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Work Life as a Ski Instructor

instructing ski lessons

Once you have qualified to BASI Level 2, you can teach in many resorts around the world including Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Depending where you work will determine how much you earn and how much work you are allocated. Every school has a different system which they use to decide on the allocation of work. Generally, the higher qualified instructors and those with their own clients will be given priority for work. During your first season, you can expect to work full time in busy holiday times such as Christmas, Half Term and Easter and then part time for the rest of the season.

In Verbier, a newly qualified instructor with no experience can earn around CHF 20. Once ISIA qualified (BASI Level 3) wages increase to around CHF 34. With an ISTD (BASI Level 4) or Swiss Patente qualification, you can potentially earn in excess of CHF 50!

Ski instructor training

If you are willing to put in the training and effort, you can easily progress through the BASI system and reach a higher qualification. Everyone is different, however on average it takes 2 seasons to complete all the Level 3 (ISIA) modules.

When it comes to training, there are many different options nowadays. You can train whilst working full time and develop your skills with friends or you can decide to work part time and train part time with professionals. On the market these days, there are many ISIA and ISTD training courses. Some offer just the training and some offer a part time job and part time training. This is an ideal way to progress as you gain the teaching experience but also develop your own skills.

Pre season training is also a great way to prepare as you have a solid block of pure training without having to break it up with work.

Cost of a ski season

Ski instructing isn’t the cheapest profession to go into; however, what other job means once you are qualified, you can work in the mountains, ski all day and get paid?

Many choose a gap course to gain the first two levels of qualification, however if you wanted a cheaper option, it is now possible to take your Level 1 on an indoor slope in the UK. You can also complete your required 70 shadowing hours in the UK and then head to the Alps to take your Level 2.

(For individual exam prices see www.basi.org.uk however it is approx £400 for the Level 1 and £550 for the Level 2. Gap Courses are in excess of £7000.)

When progressing higher, there are many more modules within the Level 3 and 4 and therefore you have many more exams to pay for. You also have to remember that you will need accommodation, travel to the course and for most courses a lift pass. You may also require professional training to get you to the required level for Level 3 and 4 exams.

If you start from Level 1 and want to get the top, you are probably looking at spending £15,000 – £20,000 if you go through the gap course option.

Seasonnaires accommodation

When working for the season, one of the things you need to sort before your arrival is your accommodation. The cheapest way to find accommodation is to get 4/6 of you to share a 2/3 bedroom place. It means sharing a room but is a fun way to live and means it is slightly cheaper than when looking on your own.

Some resorts, particularly in the states, will provide the accommodation for you however for Europe you need to find your own.

Ski school clients

The client base you will teach depends on your experience and qualification and where you are working. Most Level 2 qualified will be teaching clients up to intermediate level.

As you progress, you will find you gradually teach higher levels.

Social life in ski resort

The social aspect of ski instructing is probably what attracted almost in the industry to start with! Work finishes at 4 and you head to Après Ski if you want! There are also often promo nights during the week for seasonnaire’s and also fancy dress nights throughout the season. A common favourite is Mardi Gras! This is hugely celebrated in the Alps and involves dressing up!

So…..here is the insight to the life of a ski instructor! If you want any more advice, please don’t hesitate to contact the Altitude Team and remember a bad day on the piste is still better than a good day in the office!

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