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Old 24.09.2015, 10:20
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Becoming a ski instructor

Hi guys!
I've noticed many of you are acive skiers and some are qualified instructors. I have a few questions about that, would appreciate not being shot if they seem stupid, I just like to know how things work before starting on a venture. It seems we will be staying in Switzerland after all, and I would be interested in becoming a ski instructor here, that is, if it is possible and if there is a client base for me.

1) the certification: I was once a level one Canadian ski instructor, but that was a lifetime ago and I don't believe my certification would be any good today. In addition, the skiing technique has changed since the 90s and I definitely need to work on it. What would you recommend, given that I have no plan (nor the ability) to become a full-time instructor? I know the Swiss Ski School is very good, but I don't know how open it is to foreigners, and I would have to go to Romandie as my German isn't good enough yet. I've also heard that BASI has sessions in the Alps. The Canadian Association isn't really an alternative unless they do courses in the Alps, no way I can run of to Canada during the school year. I am currently fairly flexible with my time, but that will change in the mid-term as I plan to start working again (more stupid questions later on that topic...).

2) the prospects: I believe I can do a good job as a level one instructors for beginners and early intermediates, in tine I could probably move on to level 2. I'm probably too old to go above that. What I would like to do, is specialise in teaching adult beginners and people who are afraid of skiing, especially women. It seems all the mothers I meet nowadays wish they could ski, but are scared to start/start again, I like to work onn these people. Kids and guys are good too, but I have this special thought for mothers who spend all their time waiting for their kids at ski school... I don't know if I could get a job in a Swiss Ski School in my area due to poor German, so I guess it leaves me with private schools or a private "practice" (if that's at all possible). I speak French, English and Norwegian (understand Swedish and Danish), I guess I could find a clientele of sort amongst expats and tourists. Any thoughts?

It probably sounds naive and silly for a 40-year old woman to want to become a ski instructor, but I really miss the teaching. I'm definitely not in it for the money but rather for transmitting the pleasure I get from a day on the slopes.

Thanks!
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Old 24.09.2015, 10:37
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Re: Becoming a ski instructor

Firstly, to work in Switzerland as a ski teacher you don't actually need a qualification, you just need a ski school to employ you. Of course many ski schools want you to have a qualification. To work independently you need the top Swiss Snowsports level qualification.

Language wise, you need to speak the language of potential clients, not of where the ski school is based. So if you only speak English, you need to be looking at the big resorts that attract the English speaking guests. Verbier/Zermatt/St Moritz/Davos places like that.

Ski schools take on full time instructors i.e. you have to be available all the time to teach, not that you have guaranteed full time hours, or peak week instructors i.e extra instructors during the school holidays when there is more demand.

Qualification wise. I would say if you are limited to English do BASI levels 1 and 2, there are pre-season courses in Zermatt. If you can speak French/German/Italian then maybe start with the Swiss Snowsports kids instructor course. Take a look on their respective websites.

Edit: You won't get to specialise in teaching "scared women" ... you may get a few, but you'll just get whoever books that is within your teaching abilities.

Hope that helps.

(Source: I am a ski teacher)

Last edited by Island Monkey; 24.09.2015 at 11:03.
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Old 24.09.2015, 11:01
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Re: Becoming a ski instructor

I should think that Forum fixture Ace1 will be long in a minute. He's a part-time ski instructor who, I'm sure, can shed a lot of light on this topic -- and he's very old, too; around 60 or so, I think.
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Old 24.09.2015, 11:20
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Re: Becoming a ski instructor

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I should think that Forum fixture Ace1 will be long in a minute. He's a part-time ski instructor who, I'm sure, can shed a lot of light on this topic -- and he's very old, too; around 60 or so, I think.
Well you can feck right off with yer "old", you cheeky bugger. Still some fair way to go, TYVM.

But for reference I started skiing aged 33 and took my BASI L1 in my late 40s, so there's no reason for the OP to be worried about age per se. I'm now about half way towards my L3 (ISIA) and will get there I'm sure in a year or two. It's only the L4 (ISTD) that requires a race test, and is at such a high level that nobody over 50 had ever passed it, so that's a step I'm not even thinking about.

As far as the rest goes, Island Monkey's pretty much nailed it. Most of the unqualified new instructors we see are youngsters who then start by doing the Swiss "Kid's Instructor" course, often as part of teaching or related studies.

For a more mature new starter the BASI system is very slightly easier to get into (not the skiing, just the start-up courses required) and yes, can nearly all be done over here in the alps. Lots of options available including a whole bunch of courses run in Zermatt each November. See their website for details.

You may still find it difficult to get working in a ski school with just the L1 qualification, at least outside the big resorts already mentioned, but if you've got the L2 it should be much easier.

