What to do before booking your gap year ski instructor course.
Once you’ve decided you’d like to become a ski instructor, the next big step is choosing a course! There are loads of providers and schools all over the world who can help you get qualified. So how on earth do you choose the course and provider that’s right for you?
We’ve put together a handy guide to help you choose and prepare for your next big adventure.
Do your Research
Like we said, there are tons of courses out there, so it’s really important you choose one that fits you. When looking at their websites, make sure to ask yourself the following questions;
- What are you getting for your money? Some companies will appear to be cheaper, but may not include important parts like exam fees or catering. You don’t want to turn up in resort and find you won’t be fed for 11 weeks!
- Are they a reputable company and training provider? Have they been operating for a long time, and have experience running courses? What kind of pass-rate do they have for their courses?
- What matters to them? It’s always wise to choose a company that has the same goals and values as you do. Check out their Social Media feeds and blogs to get a vibe of what they’re all about, and find out how they look after trainees before, during and after the course. Continued support is a sign that they’re looking to help you, not just take your money!
This is a big one – for many people it can be the key deciding factor. It’s fair to say that a ski instructor course isn’t cheap, so you should aim for getting the highest quality, most inclusive course for your money.
Like we mentioned above, it’s really important to check what’s included so you can budget accordingly. It’s great to be able to arrive in resort and have everything ready for you. Key things to check are the number of training hours (not including exam hours), standard of the accommodation, catering package, and if (all) exam fees are included. It’s even better if there are extras thrown in too!
And if an 11 week traditional gap course is still breaking the bank, there are lots of other options to consider, like taking your Level 1 in the UK, or doing a short course. These tend to be less inclusive and rely on you doing more yourself.
Choose your Resort
One of the biggest decisions for trainee instructors is where they’d like to train! If you plan to work or continue training as an instructor after the course, it’s really important that you work backwards on this one.
If you plan to work in Canada after your course, it’s best to aim for a Canadian qualification (CSIA) so you should be looking at resorts such as Whistler, Banff etc. Same goes for New Zealand or Australia.
However if you’d like to work in Europe or have the option to move around, the British Association of Snowsport Instructors (BASI) is most likely the best qualification system for you. A BASI Level 2 allows you to work almost anywhere in the world.
So now you’ve narrowed it down a bit, you can start looking at providers who offer your chosen qualification, and decide between the resorts they train in. You can use resources such as the providers website (they usually have resort profiles), the Telegraph Resort Guides and sites like OnTheSnow who have reviews from fellow skiers for you to browse.
Chat on the phone / Email your questions
If you’re a bit stuck on where to go and why, the best next step is to simply ask! Speaking from experience, we love to chat to people about their skiing and what they want from a course – it’s a passion we share with you. You can usually call them directly, request a brochure or send them an email. It’s their job to help you find the right fit, so don’t hesitate to ask as many questions as possible. It’s much better for you to spend lots of time making sure it’s the right choice, rather than go into the course worried and with doubts. Plus, it’s much more fun that way!
Meet the Team
Many training providers will set up opportunities for you to meet them before the course. For example, we run Open Days in the UK for trainees to meet trainers and ski with them. Alternatively, if you’re out in the Alps during the winter you can request to ski with one of their instructors, or meet a team member.
These meets are great for two reasons; 1) You have the chance to ask a genuine ski instructor some questions and find out how they became qualified and 2) You get a good feel of who the company are. It’s pretty hard to fake genuine passion for skiing and developing people, so hopefully you’ll be reassured that you’re on the right track.
Start your training early
It’s never too early to start preparing for a course, and something you can do to help you come winter is start getting ski fit!
Many trainees turn up to courses without preparing physically, but 11 weeks of 6 hour days on snow can take their toll if you’re not ready. Use the summer months to get in the gym, increase your plyometric abilities and increase your cardio fitness. It could make all the difference between passing that final exam and being too tired to ski. It’s something you can control, so why wouldn’t you make it easier for yourself? Most companies should provide a fitness programme, or point you in the right direction for getting prepared.