How Good at Skiing Do I Need to Be to Become a Ski Instructor?

by Simon Naylor | Updated: October 27th, 2022 |  Skiing Articles

Being a ski instructor comes with plenty of perks from free season passes to discounted meals, not to mention you get to be on the slopes all day long and get paid for it. With all this in mind, you might have asked yourself, “Am I a good enough skier to be a ski instructor?”

To be considered as a ski instructor, you do not need to be regarded as an expert skier. You must, however, be a strong, confident skier with an intermediate/advanced status.

The Importance of Skiing Well

There are some obvious reasons why you need to be a good skier to be a ski instructor. The most obvious being that you can’t teach a person to ski if you don’t understand and apply proper skiing techniques yourself.

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Nothing will prevent improvement more than learning bad habits or wrong techniques. So if you find that you have some of these bad habits or other ways you need to improve, fix it before you start teaching other skiers the same.

Other Skills You Need to Be a Ski Instructor

1. Confidence on the Slopes

Confidence doesn’t mean being fearless. You can be fearless skiing and still be terrible. It means you can execute turns efficiently and are clearly in control of your skis.

While most ski instructors didn’t start out as expert skiers in their instructing careers, you must have a clean, crisp style of skiing.

If you have trouble staying in control or often find yourself with your butt in the snow, you are definitely not ready to teach others the basics.

2. Understanding the Mechanics

You must also have explicit knowledge of ski technique and the mechanics so you can pass that knowledge on to others. Doing so will not only make you a good teacher but will also help you improve as a skier.

Few of us give much thought to our technique. After awhile skiing becomes second nature and analyzing it starts to feel like analyzing how you walk. It’s sometimes awkward and uncomfortable when you start thinking about it.

It’s crucial for ski instructors to break down their own techniques and even adjust them. That way, they can teach students properly and communicate the mechanics clearly.

3. Have a Love of Learning

Good instructors are first and foremost great students. The best teachers realize that they never stop learning. So having the attitude that being a ski instructor is going to help you progress as a skier will ensure that you are a successful teacher. In fact, most new instructors find that as they start training, their own skills start improving much faster as well.

If you go into ski instructing thinking that you know all there is to know about skiing, not only lose out on improving your own skills but will hinder the growth of your students.

Being an advanced skier is less critical to being an excellent instructor, than being a life long learner when it comes to the sport.

4. Being Enthusiastic

It is important to keep the lesson fun and upbeat for the student so they will want to continue learning.

There are times that skiing is scary, uncomfortable, and frustrating for a new skier. Therefore, patience and positivity are needed on the ski instructor’s part to help the skier improve and to keep him excited about skiing.

It is especially true if you are teaching children. Most new instructors will train beginner level skiers, and the majority will be children.

Keeping a child’s attention isn’t always the easiest task, so having an upbeat, enjoyable teaching method that keeps the student involved will make the lesson go much smoother.

5. Communicate Well with Others

Giving a ski lesson not only requires knowledge of skiing, but you must be able to convey that knowledge to your student clearly.

Not only will you be required to explain techniques and give helpful tips, but it also helps to be personable and outgoing with your students. They will feel more comfortable with you if you’re comfortable conversing with them.

What Else is Needed to Be a Ski Instructor?

If you can check off each of the above requirements and are confident your ski ability is up to par, then it’s time for you to take the next steps to become a ski instructor.

Get Qualified

The International Ski Instructors Association (ISIA) is responsible for setting global standards for ski instructors in most countries. Each region has its own association or alliance that oversees ski instruction. For example, if you live in the United States you would fall under the jurisdiction of Professional Ski Instructors of America.

You can learn about which group or alliance is in charge of your region by inquiring at your local ski hill. Ask about their instructor training program and sign up.

There are several levels of training you can get as an instructor.

Level 1 allows you to teach beginners as long as it is inside the country where you received the training.

Level 2 allows you to teach intermediate skiers and is recognized in most countries apart from France.

Level 3 allows you to teach advanced skiers on all levels of terrain.

Level 4 allows you to teach all abilities of skiers as well as train new instructors in any country in the world.

As you can see, your skiing ability will significantly affect who you can instruct. If you are an intermediate skier, it would be impossible for you to teach an advanced lesson.

Thankfully, during your training as a ski instructor, your own skills and techniques will improve, and you will be more prepared to teach others.

The level 1 ski instructing course only lasts a few weeks, and you can finish level two after only 11 to 13 weeks. So, depending on your current ski ability, you can work your way up through the levels rather quickly.

Always working toward a higher certification will ensure that you gain more experience and become a better skier.

6 Ways You Can Improve Your Ski Ability

Whether your skiing abilities are up to par for instructing or not, you will want to keep growing and learning. It is the only way you will be able to help others learn to ski, and you will find great satisfaction as you see your ski style evolve. Here are some tips for becoming a better skier.

1. Stay in Shape

Even in the off-season, you need to continue building and exercising the muscles you use skiing. Your technique might be perfect, but if you’re out of shape, you’ll never be able to execute it properly.

Body-training and cardiovascular exercises like running, cycling, swimming, and strength training are ideal ways to keep yourself on the right path.

2. Make Sure You’re Using the Right Gear

If your gear is designed for a skier at a different level, you will only hold yourself back. That could mean your skis are too flexible or too stiff.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is having boots that are too big. Remember that ski boots are not supposed to fit like regular shoes. For a guide on how to find the right fit of ski boots, click here.

3. Challenge Yourself

man skiing

Once you master a level of terrain, it’s time to move up to the more difficult one. You won’t be able to put new skills into practice unless you’re willing to tackle new ground, be it steeper or rougher. It is the only way to continue to grow and improve as a skier.

You can also challenge yourself by skiing with friends that are more advanced. Trying to keep up with expert skiers and learning from them will keep you from getting too relaxed and help you to find ways to improve your form. It’s also a good incentive for getting better. No one wants to be left behind.

4. Take a Lesson

Apart from the required training that goes into becoming a ski instructor, you should take a more advanced lesson. In all honesty, most of us took that first lesson on the bunny hill to gain the basics then improved over time with practice and advice from skiers around us.

Taking a lesson from a certified instructor will help you to make small adjustments in your skiing technique so you will be a more precise and confident skier.

5. Watch a Video of Yourself

It can be a humbling experience, but if you see yourself skiing, you will no doubt be able to identify ways you need to modify your technique.

It is also a good idea to have a seasoned athlete watch with you so he or she can give you tips on how to better your abilities.

6. Practice

orange jacket

Nothing can help you become a better skier than being out on the slopes as often as possible and pushing yourself. You will master more skills over time and soon be able to tackle any terrain smoothly and without hesitation. When you get to that point, you know you’re ready to take on teaching others.

Are You Ready To Become a Ski Instructor?

Remember that you don’t have to be an expert skier to instruct others on how to ski. We are all still learning, and our skills will continue to improve over time. The important thing is that you find ways to perfect your technique by learning from others, have an enthusiasm for the sport, and get the required training. Doing these things will put you on the ski instructing path.