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Realistic assessment of prospects of regular work for a BASI qualified instructor

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I'm sure more than one of us has fantasised about a change of career to that of a full-time instructor. However, what are the prospects of actually making a living doing it if you train and qualify through BASI? Where might you have to be prepared to go and live in order to do so? I'm particularly interested in hearing from anyone who's made a mid-life change of career into ski instruction. Cheers.
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Your issue if more one of permitted residence and permission to work post Brexit. then you can add on the stats which say mid-life starters are highly unlikely to pass the Eurotest component needed for full L4 qualification and hence equivalence. In short dream on. I'd guess @skimaottaret is most up on the current technicalities.
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Thank you. That's the kind of 'no fluff' response I'm after. Anyone else?
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@greengriff, I've been offered work in 4 EU countries for 22 but I fall into DoM 's case of being able to work anywhere in the EEA , qualifications permitting.
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Thanks. Did you start as a 'mid-lifer'? Are you Level 4?
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greengriff wrote:
I'm particularly interested in hearing from anyone who's made a mid-life change of career into ski instruction. Cheers.


Mrs telford_mike did this, in a roundabout way. Having taught at a U.K. dry slope for many years, she went to Canada for a season and got CSIA qualifications. Finished work in the U.K. and now works for a ski school here in CH. The catch with this is that you need to be a Swiss resident since Brexit (which we fortunately are). You also need to understand how you are going to make ends meet during the summer. Not sure what the rules are in the other alpine countries, but it’s probably similar as they’re almost all in Schengen with the same rules on freedom of movement & labour.
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Thanks!
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greengriff wrote:
Thank you. That's the kind of 'no fluff' response I'm after. Anyone else?


That's L2 level work. Poland, Czech Republic and forgot the others. Not full season jobs and I'm sticking with my day job. It is possible to work but as DOM days, subject to permits.
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
...mid-life starters are highly unlikely to pass the Eurotest component ....


Reading up on this it seems that someone (presumably a racer, but it doesn't specify) sets a time on a GS course, and to pass the test the prospect has to finish within 18% of the baseline time. Is that correct? Who actually does set the baseline time?
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In short there are two issues:
1) recognition of qualifications
2) right to work

With humble BASI L2 qualification you can work everywhere.... Canada, Switzerland, Austria, US, Italy, Norway, Even France (if you pass Test Technique)

The problem is that brexit removed your automatic right to work in EU... rolling eyes Visa for ski instructors very hard to get unless you are fully qualified. So obvious chicken and egg scenario! If you are under 30 then you might qualify for a one off 12 month young person work visa in somewhere like NZ / Canada.

Basically without an EU passport you / we are screwed on #2.


Last edited by Ski the Net with snowHeads on Thu 26-08-21 14:46; edited 3 times in total
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davidof wrote:


That's L2 level work. Poland, Czech Republic and forgot the others. Not full season jobs and I'm sticking with my day job. It is possible to work but as DOM days, subject to permits.


Thanks. Meaning that with permits a Level 2 can teach in major euro and US resort? Or that level 3 (or level 4) is required for that?
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@greengriff, You may get part time work as an L2 in the mountains but to "make a living" L3 min if you are looking to make enough to pay a mortgage or raise a family L4 and another well paying off season job. Some mates do back to back seasons and can earn enough by working in Japan, Aus , NZ CA etc.

Without an EU passport you are very limited. Unless you have a second source of income I would say very very tough. I know of only a small handful of people in their 40's who went on to fully qualify, all were skiing since childhood or raced competitively. The Eurotest is not to be underestimated.

Depends on how athletic you are, what your current skiing level, how fit, how old, any previous injuries, and how committed you would be to training blocks. Lots of recreational skiers get their L1 and 2 fairly easily but L3 and 4 is a big step up from there.

I qualified to L3 in starting in my 40's and passed all my exams first time training in the UK whilst working full time in the real world. It is possible to then get to L4 but training/working on a part time basis it isn't imv. It took me several more years to get to get to the point of being competitive in ET and Tech training. I was in my 50's when starting L4 exams, passed the early ones but didn't get the Tech or ET.

Look at our levels guide (click on my signature below ) and self assess your own current ability. if you are middle aged and haven't skied competitively it helps greatly to have competed in other sports as you will know how to train and improve swiftly. Just skiing with mates and getting mileage won't cut it you will need to train with professionals and push yourself

My advice always to all thinking about a change is to pass their L1, get paid to teach and see if you love it. If so carry on, if not well at least you had a go and got better as a skier.... If you are a good teacher and can ski opportunities will present and people will give you work.

