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If you're considering a career as a ski or snowboard Instructor then you should consider working in New Zealand.
When is the ski season in NZ?
One of the great things about skiing in New Zealand is that it is in the Southern Hemisphere, which means that when it is summer in the Northern Hemisphere, then it is winter in New Zealand. The NZ winter season runs mid June until late October.
This does mean that if you are a keen skier or Snowboarder you can chase the “eternal winter”, with skiing in the Northern Hemisphere Dec – April, and the skiing again in the Southern Hemisphere June – October. This also gives you a little gap in between seasons to find a beach somewhere between the two!
Why work in NZ?
First thing you need to know is that there is a lot of skiing in New Zealand.
New Zealand has a very highly developed ski industry. There are many different ski areas or ski fields all over the country. Apart from the local Kiwis who go skiing, every winter there are hundreds of thousands of people who flock to NZ from Australia, Japan, South East Asia and Asia, in order to go skiing and snowboarding.
If people are going on ski and snowboard holidays, then they need some people to help them get to grips with sliding down a slippery slope, and that is where a Ski or Snowboard Instructor comes in handy.
Because of this, it was in 1971 that the New Zealand Snowsports Instructors Alliance (NZSIA) was started, and it has been certifying Ski Instructors since then. The NZSIA incorporates Ski, Snowboard (SBINZ), Telemark and Adaptive divisions.
The NZSIA has been and still is an active member of the ISIA (International Snowsports Instructors Association), with the NZSIA sending a team/delegation to the Interski Congress – which is a big gathering of all ski and snowboard instructors that happens every four years.
What level qualification will I need?
The NZSIA system has a number of different levels, running from Level 1 up to Level 3 and Trainers Certification.
Level 1 - which is the entry level qualification and is designed to allow you to teach absolute never skied before beginners. Then there is Level 2 – teaching beginners through to advanced parallel turns. Level 3 is more challenging and is the ISIA Stamp level for this you should be able to teach all advanced levels and situations – power, bumps etc. There has been very recently put in to place a pathway to allow people to go on from the ISIA Stamp level to the ISIA Card level, which involves greater backcountry skills, a higher level of personal skiing, and a Speed Test.
The NZSIA successfully ran its first Speed Test in the winter season of 2012.
Where can I work with a NZSIA Ski Instructor qualification?
As was mentioned above the NZSIA is a active member of the ISIA, which is the international association of Snowsports Instructors, and with this there is global recognition of the NZSIA qualifications. There are a few countries in the world where things are a little tight. E.g. France where it doesn’t matter what qualification you have there will be more things to do before you can start work there.
One thing that you must be aware of is that employers will ask for a number of things, before they give you a job, they will ask for a qualification, they will ask for personal skills, they will ask for experience and they will need to make sure that you have a legal right to work in that country.
Qualifications: NZSIA’s are perfect; they are world recognised.
Personal Skills: you will be trained and educated in personal skills while on a Ski Instructor Course, but there may be other skills required; like speaking a certain language.
Experience: it is always tough to get your first job in any industry; try not aim for the big glamour resorts in your first season.
Right to Work: this will depend on what passport you hold. It would be a good thing to look in to such things as Working Holiday Visas, or Student Work Visas as a lot of countries will give this out if you fit age and education criteria.
Once I get a Job what can I earn?
There is no set wage for ski instructors around the world, and each resort or ski school will vary what they pay.
As you become more experienced, your pay tends to go up. A lot of ski schools will run pay incentive schemes, so that if you can encourage “x” amount of people to return and ski with you again, then your rate of pay will go up.
I think that it is fair to say that as a ski instructor you are living the dream, more than you are saving for your retirement. A lot of people do the job for the first few years, and then look elsewhere for financial gain. But it is those first few years that is the toughest.
You will normally always earn enough to cover your costs, although this is not guaranteed.
You will be guaranteed to have a great time, and a winter season that you have always dreamed of, and one that you will always remember.
"You will be guaranteed to have a great time, and a winter season that you have always dreamed of..."
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