The key point, though, is to recognise that the skiing expertise required is quite significant, even for the L1. It's not just a case of being a pretty good fast skier - you've got to be able to consistently demonstrate precise movements and skills at low speed, so be prepared to have your technique ripped to shreds. Over and over again. You'll come out of it a much better skier, but you need to go in with a humble and open attitude to get the best out of it.
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Old 24.09.2015, 11:20
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Re: Becoming a ski instructor

From memory CASI qualifications expire after two years.

If you work for a Swiss snowsports school (as I do) then they have a mandatory 6 days training at the start of the season which would probably get you up to speed pretty quickly.

I don't speak German but as I work at a resort close to big expat communities (Zug, Zurich) they have a lot of English speaking clients so I get a reasonable amount of work, generally it's Christmas and New Year, weekends, though during February it's pretty much everyday. You will only get paid minimum wage 25CHF.

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Old 24.09.2015, 11:30
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Re: Becoming a ski instructor

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Still some fair way to go, TYVM.
I've heard that the years seem to drag on, once you get to 58 or so.
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Old 24.09.2015, 11:40
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Re: Becoming a ski instructor

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I've heard that the years seem to drag on, once you get to 58 or so.
I wouldn't know, so will have to bow to your experience in this matter.
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Old 24.09.2015, 11:48
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Re: Becoming a ski instructor

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If you work for a Swiss snowsports school (as I do) then they have a mandatory 6 days training at the start of the season which would probably get you up to speed pretty quickly.
That's by no means universal across all schools. We have regular training days both pre and through the season, and some might be considered mandatory for unqualified and/our new instructors, but by no means for all of us.

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I don't speak German but as I work at a resort close to big expat communities (Zug, Zurich) they have a lot of English speaking clients so I get a reasonable amount of work, generally it's Christmas and New Year, weekends, though during February it's pretty much everyday.
Yeah, similar for us. Although we could do more if we wanted, and have been known to give lessons in French, myself occasionally in German and my wife even in Italian.

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You will only get paid minimum wage 25CHF.
You're doing it wrong. Ask for a pay rise immediately
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Old 24.09.2015, 11:56
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Re: Becoming a ski instructor

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You're doing it wrong. Ask for a pay rise immediately
Haha! I think our low qualified, new to the school guys probably get something like this. High qualifications, experience, time with school, languages etc get you a lot more!
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Old 24.09.2015, 12:15
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Re: Becoming a ski instructor

Maybe look to see if there is a local ski club where you are & ask if you could help out there. Where we are the ski club has instructors for the weekend trips & one week a year in the school holidays, for example. It's much more family orientated that way & you'll get to meet people too.
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Old 24.09.2015, 18:26
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Re: Becoming a ski instructor

Thanks to you all guys for the information, I really appreciate. It seems like I should investigate BASI and take it from there. I'm currently fairly flexible and can run off for a week or so if need be.

No worries about having my skiing dissected in front of a group, I enjoy taking lessons as much as I enjoyed giving them. I'm more of a technical skier than a fast skier; I did a year of racing as a teen but didn't really like that the focus of all training was going as fast as possible with no regards to how we actually did it and I went for instructor training instead. In retrospect, the lack of focus on proper skiing technique probably explains why our station's team was one of the worse in the province...

I could probably do a good level 2 in a year or two, not so sure for higher levels as I have seen how people ski here. I didn't ski for 20 years and missed out on the carving revolution, I know I have to work on that. I just started off-piste last year (still feeling silly and terrified at times, but loving it), otherwise I enjoy skiing for the feeling of doing a good technical.


I could teach in French, English or Norwegian, that pretty much restricts me to the bigger station (what a shame...). Being a mom it would be difficult for me to be away during the week, but weekends and vacations are cool. The Troll and I would of course prefer to live in Zermatt full-time, but Trollefar says it too far from his office.

For the comment about teaching "scared wifes", I'm more thinking about a private business project on the medium-/long-term. I see all sorts of ski schools promising a lot and nothing to everyone, but many don't recognise the psychological aspects of teaching to different types of clients. Obviously we make the difference between adults and kids, but otherwise we often miss on the different types of adults or children and what their motivations are for taking lessons. And the worse are the husbands trying to teach their wives, or lugging them along in black runs "coz' it will be so much fun, honey...". So Trollemor's vision (!) for Trollemor's Ski School for Traumatised Mothers would be something along the line: mommys deliver their offspring to ski school, 15 minutes later they meet for a nice ski lesson, no pressure to perform just the fun of skiing and improving at a leisurely pace, class finished 10-15 minutes before offsprings' class.