Dont figure on a master X year plan to smash your ET and then you will be golden, won't happen that way... you will get injured, tired, run out of money or time.. The Eurotest is very difficult for middle aged candidates and the L4 tech exam in some ways more so.

L3 and full time work is very achievable. L4 possible but unlikely.
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@greengriff, Practically zero. I'm 58 and doing my BASI but to L2 eventually for some part time coaching (not for a living). However years ago I had a taxi. Lots of the drivers were electrician, painter, joiner etc so they could do the trade now and then when the money was good and supplement the other time with taxi driving.

That type of scenario could be an option. Part the Ski part time in some job with a loads of flex.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@greengriff, if you want an idea of how good you are on gates (for TT/ET), then for a few euros entry fee, you can rock up to ESF in almost any French ski resort and ask when the Fleche (GS) and Chamois (SL) events are running (usually weekly, sometimes daily). This is a short, easy course vs TT/ET but will give you a view as to how your time compares to a national-level-champ reference time.

My speculation (no experience on this, others may be able to comment) is that if you can't reliably make gold level on this, then you haven't got a chance on TT/ET. Even if you can make gold, that doesn't mean you'll be able to do it on a much longer/steeper/harder course.
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@skimottaret @GlasgowCyclops Thanks. I work for myself and it's *possible* at some point in the future that I would be able to take sufficient time off to do a course along the lines of this: https://icesi.org/10-week-gap-ski-instructor-course.asp.

Has anyone any opinions?

From the replies above it would seem that my ship has sailed. But with perhaps no realistic prospect of a career change a course like the above still would seem to be a way to get my toe into the water so to speak. And it might inspire my children (who started at 3 and 5 respectively and consequently are far better - and more fearless - skiers than I am) to try and aim for a career they would love rather than one that simply pays the bills.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
snowdave wrote:
@greengriff, if you want an idea of how good you are on gates (for TT/ET), then for a few euros entry fee, you can rock up to ESF in almost any French ski resort and ask when the Fleche (GS) and Chamois (SL) events are running (usually weekly, sometimes daily). This is a short, easy course vs TT/ET but will give you a view as to how your time compares to a national-level-champ reference time.

My speculation (no experience on this, others may be able to comment) is that if you can't reliably make gold level on this, then you haven't got a chance on TT/ET. Even if you can make gold, that doesn't mean you'll be able to do it on a much longer/steeper/harder course.


Thanks. That sounds like a great idea!
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Good advice from @snowdave, I also forgot to mention that BASI has very good videos highlighting the required standard at each level as demoed by an examiner.

https://www.basi.org.uk/BASI/Courses/Alpine/Tech_standards/Alpine_technical_standards.aspx?WebsiteKey=211cffca-c436-4a06-844e-527af5a19586

And a video I put together of "real world" L1 candidates that I helped train
Level 1 Instructor Candidates from InsideOutSkiing
https://player.vimeo.com/video/70203428

While there are loads of gap year courses you dont NEED to do a seasonal multi week training course. Check your standard and if in the ball park book an L1. If you pass you will be given a clear indication by the Trainer as to how near you are to the L2. Save your 10 weeks training time for L3
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At L2 standard - I got a few free skiing weeks teaching at half term in the mountains which was great.

Overall the 6 years I’ve been teaching I’ve probably broke even part time teaching taking into account travel costs and training / qualification costs and the tax man. There’s no way I could live purely from teaching even full time.

I’m shortly retiring, with the chances of teaching at half term reduced to zero or without excessive cost thanks to the B word, it’s time to move on and concentrate on my next midlife crisis therapy.
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In the same way that there is only really one side of a bar on which to stand, I suspect that instructing is not as glamorous as it seems for most people.

If you are self employed, just work out how to get 3 months off during the winter and you'll probably make the same wages as a lower level ski worker during the rest of the year!

I like to see myself as some kind of lost ski racing talent (no sniggering at the back). I raced at uni and I occasionally have a go on the little timed gates you find dotted around the mountains if it's not cut up - evening getting the fastest time of the season one year Cool . However, I did a longer version a couple of seasons ago, around a minute in length and a bit steeper than a standard red. There was an older, local-type chap behind me in the queue... My time 52s his time 39s. He was just better at it in every single way and, while I might have shaved a few seconds off here and there after a few goes, I don't think I could have got anywhere near 118% of him. Euro test? Probably not.
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@greengriff, I thought about it, did L1 and L2 BASI, then realised to get to L3 I'd realistically have to do at least one season to get the necessary teaching and skiing experience (IMHO), so the costs vs the benefit vs my current job didn't pan out for me.

