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Finding a Job as a Ski Instructor

Finding your dream job as a ski or snowboard instructor may seem like a challenge, but there are plenty of organisations out there who can help.

We asked ski and board instructor specialists Flying Fish some of your most frequently asked questions about finding this kind of work.

How much do you get paid?
Wages for ski and snowboard range from CAD 11 an hour in Whistler to US 1,700 a month in Japan. In North America your wage packet will be small but you can expect good tips. In Europe you may be paid as little as EUR 125 a week as a ski rep for Mark Warner or Neilson (accommodation and food provided) or EUR 20-40 an hour working for a ski school. 10. No-one gets rich in their first season instructing! As you become more experienced and upgrade your qualifications the wages go up. Take a look on the slopes at any ski resort and you'll see instructors of all ages. Some have been doing it for 30 years or more. That's a sure sign that you can live on the pay once you are past entry level.

What are the pros and cons of a snowboard or ski instructor's job?
Pros include a free season's lift pass, skiing or snowboarding every day, cheap accommodation, resort discounts, great company, getting a life! The downside? The pay isn't great at entry-level but if you combine snow sports in the winter with water sports in the summer you have achieved the perfectly balanced outdoor lifestyle.

What experience do you need?
Before you start your instructor training you should be a solid intermediate skier/rider with a good level of fitness, comfortable on red runs. However, your ability on the mountain is just a small part of the mix employers are looking for. They are just as interested in whether you have the soft skills that make a good instructor: patience, a friendly personality, an encouraging nature and a sense of humour. If you have these qualities as well as a recognised qualification, employers will want you in the team.

What is the best way of finding a job as a ski/snowboard instructor? 
There are now many websites which advertise jobs for qualified instructors, this is a good starting point if you're researching from home. Deciding where you want to work then contacting a list of ski schools directly shows initiative and enthusiasm and many vacancies are filled this way without ever being advertised! Being in resort is also a good way of finding a job! Be prepared to take a short term position as a ski guide, or one of the many hospitality jobs. Being in the right place at the right time is key and many instructors start their season working in hotels/chalets ....

Starting work: Your likely first job with a Level 1 instructor qualification is teaching at a resort ski school, mainly teaching the basics to children. There is plenty of employment for newly qualified instructors, as long as you arrange your work visa in advance. The next step: With a Level 2 qualification you are teaching the next step up and you are more in demand as an employee.

What is the best time of year to find a job as a ski/snowboard instructor?
The big recruitment drive obviously takes place before the start of the season - for the Northern Hemisphere August to October, and the Southern Hemisphere January to March, so get your CV in tip-top shape and contact employers asap from home. Many schools will take on additional instructors for peak tourist times , eg Christmas and New Year depending on levels of bookings. If you're booked onto an instructor training at the beginning of the season, list the qualifications you expect to achieve on your CV and let employers know when you will be available for work.

Where are the best locations to find work as a ski/snowboard instructor? 
Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Croatia, Spain, Andorra, Canada, USA and Japan are among the countries with established ski industries in the northern hemisphere. Your opportunities in France are limited, though. The French snow sports authorities have traditionally made it difficult for non-French nationals to work in the Alps. In the southern hemisphere New Zealand is famous for its mountains, but don't overlook Australia which has several winter resorts too. Some schools in Australia and New Zealand employ new instructors from early season hiring clinics: you are expected to attend a short period of in house training and if you measure up you get a job.

Any top tips?
There are so many companies providing instructor training, do research the market and ask to be put in touch with ex-students who will give you an unbiased account! Make sure the qualifications are internationally recognised - and do look into visa requirements before you hand over your cash!

Flying Fish train and recruit over 1000 people each year to work as yacht skippers and as sailing, diving, surfing, windsurfing, ski and snowboard instructors. Check out Gapwork.com's Winter Ski Jobs and Sport and Ski pages to find more companies like Flying Fish who can give you advice and support finding ski jobs this winter.