Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Ski or Snowboard Instructor Training Course
Thinking of doing a snowsports instructor course? Which course, Ski or snowboard, long or short, France or Switzerland, US or Canada, Argentina or New Zealand?
You have lots of gap year snowboard or ski instructor training options. Choosing the right course – a course that will set you up to start an instructing career – is all about asking the right questions.
The Course Provider?
- Who owns the company?
- Are they industry people with a passion for snowsports and instructing as a career?
- How long have they been running courses?
Look for providers who have the industry experience to design and deliver a course that turns you into the sort of instructor people want to employ. And look for a track record of success in terms of pass rates and course participants becoming working instructors.
You might not be thinking of instructing as a career path now. But a course with a history of kick starting instructing careers is much more likely to offer quality training.
Industry outsiders who put a package together, with a local ski & ride school doing the training, may cover the ski or ride training requirements. But can they back it up with an entre into the industry?
The Resort & Accommodation?
- Where is the course based?
- What is the town like?
- What is resort you will train on like?
- Other resorts, attractions, activities near by? Do other providers use the resort?
- What sort of accommodation is included in the cost?
You are going to be spending as much as three months in the course location; you need to be sure it is a place you want to be.
Look for multi-resort destinations and a resort with a good mix of easy and challenging terrain. Ideally, the course would be the only one running at the resort and the slopes would not be crowded (a good mix of space and lift capacity). You don’t want to spend most of your training time in lift lines!
Where you stay can be a big factor in your enjoyment of a course. Accommodation offered varies.
Some courses include apartment-style 4+ star accommodation with all the facilities you need (crucially: drying facilities and space for gear) and one or two people per room. While others offer only bunk rooms or cramped hotel rooms located far from town. Nothing worse than cramped surroundings further cramped by soaked ski and board gear...
Make sure you know what sort of accommodation you are paying for before you commit to a course.
- How many days a week will you be training?
- What sort of off-snow training will be included?
- How big will training groups be?
- Will you train with people from other courses?
- Will training include teaching techniques?
- Is the quality of training guaranteed?
- What qualifications are offered?
- What sort of pass rates do you get?
Look for small groups and a good mix of training days and days to train/ski/ride independently. Training on the hill should be supported by video analysis, fitness assessment and advice, and theory in the evenings.
And look for a programme that offers a structured approach with exclusive groups and the confidence to guarantee the quality of the training. Quality they can verify with high pass rates in instructor qualifications systems.
- Who will be doing the training?
- Are they employed by the provider or the resort?
- Are they experienced instructor trainers?
- How experienced?
Look for highly-qualified trainers who have proven experience training instructors at all levels of experience. It takes a lot more than a ski instructor qualification to be qualified to teach instructors.
Ideally, the provider will have its own team and have control of training rather than outsource it. This will ensure some continuity in course provision – working with the same instructors over time allows them to monitor your progress and address weaknesses effectively.
- What else does the course offer?
- What extras can be added?
You need to understand what is included in your course fee and what you'll are considered optional extras. Things like heli-ski/ride days, first aide courses, avalanche training can be either included or add-ons.
Look for a course that offers all the skills you will need as an instructor, not just skiing instruction. Ideally, this would include fitness training –- instructing can be physically demanding and good fitness can prevent injuries -- and instruction in mountain safety.
- Does the course provider help you secure an instructing job?
- Do they have established relationships with ski and ride schools at well-known resorts?
- Do they understand visa requirements for working around the world?
Look for a provider who can demonstrate a history of placing people in good instructing jobs with desirable resorts. Resorts that will allow you to continue training for higher-level instructing qualifications.
The Perfect Course For You
You're likely to find a lot of variation in answers to these questions. The important thing is to make sure you find the gap instructor training course that suits your needs. If you have answers to these questions you have the information you need to make an informaed decision.