I also (with some prodding from my wife) worked out that (pre-Brexit) you could get ad-hoc work for school holidays in the Alps, but you'd likely be given the lowest group of kids to teach (babysit), so potentially not that fulfilling either.

So when taking a long hard look at it it just didn't seem to pan out commercially or even enjoyably, decided to work a bit longer, stuff as much into a pension as possible, and just retire and enjoy skiing!

I had another think pre Xmas as I took voluntary redundancy, however asking around about working at a local indoor snowzone didn't fill me with confidence that I'd enjoy working there.

I'd suggest getting someone to assess your current skiing then do an L1 indoors, and after you've done the shadowing see if you really enjoy it. I'm not sure a 10 week gap course is the most cost efficient way of getting to L2.

some videos I did of my skier->L1->L2 here, might give you an idea of where you skiing is vs an avg punter like myself!


http://youtube.com/v/wt_UsrA5Otc


http://youtube.com/v/oNusod-6Roc
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greengriff wrote:
@skimottaret @GlasgowCyclops Thanks. I work for myself and it's *possible* at some point in the future that I would be able to take sufficient time off to do a course along the lines of this: https://icesi.org/10-week-gap-ski-instructor-course.asp.

Has anyone any opinions?

From the replies above it would seem that my ship has sailed. But with perhaps no realistic prospect of a career change a course like the above still would seem to be a way to get my toe into the water so to speak. And it might inspire my children (who started at 3 and 5 respectively and consequently are far better - and more fearless - skiers than I am) to try and aim for a career they would love rather than one that simply pays the bills.


That course is just an expensive way of getting to L2 and at bit of a bust if you then fail at the latter. It won't be a magic bullet. Probably far better and easier to dip your toe in with fridge or dryslope teaching in the UK.
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So you can do L1 and L2 indoors in England?
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@greengriff, You can certainly do L1 on a dryslope or in a snowdome. I'm doing my L1 at Btaehead and @skimottaret, runs one at Hemmel (correct me if I'm wrong SM).

L2 has fewer UK locations but I just checked and it is Castleford or Hemmel.

So you can do L1+2 in the UK
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@greengriff, L1 yes, Alpine L2 no.
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@GlasgowCyclops, the indoor L2 is a strange one, not sure what it actually gives you? The course description says

"If a candidate passes the UK Level 2 course, they are able to book onto a 5 day Level 2 Re-assessment course which would give them the Level 2 qualification."

So you may as well do the 2 weeks in the Alps IMHO if at all possible, loads more enjoyable!
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The 1 week UK L2 (snow dome) L2 is the teaching component of the full two week course. You can take this part indoors and then just do a single week technical performance assessment in the mountains. Useful for those who can't take the full two weeks off work. It used to give you an intermediate qualification called UK Advanced Instructor (L1 plus the teaching week of L2) but was dropped i believe.

@GlasgowCyclops, thanks for the mention, we run a 3 day (1 sat a month) Level 1 preparation course at Hemel most summers but this year on hold with covid. Im not an examiner but have helped get about 40 or 50 through their L1 or higher.


Last edited by snowHeads are a friendly bunch. on Thu 26-08-21 16:46; edited 1 time in total
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snowdave wrote:

My speculation (no experience on this, others may be able to comment) is that if you can't reliably make gold level on this, then you haven't got a chance on TT/ET. Even if you can make gold, that doesn't mean you'll be able to do it on a much longer/steeper/harder course.


Chamois is like the TT but about half the course length - you'd want to smash gold on a Chamois to be able to pass the TT. Not an issue for club skiers by and large, a serious challenge for anyone in their middle years. An ideal way of gauging your level as you say.

If I were to do any teaching (outside of club activities) it would be largely for the experience and maybe to progress or as was said above to do a bit of "break even" skiing. The only reason I got asked if I could work is because I have a EU passport and it is not easy to find English speakers who can move around now.
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Is it living in the Alps or being an instructor that you dream about? Or just getting more skiing in?
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Nadenoodlee wrote:
Is it living in the Alps or being an instructor that you dream about? Or just getting more skiing in?


