How Much Do Ski Instructors Make?

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If you have a passion for skiing and enjoy teaching others, becoming a ski instructor might seem like the perfect career path. But before embarking on this journey, it’s important to understand the financial aspect of the job.

The salary of a ski instructor can vary widely depending on multiple factors such as the level of certification, location, experience, and type of employer. Understanding these factors will enable aspiring ski instructors to make informed decisions about their chosen path.

In this article, we’ll explore the different factors that affect ski instructor wages and provide insight into how much ski instructors typically earn. We’ll also take into account the pros and cons of working as a ski instructor and the potential for career growth within the industry. By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of whether a career in ski instructing is right for you and what you could expect regarding salary and benefits.

“Money doesn’t buy happiness, but knowing your worth and being compensated fairly definitely helps.” -Unknown

Discover the Salaries of Ski Instructors

If you have a passion for skiing, then being a ski instructor is a great way to turn your hobby into a job. However, before jumping in, it’s important to understand how much ski instructors make and what factors can influence their earnings.

Understanding the Average Salaries of Ski Instructors

According to, the average salary for a ski instructor is around $17 per hour. This equates to an annual wage of approximately $31,000 based on an eight-hour day and a five-day workweek. However, this figure can vary depending on several factors such as qualifications, experience, location, and demand.

It’s worth noting that while the salary may not seem high compared to other professions, many ski resorts offer additional perks such as free accommodation or discounted lift passes, making it a more attractive proposition. Additionally, some ski instructors also receive tips from clients, which can significantly boost their income.

Factors that Influence the Earnings of Ski Instructors

The following factors can impact the amount that ski instructors earn:

  • Qualifications: The higher the level of certification, the higher the salary. For example, instructors with PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America) Level 3 certification can earn upwards of $25 per hour, while those with Level 1 certification typically earn less than $20 per hour.
  • Experience: Experienced instructors with a proven track record are generally valued more highly by employers and can expect to command a higher rate of pay.
  • Location: Salaries can vary widely depending on the region. Ski resorts in areas with high living costs, such as Aspen or Vail in Colorado, usually offer higher salaries than those in less expensive regions.
  • Demand: The ski industry is seasonal, and the demand for instructors can vary throughout the year. Instructors who work during peak periods, such as Christmas or February half-term, are likely to earn more than those working during quieter periods.

It’s also worth noting that some ski instructors may have additional sources of income, such as teaching private lessons or working as a freelance instructor outside of their main role at a resort. This can provide an opportunity to increase earnings, although it can also involve longer hours and self-promotion.

Comparing the Salaries of Ski Instructors in Different Regions

The average salary of a ski instructor is not consistent across all regions. As previously mentioned, ski resorts located in areas with high living costs typically pay their instructors a higher wage. For example, according to, the average hourly rate for ski instructors in Aspen, Colorado, was around $21 per hour, while in Park City, Utah, it was closer to $17 per hour.

It’s important to consider the cost of living when comparing different regions. According to, the cost of living in Aspen is 42% higher than the national average, while in Park City, it’s only 5% above the national average. Therefore, while wages may be higher in Aspen, this doesn’t necessarily equate to a higher standard of living.

Tips for Negotiating a Better Salary as a Ski Instructor

If you’re looking to increase your salary as a ski instructor, there are a few strategies you can employ:

  • Become certified: Higher-level certifications often equate to a higher hourly rate, so investing in further training can be a smart move.
  • Gain experience: The more experience you have, the more valuable you are likely to be to your employer. Position yourself as an expert in your field and showcase positive outcomes from previous lessons or clients.
  • Consider remote locations: Resorts located in less popular destinations may struggle to attract instructors and could therefore offer higher rates of pay. It’s worth doing some research to find out which resorts are currently recruiting.
  • Network: Attend relevant industry events, such as conferences or workshops, to meet other professionals and potentially discover new opportunities. A strong professional network is key to maximizing earnings potential.

Another option to explore is transitioning into a management role, such as becoming a ski school director. While this requires additional qualifications and experience, it can translate into a substantial increase in salary.

“To earn more money through skiing, become an instructor at top-tier resorts like Vail or Aspen.” -Samantha Barnes, Forbes contributor

While being a ski instructor may not make you rich, it’s certainly possible to earn a comfortable living whilst doing something you love. By understanding what influences salaries within the industry and exploring different strategies for increasing earnings, you can successfully pursue a rewarding career on the slopes.

