Several of the large nations within Europe including France, Austria and Switzerland all have a rich history and deep connection with alpine skiing. It is therefore no surprise that Europe is considered a top destination for recreational ski tourism. It is also one of the premier destinations to train and qualify as a ski instructor.
With lots of course options available across the continent it can be difficult to decide where is best to train as an instructor. With that in mind we have put together a detailed guide to help you understand the options, and choose a course that suits your needs.
Depending on where you go, there will usually be options to participate in a couple of different course types. It is advisable to understand what type of course you would like to attend, prior to choosing a country or resort destination.
Ski instructor internships are courses which include an offer of instructor employment after any training and exam components have been completed. The course including any employment usually spans the full duration of the winter season.
Most European internships that don’t require a language component are offered in Switzerland. Both Austria and Germany have instructor internship options, but usually require a German language component with exams and lessons taken and delivered in German. It is not possible to complete an instructor internship in France, as the country has strict regulations around employment for entry level ski instructors.
It is worth noting that in order to complete a ski instructor internship you will need the legal right to take up employment in that country. A British or European citizenship is enough, but sometimes a work permit or visa may need to be obtained.
You can learn more about ski instructor internships here.
Ski instructor training courses are the traditional method of becoming a ski instructor. They focus solely on the training and qualification elements and do not offer the employment post qualification. The length of the course is typically dictated by the level of qualification offered, usually 4 weeks for level 1 and 10+ weeks for the level 1 & 2.
Training courses in Europe are available across most popular ski destinations and can be completed without the requirement of a work permit or visa.
You can learn more about our ski instructor training programmes here.
When researching the qualifications offered on a ski instructor course you should ensure that they are internationally recognised and interchangeable. If you have aspirations of working worldwide it is advisable to work towards a certification offered by an International Ski Instructor Association (ISIA) member association.
The most likely ISIA member associations operating in Europe are:
There is also the Austrian Ski School Association (ÖSSV) which provides a comparable qualification system to the associations mentioned above. However, the ÖSSV is not a member of the ISIA, which makes it more difficult for members qualified under this system to work outside of Austria and Europe.
Learn more about ski instructor qualifications here.
Believe it or not Europe is home to over 2,000 ski resorts, ranging from cross-country, high altitude international destinations, to privately owned, local areas with a single lift or tow.
Most often, the bigger resorts are worth considering first, as they are likely to have a higher percentage of established ski schools. For example, Verbier is home to dozens of BASI affiliated schools and offers a fantastic mountain area and township. Zermatt, also in Switzerland, is another popular European course destination. In France, Tignes and Val-d’Isère are popular resorts, due to vast skiable areas and a popular nightlife.
It is best to thoroughly research any resorts you’re considering. Look at factors like the amount of terrain on offer. If you’re looking at an internship, what are the employment prospects like? Does the area have good teaching terrain? What is the town like, how many bars and restaurants does it have? Check reviews online to ensure that people who have completed courses in the area previously have enjoyed the experience.
A large number of ski instructor courses in Europe are run by international training providers with English speaking instructors and examiners. Lessons, exams, shadowing and employment are all provided in English with a very small percentage requiring language skills.
Course participants come from all over the world, but the highest percentage are generally from the UK. You can expect to train with people from mainland Europe, Scandinavia and potentially Australasia.
Each course has a slightly different mix of candidates, but usually you would expect the majority of people to be between 18-30 years old, with around a 60/40 split of male to female.
Skiers usually require at least 4 weeks of previous on-snow experience to be eligible for a basic level 1 ski instructor course. However, the more advanced level 2 courses will require upwards of 8 weeks of experience to ensure a good base level prior to starting the course.
Anyone taking part in a ski instructor internship may be eligible to work as part of their course. The transition into instructor employment can happen after the level 1 qualification but in Europe it’s more typical once the level 2 qualification has been achieved.
A few things to think about :
There are five major costs to consider when budgeting for a ski instructor course, they are:
To finish up, here are five top tips for becoming an instructor in Europe: