Skiing in Canada and, more generally, across North America will feel incredibly different if you are used to skiing in Europe.
The first thing to talk about is snowfall. Many people will say that they have experienced better, more consistent powder in Canada than in Europe. They are probably right. Whistler Blackcomb has an average annual snowfall of 11.38 metres. To put that in perspective, some of the most snow-sure resorts in France, Tignes and Val d’Isere, get 4.5 metres.
If thinking about taking a ski instructor job in Canada, do make sure you do your research. Not every resort is as snow sure as Whistler, and resorts on the East Coast can get very mixed reviews.
The big difference you will notice on snow is around the perception of off-piste skiing. In most European ski areas, you have marked pisted runs, which are patrolled and secured by Pisteurs. The remaining terrain that does not impact any marked runs is only lightly managed. Decisions on the safety of skiing this terrain are left entirely to the individual, and good knowledge of avalanche safety and rescue techniques are essential.
In most of North America, things are a little different. While the resort does have pisted/groomed runs and non-pisted areas, everything within the resort boundary is patrolled and secured. If parts of the resort are deemed unsafe due to avalanche or other risks, that part of the resort is closed. Theoretically, this means that you can ski anywhere within the resort boundary without avalanche safety gear. Accidents do still happen, and we would still encourage you to wear safety gear.
Outside of the resort boundary, you are on your own, and you must have a full avalanche safety kit and a high level of avalanche awareness.
The differences don’t stop there. In many North American resorts, the entire resort infrastructure is owned and operated by one company. This means there is only one ski school, and they will work closely with the resort management to create a great learning environment for clients. Generally, these schools are also better positioned to help with staff accommodation.
While there are many positives to one company owning and operating the entire resort, the lack of competition can have its downsides. Prices at some resorts are considerably higher than in Europe, and Instructor pay can be a lot lower.
On average, as a ski instructor in Canada, you can expect to earn.
- BASI Level 1/CSIA Level 1 or equivalent – $10 – $13 per hour
- BASI Level 2/CSIA Level 2 or equivalent – $15 – $18 per hour
- BASI Level 3/CSIA Level 3/equivalent or above – $20 – $25 per hour
In addition to your hourly pay, there is more of a tipping culture in North America, and you may find the cost of living is a little lower.