Working as Ski / Snowboard Instructors (Part 1): Background

I’ve been thinking about writing on how to promote yourself as a ski or snowboard instructor for a while now, there are so many ideas that it might take several pages to finish writing, so I’ve decided to break it into different sections and write a bit each day.  Let’s start with the background on why we need to promote ourselves. (I might be editing it later as I write more or getting comments from readers)

1. Working in British Columbia

Ski and Snowboard instructors are seen as great career choice to the general public because of ski movies such as Aspen Extreme where instructors are portrayed as having great lifestyles.  In some countries, such as France, Instructors are respected and paid as much as lawyers and doctors.  Within a ski resort, instructors are disliked by other mountain staffs because staffs from other departments are under the misconceptions that instructors get paid for skiing or riding around.


Where in reality, “instructors get paid peanuts”.  In British Columbia, part time instructors have to be on the hill for 8 hours (1 day) and gets paid a minimum of 2 hours, and full time instructors need to be on the hill for 40+ hours a week and gets paid a minimum of 20 hours a week.  Even though the hourly wage is great, but if you average out the time instructors spent on the hill, they actually get paid minimum wage or lower than minimum wage.  The free lift pass is a great benefit but if you need to pay rent, eat, or go to the movies, you probably do not make enough to cover it.

Lots of foreigners came over to Canada to teach in ski resorts for a ski holiday but finds out they do not make enough to cover rent and had to return home (source: WhistlerWatch).  In the previous years, if an instructor gets hurt at Whistler, they would get placed in restaurants or another desk job.  This year, because of recession, any instructor that gets hurt would get laid off.

Read on for ways to make a living as a ski / Snowboard Instructor…

4 Responses

  1. We were looking at perhaps doing out instructor level 1 next year. (Robyn her ski and I snowboard). We have friends bugging us to join Ski Patrol with them too.

    I mean I don’t expect getting a job but to have the option of perhaps instructing once a week or something might be fun.

  2. Totally true. It’s definitely a job for someone with a passion for being on the mountain and spreading the stoke, not for anyone who is just in it for the money and a free lift pass.

  3. Hey, thanks for the link buddy!

    I’m currently hurt right now, but I hurt myself while I was working. I messed up my knee pretty badly (but not that badly), and I’ll be out for two weeks.

    Because I did it on company time, I’ll be getting WCB (compensation), and my job is technically secure. But if I wasn’t getting paid while I messed up my knee, that is where the problem happens.

    They have the ability to put me in light duties, but they haven’t yet. Intrawest doesn’t have the jobs this year. It’s lame.

    It’s so sad to see people have to head home. 😦

  4. This is a great article about ski instructors that mentions all the local mountains:

    One of my friends is mentioned in it – Nigel Banks – he’s an Exec with Life Labs as his full time day job, but instructs at Cypress on the weekends. He learned to ski in his 40s and loves it so much he wants to share it with others… especially those who are learning older than the norm.

    I don’t think anyone gets into the ski industry to make money… not in North America, anyway. Skiing in Europe is very different. The mountain ranges go on forever and there is little to no patrol. You need to know where you’re going and how to get there.

    BTW, Aspen Extreme was one of my FAVOURITE movies lol! Go Powder 8’s!

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