Here at ES we pride ourselves not only on being able to offer personalised, flexible lessons to our guests, but also on providing our instructors with elite training to pass their hardest ski exams. The ISIA qualification is one of the highest certifications ski instructors can achieve, and our elite training programme at ES Academy helps give our instructors the skills to pass their final exams. Lots of instructors choose train with us, and many of them go on to pass their exams and further their careers in skiing. Beth Lloyd is one such trainee. This winter she’s working for and training with ES towards her BASI level 3 and ISIA qualification. This has been her journey so far…
« Becoming a ski instructor is no easy feat. It involves time, commitment, determination and, like most things, money. A lot of it. That said there are almost as many ways to become an instructor as there are skiers on the mountain and no wrong or right pathway to choose. Here’s how I’ve gone about it…
I started on my journey to teaching on snow when I was fifteen, when I did my work experience at Plymouth Ski and Snowboard Centre, a dry (artificial) ski slope. For a week I shadowed a number of instructors there (many of whom are still great friends) and started on a thirteen week instructor course almost as soon as that finished.
I had little to no experience going into my first ever training course. My family don’t ski, we never went on ski holidays when I was growing up. All I had behind me was one school trip when I was in primary school. So I fumbled my way through the course and just about passed with the lowest level of instructor grade you can achieve.
However with a lot of help from my trainers and a lot of time and practice I worked my way up to the highest level of qualification at Plymouth and have been working there as a freelance instructor between seasons for around eight years now.
Unfortunately for me and my bank balance, my qualification at Plymouth was only internally recognised and if I wanted to teach on snow I needed to get some more training under my belt. I needed to choose a system that’s internationally recognised.
There are many systems that will allow you to teach on snow. Some of the more well-known ones include CSIA (Canada), NZIA (New Zealand), ESF (France) and BASI (Britain). They all vary in price and the way that they’re taught can differ, the lingo used may change, but the end goal is the same – to provide a system in which ski instructors can train, progress and teach.
BASI, the system I chose, is split into levels 1-4:
Allows an instructor to teach in the UK in snow domes and on dry slopes.
Allows you to work further afield in real ski resorts as long as you are on marked pistes within resort boundaries.
An ISIA or BASI level 3 instructor can teach any level of skier on or off-piste within the resort boundary. The qualification is recognised anywhere in the world apart from France where you need an extra speed test on top of this to teach.
Level 4 or ISTD is the highest in the BASI system. Instructors at this level can teach anywhere in the world, anywhere on the mountain. They can set up and run their own ski schools and are only limited by glaciated terrain and routes with the planned use of ropes.
I passed my level 1 in Milton Keynes snow dome after a few seasons of saving. My method has always been work a season or two then pay for an exam. By working almost every type of chalet job going in return for lift passes I’ve had the time to progress as a skier. Over the years I’ve always followed people faster and better than me and tried to learn from them at every opportunity. I found a love of off-piste and ski touring, as well as practicing my demonstration skiing on piste, and fell well and truly in love with the sport and its accompanying lifestyle.
After a few more seasons working in the chalets I took my level 2 in Zermatt, Switzerland.
There’s a big step up from the level 1 to the level 2 in BASI and unfortunately I just missed out. I was completely gutted and I started that winter on a low. Luckily that winter season turned out to be one of the best, with an amazing team in a great chalet. I trained hard and took lessons with an Italian ski school before turning up for the retake exam in the spring, this time in Hintertux, Austria, which I passed! Wohoo!!
Once I’d passed, I travelled to Japan and finally taught a full winter, as an instructor, on snow! I gained over 400 hours of teaching experience and loved every minute. Finally after years of training I was able to do the job I’d been dreaming of.
Which brings me to where I am now…
Currently I’m in Zermatt, just starting a winter with European Snowsport who run an academy programme for level 2s training for their level 3 exams. ES is a ski school with bases in various resorts such as Zermatt, Verbier, Chamonix and Nendaz. They specialise in going the extra mile for their guests, being flexible with lessons and making sure the little touches aren’t forgotten.
There are four of us on the academy this year and I’m really excited for the season ahead. Harrison, Gaby, Emma and I have been given our blue academy jackets and have been getting stuck into formation week and training. When peak weeks come around we’ll even get to don the black instructor jackets and get teaching again – can’t wait!
Hopefully by the end of the season we will all be feeling much stronger on our skis and ready to tackle some more exams. Level 3 is in sight. »
Want to further your career as a ski instructor? Check out ES Academy and our super flexible work and training programmes. If you have any questions, get in touch by phone or email and we’ll help you find the course for you!
Beth will be writing some more instructor training blogs for us over the course of the season, but in the meantime, you can follow her journey on her website, Pandora Mountain Photography.