Factors that Affect the Pay of Ski Instructors

Experience and Qualifications

The pay of ski instructors may differ depending on their experience and level of qualifications. In general, those with more years of experience and higher certifications tend to earn higher salaries. For example, a newly certified instructor may make an hourly wage of around $12-$15, while an experienced instructor with advanced certifications can make up to $50 per hour.

The Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA), the organization responsible for certifying ski instructors in the United States, offers different levels of certification based on skills, knowledge, and teaching ability. The highest level, Level III, is reserved for expert-level instructors who have completed rigorous training and demonstrated mastery in all aspects of ski instruction.

Having additional specialized certifications such as coaching or adaptive skiing can also increase earning potential. According to Ski Instructor World, some instructors may be able to negotiate higher wages if they have first aid or avalanche safety certifications as well.

Location and Seasonal Demand

Aside from experience and qualifications, location and seasonal demand are also important factors that affect how much ski instructors make. Resorts located in popular tourist destinations tend to attract larger crowds and generate more revenue, which can result in higher pay for instructors. Additionally, resorts that offer luxury amenities and high-end services may also pay their instructors more to maintain a certain standard of quality.

On the other hand, ski resorts in less popular areas or smaller mountains may have lower rates of pay due to fewer visitors and less revenue. Moreover, the demand for instructors can fluctuate throughout the season. There may be fewer ski lessons offered during mid-week compared to weekends, meaning instructors may need to rely on private lessons to supplement their income.

In addition, fluctuations in the number of international visitors can also affect seasonal demand for ski instructors. According to Inside Asia Tours, there has been an increase in Chinese tourists visiting Japanese ski resorts, leading to a higher demand for English-speaking instructors during peak seasons.

Experience and qualifications, coupled with location and seasonal demand are key factors that determine how much ski instructors make. Aspiring instructors should consider these factors when choosing where to work and what certifications to pursue to ensure maximum earning potential.

Top Paying Ski Instructor Jobs

If you have a passion for skiing and teaching, becoming a ski instructor may be the perfect career path for you. However, before you decide to pursue this job, it’s important to consider how much you can expect to earn as a ski instructor. In general, salaries for ski instructors vary widely based on factors such as location, experience, and certifications. Here are some of the top paying ski instructor jobs:

Ski Instructor Trainer

A ski instructor trainer is responsible for training other ski instructors in various levels of instruction from beginner to advanced. They design lesson plans and lead training sessions to help instructors improve their skills and knowledge. This position typically requires several years of experience and additional certifications beyond what is required for regular ski instructors.

The average salary for a ski instructor trainer is around $45,000 per year, but some trainers can make upwards of $80,000 or more depending on their level of experience and expertise.

“As a full-time ski school director and part-time examiner with PSIA-AASI (Professional Ski Instructors of America-American Association of Snowboard Instructors), Lisa Ballard helped train one of the biggest staffs in the country—1,700 at seven resorts in three different states.” -SKI Magazine

Ski School Director

A ski school director manages all aspects of a ski school, including scheduling lessons, hiring and training instructors, and ensuring that safety protocols are followed. This role typically requires extensive experience as both a ski instructor and a manager, as well as additional certifications and qualifications.

The average salary for a ski school director is around $75,000 per year, but experienced directors can make over $100,000 per year.

“Ski schools add an element of stability to a ski town. They provide good-paying jobs, which is key to the overall health of the community.” -Sierra Magazine

Private Ski Instructor

A private ski instructor works one-on-one with clients who are looking to improve their skiing skills or have a more personalized experience on the slopes. Private instructors can typically charge higher rates than those working for ski schools because they offer customized lessons and individual attention.

The average hourly rate for a private ski instructor ranges from $80 to $200 per hour depending on location, experience, and demand. Some private instructors can make over $1,000 in a day, especially during peak season or holidays.

“Working as a private ski instructor means long hours, but it also gives me the flexibility to take time off during the week if I need to. Plus, the pay is great.” -Anonymous ski instructor

While these three job types may be some of the top paying positions available to ski instructors, it’s important to note that salaries can vary widely based on many factors. It’s always a good idea to research current market trends and salary averages in your area before pursuing a career as a ski instructor or any other job.

