Which is better – a ski instructor course or an internship? Both get you qualified, but which is best for your career, shred skills and bank balance? Here’s everything you need to know.
What to expect
Our instructor courses and internships offer different experiences. One gives you a winter of limitless skiing and on-snow fun, while the other comes the lure – and responsibility – of a job. Here’s a quick look at what each option involves:
On our instructor courses in Canada you’ll spend the entire season with a group of like-minded mountain lovers, developing your skiing or snowboarding, riding everyday and enjoying a care-free mountain lifestyle. Once you’ve gained CSIA/CASI Level 1, you can continue to Level 2 or follow the All Mountain Pro route to purely focus on your personal skiing/snowboarding. You’ve also got the option of taking extra qualifications, like avalanche safety and race coaching. Accommodation and meals are included, plus you can get involved with a host of epic activities – like cat skiing, snowmobiling and road trips.
On our internship programs you’ll spend the first three weeks training with Nonstop coaches for your CSIA/CASI Level 1. Once qualified, you’ll join the local ski school as an instructor and spend the rest of the season being paid to teach on the slopes and living as a seasonaire. Meals and socials are included in Nonstop’s three-week training phase; after that you’ll need to pay for food and extra activities out of your wages. You also need to pay for accommodation, but we can help you organise this before you go.
Which will make me a better skier?
An instructor course is designed to push your ski ability to the max, helping you to continually improve for a full 11 weeks with progressive all-mountain coaching. You’ll also have the option of taking the All Mountain Pro course instead of training for your Level 2 – where you’ll learn how to tackle powder, trees, moguls and steeps with style, without worrying about the teaching aspect.
On the internship, once you’re working, the onus is on you to keep improving. There’s no coaching or structured improvement program after the first three weeks, and you’ll be working most days, so you’ll have less time for freeriding. You will, however, be able to join training sessions run by your snow school to continue your development.
Verdict: If boosting your ski ability is a top priority, choose the instructor course. You’ve more time to ski hard, explore the mountain and will receive top-level coaching throughout the season.
Which is cheaper?
There’s a bigger initial outlay for a season-long instructor course, as there’s much more included in the package – 11 weeks of professional coaching, Level 1 and 2 exams, extra activities and socials, plus your season pass, accommodation and most of your meals. Our 11 week instructor course in Fernie starts at £7,650 – this covers most of your costs in resort, apart from beer money, a few meals and any personal extras.
With the internship, you pay less up front but you’ll need to cover all of your own costs once you’re working. Our internship program in Fernie is £5,505 with accommodation. You’ll have more expenses to cover but can expect to earn £600-900 per month.
For both options you'll need to pay for your flight, insurance and gear.
Verdict: If you’re good with managing money, an internship should work out cheaper overall – but it all depends on how much you splurge when you’re earning. Our instructor courses are designed to include a heap from coaching to accommodation, so you get bang for your buck.
Which is best for my ski career?
An instructor course gives you the option of bagging your CSIA/CASI Level 1 and 2, plus other qualifications such as race coach and snow park coach. Most ski schools around the world ask for a minimum Level 2 qualification, so this sets you up nicely for global employment. After completion of your course, Nonstop offer guaranteed snow school interviews and we have great working relationships with snow schools around the world.
An internship adds more teaching experience to your CV, and can help you to build contacts in the industry. However, the program only qualifies you to Level 1, so you’ll need to work hard and attend extra training during the season if you want to land your CSIA/CASI Level 2.
Verdict: It’s a balance. If you have designs on a long-term instructor career, then a ski instructor course will set you up with a better foundation than an internship. The instructor course gives you higher level qualifications, while the internship gives you a job and teaching experience from the get-go. Both are attractive to employers but, if you choose the internship route, you’ll still need to get your Level 2 to teach internationally.
What about visas?
You don’t need a working visa to do an instructor course – a holiday visa will suffice. On the internship route, a working visa is essential.
If you go down the internship path, you’ll need to be organised in securing your working visa as the process can take time.
Verdict: Go for the instructor course if you plan on working in Canada in the future. A Canadian work visa lasts for two years, so there’s no need to use it up during your training year.
Which looks best as a gap year experience?
Gaining qualifications and learning a new set of skills are great things to achieve during a gap year. An instructor course focuses on gaining qualifications, teaching skills and personal development, whereas an internship offers real work experience and puts more emphasis on your people skills.
Verdict: Both look good on university and job applications, so think about what’s more important on a personal level. If you want to maximise the fun and adventure aspect of your gap year, then go for an instructor course.
How good do I need to be?
All abilities, from early intermediates to expert skiers, can join our instructor courses. Our groups are split by ability and experience, and we have ample time to train to reach the level required for the Level 1 and 2 certifications.
For the internship, you’ll need more on-snow experience, as there are only three weeks of structured training before you start work – the focus is on learning how to be an instructor, rather than improving your own skiing.
Verdict: Intermediate, advanced and expert skiers can apply to either option. Early intermediate skiers with less experience should choose the instructor course.
What’s the application process?
Instructor course – a few easy steps will secure your place on one of our instructor courses, and the Nonstop team is always on hand to help with any queries. Here’s how it works:
Internship – There are a limited number of places available on our internship programs. We can help out with every stage of the application process, from visa advice to interview prep. Here’s a rundown:
So which should I pick?
Still undecided? Here’s a quick round-up of the pros.
Pros of doing a ski instructor course:
Pros of doing a ski instructor internship:
For most people, the instructor course is the winner – who wouldn’t want to spend a whole winter becoming an awesome skier with no responsibilities? You can work every season afterwards, so why rush it. That said, if you don’t have the cash to pay for a course upfront or are super eager to start working, then the internship is a great option. Both are awesome ways to spend a season, so rest assured you’ll have a blast either way.
Ready to apply or want to find out more? Get in touch with our team and talk to us about our ski instructor courses and internships.
We look forward to speaking with you.