How Much Does It Cost To Become A Ski Instructor? [Expert Review!]

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Many people dream of carving their own trail through the snow and experiencing majestic views of pristine white landscapes. For some, it is a distant, glorious goal they will one day achieve. For others, it is a daily reality, a way of life they have chosen and continue to embrace.

If you are one of the thousands of people who have found solace in sharing the passion for skiing with children, then the cost of becoming a ski instructor may not seem too daunting. After all, you will be able to rely on the luxury of being able to spend your evenings off coaching and guiding your favorite sport.

The reality, however, is that carving your own trail through the snow, enjoying magnificent views of pristine white landscapes and sharing your passion for skiing with children may not be as carefree as you had originally imagined. Far from being an economic option, becoming a ski instructor is a financially rewarding but also a professionally demanding and physically demanding career path. It also requires additional education and training beyond high school, not to mention the time it takes to complete a ski-in/ski-out novice course. There is also the issue of living a life devoted to the winter sport you love, which can be challenging when summer is already upon us.

The Paycheck

While the job itself does not require a large amount of cash to be paid, the lifestyle it supports can certainly create a financial burden for an individual. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in April 2019 that the average annual wage for a ski instructor in the US was $42,170. For comparison, the average wage for all professional occupations in the US was $51,690 (middle 20% of all occupations).

According to the same report, the highest average wages were earned by employees in the ski resorts of Park City, Utah, and Aspen, Colorado, where the average annual wage for a ski instructor was $73,320 and $75,190, respectively (top 10% of all occupations).

In addition to the above average wages, ski instructors in the US also enjoy the benefit of working in a ski resort, which provides them with additional opportunities for professional development and growth. The job also lends itself to additional travel and teaching opportunities, both within the US and abroad. Not all ski instructors, however, are fortunate enough to work in a ski resort. In fact, only about 10% of the jobs available are located in a ski resort (BLS).

The Education

One of the main prerequisites for becoming a ski instructor is a completed high school education. In the case of private instructors, a bachelor’s degree is also needed. In addition to a high school diploma or a bachelor’s degree, potential ski instructors should also have a working knowledge of English. Furthermore, to remain competitive, any additional education or training beyond high school is highly encouraged. While a Certificate IV in Ski Injury Prevention and Recovery is not required, it certainly helps. In fact, being able to consistently work at a high level of physical fitness and skill is essential if you want to keep your job. For those interested in pursuing a career in ski safety and health, a Certificate IV in Ski Injury Prevention and Recovery is generally accepted as sufficient for entry-level employment. The International Ski Instructors Association (ISIA) also recommends that prospective instructors complete at least a 12-week winter season ski instructor course. This is widely considered to be the minimum acceptable standard for teaching ski techniques and safety to novices.

The Demand

The demand for ski instructors far exceeds the available supply, particularly in the ski resort areas of America. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently about 16,900 job openings for ski instructors in the US. This figure is expected to increase by 20% in the coming year (18,300 job openings expected).

In short, if you are looking for a stable, full-time job with good pay and the opportunity to advance within the company, then working as a ski instructor may be the ideal choice for you. Traveling to and from the slopes and spending your evenings off teaching and guiding novices are just some of the additional perks that come with the job. To help you decide if this is the right career path for you, let’s take a quick look at the various factors that make up the salary and benefits of a ski instructor.

Hourly Rate

Hourly rate is the amount of money you will be paid per hour for the work you do. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the hourly rate for a ski instructor ranged from $25 to $40 in April 2019, with the average being $31.45. This is a good range for the industry and not too far from the national average, which is $26.67 (top 20% of all occupations).

As mentioned above, the highest average wages were earned by instructors in Park City, Utah, and Aspen, Colorado, where the average hourly rate was $40 and $41.50, respectively (top 10% of all occupations).

Extent of Flexibility

This refers to the ability to work at a flexible schedule that allows you to interact with customers and co-workers on a regular basis. To qualify as a ski instructor, you must be able to work either full-time or part-time, as required. At least 40 hours per week is needed for a full-time position, so flexibility in hours is an important consideration for those who want to pursue this career path.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the majority of ski instructors in the US (68.3%) report that they have some level of flexibility in terms of hours and scheduling. In addition, 15% report having a great deal of flexibility, while only 6.7% report having no flexibility at all. The good news is that those who do report having great deal of flexibility are likely to earn higher wages than those who do not (75K vs 47K, on average).

Teaching And Coaching

This refers to the amount of time you spend working with and teaching new and aspiring skiers. After completing a ski-in/ski-out novice course, you may be required to complete additional sessions with individual students to teach them the fundamental techniques and safety measures associated with skiing. In addition to this, you will also be expected to coach and guide novices on the slopes, helping them improve their skiing skills and confidence.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 59% of ski instructors in the US teach others; 16% of the jobs are solely coaching or guiding novices. This is a physically demanding task, which requires a great deal of stamina and concentration. The good news is that the number of people seeking this sort of employment has risen by 19% in the past year and is expected to continue to rise in the coming year. This is a clear sign that more and more people are embracing the career path of a ski instructor.

In addition to the above, it is also worth noting that about 22% of the jobs available are in Australia, Canada, and Europe, where the employment is likely to remain relatively stable in the coming years.

Travel

Travel is another important consideration if you want to make the most of your job as a ski instructor. This refers to the amount of time you spend away from home, either in the US or abroad, teaching and demonstrating the craft of skiing. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 62% of the jobs for ski instructors are located in the US, with the remainder being found in Canada, Europe, and Australia. Travel is not limited to the time you spend on the slopes though, as you will also be expected to travel domestically and internationally to provide educational workshops and to give lectures. The good news is that, as a ski instructor, you will have the opportunity to travel both domestically and internationally, with most jobs offering some level of flexibility regarding the time you are required to travel.

Benefits

While we have covered a lot of information regarding the salary and requirements for a ski instructor, there is also the important topic of benefits. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics offers the following benefits to employees:

  • Paid Leave
  • Health Insurance
  • Vision Insurance
  • Dental Insurance
  • Life Insurance
  • AD&D (Accident Disability & Dependency)
  • Long-Term Disability Insurance
  • Paid Parental Leave

The above represents a significant amount of financial security for a young person who is entering the workforce. It is also worth noting that all of the above items are generally available to individuals who are part of a union.

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