Benefits of Being a Ski Instructor

Flexible Working Hours

One of the main benefits of being a ski instructor is the flexibility in working hours. Most ski resorts operate during the winter season, which means instructors have the option to work part-time/full-time for 5-6 months out of the year, leaving the rest of the year free.

The ability to choose between full-time and part-time work is another added perk, allowing for vacation days or other commitments without compromising job security. This also ensures an ideal work-life balance that most ski enthusiasts dream of.

Access to Free Skiing and Other Perks

Ski instructing comes with its own set of benefits and perks including access to free skiing – something every ski-lover dreams of! In addition, many resorts offer reimbursement for gear, lessons, and accommodations. Staff housing is typically provided at discounted rates or sometimes even free of charge, allowing instructors to save more money while pursuing their passion.

Some resorts even throw social events for instructors and staff, creating opportunities for fun on and off the slopes. These events can include anything from après-ski parties to organized tours of nearby areas.

Opportunities for Career Advancement

Though it may seem like seasonal work, ski instruction provides ample opportunity for career advancement. Many ski instructors begin as level one/entry-level skiers but gradually progress through formal training programs to become certified pros.

Instructors who show exceptional skills and enthusiasm often get promoted to senior positions such as Head Trainer/Director, Kids Program Coordinator/Supervisor, etc. Experience gained by skiing on different terrains and handling diverse clientele also adds value to resumes, making them attractive to employers looking for skilled professionals.

Ability to Work in Beautiful Scenic Locations

Ski resorts are set up in some of the most attractive and breathtaking alpine destinations across the world, offering unworldly scenic views and exciting outdoor recreation activities. Ski instructors get a chance to work amidst these postcard-perfect settings while earning handsome paychecks.

The experience allows for exposure to various cultures from around the world, making ski instruction one of the best travel jobs out there that could lead to a lifetime’s worth of incredible experiences.

“Skiing is not just a sport; it is something that penetrates deeply into your soul.” -Dolores LaChapelle

Being a ski instructor is extremely rewarding both financially and experientially as well. With exciting opportunities for growth, flexible schedules, free access to skiing, staff housing at discounted rates/free of charge, etc., individuals who love skiing and enjoy teaching should consider ski instructing as an ideal career choice.

How to Become a High-Paid Ski Instructor?

Get Certified by a Recognized Ski Instructor Association

If you want to become a high-paid ski instructor, the first step is to get certified by a recognized ski instructor association. Different countries have various organizations that provide training and certification for ski instructors.

The certification process typically involves passing both written and practical exams. It evaluates your skiing skills, teaching abilities, and knowledge of safety procedures. The higher the level of certification you achieve, the more experience and skill you are expected to have, and thus can command a higher salary.

“To be an excellent ski instructor, it’s not enough just to be a good skier. You need to have exceptional communication skills, patience, and a genuine enthusiasm for helping others improve their skiing technique.” -Peggy Shinn

Gain Experience and Build a Strong Reputation

Once you obtain your certification, gaining experience is essential if you want to become successful and earn a high income as a ski instructor. By working at smaller resorts or ski schools, you can refine your teaching techniques and deepen your understanding of different levels of skiers while building up your reputation along the way.

As you start receiving positive reviews from students or colleagues, you’ll create a strong portfolio of work that will help you attract potential clients in the future. Experienced instructors also tend to receive referrals for freelance work or private lessons offering flexibility and better pay.

“Being able to connect with guests on a personal level and share my passion for skiing is what has helped me build a loyal base of repeat customers over the years.” -Erik Guay

Network with Other Ski Instructors and Industry Professionals

In addition to gaining experience and building a good reputation, networking is critical if you want to increase your job opportunities and earning potential. By connecting with other ski instructors or industry professionals online or at events, you can expand your network and learn from others’ experiences and skills.

Don’t be afraid to attend conferences, workshops, or ski trade shows where you can meet decision-makers in the skiing industry who might recruit you for a more high-paying position. You may also discover new career paths related to skiing that you haven’t considered before, which can help you broaden your skill set and income options further.

