Welcome to the final installment of our series of blogs that explore the best ways to spend a winter season. So far we’ve looked at bar & chalet work as well as life as an actual ski or snowboard instructor. I’d say for most snow enthusiasts the latter of these is the most appealing so lets look at how you can actually become an instructor.
Nonstop have been running ski & snowboard instructor courses for 10 years and so far have trained over 2500 skiers and snowboarders. Many of these guys were simply looking to take their skiing or riding to the next level whilst others have gone on to enjoy rewarding careers as instructors or other positions within the industry; some outstanding success stories that spring to mind are a Ski School Director in New Zealand, the head of search & rescue in Fernie and many Level 3 instructors. As well as all the level 1 & 2 instructors that are currently working in resorts all over the world, these guys are making a living from their passion so lets have a look at how they got there.
Nonstop offer instructor courses in Canada ranging from 3 – 11 weeks, a 12 week program in New Zealand and an intensive 18 week program in France leading to the lucrative world of teaching in the French Alps. Lets start by looking at the quickest route into the industry – Nonstop’s 3-5 week level 1 instructor courses in Banff & Fernie. These are the ideal option for experienced skiers or riders who are looking to qualify and then start work in the same season. Participants on the 3 week courses receive 8 days of intensive tuition over 2 weeks before sitting their CASI/CSIA level 1 exam. Off snow we provide a careers seminar and support in looking for a job as an instructor after the course – we’ve even got a new course in Fernie that leads to a guaranteed job! Graduates of these short courses that go on to work as instructors will deal with novice skiers and snowboarders in their lessons – for further details check out our previous blog in the series working as a ski or snowboard instructor.
Moving on to Nonstop’s 11 week instructor courses; in my opinion these are the ultimate way to spend a season and are arguably even more fun than working as an instructor!!! These courses are packed with over 220 hours of tuition from highly experienced coaches; when you’re not in lessons you can put your new skills into practice exploring the vast resorts or Banff, Red Mountain & Fernie whilst all sorts of extra trips to other resorts & awesome CAT Skiing days are also organised. Essentially for 11 weeks you have nothing to worry about besides skiing or snowboarding!! That’s a rare privilege and for most people I expect it will be the most care free time of their life!! Awesome. By the end of the 11 weeks your skiing or riding will have improved so so much and you have the option to sit your CSIA/CASI level 2 exam which will enable you to teach all around the world.
New Zealand isn’t as well known as Canada when it comes to skiing but their Ski Instructors’ Association is highly respected throughout the industry and there is absolutely incredibly skiing to be had down there. Nonstop’s 12 week instructor course in Porters is action packed in typical Kiwi fashion, but with so much exposure to the ski school this course is a favorite with those wanting to get qualified and then go straight into work in the northern hemisphere. Participants on this program are immersed into the local ski school and to some extent become part of the team. Porters recently said ‘there hasn’t been a season during our association with Nonstop that we have not employed graduates from the program the following year’. As with the 11 week courses in Canada this will be a care free 12 weeks and you’ll be living firmly in the bubble of a ski town…good times!
Finally, let’s touch upon life as a trainee French ski instructor. It’s popular opinion that to become a ski instructor in France you need to be French, but this is not the case! What is true though is that it’s exceptionally difficult but once qualified you will reap the rewards financially. In order to enter the French system hopefuls must first pass the grueling ‘Test Technique’, a slalom speed test that requires you to clock a comparable time to a professional skier. Training for this is in a word intense. Not only do you have to be an accomplished skier but you need to be insanely fit – so much so that before this course even starts participants have to undergo a 3 week training regime involving running up mountains and arduous mountain bike trails. This experience is certainly not for the faint hearted but if you’re up for a challenge then this will be the most rewarding 18 weeks of your life! The following year you can start working as a trainee instructor with earnings starting from 25 Euros per hour!
Well that’s just about it – hopefully this series of blogs has given you a valuable insight into life in the mountains. Whether you choose to work in a chalet or bar or even go down the instructor path… we hope you have an epic time!