Working as a ski or snowboard instructor doesn’t have to be a wild fantasy, it’s an achievable, rewarding career that enables you to work in some of the world’s most beautiful locations and opens the door to a lifetime of travel.
We don't want to be cliché but some ski instructors have even labelled their jobs as one of the 'coolest careers in the world'. Other instructors have taken it a step further claiming, "my work days are better than your days off" (We can't all be legends, just don't be THAT guy).
All jokes aside, ski instructing is a career that can take you around the world to ride the best terrain and meet the best people. An internship with EA Ski & Snowboard gives you the key to unlocking the secrets of the industry... and yup, you'll become the best rider on the mountain (After you've watched G.N.A.R and know how to prove it).
An internship gives you the platform and structure to achieve your full potential; to not just achieve your dreams but to exceed them.
We've broken down the stages of a ski instructors career so that you know what to expect heading into your first season and beyond:
Level 1 certification
You’ve secured an entry-level job offer with EA Ski and Snowboard Training (delete your tinder account - you won’t be needing it). During your first season, you will be introduced to a massive network of international instructors and trainers, and have the chance to demonstrate your positive work ethic for future employment opportunities.
Once you're qualified, work will be based on the level of business the resort receives. Expect to be run off your feet and earning a solid wage during the school holidays, but still have plenty of time to free ride and road trip in the quieter periods! Predominantly you will teach skiers and snowboarders at levels 1-2, but don’t be surprised if you start leading more advanced classes if you work hard and make a good impression!
Level 2 certification
By now your spot within the snow sports department has been established as either the crazy wild party person (there’s always one) or a hard-working, committed instructor (a true team player).
A level 2 instructor has a much larger bag of tricks to utilise when developing lesson plans and teaching strategies meaning you are ready to take on more advanced lessons. As you gain more technical knowledge and experience, you will have increased access to more progressive training within the snow sports school.
The bank of Mum and Dad will be relieved as your wage and lesson frequency increases meaning a more stable income.
With your level 2 qualification and network of instructors, you now have a better chance of obtaining a job with an international snow sports school for your future ski seasons.
The internships finished
Here you stand 6 months later, reborn as a black diamond shredding machine, full-time legend and an all-round great human. A full season as a qualified instructor has given you new skills and experiences and the all-important goggle tan.
You’re either well on your way to becoming Instagram famous, or you’ve lost all social followers due to the same repetitive ‘my office is better than yours’ updates.
You have experienced exactly what it takes to live and work as a ski instructor and have (hopefully) worked out how to battle through those tough hungover mornings or learnt to say no to the call for ‘one last shot’ at 2 am.
By now you’ve realised the key to higher earnings is to develop good relationships with your clients so they ask for you by name, book private lessons and keep coming back for more. Maybe you’ve uncovered the secrets to getting tipped too (although this one is rather more elusive). Let's not jump the gun just yet, baby steps, baby steps.
Standing out from the crowd
If you want to stand out above the rest, and push for a supervisor role or get more advanced lessons there are extra qualifications available to help you get there. First aid certificates are always a bonus for employers and depending on where you go an introduction to avalanche safety course is helpful too. If you like lapping the park or are into freeride, the governing bodies such as NZSIA and CSIA also offer additional certificates to enable you to teach the future park and freeride rats!
These will all contribute to your employability and open up your options within the department for specialist training and holiday programs, increasing your earnings even further.
After your 1st season
The season has come to a close, the end of season party was a blur but you're sure it was a good one. Your body is aching from slushy spring laps, and your toes are begging for some sunlight, but you’ve had the winter of your life and you don’t want it to end. It’s time to tell your friends and parents at home that you won't be back for long and start planning your next ski season.
Now you can apply to ski resorts around the world, knowing you will have solid work references from your trainers and employers. Your new network of instructors will also be heading to ski schools all over the world and you can begin planning season number two knowing that no matter what resort you're at, there will always be a mutual connection.
Your earning potential will grow again depending on where you’re planning to go and you can decide between making money and doing more training provided by the snow school with the possibility of progressing on to higher levels.
Season #2 and beyond
The more experience you bring to the table, the greater your ability to earn a consistent weekly income becomes. You will find it easier to get employed at new resorts and provided you did a good job (and didn’t embarrass yourself too much at the staff parties), returning to your original snow sports school won't be a problem.
With a season under your belt, you are no longer the rookie on staff and will have a bit more say in the lessons you take, whether you want to teach more freestyle or freeride orientated groups, or even stay with the cute little groms (a.k.a. children)!
If you choose to get level 3 you can expect to teach skiers and snowboarders at levels 1-6 and be eligible for jobs at almost every resort worldwide, gain a consistently higher wage and be well on your way to carving out a career in the industry.
Skills to last a lifetime
An internship provides the best opportunity for a successful career as an instructor, but, it doesn’t stop there. The skills you learn and the network you make will set you up for whatever path you choose to follow.
Check out our instructor stories with Matt and Hannah to see how far an internship could take you.