What Does It Take To Be A Ski Instructor?

instructorIf you love to ski, getting paid to do it all day sounds like a dream come true. And it is an absolutely fantastic job! However, it’s not all fun on the mountain and apres ski – there’s hard work involved as well. If you’re not capable of keeping punctual, precise hours, keeping your cool with the public, maintaining patience in situations you may find frustrating, answering numerous questions, and being upbeat and encouraging even when you’re exhausted, then this may not be the job for you! Here’s a quick rundown of the kind of skills you’ll need to be a ski instructor:

A LOT Of Knowledge About Skiing

Duh! If you’re going to be a ski instructor, you obviously have to know how to ski. This isn’t a job you can just walk into – most resorts demand a pretty high standard of qualification from their instructors. And rightly so. You are, after all, responsible for teaching people how to ski on their slopes, and are therefore responsible for teaching people how to do so both safely and well. Formal skiing instructor exams can be tough to pass (and they vary from nation to nation), but you’ll need to have one in order to even be considered for a job. These qualifications don’t just cover the physical movements of skiing, either. You’ll be expected to be able to instruct people on everything from the kind of equipment they need to the muscular biology of skiing. It’s not enough to just be good at skiing – you also have to know pretty much everything surrounding the sport, and be able to impart that information in a clear and accessible manner.


If you’re so good at something that it kind of comes naturally, it can be frustrating when others aren’t so able as you. If you’re the kind of person who gets impatient with people who can’t follow you, this is definitely not the job for you. Ski instructors have to be able to guide people through every level of skiing ability, and must be prepared to patiently and persistently demonstrate techniques which seem (to them) incredibly simple – over and over again. If you have the patience to do this, then you’ll be fine – but a genuine passion for helping people improve will benefit you enormously. The upside, of course, is that it’s tremendously rewarding to see people improve and begin to have fun on the slopes as a result of your instruction! It’s also worth noting that some ski clients can be very demanding, and will require patient handling. The vast majority, however, are generally lovely!

Good Communication Skills

Communication is crucial to most jobs nowadays, but it’s particularly important in teaching jobs. And teaching is essentially what you’re doing here. You’ll need to communicate your lessons in a clear, informative, and non-threatening manner which will help your students to achieve their full potential. Barking instructions doesn’t really work here – it just makes people feel pressured, which in turn makes them nervous, which in turn batters their confidence. And confidence is a big part of what it takes to be proficient at skiing! So you need to be able to communicate with your students on a level with which they’re comfortable, but which also helps them on their skiing journey. Forming a rapport with them is a great way to do this – and that takes excellent communication skills! The better you are with people, the better you are at getting your ideas across, and the better you are at understanding what others are trying to say to you, the better you’re likely to be at this job.


Most of the people you’ll be teaching will have come on a vacation. They’re there for a good time – not to go on a boot camp or to gain a qualification. So, while they want to learn, they also want to have fun. They’re a lot more likely to enjoy the experience of learning with you if you’re enthusiastic about what you’re doing – enthusiasm is contagious, and will help them to get the best out of themselves and the mountains! More importantly, however, there’s absolutely no point in doing this job if you’re not going to enjoy it yourself. If you’re not enthusiastic about ski instructing, try and find a job which does tick your boxes!

This blog post was contributed by Anne Bell.

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