How to become a ski instructor on a budget
Becoming a ski or snowboard instructor can lead you down an exciting career path. However, if you want to be successful in the industry, you are going to need to invest some time and money into quality training and obtaining the right qualifications. This is especially important if you're on a budget.
Not all ski and snowboarder courses are created equal, so like any big decision that involves investing time and money, it's essential you do your research and consider what kind of experience you want to have.
It can be hard to know exactly where to start, so here are a couple of steps you can follow to become a ski instructor on a budget.
- Research your options.
- Spread out your course fees.
- Speak to a training advisor.
- Book well in advance.
- Update your equipment.
Research your options
If you're thinking about becoming an instructor, the first thing you'll want to do is research instructor training programs. There are loads of resources on Youtube and websites like Season Workers to help you find and compare different training providers. This will give you an idea of the costs involved, where you can go, and what different courses are available to you. What matters is that you invest in a quality training program that will set you up for a career as an instructor. Here are a couple of key things to keep in mind when choosing an instructor course provider:
- How much instructor training will I get? You’ll want to choose a program provider that offers at least a few weeks of instructor training. This will ensure you’re in the best possible position to pass your exams. Make sure training is taken by at least a Level 4 certified instructor too.
- Are the qualifications offered recognised by ISIA? The International Ski Instructors Association is the world body for professional ski instructors. A qualification recognised by ISIA is a legitimate qualification and will enable you to apply for work as an instructor in other resorts across the globe.
- Are the ski resorts on offer well-known? Working at a well-known ski resort with a good reputation will help your CV.
- Am I guaranteed an instructor job at the ski resort if I pass my exams? The snow sports industry can be difficult to break into as a new instructor with no experience. Training program providers exist to help you break into the industry and a good training program provider will be able to guarantee you a paid job offer as part of your course.
Spread out your course fees
In most cases, ski or snowboard instructor courses are booked 12 to 24 months in advance. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, it means your place at your chosen resort is secure, and secondly, it means you can pay off your course fees in smaller instalments over a more extended period.
There are also other costs you'll need to consider, such as flights, visas and insurance. You'll also want some savings aside to help get you set up in your new country. EA allows course participants to spread their fees across regular, interest-free payment instalments that enable them to save while they pay off your course fees.
As an example, let's say I wanted to do a ski instructor course at a resort in Canada in 16 months time. The total cost for the instructor course is $6,000, but I have $2,000 in savings I can pay as a deposit immediately. After spending the $2,000 deposit, my remaining balance is $4,000 which I can pay off in instalments $250 instalments over 16 months. This works out to be around $63 per week.
Speak to a training advisor
Having a one-on-one conversation with a training advisor can be extremely beneficial when you're considering a ski or snowboard instructor course. Most training consultants have worked as instructors themselves and will be able to tell you what to expect while training and when you start working as an instructor.
If you're on a budget, a training consultant will be able to tell you what resorts are more likely to give you regular instructor work, what countries and areas are more affordable to live in, how to create relationships with the ski school, and if there are other ways you can reduce your course costs. For example, some training providers offer special scholarships or brand ambassador deals, which often involve a lower course fee in exchange for providing photos and content.
Book well in advance
Each year, ski and snowboard instructor courses are becoming more popular across the globe. This is partially due to the rise in popularity of lifestyle careers and also the increasing number of high school graduates choosing to travel instead of going to university. Despite rising demand, the number of places available on ski and snowboard instructor courses each year remains the same.
It's essential to book your course well in advance, so you don't miss out on a place at your resort of choice as cheaper course options are usually the first to get snapped up.
Update your equipment
If you're serious about becoming a ski or snowboard instructor, you're going to need to invest in good quality equipment.
No one likes sore feet or ski’s that can’t handle the terrain. It’s important that you get yourself a pair of performance skis that will enhance your training and winter season experience. To make sure you have fun, give yourself the best chance during training, and most importantly, enjoy turning up for work each day, you're going to need good gear.
It's essential your gear is modern, ideally (1 - 3 years old) and well fitted. If you're not sure if your gear is up to scratch, check out the videos below.
If your current gear is modern and fits correctly -that's great. However, if you're sitting there thinking you'll need to update your equipment, don’t despair! Here are some ways to keep costs down.
Consider purchasing ex-demo equipment. Ex-demo gear is modern and often well looked after. Ski retailers have an incentive to shift their current demo stock at a discounted rate to make room for next season's models. This means you can often get a good deal towards the end of the season.
Wait and purchase gear when you arrive at your ski resort. EA interns and ski school employees often get fantastic discounts at local ski stores. In some places, you can get up to 50% off. This can be a good option if you don't live in a ski community. You also won't have to pay extra for luggage.
People often ask whether they can hire equipment at the resort if they need to. We tend to discourage people from doing this as it will likely cost you more in the long run and the quality can vary hugely.