Instructor Certs - What you need to know
Being qualified as a ski/snowboard instructor is important for securing a job in the industry. Let's face it the job of an instructor is highly competitive and there is a higher demand for jobs than there is for instructors. I once attended an on snow interview where there were 80+ applicants for 6 positions.
Choosing which qualification route to take can sometimes be confusing as there are a number of national governing bodies or organisations through which you can become qualified. The most popular and well known of which include; CASI and CSIA (Canada), BASI (British), NZSIA (New Zealand), APSI (Australia) and PSIA (United States). However there are a number of other associations and I have met fellow instructors enjoying a successful career in the industry having qualified through other systems.
The organisation you choose does matter and it is worth doing extra reading into this before you make your decision. Whichever organisation you opt for should allow qualification to at least ISIA (International Ski Instructors Association) standard. By being certified to ISIA it shows that you have achieved an internationally set standard which is met at differing points on the varying systems.
Depending on the route you choose you will be required to undertake a set number of modules and levels as you progress through your training. Some routes like BASI will require you to become certified as an instructor in more than one discipline as you progress through the system. e.g. Skiing and Telemark, or Snowboard and Skiing. Others like CASI leave it as optional as whether you want to become dual certified. Do consider that becoming dual certified increases the amount of teaching you can do meaning you are more likely to get hired/get more work from a ski school.
How to Qualify
You essentially have three routes into instructing and this will kind of depend on how deep your pockets are and how confident you are in your skiing or snowboarding ability.
Becoming a instructor can be expensive and one of the most popular routes is by taking a GAP course. Just simply google snowboard GAP course and you will be inundated with options. This was the route that I took and depending on your personality and what you are looking to get out of your experience a course should appeal to you. For example I wasn't bothered about going to a party town like Banff or Whistler so I decided to go to Jasper in Alberta. The course was cheaper then most other courses I looked at but seemed to include more in the way of quality accommodation and meals. The instruction was first notch and we had an incredibly high pass rate meaning after the course we were able to secure jobs in the industry. The course I took is now being run by Ninja Academy Snowboarding.
Gap courses normally run for around 11 weeks and usually include training for your Level 1 and Level 2 exams. As a route for improving your riding and teaching ability GAP courses give you the opportunity to work on your skills whilst receiving high level coaching and feedback on a daily basis. I personally felt that doing a GAP course provided me with the best chance of success to get me started in the industry.
Sadly due to the cost of GAP courses doing the 11 week option isn't an option for everyone. So a shorter 3-4 week option which included training for your level 1 can be taken as a fast track into securing a job. With a level 1 in your pocket you can expect to get a job teaching beginner lessons. You will probably find that most of your work is with kids but don't be put off. Securing your Level 1 and a job within a ski school will get your foot in the door. Once employed by a ski school your opportunities for development will broaden with daily training from high level instructors. This is one way to offset the cost of expensive training courses. Being a CASI certified instructor I have found that free ski school training has helped me develop. This is not the case with all organisations who sometimes charge a lot more for development courses.
Do It On The Side
Another option is to get a job in resort and pay to train in your spare time. You can book onto courses as an individual and you do not need to be associated with a ski school to do so. You just head straight to your chosen organisations website and pay the fee's directly. This option allows you the flexibility to train in your free time, however you may find yourself restricted by your job. I know plenty of people who have made this work for them, using jobs as transfer drivers, chalet girls or bar work to pave their way in the industry. I would suggest this is certainly a harder route as the specific standards may be unclear until you reach the course. Luckily a lot of associations make videos for Youtube that explain the standards needed for each level.
The Bottom Line
Whichever route you decide to take, being an instructor opens your world to opportunities to work internationally and in the best office you could ask for. You will be surrounded by like minded people who are passionate about the sport you love, and there is always the opportunity for first tracks on powder days!
If you have any questions about becoming an instructor, just comment below or hit us up on any of our social channels.