Evaluate your own level of skiing.
If you want to teach skiing, obviously you have to be steady on your own skis! Ideally, you should be proficient on greens, blues, and blacks. Even if you plan on starting out teaching beginners, or children, you need to be comfortable, confident, and secure on all groomed slopes.
Consider what type of instructor you want to be.
Certification is available for alpine, nordic, adaptive, and freestyle skiing, and instructors can receive additional accreditation for specializations, such as working with children. Generally, most alpine ski instructors start out teaching basic alpine skiing and then progress to more specific disciplines. Elective education for racing, women’s ski camps, and steeps are also available for instructors. Certification is available for Level One, Level Two, and Level Three.
Think about if the job is right for you.
Ski instruction requires a significant amount of patience. Usually, lessons are assigned to you—it’s not up to you who you’ll be teaching. While you might luck out and get an eager, cooperative skier, you might also get stuck with a moody middle schooler whose parents forced him to take a lesson. Also, if you’re a powder hound who needs to ski the steeps every day, keep in mind that you may very well be stuck on the bunny hill all day with a beginner group. Although you might be able to sneak in a few runs in the morning or late afternoon, you certainly won’t have a whole ski day to yourself. There are of course some perks—free lift tickets, and in some cases free season passes—but generally there are some coexistent prerequisites, such as a minimum number of days you’re at the mountain or a certain number of hours you must work. Inquire about these details at your local resort so you know what you’re in for!
Ask your local resort about Instructor Training programs.
Some ski resorts offer Instructor-in-Training programs where you can learn about ski instruction and shadow instructors. For example, Killington Ski Resort has a Coaches in Training program for teens. These types of programs might not be advertised publicly, and also might not be run on a formal basis, so call up your local mountain and ask. You may have to ask the Ski Instruction department directly. If there is no formal program, ask about opportunities to shadow instructors or assist with lessons.
Register with Professional Ski Instructors of America.
New instructors can register with the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) before they are certified. This will give you access to the latest news and education materials that will prepare you for the exam. Contact your PSIA Division Office for a new member packet. Here’s more about joining the PSIA:
Study up, and attend clinics!
PSIA offers study materials to help prepare you for the exam. Before taking the assessment, new members are required to participate in training clinics. For an example of what’s required, check out the PSIA exam prerequisites, which includes the specific training courses you have to take and also provides educational resources. Once you register with the PSIA and log in online, you can access additional educational material specific to your region. Check out these links for more about exam material:
- PSIA West Alpine Educational Materials
- PSIA Central Become A Snowsport Instructor
- PSIA East Exam Guide
Take the Level One PSIA Exam.
Check with your division about where the exam is offered. Generally, a Level One exam will be mainly on snow, without a written exam, but this may change annually or based on your region. Written exams are usually required for upper level certification.
Apply for jobs at your local ski resort.
Start looking for jobs early. Ski resorts advertise instruction jobs as early as the summer, and often host job fairs where you can inquire about applying for an instruction job.
Stay updated with your certification!
Once you are certified, stay updated with the PSIA. You’ll need to pay your dues, and take clinics or training courses to stay updated with your certification. You can check online to see what you need to do, based on your level and region.
Not planning on teaching in America?
If you aren’t planning on teaching skiing in America, refer to these resources for more information: