How to Become a Ski Instructor

Two Parts:Understanding the RequirementsFinding a School and Improving Your Skills

You don't have to be a champion skier in order to become a ski instructor. All you need is a love for the outdoors, a passion for the sport, and patience. Many of the best ski instructors are those that may have struggled with some of the more complex moves, as they have the empathy needed to teach others. Ski instructing also comes with perks such as free or discounted lift tickets and discounts on clothes and equipment.

Part 1
Understanding the Requirements

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    Research the requirements in your country of interest. Different countries have different governing bodies for their ski instructors, which means that different countries have different certifications. Therefore, you will need to find out which organization governs certification where you would like to teach.[1]
    • Most of the organizations responsible for governance of snow sports training are members of the International Ski Instructors Association (ISIA), the worldwide association for ski instructors, which determines minimum standards for ski instructor certification.[2] Before signing up for a ski course, make sure the governing body of the country where your course will take place is a member of ISIA in order to be certain you will obtain a valid qualification.
    • It would be wise to obtain your certification in the country where you would like to teach; however, some countries will allow you to teach with certifications from other countries.
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    Decide which type of skiing you would like to teach. There are several types of skiing, including adaptive alpine skiing, alpine skiing, cross country skiing, and telemark skiing. You can also specialize in children’s skiing or freestyle skiing.[3] Make sure that you find a course that will allow you to learn how to instruct the specific type you are interested in.
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    Decide what level of certification you would like to achieve. Although the names and levels of certification may vary by country, generally speaking, they are more or less similar. You may decide later on to continue to higher levels of certification, but it is good to have an ultimate goal in mind as this may change your career opportunities.
    • For example, in the USA, the levels of certification include: “Registered”, “Level I”, “Level II”, and “Level III”[4]
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    Prepare to become a registered member. As a registered member, you are not certified to teach. Instead, you will be learning more about what it means to be an instructor as well as the fundamentals of skiing. At this point, there is no examination, and you do not need to do any special training (although you should be practicing and improving your own skills). You simply have to register with the body that governs skiing instruction in your country; in this case, the PSIA-AASI.
    • During this time, you should attend training seminars in your area to understand what your country expects from a certified ski instructor. Understand that is your responsibility to initiate training during this time.[5]
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    Prepare to become a Level I ski instructor. As a level I certified ski instructor, you will be allowed to teach beginning and novice skiers. In order to earn a level 1 certification you must be able to demonstrate a basic knowledge of the sport and know how to interpret the snow as it pertains to teaching. They can typically only teach on groomed runs.[6]
    • During this time, you should spend time reading and studying to understand different techniques used in skiing, as well as how to teach them. You can also spend time instructing others in order to put into use what you are studying.[7] You can also attend seminars, discuss what you’re learning with other instructors, and watching videos about skiing.
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    Train to become a Level II instructor. To get to level two, you are required to demonstrate your ability to teach clientele proper ski technique and how to choose appropriate ski technique. For this certification, you must pass a three day exam. Level II instructors are also able to teach nearly all clientele in many different conditions[8]
    • For this level, you will also likely need to attend an on-slope training and assessment course that will last at least two days. Depending on your country, you may also have on-line or in-person learning modules that you will need to complete.[9]
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    Train to become a Level III instructor. This is the highest certification level. In order to become a level III instructor, you must be an expert skier and must also pass a four day process of certification. Only 10-20% of candidates are able to successfully complete this certification.[10]

Part 2
Finding a School and Improving Your Skills

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    Find a school that can train you to become an instructor. There are a myriad of choices when it comes to schools for ski instructors. These schools are located all over the world, but it is probably best to choose a school in the country where you would like to teach. Begin by searching online using the terms: “ski instructor school” plus the country where you want to learn. If you know other ski instructors you can ask them if they have any recommendations for good schools as well.
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    Research a few chosen schools carefully. Training courses can be very time consuming and expensive. Before committing to a school, take the time to find out the details of your school.
    • The best way to do this is to call the school or arrange an appointment to find out what kinds of certification they offer, whether the certification will be recognized by the governing body of the country, and if they will help you find a job.
    • You can also ask if they provide equipment for their courses, if they provide accommodations, how much time you will spend on the slopes, etc.
    • You should also look for reviews of the school online. If you know any former students of the school, ask them to tell you about their experience.
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    Sign up for a lesson from a professional ski instructor. Although this is not required, it is probably a good idea to take a lesson (from a Level III instructor if at all possible), especially if you have not skied in awhile. Even if you are an expert skier, it certainly won’t hurt to have a refresher lesson, especially since you may have forgotten some of the more fundamental aspects of skiing.
    • Taking a class will also give you a better idea of the job of a ski instructor and the opportunity to observe different styles of ski instruction. You will need to adjust your training style depending upon the capabilities and personalities of your customers.
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    Practice your skiing skills. Although you do not need to be an expert to be a ski instructor, you need to be a high intermediate skier. Many people take ski lessons to advance their skills beyond those of a beginning skier. Learn and perfect a couple of complex moves that you can teach your customers. This will also help in attracting and keeping your clientele.
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    Enroll in the course of your chosen school. If the school is not local for you, make sure you have arranged transportation to the course as well as a place to stay during the course.
    • Ensure that you have submitted all of the proper paperwork and paid all of the required fees.
    • If the school does not provide equipment, make sure you have arranged equipment rental or that you will be able to bring your own equipment with you on your train, plane, or bus (if you are using public transport).
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    Apply for a job as a ski instructor. It is best to do this during the summer months, as ski resorts want to be fully staffed by the first snowfall. There is usually not a predetermined opening date for ski resorts, as the weather cannot be accurately predicted that far in advance. Keep in mind when applying for jobs that the best paying positions will be given to applicants with the highest level of certification. As your teaching experience and certification level improves so will your pay.
    • If you have a hard time finding work, consider an internship. Though these may not pay well (or at all), they offer a good way to get some experience, which can pave the way to a job.
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    Keep current on the latest ski methods. Trends are constantly changing so your ski style will need to also. Take as many training classes as you can to learn new styles and teaching methods. This will keep you competitive with other ski instructors and improve your reputation, which will also increase your clientele.


  • Be aware that training to become a ski instructor requires a lot of time and even more money. It may be difficult to become certified if you have a job that will not allow you to take an extended period of time off.
  • Many instructors warn that it can be difficult to find stable instructor jobs.[11]
  • Remember to keep your certifications up-to-date! Nearly all countries require you to keep your certification by attending seminars and/or through completing continuing education credits. Once you get your certification, make sure you keep it current!

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Categories: Snow Skiing