Ski Instructor Certification
One of the best ways to improve both your ski teaching and your skiing is to participate in the PSIA certification process. PSIA sponsors a number of professional certifications that include:
- Registered Ski and Snowboard Instructor
- Level I Ski and Snowboard Instructor
- Level II Ski and Snowboard Instructor
- Level III Ski and Snowboard Instructor
- Division Clinic Leader
- Examiner (at several different levels)
- Demonstration Team Members
- Nordic Ski Instructors
- Adaptive Ski Instructors
- Freestyle Ski and Snowboard Instructors
The certification process begins with becoming a Registered Member of Professional Ski Instructors of America. While there is no examination required to become a registered member, instructors do need to be actively teaching in a PSIA authorized ski school and have the recommendation of the Ski School Director. During PSIA registration, new members learn about the role of the professional ski instructor and the mechanics of teaching at their home resort. Registered members must be able to demonstrate the ability to safely handle the demands of a ski school class, ski terrain at the level of beginning and novice skiers, demonstrate the fundamental elements of skiing stance and balance and be able to teach skiing to first-time skiers.
Usually the next year, the new instructor will begin preparing for their Level I certification.
Aimed at demonstrating a basic competence and knowledge of the sport, Level I candidates will learn how to teach skiing to beginners and novices up to and including skiing groomed blue runs. Through a series of clinics and workshops, Level I candidates learn how to refine their skiing and teaching techniques and how to "interpret" the characteristics of the snow and the mountain as they pertain to teaching skiing.
At Level I, candidates are introduced to the concepts of Guest Centered Teaching (GCT) the American Teaching System (ATS) - the system that insures that students taking a ski lesson at any of the PSIA certified ski schools will receive the same, consistent approach to teaching, regardless of where they take their lesson.
After a year or two of teaching skiing, the instructor will often begin preparing for the Level II certification. Level II certified instructors are qualified to teach skiing to the majority of ski school guests and are able to demonstrate how to safely ski more challenging runs under variable conditions. As they become more knowledgeable, Level II certified instructors not only learn how to teach their guests about proper skiing technique but also how to choose the most appropriate skiing equipment, boot canting and other aspects that factor into the total skier. The Level II candidate must successfully pass a rigorous three-day examination before becoming certified.
Level III certified (or "fully certified") instructors possess the highest level of skiing expertise and professionalism in skiing. Recognized as experts in their field, Level III candidates are required to go through a rigorous, four-day certification process that results in only 10-20% of the candidates successfully passing the exam on the first attempt. After achieving a Level III certification, instructors are afforded the ultimate recognition by their teaching peers and given the best teaching assignments.