What should I be looking for in a ski school?

There are many factors to choosing the right school to work for. In no particular order, here are a few that you might want to consider.

What resort is it in?

Before looking at schools, you should have an idea of where you want to work. Obviously the country you choose is a huge factor but the type of resort is also an important choice. A job in a small resort could give an intimate feel and the chance to mix it with the locals. A resort that is part of a large ski area and offers varied terrain would be more appealing for those non-teaching days. It might also be worth considering the summer scene in a resort if you’re looking to throw down some roots year round.

What sort of lessons will I teach?

Try to get an idea of the type of lessons you will be doing. Will you be teaching half or full days? Is most of the work resort guiding or technical teaching? Some schools employ instructors to specifically teach group lessons or children’s lessons. Most instructors prefer to teach clients of a variety of levels and ages. You could even ask if a school is likely to accommodate a request for certain type of client.

What will I earn?

Your rate of pay is a big question, but the number of hours you’ll expect to teach is equally important. You need to be sure you can earn enough money to pay your rent and buy food and beer. You should also ask about local taxes / social charges and other costs associated with working for a particular school.

How big a team will I be part of?

Working for a very large school can give a feeling of security (safety in numbers?) and usually means there is a history of work etc. It could also mean you don’t get that team vibe that most instructors enjoy. A very small team can be a great way to find a circle of friends in your first season in a resort. But it can also be claustrophobic and hard to deal with if there are personality clashes or fall outs.

What training am I likely to get?

If you’re still working through your qualifications, the training a school might offer is very important. You should look for training that aligns with the national instructor system you are work through. Ask who presents any training and what qualifications / experience they have in training instructors.

What support would I get?

Early in your teaching career, it’s nice to know there are people you can turn to for advice. Whether this is to help you give better lessons or to assist you with life admin, it’s nice to know there is someone you can turn to. In a large school, there might be mentors or department managers. In a small school you might have to turn to your boss.

Try to get a feel for how supportive the environment might be.

How cool is the uniform?

Will you be wearing a uniform designed in the 80s or modern kit that you might even choose for yourself? Will you get a faded jacket that’s been handed down from instructor to instructor? Or will you be given a new uniform that you need to take the tags off before wearing it for the first time? It’s nice to get a uniform that you’re actually proud to wear. It’s a minor point, but here at Summit, we think it makes a difference.

Try to get a feel for how supportive the environment might be.

So...choose your school carefully!

Some of these factors might be irrelevant to you. Maybe I’ve missed some that are deal breakers when it comes to the school you choose.

The important thing is to do whatever you can to make sure you end up somewhere you feel comfortable and can give your best lessons. Hopefully it’s in a cool uniform with a great team around you.

Good luck


Try to get a feel for how supportive the environment might be.

Paul Hammett

Paul Hammett

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