“Skiing is all about connection; it’s knowing how to connect efficiently on skis with the mountain and teaching others to do the same. The stronger your professional connections, the better your chances of success will be – on and off the slopes.” -Mike Hardaker
In conclusion, achieving success as a high-paid ski instructor requires hard work, dedication, and commitment throughout your career. By obtaining certification, gaining experience, building a strong reputation, and networking with like-minded professionals, you can earn an attractive salary while enjoying your passion for skiing.

Top Ski Resorts for Instructors to Earn Big

Aspen, Colorado

When it comes to earning big as a ski instructor, there are not many places that can match what Aspen, Colorado has to offer. Not only is this location known for its luxurious resorts and world-class ski slopes, but it is also one of the highest paying locations for ski instructors in North America.

In fact, according to data from Zippia, ski instructors in Aspen make an average hourly wage of $24.08, with some experienced instructors making up to $67 an hour.

Moreover, Aspen attracts high-end clients who are more likely to take private lessons, which can mean more money for instructors. Private lesson rates range from $630-$770 per day depending on the time of year.

“Many well-heeled patrons request top level pros at premium prices—upwards of $1k a day,” – Matt Donovan, executive director of the Aspen Snowmass Ski, Snowboard Schools.

This makes Aspen an ideal destination for experienced and skilled ski instructors looking to earn big.

Whistler, British Columbia

Located just north of Vancouver, Whistler is Canada’s largest ski resort and is home to some of the best skiing terrain in North America. It’s also another great destination for ski instructors hoping to pad their bank accounts.

The average hourly wage for ski instructors in Whistler ranges between $14 and $30, with veteran coaches earning larger sums. However, compared to other ski resorts, Whistler offers potentially higher earnings due to hosting major international events like the 2010 Winter Olympics. This usually attracts affluent visitors willing to pay top dollar for personalized instruction.

In addition, Whistler has one of the biggest ski schools in North America, which means more teaching opportunities for instructors. Ski and snowboard lessons at Whistler can range from $169 to over $1,000 a day, so getting more high-paying private lesson requests could mean a significant financial boost.

“You’ll make enough money to live comfortably anywhere else,” – Tomasz Chmielewski, veteran instructor at Whistler Blackcomb.

Both Aspen and Whistler are among the top destinations for skilled ski instructors looking for big paydays. Whether you’re an experienced veteran or someone just starting out, these locations offer great opportunities to earn big and hone your craft while doing what you love.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the average salary for a ski instructor?

The average salary for a ski instructor varies depending on location and experience. On average, ski instructors can expect to make between $10 and $25 per hour. However, experienced instructors in popular ski resorts can make upwards of $40 per hour. Additionally, some resorts offer benefits such as free or discounted lift tickets and housing which can increase the value of their compensation package.

Do ski instructors make more money in certain regions or ski resorts?

Ski instructors can make more money in certain regions or ski resorts. Generally, popular ski resorts with high demand for lessons and experienced instructors offer higher pay. For example, ski resorts in Aspen, Vail, and Jackson Hole are known to offer higher salaries for ski instructors. Some ski resorts also offer additional perks such as free or discounted lift tickets and housing, which can increase the value of their compensation package.

What factors affect the salary of a ski instructor?

The salary of a ski instructor is affected by several factors, including experience, location, demand for lessons, and certifications. Experienced instructors and those with additional certifications such as PSIA or CSIA can command higher salaries. Popular ski resorts with high demand for lessons also offer higher pay. Instructors who are bilingual or specialize in teaching advanced or specialized lessons can also earn more.

Are there opportunities for ski instructors to earn additional income through tips or private lessons?

Yes, ski instructors have opportunities to earn additional income through tips and private lessons. Instructors who provide exceptional service and instruction can receive generous tips from satisfied customers. Additionally, instructors can offer private lessons to individuals or groups for an additional fee. Some ski resorts also offer commission-based incentives for instructors who sell additional lessons or packages.

What is the highest salary a ski instructor can earn?

The highest salary a ski instructor can earn depends on their experience, certifications, and location. Experienced instructors with additional certifications such as PSIA or CSIA and those who specialize in teaching advanced or specialized lessons can command higher salaries. Instructors at popular ski resorts with high demand for lessons can also earn more. The highest salaries for ski instructors can range from $50,000 to $100,000 or more per year, depending on these factors.

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