Job Description for Ski Instructors

Written by bob shneidley
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Job Description for Ski Instructors
Proper form will improve any skier's ability. (ski image by Andrzej Kaluza from

Ski instructors enjoy many benefits specific to the ski instruction industry. Instructors get to be outside much of the day in beautiful mountainous areas, enjoying fresh air and scenic vistas. They also feel the satisfaction of improving the ability of other skiers and helping foster the next generation of skiers, as well as improving the technique of adults. Learn the basics of the ski instructor job description if you are looking to take the next step towards being a ski instructor.

Work Environment

The work environment is one of the best advantages for many instructors. Lessons are almost always taught outside and you are being paid to be on your skis and to visit different parts of the mountain. The weather can be harsh as it is in a winter climate, and lessons usually are carried out in all but the most extreme conditions. Be prepared for long hours on your feet in cold, windy and snowy conditions.


Virtually all ski instructors are required to be certified. The most widespread certification in the U.S. is through the Professional Ski Instructor Association, or PSIA. According to their website, to get certified, you must take a three day course where you are trained with the necessary skills to instruct. At the end of the course, you are given a written exam as well as an on-hill test where you are required to demonstrate your abilities as a skier. All instructors begin with a Level 1 certification and can work their way up from Level 1 with more training and course work.

Skills Required

A common misconception is that you are required to be an excellent skier. This is far from the truth and the best instructors are often mediocre skiers. An advanced skier may even find it hard to bridge the gap to a beginner skier. There is far more emphasis on patience, thorough understanding of teaching techniques and ability to transfer knowledge than raw ability. Though excellent fundamentals are required, there is no need to be on the cutting edge of performance.

Pay Rate

The pay for ski instructors is usually quite low and the aforementioned advantages need to outweigh the low pay for you to justify becoming involved in this profession. According to Simply Hired, the average ski instructor makes £22,100 annually, but ski instructing is only a seasonal job and is contingent on the business your mountain receives. Most instructors are only paid per lesson given, and not a guaranteed hourly wage.

Lesson Types

As a ski instructor, you need to be ready to give lessons to all types of skiers. Depending on your certification level, you will not be asked to teach a skier of a higher ability than you are certified to teach, but you still will teach a variety of ages, abilities and attitudes. Also most resorts offer the choice of a group lesson or an individual lesson, so you need to be prepared to handle a group of skiers on the mountain.

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