Whether you’re leaving university, thirsty for a career change or wanting to experience a winter gap year abroad, becoming a ski or snowboard instructor in Canada is a great way to improve your technique, set yourself up for a career, and experience a working holiday at a ski resort.
If you’re considering becoming a ski or snowboard instructor, it’s hard to look past Canada. With consistent snowfall, varied terrain, quality infrastructure, and friendly locals, it’s easy to see why Canada continues to be one of our most popular destinations for a ski instructor course and snowboard instructor course.
So here’s how to become a ski or snowboard instructor in Canada.
- Successfully gain a working holiday visa.
- Choose where you want to go.
- Gain the right qualifications.
- Get experience.
1. Successfully gain a working holiday visa
To work as an instructor in Canada for a winter season, you will need an IEC working holiday visa. This will enable you to work legally in Canada once you complete your instructor qualifications.
An IEC working holiday visa will allow you to work temporarily in Canada to fund your stay and travel. The time you're allowed to live and work in Canada differs from country to country, but if you're from the United Kingdom or Australia, an IEC working holiday visa will enable you to stay for up to two years.
Applying for an IEC working holiday visa is relatively straightforward. However, you’ll want to begin your application sooner rather than later – depending on your nationality, there is a limited number of visas available each year. For more information check out our How to Apply for a Working Holiday Visa for Canada guide.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when applying for an IEC working holiday visa. Firstly, your main reason for wanting to go to Canada should be to travel. The IEC working holiday visa is designed to help you top up your income while you’re based in Canada and shouldn’t be seen as a way to permanently relocate to Canada.
The other thing to keep in mind when applying for an IEC working holiday visa is that if you're successful, you will need to submit your biometrics before heading to Canada. To do this, you’ll need to visit your nearest visa application centre (VAC) in your country of citizenship. So, if you’re currently living abroad, you will need to factor in the cost of a trip to your home country to submit your biometrics before heading to Canada.
2. Choose where you want to go
The most exciting part of becoming a ski or snowboard instructor in Canada is choosing the resort you want to go to. On an internship with EA Ski & Snowboard, there are six world-class resorts across Canada to choose from.
If you don’t have a resort preference in mind, our team are here to help. Do jibs and jumps get you fizzing, or is exploring open backcountry terrain more your thing? Is getting regular work important to you, or are you happy to work less and focus on improving your own skiing? Are you planning on doing this for one season, or do you want to set yourself up for a career in snow sports? Once you have an idea of what is important, a training consultant will help you select a ski resort that is the best fit for you.
3. Gain the right qualifications
To work as a ski or snowboard instructor in Canada, you’ll need to gain a recognised qualification. It’s important to realise that not all ski instructor qualifications are created equal. If you’re going to go to the effort of becoming a qualified ski instructor, you’ll want to make sure you receive a qualification recognised by the International Ski Instructors Association (ISIA), which is the world body for professional ski instructors.
To work as a ski or snowboard instructor in Canada, you’ll need to complete your CSIA or CASI Level 1 instructor certificate or hold an alternative Level 2 qualification that is recognised under ISIA (e.g. BASI or NZSIA qualifications will allow you to work in Canada).
All EA Ski & Snowboard courses in Canada offer CASI (Canadian Association of Snowboard Instructors) and/or CSIA (Canadian Ski Instructors' Alliance) Level 1 certifications and training. If you’re serious about pursuing a career in snow sports and want to continue instructing after your first season, you should consider a program that offers Level 2 training and extra qualifications such as EA’s Internship Plus program. EA’s Internship Plus programs include CASI or CASI Level 2 training, first aid and avalanche safety qualifications and are available at Revelstoke, Big White, Lake Louise and Castle.
Note: EA’s internship program does not include a Level 2 exam. As Level 2 is a relatively big jump up from Level 1, it’s up to you to decide if you feel ready to sit the Level 2 exam in your first season.
4. Get experience
Entering the instructor industry can be a double-edged sword. Most ski schools won’t hire instructors without prior experience, but you can’t gain legitimate experience without first obtaining your qualifications. Let’s not forget, it’s best to have experience under your belt if you want to sit your Level 2 certificate (or higher).
The best way to set yourself up in the industry is to look for an instructor training program provider that offers training, recognised qualifications, and a paid job offer.
Choosing an instructor training program provider that includes a paid job offer is the most reliable way to enter the snow sports industry and set you up for a successful career as an instructor - not just in Canada, but across the globe. However, it’s important to remember that while instructor training program providers like EA Ski & Snowboard help you get a head start in the ski instructor industry, it’s not a guaranteed “golden ticket.” At the end of the day, you’ll need to make sure you prove you’re a reliable employee to the ski school at your chosen resort. This means turning up to training on time, acting professionally, and being friendly and personable towards your colleagues and resort guests.
See if you qualify
If you’re interested in becoming a ski or snowboard instructor in Canada, see if you qualify for an EA internship today. A training consultant will be in touch shortly to discuss our program options.