Choosing Your Ski Instructor Course

Verbier Gap course 2018

Congratulations! You’re now one step closer to becoming a ski instructor, and beginning the most exciting winter of your life!

Once you have worked out how to become a ski instructor the next step is choosing the best ski instructor course that is right for you. The first thing you need to do is choose the instructor qualification system you want to use. If you are unsure about which system you want to use read this blog to help you make your choice.

What should you be considering?

The next thing to do is to start researching the various different ski instructor courses available to you within that system.
There are a few ways to do this, most of the qualification systems will have training partners that they have vetted and are happy meet a minimum quality standard. These will be advertised on the qualification systems website. It is worth point out though that there are still massive differences between these training partners. Just because they have met a minimum standard does not mean they are all the same in any way. With several providers offering courses in each system we recommend that you get a bit geeky while researching your ski instructor course and make a table! We have outlined one below with some of the things that we feel you should be considering.

Ski instructor course compariisons

Once you are really clear on what each ski instructor course includes then it is time to start working out what you want from your course. Some courses are more aimed at having a great time and loving skiing whereas others are more focused on kick-starting your career in ski instruction. There is no right or wrong as to which is better, it is completely up to you and your aims. On both, you will have the time of your life but you will enjoy it more if the other people on the course are on a similar wavelength to you.

Have you any instructor qualifications already?

If you’re new to the ski instructor world, it’s really important you get lots of information and advice before choosing your course. Many people choose a residential course as they cover all the modules required to become a qualified instructor in your chosen system (Level 2 in most cases) These are often called “gap” courses, but you don’t let the name mislead you-you don’t have to be on a gap year to do one!

If you’ve already qualified in one of the systems, you can move on to the next stage. For example, if you’re a BASI Level 1 already, you can work towards your BASI Level 2 with a shorter courseShould you wish to continue up the career ladder you can then move on to Levels 3 (ISIA) and (ISTD) – these courses often take the form of season-long training, or even “performance weeks”, but most people will need at least one season of training to complete either qualification. These qualifications are optional, but the higher the level, the higher the salary.

Is this a career or gap year?

If you’re looking for a productive gap year but still want to have a ton of fun and meet some great people whilst living on a mountain, you’ve absolutely come to the right place! Nothing can beat 10 or 11 weeks of skiing, trust us. If you’re going to University or work after your year out, you can still use your BASI Level 2 to teach in the holidays

If you’re looking for a career, this is a brilliant place to start. The BASI Level 2 will allow you to work in lots of European countries, as well as Australia, New Zealand, and Canada (see our Insiders Guide for more information). It’s a good idea to get training from a ski school as you’ll become part of the family, and your future career will be important to them. It’s a bonus if the school also has training programmes for Levels 3 and 4, so you can move through the pathway should you choose to.

Where do you want to work in the long run?

Many people make the mistake of assuming that every ski instructor system is the same, when in fact they are very different and which one you choose will affect your ability to work in certain areas. 

We always advise students to qualify in a system that suits their long term goals. The Canadian system (CSIA) is perfect for working in Canada but is not well recognised in Europe, so if you wish to work in Europe this isn’t the route for you. If you want to work in Canada only though, it’s perfect – other qualifications are recognised in Canada, but if a ski school had to choose between two people they’d probably go for the CSIA candidate. 

NZ and Australia have their own qualification systems too (NZSIA and APSI) which are not well recognised in Europe, but if your goal is to work in either country only, it’s the best system for you. 

The British system (BASI) will be more useful in Europe as it is recognised in the skiing nations such as Austria, Italy, and Switzerland. BASI Level 2 is highly sought after in New Zealand, Australia, and Japan too due to the higher level of international recognition. If you don’t want to be limited, BASI is the way to go. Remember if you are a UK resident and wish to work in North America, Japan, New Zealand or Australia you will require a working visa or permit – some ski schools may actually sponsor your visa. You don’t need a visa to train or work in European countries.

Do you need points for University courses?

BASIs qualifications have recently been aligned to the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) in partnership with the University of Edinburgh. This means that Levels 1 and 2 have recognised credits at Levels 6 & 7 of the SCQF scale (or 3/4 on the QCF scale) making it equivalent to an HNC or Certificate of Higher Education. This means any student who requires extra credit points (e.g. for University) can benefit academically from the BASI Level 2 qualification. Even if you don’t need points for Uni, the extra credits look great on your CV.

Would you like to ski for free by teaching in your holidays?

Even if you’re just doing a season for fun, you could still use your Level 2 to teach during your holidays (such as Uni term breaks) meaning you’d be paid to ski! Various companies hire instructors every year on a part-time basis and provide accommodation and pay in exchange for teaching groups during holiday weeks. You can even teach straight after your ski instructor course (provided you pass BASI Level 1), meaning you can extend your season and use your qualification at the same time!

Are you on a tight budget?

Doing a 10 or 11-week residential course is not cheap – but we believe it’s worth it. Everything you need and more is packed in to make sure you get the most bang for your buck, without compromising quality.

We know it’s not a realistic option for everyone – if you’re in this position, you might wish to consider doing your Level 1 in the UK (see below) and taking a shorter course in the winter to achieve your Level 2. This will reduce your costs but you won’t have the benefit of continuous training in the mountains or having all the modules organised for you, so it’s worth weighing up before you choose.

If you’re a strong skier you can also consider a shorter pre-season course, like our 8-week course in Stubai. It’s a little cheaper and means you’re qualified prior to the season, so you can work and start to earn those pennies back. There’s so much flexibility, you’re bound to find a course or path that suits you.

Would you consider doing your Level 1 in the UK?

Taking your Level 1 exam in the UK is relatively simple – all you need to do is sign up for your chosen date and location on the BASI website and buy a BASI membership. This option does have its drawbacks though – you’ll need to consider the other modules which you need to complete to finish the qualification; Outdoor First Aid course, Child Protection Module, Criminal Disclosure and 35 hours of shadowing. Residential courses are popular as they take the stress out of completing the qualification alone.

If you want to work anywhere except the indoor and dry slopes of the UK, it’s worth getting your Level 2 qualification too – our Fast Track course in November combines 2 weeks of training followed by the BASI Level 2 exam, and is perfect for people on a budget and who just need a little training boost before their exam.

BASI 1 in UK Snowdome Manchester

Are you happy to be away for Christmas?

Many courses (such as our Verbier course) begin early in the season to make sure you’re fully qualified before the peak weeks of Half Term and Easter. This does mean you’d be away from home during Christmas and New Years, whereas with January courses you wouldn’t. It’s up to your personal preference, but it is something to note when you choose a course.

What’s more important, being close to the slopes or après-ski?

No matter where you go, you’ll find great places to hang out post-ski, so don’t worry – you won’t miss out in any of our resorts! If après is really important to you though, Meribel is a big town with lots of variety and nightlife, with its own Folie Douce and on-slope hangouts. If your season goal is to get in as much skiing as possible, our Courchevel chalet is minutes away from the gondola to the slopes, meaning you have easy access to all three valleys.

What is next?

Spend time talking to the different providers, they are there to help you and should make this easy for you. Ask them questions and do not be afraid to do further research and question there answers. This is a huge decision and you need to be confident you are making the right decision. It’s a big decision, so if you have any questions or would like to chat with someone about your options, please don’t hesitate to email us at instructorcourses@skinewgen.com or request a brochure.

Alternatively, if you’re ready you can secure your spot on one of our courses here. You know you want to!

What are you waiting for? Start your adventure now!