Every snowboarder wishes they could get out on the snow more often. No matter how long you’ve been riding or how good you are, once you’ve found the stoke, there’s no turning back.
If there was a way to wake up, strap in, and hit the mountain every day, would you be interested? What if I told you it was not only possible, but you could even get paid for it?
I’m not simply describing a snow-filled daydream here. I’m alluding to the life of a snowboard instructor.
This is a dream job for many riders because it lets you get on the mountain every day and almost always comes with a free pass as a perk.
The profession isn’t for everyone, however. It’s a rewarding pursuit in many ways, but as with any job, there are pros and cons. Let’s look at them below.
An obvious initial step towards becoming a snowboard instructor is learning how to snowboard. You need to be good in order to share your skills with others and properly teach them how to ride.
If you’re just starting out, you realistically are going to need to wait a few years before you can even consider a job as an instructor.
Advanced level skills are a critical aspect of the job. There’s no way around it.
You also need to realize that, even though you get to ride almost every day, becoming an instructor doesn’t mean you’ll be able to ride like you normally do.
If you’re teaching newcomers, you will go slow and take your time to help them learn the necessary tools and techniques needed to ride effectively.
It is a lot different than riding on your own when you can do whatever you want on the mountain.
You also have to be patient and have a desire to help others find a passion for the sport.
The people you are teaching might not have the same love of the sport as you do, but it’s part of your job to try and help them learn.
Look for Available Jobs Before the Season
Just because you want to become a snowboard instructor does not mean you’re guaranteed a job. The position is similar to other professions, meaning you do need to go through a hiring process before you begin.
One way to assist in this process is to check with your local resort (or the resort you want to look at) for available jobs before the season begins. Most resorts will have job listings on their website.
Try to find the head of the snowboard school and send them an email or call them on the phone. If you can get a hold of someone in charge, they will let you know what’s required to become an instructor.
Most of the time you will need to get a certification. It also can help the hiring process to have your potential supervisor get to know you a little bit before you start working.
If you see that the resort you want to work at is not hiring, you obviously don’t want to apply. You may have to travel or move to a new area to become an instructor, but that’s a big part of the adventure.
As I mentioned above, in order to become a snowboard instructor, you will typically need to be certified. There are different certifications needed depending on where you live or what country you want to work in.
Some resorts will offer these certifications as part of the training and hiring process, but other times you will need to complete it on your own before you can apply.
In the U.S., the main certification is the PSAI-AASI certification. This cert has courses up to a Level 3 instructor.
The more levels of certification you get, the more advanced skills you will have, and the easier it will be to get hired. You also usually get higher pay if you have advanced certifications.
Apply for the Job
Once you’ve been certified, you next need to apply for the job. Go to the resort’s website to find an application and fill it out.
Be sure to include all necessary information and be honest and accurate with any questions they ask. If you have your certifications and show a good attitude, there’s a strong chance you will get the job and be able to start teaching other snowboarders right away.
Also note that a lot of ski and snowboard resorts are run by big corporations. That means they can have some oddly strict rules for your personal appearance or other requirements that don’t always mesh with the snowboarding lifestyle.
You will definitely have to wear some sort of uniform when instructing, and you will need to adhere to their rules if you want to keep the job.
How Much Will You Make as a Snowboard Instructor?
I’ll start by saying this – you’re not going to get rich as a snowboard instructor.
According to the job site Glassdoor, the average wage is $11/hr. While I know instructors who make closer to $20-25/hr, if you’re just starting out, you can expect to be on the low end of the pay range.
That is a pretty low wage by anyone’s standards, and when you take into account how much it costs to live in a resort town, you might just be scraping by.
However, if you truly love to snowboard and want to share your skills with others, it’s not always about how much money you’re going to earn.
The best instructors are those who are happy to teach others and who want their students to feel the same way about the sport as they do.
You will almost always get a free pass and other perks as an employee of the resort as well.
Becoming a snowboard instructor can be a very rewarding experience.
While you need plenty of patience, the proper training, and can expect somewhat of a low wage, if you live for the mountains and want to enjoy the snowboarding lifestyle as much as possible, a job as an instructor could be right up your alley.
At the very least, it’s a great way to spend a few years of your life. So, if you’re curious about what it takes to get the job, follow the steps above and let us know how it goes.