So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and become a ski instructor - Great, but exactly how does one become a ski or snowboard instructor?
The two most popular routes to becoming an instructor are through a ski instructor training course or an instructor internship. Both will get you qualified, and promise an epic winter season, but what’s going to be the best fit for you?
With all the different ski instructor courses out there you might be feeling a little overwhelmed. Decisions are damn hard after all.
To make things easier we've highlighted the differences between a ski instructor course and an internship below.
Ski Instructor Training Course
An instructor training course runs from 4 – 11 weeks long and offers training, development and qualifications without the responsibilities of a job! You will train for and sit your level 1 & 2 exams, plus extra first aid and avalanche safety courses. Accommodation is provided for the duration of your course, and regular social events!
Internship (& Internship Plus)
An instructor internship is a ski or snowboard instructor course with a guaranteed job offer. Designed to fast-track a career in the snowsports industry within one winter season, you will train, qualify and work as an instructor at your chosen resort. Once you have begun working with the snow school you will be a fully-fledged member of staff. Being a staff member comes with the perks of discounts, staff parties and in house advanced training. There are many providers who promise a guaranteed job but in reality, you will work next to nothing If making money is high on your priority list make sure to choose a provider and resort where you can get guaranteed hours.
The Internship Plus does everything the Internship does but with advanced level 2 training, first aid certifications and avalanche safety courses.
**Internship places are limited due to the offer of employment**
Ski Instructor Course or Internship, what's the difference?
The first few weeks on each course follow almost identical structures. With the primary difference being that on an internship you will meet your new employer and be taken on a resort staff induction day. You’ll spend your evenings getting to know each other at your accommodation and in the bars and restaurants around town. Remember, eating and drinking out can quickly burn a hole in your pocket so don’t forget to stop by the grocery shops and liquor stores to save money!
Once your level 1 ski instructor course starts you will receive world-class ski training from the best in the business. This training is designed to take your skiing to the next level and prepare you for your level 1 exam. After completion of your level 1 exam, the internship crews will begin their adventure as ski instructors. This means moving into staff accommodation, paying rent and living the seasonaire life.
On the training course, you will remain in the accommodation provided and begin your level 2 training.
Which will make me a better rider?
The ski instructor course is designed to push you to your limits and revolutionise your riding. With 11 weeks of ski training from some of the best instructors in the world, you will become an accomplished all-mountain skier. No terrain will be too challenging as you conquer bumps, steeps, trees and powder with ease.
The progress you make during the season will change the way you view the mountain. Your new skills and perspective will open up new terrain, experiences and more epic times!
On the internship, after you begin employment as an instructor, you will be more focused on work and spend less time training. However, as a ski school employee, you do have access to free (that’s right, free) training from the ski schools’ top instructors. These sessions run often outside of the busy periods (xmas holidays etc.).
Answer: The training course will make you a better rider due to the amount of advanced training, but the Internship Plus is a very close second.
What's best for me?
Looking for a career break, gap year or just fancy trying out a season? Click the category below that fits you best and check out our quick course recommendations.
- I'd like to develop a career in the snowsports industry.
- I need a break from my studies.
- I want a break from my job.
- I've always wanted to try a season.
For a comprehensive guide to what course and resort is best for you, we recommend requesting a call back with one of our expert training consultants.
1. I'd like to develop a career in the snowsports industry.
Instructor Internship – An internship is the fastest and most effective way to enter the industry. After an internship you will be a fully qualified ski instructor with a season of experience under your belt a tonne of new personal and professional skills as well as being an epic rider! You will also meet and work with instructors from all over the world, opening doors to a life of ski or snowboard instructing abroad.
Pro Tip: Look out for internships that include extras such as level 2 training, first aid and avalanche safety like our 'internship plus courses’ as these make you look more desirable for future employers.
2. I need a break from my studies.
Instructor Training Course - Planning on returning to your studies? - Go for the Training Course. You'll get qualified as a ski instructor or snowboard instructor, improve your riding tenfold and have an epic gap year experience.
Not sure you want to defer your studies for a year? Why not have a summer of snow and qualify as a ski instructor between semesters? On a course in NZ you could train and qualify as an instructor without missing a minute of class. If you opt for the training course you don't need a visa, meaning you can still work for 2 more seasons after graduating.
If you live near a snow dome or dry slope in the UK you'll have the opportunity to work as a part-time instructor while studying!
3. I want a break from my job.
Instructor Internship - It could be a well-deserved career break OR it could turn into a life-changing career move.
If you’re looking for a complete break from work, join on an instructor training course, and get a full season with next to know responsibilities.
One of our favourite stories from a past intern on a ‘career break’ is Matt Gillespie who went on to open a ski lodge in Japan after doing an internship in Lake Louise as a break from the finance industry. This is just one of many stories of where an internship could take you!
4. I've always wanted to try a season.
Instructor Internship - To get the full experience of working a season and the opportunity to meet a bunch of other people in the same boat, the internship is for you. We often find that the ‘just 1 season’ mentality turns into 3, 4, 10? It’s like going to the pub for 1 beer… it never happens! If you think this might be you, it's best to play it safe and do an instructor internship. Set yourself up for a career in the industry, you know, just in case ;).
Is it cheaper to do a ski instructor course or internship?
If you are conscious of not breaking the bank, then the internship is your best bet. The upfront cost of £4675 is less expensive than the training course and you will be able to support your living costs with your instructing work.
The amount of work you will get and your earning potential depends on what resort you are in, business levels and snow conditions.
The training course is a higher upfront cost at £7750 although that includes everything you’ll need during the 11-week course!
– Just remember to save a little for food and booze.
Become a ski instructor with EA Ski & Snowboard