Fair Instructor Fare
How much do ski instructors earn around the world?
It’s a question you need to ask yourself if you’re thinking of investing the time and money needed to work on the slopes. Unfortunately, information is thin and the answer is not as forthcoming, either, because there are so many variables that can influence earnings: country, resort, ski school, experience and qualification levels, as well as economic factors affecting the overall demand for lessons and the strength of a currency.
SnowSkool, an international ski and board instructor training school with two- to 13-week courses from Banff and Big White to New Zealand and the Alps, polled many of its graduates working across the globe to obtain guideline figures. For comparison purposes, all figures are in U.S. dollars, pre-tax, and based on a qualified Level II ski or snowboard instructor.
Australia: The starting rate for Level IIs is around $18/hour. After 75 hours, this increases to $24/hour, and then to $45/hour after 300 hours of logged work.
Austria: Resorts pay a guaranteed monthly salary, with Level IIs earning about $2,450/month based on a 36-hour week (around $20/hour).
Canada: Probably the most transparent payment structure, distinguished by the level of qualifications. A Level II instructor earns $15-$17/hour. While tips can double seasonal income, the number of hours per day and week can vary hugely.
Japan: The least transparent payment structure, but figures from a sampling of resorts indicate a Level II earns about $25/hour.
New Zealand: Not as generous as Australia, Level IIs make about $18-$20/hour.
Switzerland: Swiss ski schools pay generous hourly wages, with experienced instructors making $55-$65/hour.
USA: Wages differ between resorts. In Vermont and California, pay is around $20/hour for a Level II, while in Aspen it’s $28. Many instructors’ seasons will stand or fall on the amount of tips they receive.
France: More advanced qualifications are needed and getting work is tough. Once you have a Level II and passed the “test technique,” which is a timed slalom, you can work at a certified French ski school as a stagiaire for four years (from $28/hour), during which you must become accredited to the French equivalent of a Level IV (starting at $50/hour).