provided. However, these will usually need to be returned at the end of the season. You will need to provide your own skis, boots, poles, goggles, gloves and (normally) a helmet and backpack.
- Backpack (suitable for skiing)
Which skis/boots are right for me?
To instruct you should use whatever ski you feel most comfortable on. Be aware that your skis need to cope with your varied every day ski life. They need to be appropriate for skiing on normal slopes but also suit if you go off-piste (during ski instructor training, off-piste runs after work, etc). Your ski boots are extremely important. Unlike those relaxed days that you ski around privately, when you work as a ski instructor you will have to work for hours on the mountain in all kinds of weather. A warm, but above all comfortable ski boot is vital for good days up on the mountain.
No Gaps allowed
To help you get started in the business, we would like to give you a well-intended piece of advice: the smaller the gap between your goggles and helmet, the more seriously you will be taken. We recommend a maximum gap of 0 mm.
How do I get qualified?
If you fit the above criteria and you are ready to invest in your equipment, sign up for the Level 1 course. The Level 1 (Anwärter) is the first level in the Austrian ski instructing certifications – followed by Level 2 (Landesskilehrer) and Level 3 (Staatliche Skilehrer). Level 1 courses are offered by all ski instructor associations in Austria. Prior to the winter season it should be no problem to find a suitable course for you. The course takes 9-10 days and there are also weekend course options.
There will be often be a suggested accommodation; however you can also find your own hotel or stay with a friend.
Here is an overview of the Level 1 course dates of the Tiroler Skilehrerverbands:
- 03.11. – 13.11.2018 in Mandarfen (Pitztal)
- Weekend course: 17.-18.11./ 23.-25.11./01.-02.12./06.-08.12.2018 in Sölden or Obergurgl – depending on snow
- Weekend course: 17.-18.11./ 23.-25.11./ 01.-02.12./ 07-09.12.2018 in Neustift – Stubaier Gletscher or Steinach – depending on snow
- Weekend course: 24.-25.11./ 30.11.-02.12./ 06.-10.12.2018 in Ehrwald/Zugspitze
- 03.12. – 12.12.2018 in Ischgl
Costs: approx. €660 including lift ticket or €1.520 including lift ticket and hotel with half board.
What is the Level 1 exam like?
The exams consists of practical, theoretical and teaching components.
In the practical exams you will need to demonstrate your technical ability. You will be examined on snowplow turns and stem christie (snowplow into parallel).
For the theory exam you will be tested on information provided in the various seminars in a written exam. The course material can be purchased at the courses. The teaching and examination language is German; however, some associations also offer courses in English.
During the teaching component you will need to give a mock lesson. The other course participants will play the role of the guests and you will be the ski instructor. The examiner will give you a hypothetical situation that you will have already covered during the course. In this part it is not so important how well you ski, rather your ability to stand in front of the group and express yourself confidently and skillfully, to demonstrate your class handling skills and to follow the previously learned methods and exercises, is what is important.
How do I find the right Ski School?
There are as many ski schools as days in the year so it shouldn’t be hard to find the right one. Prioritize. What is important for you? Would you like to be part of a large ski school that welcomes guests from all over the world. Or would you prefer it to be small and familiar in a modest ski area? Are good parties, pubs and clubs a high priority for you?
You can google different ski schools and hear from people who already work there. The examiners at the Level 1 course will be happy to help you find the right ski resort for you and will be able to give you information on the different ski schools.
How should I contact the Ski School?
Normally you will make contacts during the first course and will find out which Ski Schools are still looking for instructors. Ski Schools are almost always looking for fresh, motivated ski instructors, more often than not applications will be successful. Send in your application, attach a letter of motivation and you should hear from the Ski School soon!
Do I need to organize my own accommodation?
No. Most of the time the Ski School will provide accommodation at the cost of the instructor. One thing you should be aware of is: ski instructor accommodation is not known for it’s luxury. You will share an apartment or house with a lot of other instructors. Only rarely will you have a room to yourself.
How long is a season and do I have to work the whole winter?
The ski season normally starts in the beginning of December and can go all the way through until April. However, you don’t need to work for the whole time. Ski Schools are beyond grateful to have instructors during the peak times such as Christmas/New Year, February and Easter. This is why ski instructing is an awesome part-time job for students or local school kids during their holidays. In most cases you can make other arrangements by contacting your Ski School. If you only want to work during Christmas and Easter time or are only available on weekends, you will definitely be able to find a solution.
Do I need to buy my own lift ticket?
No, a lift ticket will be provided by the Ski School.
What guests will I teach as a Level 1?
That depends on you, the Ski School and the guests. If you are a very good skier and your ski school trusts you then you may be lucky enough to get good guests from the start. Normally, you will start with beginners or not very confident skiers. If you are the right kind of person, you will teach children a lot.
If we have sparked your interest for this wonderful profession but you still have questions, we are happy to help. Leave a comment or send us an email. Be warned though, there is a high chance that you too could be constantly posting pictures of fresh powder, good parties and breathtaking sunrises.