Principally the first and last. Teaching people to ski and opening up a lifetime of healthy activity and fun to them would just be the icing on the cake.
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I have looked into this long and hard (including doing a BASI L2 course in the Alps) and it's a catch 22 for me. Instructing would never earn me enough money, so I'd still need another job. If I have another job then would I really want to spend my snow time instructing, given I'm likely to be teaching beginners all the time?

My plan was/is to do BASI L2 full then move on to doing BASI L3 technical. I was planning to forget about the ET until I had L3 tech at least and possibly even L4 tech (although that's more of a dream than a reality). My thinking is that the L3 technical would make me a far better skier even if I didn't pass it and doing it would be really enjoyable, because I love proper sports training (I'd rather suck at something hard than be told I'm great at something easy!).

In the end family priorities meant I had to drop out of the L2 Course half way through so I only got the L1 but if you have the freedom and the funds then there is nothing to stop you going for it.
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Even when qualified, how many weeks can an average instructor earn a reasonable wage during a season? My understanding was that all are fully employed during half-term, some/most at Xmas/New Year and Easter, but only a smaller proportion for the rest of the season.
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greengriff wrote:
Nadenoodlee wrote:
Is it living in the Alps or being an instructor that you dream about? Or just getting more skiing in?


Principally the first and last. Teaching people to ski and opening up a lifetime of healthy activity and fun to them would just be the icing on the cake.


The pertinent question from nadenoodlee…

Frankly there are easier and more lucrative ways to live in the mountains and ski lots than being a ski instructor (which in many cases would only allow you to ski for yourself one day a week).

What sort if work do you do now?
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I run an estate agency.
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@greengriff, it sounds like you have the motivation and funds to make this happen so if I were you I would:

1) open a business in Switzerland, preferably in resort, doing something you know, or are passionate about, plenty of British estate agents working in resort.

You'd get a permit to work once the business is registered. Brexit hasn't affected this particular route but it does require 20K chf to set up the required SARL.

2) if you speak French etc, join swiss snowsports and train through their system, it's hard but infinitely possible to attain the top level starting later in life

3)if you are committed to staying with BASI (IASI would be an excellent system too) then that's fine too, but you will have to some extra courses to gain the swiss equivalence.

You would be able to make a living as a British based top qualified instructor in Switzerland, and im sure you can be successful in whatever business you chose to run. Good luck!
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skifluff wrote:
@greengriff, it sounds like you have the motivation and funds to make this happen so if I were you I would:

1) open a business in Switzerland, preferably in resort, doing something you know, or are passionate about, plenty of British estate agents working in resort.

You'd get a permit to work once the business is registered. Brexit hasn't affected this particular route but it does require 20K chf to set up the required SARL.

2) if you speak French etc, join swiss snowsports and train through their system, it's hard but infinitely possible to attain the top level starting later in life

3)if you are committed to staying with BASI (IASI would be an excellent system too) then that's fine too, but you will have to some extra courses to gain the swiss equivalence.

You would be able to make a living as a British based top qualified instructor in Switzerland, and im sure you can be successful in whatever business you chose to run. Good luck!


Thanks for your thoughts. To be honest I was very much hoping to do something completely different to what I do now, as I want to be freed from the obligations that I currently have. I hadn't actually considered simply doing the same thing somewhere else. What I consider 'work' has eaten up so much of my adult life that I was really wanting to try and eek out a living doing something pleasurable instead.
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skifluff wrote:


You would be able to make a living as a British based top qualified instructor in Switzerland, and im sure you can be successful in whatever business you chose to run. Good luck!


Nice idea, but I reckon to get to L4 would take an absolute minimum of 5 years if you had the fitness and natural skills already, much longer if you needed more development
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Looking at the BASI videos linked earlier, I'm some way from a level 4.
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greengriff wrote:
Looking at the BASI videos linked earlier, I'm some way from a level 4.


You don’t need to be a level 4. Most people aren’t.
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Thank goodness!
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@greengriff, I don’t know if this works for you as an alternative, given what you say you do for a living (is that run or own?), but many years ago before I met the current Mrs SL, she told her boss she was going to quit so she could spend more time skiing. Boss was desperate for her not to go and to cut a long story short the boss agreed that she could have 3 months a year off (with salary reduction and pro rata leave) and carry on working. This arrangement lasted at least 25 years until she retired. She did do BASI training (old system) and easily could have passed technically, but could not stand dealing with the kids and parents when she did her shadowing so did not pursue. Got a season pass and a cheap season let and Just kept on skiing. Perhaps extending your time in the mountains means spending less time in the office more palatable. Of course you need a sympathetic boss.
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