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Quit the day job and become a ski instructor

Quit the day job and become a ski instructor

If you can already ski pretty well, there might be a career opportunity for you in the form of a recognised ski instructor qualification. Getting qualified could pay for your ski holidays. But first, which qualifications are the most widely recognised worldwide?

The aim is to obtain an ISIA card issued by the International Ski Instructors Association. That makes you a proper ski instructor able to go and teach anywhere in the world. On the way to obtaining the ISIA card you will acquire an ISIA stamp, which shows you have been trained to ISIA level 2 (the card is level 3). However there are various routes to full qualification, and the one you choose could affect your employability, so choose carefully depending on where you plan to do most of your skiing and instructing. The four main routes are:

BASI (British Association of Ski Instructors)

CSIA (Canadian Ski Instructors Alliance)

NZSIA (New Zealand Snowsports Instructors Alliance)

PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America)

BASI is recognised across Europe, so if you plan to work mainly in Europe it’s the best route to take. BASI has four levels. With level 2 you can teach beginner to intermediate skiers in Europe, Canada, the USA, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, South America and Dubai. Level 3 gets you up to teaching parallel skiing and beyond across the world. Level four can take four to five years to attain and allows you to teach skiing up to the highest levels.

CSIA level 1 is seen as a ‘fast track’ into the industry, and level 2 and above are comparable to other internationally recognised qualifications. If you plan to head to the Canadian Rockies to do your teaching, then CSIA is the obvious way to go.

NZSIA qualifications are also recognised worldwide, but more so in New Zealand, if that makes sense. The minimum for employment outside NZ is level 2.

PSIA has three levels. Level 3 makes you eligible for professional membership of the ISIA, which opens up a greater range of opportunities for teaching outside the USA.

Generally, for levels 1 and 2 you’ll need a season being trained on the slopes followed by a rigorous assessment over several days. Levels 3 and 4 can take several years to achieve, but will open up more opportunities. Levels 1 and 2 are good for gap year students as they fit comfortably into the time available.

Where to train? Here are links to some top ski instructor schools around the world.

The Winter Sports Company (Canada, New Zealand)

Alltracks Academy (Whistler, Canada)

Basecamp (Méribel and Val d’Isère, France, Banff, Canada and Turoa, New Zealand)

Nonstop Ski & Snowboard (7 resorts in Canada, 2 in Europe, 1 in New Zealand)

Snowskool (Banff, Canada, Trois Vallées, France and Cardrona, New Zealand)

Snoworks Gap (Specialising in Fast Track gap year courses, all over the world)

Ski instructor courses are not cheap, but they open doors to life-changing careers in snow sports.