In the meantime, I'd be happy to teach pretty much anyone, although I don't really see myself teaching a group of teenagers with a death wish.
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Old 24.09.2015, 18:53
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Re: Becoming a ski instructor

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For the comment about teaching "scared wifes", I'm more thinking about a private business project on the medium-/long-term.
To do this you'd either have to set something up with an existing ski-school as an employee (you can't work self-employed unless you have the Swiss Patent, which is a similar level to BASI L4, even BASI L4's aren't allowed to be self-employed). Or set-up a ski school, which brings it's own requirements, for example in Wallis you have to employ 20% Swiss Patents.

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I see all sorts of ski schools promising a lot and nothing to everyone, but many don't recognise the psychological aspects of teaching to different types of clients. Obviously we make the difference between adults and kids, but otherwise we often miss on the different types of adults or children and what their motivations are for taking lessons.
REALLY?

I've had it drilled into me on numerous occasions. The first thing you do is suss out your learner, from the hard core wants to ski ski ski, to reluctant partner of a skier who really just wants to enjoy the view, do a little skiing and many coffee stops and lots of chat, to the person who is terrified due to a previous injury etc etc. All the ski schools I have worked for are about tailoring the lesson to the individual. Obviously some instructors are better suited to different clients (keep me away from freestyle). Not that all clients are honest about what they want... you sometimes have to figure it out from their reactions.
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Old 24.09.2015, 19:13
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Re: Becoming a ski instructor

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To do this you'd either have to set something up with an existing ski-school as an employee (you can't work self-employed unless you have the Swiss Patent, which is a similar level to BASI L4, even BASI L4's aren't allowed to be self-employed). Or set-up a ski school, which brings it's own requirements, for example in Wallis you have to employ 20% Swiss Patents.

Thanks, Island Monkey, now I know how things work. Sounds like the self-employed or own ski school plan isn't realistic.



REALLY?

I've had it drilled into me on numerous occasions. The first thing you do is suss out your learner, from the hard core wants to ski ski ski, to reluctant partner of a skier who really just wants to enjoy the view, do a little skiing and many coffee stops and lots of chat, to the person who is terrified due to a previous injury etc etc. All the ski schools I have worked for are about tailoring the lesson to the individual. Obviously some instructors are better suited to different clients (keep me away from freestyle).
You'd be surprised, and I am delighted to hear this! That wasn't the case when I did my instructor course, and I've met several people with less than thrilling ski school experiences, albeit with group lessons, not private (which are obviously easier to customise). My first adult group consisted of one guy who wanted to learn as fast as possible, a 60-year old woman who was terrified of speed and her daughter who have weighted 120 kg. Difficult to make everyone happy...

I think the worse are really those who are taught by family members though.
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Old 24.09.2015, 19:24
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Re: Becoming a ski instructor

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You'd be surprised, and I am delighted to hear this! That wasn't the case when I did my instructor course, and I've met several people with less than thrilling ski school experiences, albeit with group lessons, not private (which are obviously easier to customise). My first adult group consisted of one guy who wanted to learn as fast as possible, a 60-year old woman who was terrified of speed and her daughter who have weighted 120 kg. Difficult to make everyone happy...

I think the worse are really those who are taught by family members though.
Yes, very difficult to do in a group lesson. And those with specific requirements should really take a private lesson because of that. Teaching family is a no go for me... although I put myself through the trauma of my husband training me, because it's free and he's more qualified/better than me... even if he's mean
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Old 24.09.2015, 19:25
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Re: Becoming a ski instructor

I did it with Villars ski school , but in the end decided I was not at the level I wanted to be to teach .
They take you on a 1or 2 week trip to the resort where you teach so you know the area well. Then they teach you their teaching methods.

3 hours of class a day and then free riding the whole afternoon to see your actual level. Was tons of fun but required more commitment then I could give and more skill I felt I had.
with the freeriding you also get to see some places that you should not be going to if you dont know what you are doing.....

Plus you get to go on the lifts before they open to the public. (same on the slopes (2 weeks before season starts)
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Old 24.09.2015, 19:54
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Re: Becoming a ski instructor

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Yes, very difficult to do in a group lesson. And those with specific requirements should really take a private lesson because of that. Teaching family is a no go for me... although I put myself through the trauma of my husband training me, because it's free and he's more qualified/better than me... even if he's mean
I didn't even try to teach the Troll when he started, and I'm very happy I didn't when how it is when his dad tries to teach him chess. However, now that he is a more confident skier, he uses me as a "consultant" and that suits us fine.

Trollefar on the other hand has no intentions of improving his skiing (with me or anyone else) and remains the perfect candidate for preparing the raclette or escorting Junior to the pool.
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