Amy Wardman

Job title Ski Instructor

Employer New Generation Ski School, Switzerland

Live the dream as a ski instructor

Meet people, love your job and take in some stunning views while you’re at it by working as a ski instructor, says Amy Wardman

Skiing instruction, sounds like a sociable job?

Very simply, ski instructing is about helping people improve their skills on the snow. The key is to find out what clients want to achieve, keep them safe and make sure they’re enjoying themselves. Once those boxes are ticked then the learning will follow! It’s a perfect job for those who are sociable and friendly, enjoy working with people and have a passion for skiing, the mountains and snow.

Is it hard work? Take us through a typical day...

A day in a life of a ski instructor usually starts with a coffee with other instructors and squeezing into a (hopefully) warm and dry pair of boots. Depending on the ski school you work for you may have your first clients for two hours, a morning or a full day. You may have several different sets of clients in a day and this requires planning and good time management (especially if you only have a short time between each client). Lunch can consist of anything from a quick sandwich, to lunch with a fellow instructor or, if you’re lucky, a nice steak courtesy of the client! Maximum teaching hours are usually 6-8 hours per day but you may find your day sometime involves socialising with clients after the lifts close. Day-on-day and week-on-week your schedule changes as you may be on groups/private lessons/request work and a good ski school usually tries to keep this varied for instructors.

Sounds too goo to be true!

You do get to meet a lot of people and the environment you get to work in is awesome. No two days are the same.

What about the weather?

You have to work whatever the weather, and the work is seasonal (which can be a good or a bad thing depending on how you look at it!). ALSO, More often than not you’re self-employed so if you get injured, you don’t earn.

What qualifications do you need?

There are 4 Levels of Qualification within the BASI Pathway: • Level 1: Qualifies you to work at an indoor snow slope or on a dry slope • Level 2: Qualifies you to work in a mountain environment from beginners to intermediates across many countries internationally • Level 3: You achieve the internationally accredited ISIA (International Ski Instructors Association) allowing you to teach all levels (not including off-piste) • Level 4: You achieve the ISTD (International Ski Teaching Diploma). This is the highest possible level and allows you to teach in France amongst other options

Is that a lengthy process?

To put it into perspective, it can take 4-7 years (sometimes longer) to achieve the BASI Level 4, whereas it is possible to achieve the BASI Level 1 and 2 in a season (see BASI website for details). BASI is currently working with Edinburgh University to align all BASI snowsports qualifications to the Scottish Credit & Qualifications Framework (SCQA). Currently all BASI Disciplines from Level 1 to Level 2 have achieved SCQF credits and work continues on Level 3 and Level 4 qualifications. Setting off on the BASI Qualification pathway also provides you with an opportunity to develop other valuable skills like communication and presentation skills. These are great confidence builders and valuable no matter where your career path takes you.

Did you gain any other experience?

I did. I recommend you try and learn from current ski instructors. Go and talk to instructors at ski slopes near you and ask them if they think you’re at the level required to become an instructor. Many ski schools will also allow you to ‘Shadow’ instructors, giving you the chance to sample the job. Learn another language. There is no doubt that working overseas presents the perfect chance to learn a second language. Having more than one language gives you an advantage over everyone else. Teach everyone! Take opportunities to teach everyone from kids to adults to those with learning disabilities or physical disabilities.

What can you earn as a ski instructor?

Salaries vary greatly depending on what level of qualification you hold and where you choose to work but as a rough guide: Level 1 and 2 Qualified Salary: £7-15 per hour Level 3 (ISIA) Qualified Salary: £15-25 per hour Level 4 (ISTD) Qualified Salary: £25-50 per hour The BASI Facebook page has a forum where BASI advertises jobs for snowsports instructors all over the world. It will give you an idea of where you can work and what salaries are being offered.