I’m always being asked the same question every winter by people who are naturally intrigued about what a ski instructor does once the snow melts. It’s one of those questions which can become tiresome to answer and making up stories about exotic ‘summer’ roles can become quite good fun. I’m sure there are people out there that still think I run an aardvark farm in Argentina from May to November (of course, ironically there is plenty of skiing in Argentina during this period!)
But for ski instructors themselves it is a serious issue and one that needs to be properly addressed during the early part of a career. For local girls and boys starting to teach skiing in the town they grew up in, their choices are a little easier. Contacts in the resort mean that finding summer jobs would be easier and naturally they would have accommodation all year round as well.
For a foreign worker that arrives in December and is out of a job by April, the choices are more complex. More and more, traditional winter sports destinations are catering for summer activities and this provides some extra options for staying all year round. Mountain biking, climbing, walking and other outdoor activities have grown in the last 10 years. But there is still some serious off-season periods just before and just after the winter season where a lack of tourists mean a lack of work.
One major consideration is for workers that might have a family. Moving around to follow the snow or to head for a beach in the summer is difficult if there are children at school age. In this case finding work in the resort is the only viable option.
Here are some real jobs that a ski instructor might do during ‘the summer’ split between staying put or heading to a new destination:
Get climbing in the summer and start the process of becoming a qualified mountain guide. This will take several years of hard work, determination, skill and a high level of passion for the mountains. Mountain guides can work all year round, taking skiers off piste in the winter and leading groups of mountaineers or ski tourers during the summer.
Mountain Biking Guide:
The sport of mountain biking has grown rapidly and guides are often required to lead groups safely into the hills. There are now several levels of qualifications for a bike guide, but it is a natural environment for some ski instructors to thrive in during the summer months.
Maybe not as glamorous as other routes but most winter sports destinations need carpenters during the summer to work on new hotels, chalets and apartments. Because not much construction work can go on during the winter there is a good demand for this kind of work whilst the grass is green.
When the winter is ending in Europe, North America or Japan the snow is starting to fall in South America, New Zealand and Australia. Although the scope for teaching work is more limited in the southern hemisphere, a good qualification, some persistence and a good attitude will be sure to help secure a job for the winter season. Some northern hemisphere ski schools also have reciprocal agreements with their southern hemisphere equivalents.
Head to the beach and qualify as a sailing instructor. Also consider crewing on a yacht and get some experience on the high seas. Windsurfing, water-skiing and jet boating are other sports which require qualified instructors.
Here are some other jobs that ski instructors I know have all done in the off season: Tennis coach, Golf Pro, Fruit Picker, Oil Rig Worker, Climbing Instructor, Canoeing Instructor, Bar Tender, Tour Guide, Freelance Web Designer, Farm Hand, Taxi Driver, Construction Site Worker, Road Digger, Bagpipe Player.
If your chosen career is a ski instructor then just ensure you have a second skill so that during the off season you don’t have to farm aardvarks in Argentina.
If you have any suggestions or other experiences with different kinds of work then get in contact.