Be a Ski Instructor: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Mar 10, 2020

Learn how to become a ski instructor. Get an up-close look at the training and certification requirements that can help you find and keep a job as a ski instructor.

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Ski Instructors

Ski instructors work with beginning and more advanced skiers to help them learn and improve their abilities. Ski instructors first become comfortable with their own abilities on the slopes before teaching others. Instructors work outdoors in a variety of wintry weather conditions. They may have to use tact and patience when dealing with inexperienced or difficult students. However, watching students improve under their guidance can be quite rewarding.

Career Requirements

Education High school diploma or equivalent
Experience Skiing and instructional experience
Certification Voluntary certification available through the Professional Ski Instructors of America - American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA-AASI)
Key Skills Communication, customer service, and sales skills; basic computer and word processing competency; ability to ski, lift, and work outdoors
Salary $17.87 per hour (2020 average)

Sources: *; O*Net Online; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Ski instructors need at least a high school diploma and skiing and educational experience. A national voluntary certification is available through the Professional Ski Instructors of America - American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA-AASI). In addition to the ability to ski, lift, and work outdoors, ski instructors should have good communication and customer service skills, be sales proficiency, and be comfortable using a computer and basic word processing program.

According to in August 2020, ski instructors earned an average hourly wage of $17.87.

Let's take a look at some of these hiring requirements in more depth.

Step 1: Ski & Train

The most important quality for ski instructors is a high level of comfort on the mountain. This requires hours of training and becoming acquainted with the techniques and skills needed to be a competent skier. Spending many hours on the mountain gives potential instructors the faculty and confidence they need to be able to teach others how to ski.

Step 2: Get Certified

Once a skier sufficiently feels comfortable with his or her skiing abilities, he or she needs to become proficient with passing that knowledge on to others. PSIA-AASI offers various voluntary certifications, in alpine skiing and Nordic skiing. PSIA-AASI has nine divisions, and each division offers examinations for various certification levels. Once an individual has passed a certification exam in one division, his or her credentials are transferable to other divisions. The Amateur Ski Instructors Association (ASIA) offers voluntary certification for those who wish to work as amateur ski and/or snowboard instructors.

Step 3: Find a Job

Newly certified ski instructors should first inquire with the organization they received their certification from about prospective positions. Most mountains operate only seasonally, so it is important for new instructors to get in contact with potential employers early before spots fill up. Mountains all across America look for a new crop of instructors every season and need ski instructors who have been certified.

Success Tip:

  • Consider assistant positions. Some employers hire teaching assistants to train future ski instructors. Entry-level employment in this area can be a stepping-stone towards becoming an instructor.

Step 4: Stay Up To Date

Although many ski instructors find jobs on the same mountain year after year, they need to stay up to date on the latest developments in ski instructing. PSIA-AASI divisions offer continuing education to meet requirements for certification. Continuing education requirements vary by certification level; for example, a level one instructor in the Northern Rocky Mountain division must complete a one-day clinic every two years.

If you are still interested in becoming a ski instructor, remember, you'll need a high school diploma and most likely, a voluntary certification from the PSIA-AASI, after which you may earn an average wage of $17.87 an hour.

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