If you’ve considered training to become a snowboard instructor, there are a whole host of factors to consider before deciding how to move forward with this exciting choice of career. With this guide, you can think of SCUK as a cool version of the speccy, bearded dude that you referred to as the Career Counsellor back at School... ) and we have taken a little advice from course provider, SnowSkool!)
1. Do I need qualifications to work as a snowboard instructor?
The short answer to this question is “yes”…certainly in this day and age. It used to be the case that local experienced/ expert snowboarders could pick up some work instructing, particularly at the weekends, and this is still the case at some hills in the USA today but in 99.9% of cases, recognised snowboard instructor qualifications are required to get your ticket-to-teach.
2. Do I need to do a snowboard instructor course to get my qualifications?
No. Anyone is able to sign up to a Level 1 examination course although guidance is given as to what standards need apply before you considering signing up. In the UK, for example you can go to your local hill (in Scotland), dry-slope or indoor slope and take part in a BASI Level 1 snowboard exam. BASI suggest that before signing up, students must:
- Be able to ride confidently and in control on red runs, liking small radius turns close to the fall line
- Have at least 16 weeks riding experience
The same theories apply in many other countries throughout the world although most countries have their own snowboard instructor regulatory bodies and, as such, different pre-course standards apply.
Holders of the Level 1 qualifications can then push forward and sign up for the Level 2 examination. Again, we advise you to check the standards you are expected to reach according to the regulatory that applies.
3. So why do a snowboard instructor course?
The principal reason for joining a snowboard instructor course is to increase your chances of success. Courses offer you structured snowboard lessons to bring your snowboarding up to the standards required to pass the “riding” part of the examination as well as a curriculum by which you can learn the techniques and drills required to pass the “teaching” element of the qualification and start thinking and operating like a snowboard instructor. Any course worth its salt will employ snowboard trainers that have the appropriate levels of qualification and experience to be able to teach future instructors (often referred to as pedagogy) and getting access to these senior instructors could otherwise be pricey!
As well as a higher success rate – anecdotal evidence suggests that the pass rate can be up to 35% higher on training courses than by going it alone – training courses are as much about the experience - living, and most importantly, training alongside others of a similar ability and focus as yourself can lend itself to success. And, let’s face it, getting your transportation, accommodation and boarding organised for you is always a bonus!
On BASI courses, you are required to do 35 hours of Snowboard School experience before you have completed the certification – this is generally included as part of the instructor course schedule, although you can organise it yourself at a local hill (Scotland), dry-slope or indoor slope!
4. OK so which snowboard instructor qualification?
If you have started researching this, you have probably had a lot of acronyms thrown at you - the most commonly-appearing examples are BASI (British Association of Snowsport Instructors) and CASI (Canadian Association of Snowboard Instructors). In reality there are 38 individual regulatory bodies that govern snowboard instruction worldwide – from Argentina to Israel and from Greece to Serbia – and these national associations are, in turn, governed by the ISIA (International Ski Instructors Association – which unites instructors of all snowsports…ski, snowboard, telemark and Nordic skiing).
Which one for me?
Along with BASI and CASI, the qualifications of the SBINZ (Snowboard Instruction New Zealand) and OSSV (Austrian Association of Snowsport Instructors – for German speakers only!) are popular with the training course providers as well as, to a lesser extent, the AASI (American Association of Snowboard Instructors) and APSI (Australian Professional Snowsport Instructors). There are no hard & fast rules to determine which qualification is right for you as a snowboarder and, at the levels generally covered by training courses (level 1 and level 2), there is no equivalency/ ranking to guide you as to the “best” of the qualifications.
BASI boasts a certain superiority as successful candidates have to do 2 x 35hrs work experience to get the level 1 and level 2 certificate and so you will leave these courses with (fingers crossed) your qualifications and work experience – an attractive mix to potential employers. But other regulatory bodies would probably have their arguments in place as to why their own qualification is superior. Some national associations, such as BASI and SBINZ are net exporters of snowboard instructors…i.e. you don’t get your BASI qualifications to work the hills of Britain! As a result, BASI has lobbied hard to get its qualifications fully-accepted in other countries – principally Europe and, after much hard work, France! CASI on the other hand provides a qualification framework for people looking to work in Canada and so doesn’t have to work hard to conform with the demands of other countries.
Our advice... if you want to work in Europe, go for the BASI qualifications. If you want to work in Canada, go for CASI. If you want to work in Austria (and can speak German), go for OSSV. If you want to work in New Zealand, go for SBINZ. If you want to work in the States, go for AASI.
Information provided by SnowSkool. SnowSkool has been providing snowboard instructor courses since 2004. Courses take place in Banff (Canada – CASI), Big White (Canada – CASI), Big Sky (USA – AASI), the Three Valleys (France – BASI) and Treble Cone (New Zealand – SBINZ).