Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Why to be a Ski Instructor

Before continuing the series on how to become a ski instructor, I thought I would take a moment to discuss why you might want to, and why you might not. Many people start on the road to ski instructing because they enjoy skiing and think getting paid to ski every day sounds like a pretty good deal. Well, there are days when it is like that, but you can easily spend a week teaching without leaving the beginner slope. This is particularly when you are starting out, but almost all instructors spend a considerable amount of their time teaching beginners.

Bad reasons for becoming a ski instructor then - to ski a lot, or to make money. If these are your sole motivation then you may want to reconsider. Perhaps you could get an evening job in resort (there are always plenty of bars and restaurants), or look for a well paid job in a city near the mountains (Geneva, Milan, Vancouver etc.) and ski at weekends. If you are good enough, especially at freestyle you could try and get sponsored - then you really do get paid to ski, but are also expected to work hard and promote the sponsors properly.

Enjoying skiing and being outdoors are obviously important, but for me the biggest reason for doing the job is the reward of teaching someone else to do the sport I love, especially if they are surprised by their own progress. Those hours on the beginnger slope are well spent if at the end of it the pupil has improved their skiing and their confidence. If you do not get anything out of the teaching side of the job you will not last long as an instructor. Expect to spend a lot of time in a snowplough (or wedge) on the instructor courses, and if you cannot see why this is necessary, again you might want to consider other options.

Here are a few other reasons given by instructors I know (most tongue in cheek):

  • Working outdoors, living in the mountains
  • Keeping fit walking up and down the beginner slope
  • Being paid to talk rubbish all day
  • Being second only to God
  • Altitude is the best hangover cure*
  • Apres-ski drinking is mandatory
  • The neck up goggles down tan line
  • The oh so flattering uniform and the chance to appear in the photo above...

*I have paraphrased this from a long story about getting very drunk in Austria, the hangover melting away in the cable car, the moment of revelation about future career choice - I won't repeat it here as I won't do it justice

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