Ski Instructor Salaries
When looking at ski instructor salaries, we need to take into consideration (huge consideration) the cost of living in all its main components. In fact, it is very difficult to create a guideline that entirely sums the economic value of one resort over another. Mainly because, for example, the package that one school offers is different from the one next door. Regardless of whether they are both based in the same town. Therefore, we won’t just discuss the hourly rates (which are still an interesting subject), but look at the bigger picture. In fact, we will go through a few questions you might want to ask your next ski school, as well as things you want to take in consideration when creating a budget for the winter.
Create a Budget
Economical interests start not so much from how much you can earn, but how much you are willing to spend. And on what!
Some of us don’t care about living in small studios or shared bedrooms, so cost of living can be a huge money saving tool. Saving on this can allow an investment on professional development, like a training course towards the next level of qualification.
Whereas, there are people that need slightly more space to themselves in order to relax and live the good life that ski instructing provide.
So before sending out CVs make sure you know how much you can/want to spend this season, based on:
- how much you have in the bank
- your short term and long term goals
You do need to look a bit further than just the very next season. Saving a little money every day could be less efficient than making an investment today, in order to reach the next level qualification and earn a higher wage. Similarly, a higher qualification will open up a wider variety of work opportunities, that would otherwise be off limits to you.
Countries VS Resort
It’s common to confuse the identity (and economical package) of a country by one of its most representative resorts. When thinking about the US, for example, one could name Aspen or Vail to give an example of remuneration and cost vs benefit for the whole country.
However, in reality, this is the best way to cut your options down. When preparing for the next season, especially if you are thinking about going to a new country, make sure you look into different types of resorts! Not just the big or just small resorts, but a mix of them. To clarify a school in a smaller resort might be able to offer a great package with a low cost of living. This could allow you to save a good amount of money and hopefully help sustain your professional development. On the other hand, being based in a large and rich resort can be very interesting, even if the package is less remunerative. The experience, knowledge and the CV experience will balance it out.
Ski Instructor Salaries and School Packages
What should I expect from a ski school package? Trying to generalise slightly, we could split the packages into three categories:
- High hourly rate + low-value benefits package
- Low hourly rate + high-value benefits package
- Mixed solution
Benefits package offered by a school might include:
- Transfer fees (commonly used by schools based far away from their main instructor market)
- Accommodation (it will be important to find out the space available per individual and the distance from the work area)
- In-Resort deals (discounts at the local shops, mountain restaurants etc)
- Equipment deals (possibility to buy equipment at discounted rates/season rental rates)
- In-house training and professional development
If you need to travel across the world to join a ski school (or a ski instructor course) you really want to make sure something comes out of it. Some companies in Japan for example guarantee a partial refund of the transfer fee after a certain amount of hours of work, or for highly qualified instructors.
Accommodation can be brutally expensive, or just impossible to find. Some help on your first season could be a must-have. Many “peak weeks” contracts include accommodation nowadays, making life a lot easier for instructors.
Equipment needs to be used, and it’s expensive. Being able to offer competitive deals is, in our opinion, a must-do for ski schools. Notably, discounts for buying gear or seasonal rental options, are some of the best ways to save money.
Training can play a huge part when choosing a resort and ski school. Some places might not be able to offer a valid solution to your career progression. We believe that is beyond enough reason to not pick that particular school or resort. You can always come back to it later, once you hold your final qualification. Equally as important, if you’re already in the business, it really is of least benefit sticking with you “level 2” qualification for half a decade or more. This job is definitely worth while when fully certified (in most cases at least). Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting on with it.
Ski Instructor Salaries
Ski Instructor Salaries can also be structured differently:
- Hourly rate: the instructor gets payed by the hour, only if he/she works
- Fixed salary: fixed monthly/weekly salary
- Commission based
In the hourly rate scenario, the school normally guarantees a certain amount of hours (often very minimal) and should (in theory) be able to pay a decent amount per hour. This is due to the higher risk faced by the instructor with a non-guaranteed income.
The fixed salary solution is the safest for the instructor, as the salary is guaranteed. In this circumstance, the instructor needs to work to deliver however many hours have been agreed at the signing on the contract.
The commission based pay rate is often used in highly competitive markets (like big resorts or big ski schools) to promote a more independent way of thinking, as well as a more competitive mindset.
It is often the case that this system is used to implement the “hourly rate” method.
The question now could be, does my school pays a decent hourly rate + commission compared to the one next door?
Interesting data from our Instructors
We have asked our instructors to share with us the packages they have received in the past, working for ski schools around the world. What follows isn’t a comprehensive round-up, more a genuine list of shared experiences amongst colleagues.
In order to give a fair and mindful overview, we actively decided to not even try to find out the exact hourly rates across the world and come up with the stats.
Firstly because it is not just about money per hour that we can judge a good or a bad deal. Secondly, because in order to create a serious and non-speculative set of data (of which we have seen plenty on google) we would need a serious and comprehensive amount of evidence, from a great number of instructors, resorts and ski schools. Which is somewhat near impossible. Therefore we provide what we know to be true, from personal experiences, and do not generalise about countries for better or worse.
So rather than judging a resort (or an entire country) by a random stat you can find on the internet, we suggest to get in touch with the local schools and tourism office, as well as reach out to colleagues that already work there or were employed there in the past. This way you can get a more accurate idea of the choice you are making for your career.
Our Instructor’s experience
Here follows some of the data we have collected. Some schools have agreed on letting us published their name on the following list, so where possible you will be able to see the name of the business.
Ski Instructor Salaries Australia
Accommodation in town: 180-250 AU$/month
Hourly Rate Level 2: 29 Au$/hr
Ski Instructor Salaries Canada
Accommodation in town: 450 – 490 Can$/month
Hourly Rate Level 2: 16 CAN$/hr
Ski Instructor Salaries Japan
Happo-one, Hakuba, Nagano
Accommodation in town: provided by the ski school, including breakfast and dinner. Fee taken out of wages monthly.
Common Hourly rate Level 2: US$ 8,35/hr
Accommodation in town: 140£/month
Hourly Rate Level 2: 14£/hr
Hourly Rate Level 3: 17£/hr
Ski Instructor Salaries Switzerland
Accommodation in town: 1000 CHF per person, in a shared bedroom
Common hourly rate Level 2: 22-24 CHF/hr
Commission: 5-10 chf/hr
Accommodation in town: 700 to 1000 CHF/month for a 1 person studio
Common hourly rate Level 2: 22-24 CHF/hr
Commission: 3-8 CHF/hr
Hourly Rate Level 2:
We will keep on updating this list, stay in touch!
If you are a ski school or an instructor keen to share with us your current fees please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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