Overseas Employment – Skiing & Snowboarding Instructors

Exciting job opportunities exist worldwide where skiing and snowboarding instructors are always in demand. Overseas ski resorts can be found in over 45 countries including the French, Swiss, & Italian Alps, the Pyrenees of Spain, Austria, Germany, Italy, Asia, Australia, Scandinavia, New Zealand, and South America; there are approximately 2500 in Europe alone.

The Tarentaise Valley of the Isere River in the French Alps has some popular ski resorts such as Paradiski, Les Arcs, and Les Espace Killy. Trois Vallee, considered the largest linked skiing area in the world, attracts visitors and instructors year round for piste and off-piste winter sports on its snow-covered slopes. One of the most popular resorts here is Courchevel, with its own private airport and links to other ski areas by highway. The airport is known for having one of the shortest runways in the world, a challenge for only the best certified airplane and helicopter pilots. Besides being the winter playground for travelers from Russia and elsewhere, Trois Vallee is recognized as a base for worldwide ski instructors, offering a number of jobs at various resorts.

Your first step to becoming a professional ski instructor is to complete a basic one to two week course, followed by specialized courses in alpine (downhill), piste and off-piste skiing, and cross country, usually offered by companies and resorts around the world. These courses are designed to run with the winter seasons, November to April in Europe, and April to November in the southern hemisphere. After obtaining your International Ski Instructors Association certification, you can work almost anywhere overseas, except in China. Many of these same companies and resorts will help you find employment, as well.

If time and finances permit, a short vacation might be fun and pay off in the long run by staying at one of the resorts, perfecting your skills on the slopes, making a few contacts and friends, and seeking employment at the same time. Many resorts offer hiring clinics at the beginning of the season, where they observe both your technical and interpersonal skills. Of course, a background in skiing, coaching, or physical education is always a plus, as are references.

If you prefer to pay more for specialized training, there are a number of ski and snowboard schools such as Ski le Gap at Mont Tremblant in Canada, and ski academies in Switzerland, New Zealand, and France. Intensive one to three month courses are offered for qualification at various levels of proficiency in different types of skiing or snowboarding, as well as ski patrol classes for those who may be interested in them. Costs and out-of-pocket expenses will vary, but most schools include accommodations, meals, and some even pay modest wages while in training

The popular Skiforce School is offering training in December of this year at Morzine in the Portes du Soleil ski area near Mont Blanc. Here you can get your British Association of Snowsports Instructor (BASI) certification, and after completing the BASI level 2, a full time job is guaranteed. (Note: Most ski schools will hire you as an instructor for children or beginners, but you can work up from there.)

Verbier resort in Switzerland is, without a doubt, one of the most prestigious ski and snowboarding schools in Europe, open to participants worldwide. At $14,500 for a 10-week course, it is certainly not cheap, but you do get a lot for your money. You will receive over 250 hours of coaching by some of the best instructors in the world, 75 hours in the classroom, which will include courses in first aid, avalanche, and mountain safety, and 70 hours of skiing alongside these professionals. Accommodations are provided in mountain chalets with views of the Matterhorn and surrounded by the beauty of the Swiss Alps. Breakfasts and dinners are included, as well as uniforms, cleaning, full season lift passes, club and equipment discounts, and transportation from the airport. Successful completion of internship at Verbier will definitely assure you of employment as a ski or snowboarding instructor.

(Note: You can find more information on these and other ski and snowboarding schools and job placement online.)

You won’t need a visa to work in the EU countries, but a working holiday permit will be required in others. Since the skiing seasons vary in each hemisphere, you could conceivably be employed year round. This might be the best of both worlds, seeing different areas, meeting different people, and teaching at the finest ski and snowboard resorts. After the season ends, you may decide to move on to another part of the world for their seasonal jobs, or remain at the same resort for year round employment. Although you may not be instructing during the off-season lull, there will be other types of odd jobs to fill. You may be asked to take part in pre-season events, promotions, and races to prepare for yet another enthusiastic group of travelers ready to hit the slopes with the next big snowfall.

Be prepared for the cold, fog, and wind chill by purchasing the proper clothing and equipment, as well as personal insurance in case of injury. Snow conditions will vary, so overall good physical condition is a must, and physical tests may be a requirement for employment. As a minimum, your accommodations, meals, and season lift passes will be paid for by your employers. Salaries are based on your actual teaching hours, and will vary from country to country, resort to resort, with your first year hourly pay averaging around $8 an hour, climbing to $15, or more as your experience grows and your expertise is recognized.

Don’t expect tips, but depending on the resort, you may be pleasantly surprised, as repeat customers, tour groups, and wealthy travelers are more likely to give that something extra. Besides teaching beginners, the intermediate, and the advanced, you may be required to instruct children, or the physically handicapped, which will be rewarding in itself. As with any kind of teaching job, additional money can be made through private lessons. Once recognized as a qualified, reliable instructor, you will find individuals or families may hire you as a personal instructor, which pays quite well.

For anyone who loves the mountains, the snow, and winter weather, then a job as a ski or snowboard instructor offers excitement and an opportunity to work at some of the most scenic destinations in the world. It is a chance to meet interesting people, socialize, and teach others the thrill of skiing or snowboarding at the most beautiful resorts around the world. As might be expected, social skills, a great deal of patience, and definitely a good sense of humor will be required. Remember, most people aren’t training for the Olympics; they just want to learn how to ski, improve their skills, and have fun doing it. You must be able to balance technical instruction with an understanding that some students will always be better than others. You will gain satisfaction knowing that most students will respond well to your instruction, if you’re good at what you do and enjoy what you’re doing.

Sharon L Slayton

Filed Under: Travel & tourism jobs

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