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Ski and Snowboard Instructor


Many people like the idea of swooshing down snow packed mountains, the wind rushing by, the trees a blur as they glide, jump, and gracefully scrape to a halt at the bottom of the run, only to find themselves back in line for the chairlift, ready to head up for another trip down the hill?

Most everyone would love to be so confident and calm when it comes to skiing and snowboarding. Though they are both popular sports, it takes a lot of practice and encouragement to get most people off the bunny hill.

That's where ski and snowboard instructors come in. They are trained and certified to teach both basic and advanced skiers and snowboarders how to best tackle those mountains. They teach students individually or in groups, going over technique, rules, safety, and body positioning. They sometimes meet with the same group for days or weeks at a time in regular sessions, or they may only give introductory or refresher lessons with drop-in students.

They work outdoors, on staff at ski schools, which are located at ski hills or resorts. They may freelance, although this is rare. Depending on the size of the staff they work with, instructors may teach both skiing and snowboarding, so should be familiar with both.

Ski and snowboard instructors may have to find a second job to generate income since ski season only lasts for part of the year at most resorts and ski hills. During ski season, ski and snowboard instructors should be prepared to work long hours, including evenings and weekends.
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  Interests and Skills  
Ski and snowboard instructors need to be calm and work well and efficiently, even under pressure. They should be organized, friendly and patient, with excellent communication and listening skills. Ski and snowboard instructors tend to be good leaders, who enjoy taking charge. It is important for these individuals to be positive, energetic and have the ability to motivate people. They must also be aware of safety issues, be observant, and be able to respond calmly and effectively to emergency situations.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Demonstrate correct techniques, procedures and use of equipment
  • Assess students' levels of ability
  • Monitor student safety during lessons
  • Organize events in which students show their skills
  • Provide first aid, when required
  • Participate in sport demonstrations or competitions
  • Give evaluations
  • Practice skiing and snowboarding on difficult parts of mountain
  • The typical day for a skiing or snowboard instructor will involve a lot of coaching, guiding, and explaining principles of the sport. There will also be some skiing to warm up or practice. The lessons are usually an hour or two long, with students with varying degrees of skill and experience. There is the chance to meet many people from around the world, as well as opportunities for travel - going to wherever the mountains are.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Ski and snowboard instructors work wherever there are snowy hills and mountains to shoot down. They are employed by ski schools affiliated with mountains and resorts. The working conditions are usually pleasant, but can get cold and damp. They may work indoors sometimes, going over techniques, but the majority of the lessons are conducted outdoors.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Ski and snowboard instructors who are very serious about their careers become managers and supervisors of ski schools, train new instructors, or find work as a ski patrol. They can also use their skills and knowledge to go into sales of ski and snowboard equipment, or train to become teachers. Ski and snowboard instructors can write books, articles, and create training videos for students.

  Educational Paths  
In order to work as a ski or snowboard instructor, an individual must be excellent at one, if not both, of these sports.

It also a good idea to take some first aid and CPR courses.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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