Tuesday, 23 October 2007

How To Be A Ski Instructor. Part 3 - Finding A Job

Okay, so you've been on the courses and got yourself qualified as a ski instructor (see Part 1 - The Gap Course and Part 2 - Individual Courses). The next step is to find a job and be an actual ski instructor as well as qualified as one. If you passed last winter you have hopefully found a job for the winter. If you qualified in the summer, or if you hope to pass this autumn, it will be difficult (but not impossible) to find a full time instructor position abroad before the start of the season.

The problem facing newly qualified instructors, just like anyone newly qualified in any other profession, is that most employers are looking for people with experience. The work experience part of some qualifications and gap courses helps with this, but it is inescapable that you will be much more employable once you have some paid work experience on your CV.

If you are applying for jobs abroad, work at it hard and apply for as many as you can find. Look on the web, in the BASI news/course directory. Find contacts for as many ski schools as you can and phone them up. I will revisit overseas job applications in the spring, but for now I am going to look at other options to get the experience you need for your dream job in the Alps.

Firstly, look at the local artificial slopes. There are many indoor and dry ski slopes throughout the country and all of them employ ski instructors. Hours tend to be more evenings and weekends (though not exclusively) so can fit around other work or study. The busiest period runs from around October until March, as people visit before their winter holiday.

The second option is the peak week employer. There are a number of companies which employ instructors for a week or two at a time. These jobs are sometimes misleadingly advertised as part time instructor positions. The best known of these companies is Interski, who run a program of school ski trips in the Aosta Valley in Northern Italy throughout the winter. Interski and other companies offer a package including travel and half board accommodation, with lunches at mountain restaurants - basically a free trip with pay on top and around twenty five hours work. Many regular ski schools also take on extra staff at peak weeks (i.e. school holidays).

The final option I would suggest is Scottish skiing. There are five ski areas in Scotland, each with a ski school. My first season as an instructor was at Nevis Range (pictured above). I had a great winter and picked up a thorough grounding in every aspect of teaching skiing at instructor level. I taught private and group lessons of all abilities as well as school groups and adult ski club classes at the weekends. I also ran lifts when needed and helped in ski hire, skied with the patrollers in the mornings before work and had a much fuller experience of the mountain operation than in my subsequent seasons in New Zealand and Andorra.

So if you don't find yourself working in Verbier, Zermatt or St. Anton the winter after you qualify, stay positive. There are plenty of jobs out there and plenty of ways to gain the experience you need.

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