Ski Instructor  What They Do

Just the Facts

Insider Info

dotSki instructors teach skiing and snowboarding to people who want to learn the sport. They teach all levels of students, from beginners who can't stay upright to experts who want to improve their technique.

dotSki instructors may teach one student at a time in private lessons. Or they may teach a group of people as part of a class.

dotIn recent years, snowboarding has become quite popular. Many people have been given up their skis for snowboards! For this reason, ski instructors need to be able to teach people how to snowboard as well as ski.

dotSki instructors are responsible for teaching students how to ski. This involves explaining safety rules and helping students with their ski equipment.

Instructors must be able to ski and guide their students down the hill. Yet instructors say the most important part of the job is to teach students to have fun.

"We're in the business of creating lifelong skiers," says California ski instructor Martin Davies.

dotSki instructors spend most of their time outdoors. When they're not teaching students how to ski, they're practicing their own skiing skills.

"It's important to go over the runs on your own a few times a week, because a lot of time you're teaching beginning classes on the bunny hill and you don't challenge yourself that way," says Vermont ski instructor Deborah Ehrenreich.

"Taking on the difficult runs a few times a week keeps you from getting rusty and, well, it's a lot of fun!"

dotWhile skiing skills are important, good communications skills are what make a successful ski instructor.

"When you're teaching a variety of lessons from beginner to advanced, you have to be capable of imparting that information to a wide range of people who have different learning styles," says Arden Thompson, a ski instructor from Australia.

"The way I explain certain things to my very young students is quite different from my seniors' classes."

dotWorking with people is always a challenge. Instructors say most of their students are pleasant and easy to deal with, but a ski instructor still must be prepared to deal with a disruptive and rude student.

"This is when it's really important to have good communication skills, to be a good people person. Ski instructors can teach people to ski and board, but we can't teach them to be nice people," says Davies.

dotThe working conditions are pleasant, says longtime skier and instructor Martin Olson. "You are always among people on holiday or doing recreation, so it is usually a clean, friendly atmosphere to work in."

dotMost ski instructors work during the day. Yet the popularity of night skiing at many ski resorts has some instructors working in the evenings.

dotSki instructors work for ski schools, which are located at the ski hill or resort. The schools charge students for each lesson and then pay the instructors for every lesson they teach. The instructors get paid a percentage of what each student pays for lessons.

dot Ski hills are lucky to be open for six months of the year, so even the busiest ski instructor has to find another form of employment for half a year. Being a ski instructor is a "lifestyle" job.

At a Glance

Teach others how to ski and snowboard

  • Not everyone who can ski will be able to teach others how to ski
  • Good communications skills are what make a successful ski instructor
  • Experience counts in this career