Ever thought of a job as a ski instructor? As Rob Stewart – Freelance ski writer and editor of The Skiing Department explains – qualifying to work as a ski instructor is best organised before the skiing begins!
Most ski instructor gap programs take place during the winter season so you end up getting qualified once the snow starts to melt.
Whist getting the qualification is a fantastic achievement, not being able to use it fully for almost a year could be frustrating.
Dearden Jameson, a British ski instructor now working for the Oberlech Ski School in the Arlberg region during the winter, saw an opportunity to get a qualification well into his 30’s.
Dearden said, ‘I started skiing at the age of 29 and thought I’d feel out of place on a gap course, but this was far from the case’.
He went onto to add, ‘because I got my qualification during the autumn, I could apply for jobs straight away and not waste anytime in the key part of the winter’.
Although Dearden travelled to Tignes in the French Alps to attend a course with Snoworks, a company run by top ski instructors Phil Smith and Lee Townend and four times Olympic ski racer, Emma Carrick Anderson, his qualification allowed him to work in Austria.
The Oberlech Ski School employs many foreign qualified ski instructors including British, Argentinian and Dutch and Dearden applied for his job directly with the ski school itself.
Now, after working there for two whole winter ski seasons, he relishes the time when the snow starts to fall.
When Dearden was what he thought about becoming a ski instructor in his 30’s he said, ‘I was not sure if it was the right thing to do at first, but once I started the Snoworks course, I felt at home immediately’.
‘Everyone treated me as an adult and I never felt like some kind of schoolboy, which is something I heard can happen on some gap courses’.
Very quickly, I had no doubts that my decision to become a ski instructor was anything but the right one’.
‘Phil and his team of instructors are amazing and so passionate about what they do, it’s like a family and you get treated that way at all times’.
‘The great thing about getting a qualification before the start of the winter is that you can actually work as a ski instructor when ski schools need you most.’
His responsibilities now include looking after the Kindergarden section of the Oberlech ski school, something which is clearly challenging and extremely fun at the same time.
He says, ‘Sundays we start off by getting everyone into groups and by Wednesday or Thursday most of the beginners are skiing on the mountain’.
Although Dearden is not fluent in German he can get by with some basics. ‘It’s best to have some grip of the language, and fluency is highly beneficial in finding work with an Austrian ski school, but having English as a first language always helps too’.
He also explained how the investment has paid off financially for him. ‘Obviously there is a cost involved in training for any qualification, but I easily paid this off within a couple of seasons working for a ski school and last year managed to save substantial amounts.
‘Also the other benefit of qualifying before the winter starts, means you can make a full seasons salary immediately afterwards if you secure work for the winter’.
Dearden attended a Snoworks GAP course in Tignes, France and works for the Oberlech Ski School in the Austrian Arlberg region.
He gained a BASI (British Association of Snowsports Instructor) qualification which allows him to work for ski schools in Austria.
Snoworks GAP courses run from October 20 to December 15 2012 and cost £6,950 fully inclusive.
Further information can be found online at www.snoworks.co.uk/gap.asp