Working as a ski instructor is a lot of people’s dream job. Often, it’s something people will do for a few seasons, or in between jobs or school. But for many, it’s a legitimate career that serves them all-year-round and can be maintained for a very long time.
The nature of a winter-dependent job, means there are added challenges to working as a ski instructor all year round. It will require a bit of extra legwork, travelling and organization – but the pay-off is supreme!
What are the benefits of working as a ski instructor all year round?
- An obvious benefit is that you get to ski all year round! If skiing really is your passion – an all-year solution will be what dreams are made of.
- Spending every day in fresh mountain air, and exercising for work, will have immense health benefits compared to sitting at a desk 9-5 (even just in the summer months).
- Not having to switch between careers each year means your skills stay fresh and you’re not playing catch-up. You’ll stay ski-fit all year round.
- Having the same career all year round will give you a relatively balanced and predictable income. Often, in the summer, ski instructors will pick up ad-hoc work on zero-hours contracts, which can be stressful and unreliable.
- Chasing winter inevitably means you’ll get to travel across the world. It’s an amazing opportunity to experience both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.
What are the challenges of working as a ski instructor all year round?
- As much as it’s a benefit… travel can often be a big challenge. Long-haul travel is expensive and not great for your carbon footprint. Up-rooting twice a year sometimes leaves people feeling unsettled and like they don’t have a true ‘home’.
- Living between a Southern hemisphere instructing job and a Northern hemisphere instructing job means you probably have to rent accommodation for at least half of the year, if not both. It’s common for ski instructors to rent out their homes, while they teach on the other side of the world.
- You’ll have to make sure you’re qualified in both hemispheres. This is totally possible, as many countries recognize each other’s qualifications as equivalent or sufficient. (More information below)
An example year’s timeline
(These examples are based on 2019’s ski resort opening dates because, let’s be honest, the 2020/2021 seasons have not been normal!)
Your year starts ski instructing in Banff Sunshine Village, in Canada. The season started on the 8th November and, if you work through to the close of the season, you’ll be there until around 3rd May. You then have a few weeks off, for a well-deserved break/vacation until the end of the month. During that time, you’ll have made your way to Cardrona in New Zealand, to start your other ski-instructing job from the 1st June. The winter skiing here runs until around 20th October. Again, you’ll have a few weeks off, before heading back to Banff for the 8th of November!
You’ll need to gain a qualification that is accepted in both the resorts that you want to work in. In New Zealand and Canada, ski instructor qualifications are awarded by the New Zealand Snow Sports Instructors’ Alliance (NZSIA) or the Canadian Ski Instructors’ Alliance (CSIA). Once you get to Level 2 of these exams, you’re able to use them elsewhere in the world. So, for example, you could qualify with Level 2 NZSIA in New Zealand and be able to work in Canada (and vice-versa!).
Some countries, France for example, will require higher than a Level 2 and some qualifications won’t be so interchangeable. There are other well-regarded organisations, who also award qualifications, such as BASI (British Association of Snowsports Instructors) and PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America).
Alternatives to teaching all year round
For a lot of ski instructors, staying in one resort all year is preferable. In summer, there are many other jobs going in a ski area or mountain town. You could stick with instructing or guiding, for a different outdoor sport like climbing, hiking, fishing, sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, mountain biking or yoga. Alternatively, there will be service and maintenance jobs around the town and surrounding environment. The world of work is increasingly moving online, making summer-work options better than ever – this really could be the perfect time to start your journey to becoming a ski instructor!