Ski Instructor Courses: The pathway to BASI certification explained!

Lee Townend, Snoworks instructor & BASI trainer, explains the when, where, what and how to fasttrack you way into the exciting world of ski instruction.

Are you passionate about skiing, be it racing or recreationally with friends and family but those few weeks away to the mountains just sometimes don’t feel enough? Do you dream of skiing every day of the winter? Never want to miss those powder days, sunny days, emptier slopes and the atmosphere, not to mention the lifestyle you experience in the mountains? Why not consider a ski ‘Gap’ course and get paid to be there!

The ski gap course market is getting bigger all the time, and this article is designed to help simplify the options available to you, what the course should include, details about the qualifications and where you can work with your new achievements.

Firstly and most importantly is when to do your Gap course. There are 2 options – before the ski season starts (summer or autumn) or during the winter season. If you choose to do your training during the season (usually Jan-Mar) then you will be able to enjoy skiing a fully open ski resort and all the facilities and pleasures that come with it, resulting in being qualified by March with the possibility of working for the remainder of that season.

Choosing a pre-season course will mean that the majority of the course is run on an alpine glacier. This option results in becoming a fully qualified ski instructor before the start of the winter season meaning you are free to enjoy the skiing, lifestyle and pleasures of a fully open ski resort, whilst being paid to be there!

Where to do your gap course? Here the choice is endless. There is a ski gap course in almost every corner of the globe from the French Alps to Canada to New Zealand. This choice could be made by a location preference, or better still by which governing body you wish to qualify with. Here, I am going to focus purely on British Gap courses, all of whom qualify their instructors with BASI (British Association of Snowsport Instructors). The benefits and pathway to certification are detailed below.

Different course providers will offer slightly different course content primarily to try and differentiate themselves, however all courses should include: Personal performance training, Teacher training, BASI exam fees, Accommodation, Lift pass, First aid training, Ski school experience and shadowing.

BASI is the British governing body for all British Snowsports qualifications, with a structured pathway in Alpine, Nordic, Telemark, Adaptive and Snowboarding disciplines. In Alpine skiing BASI has a 4-stage system, which is structured to help you gain worldwide recognised qualifications and career opportunities.

Below I have detailed only the Gap inclusive levels (full details on the pathway to level 4 certification can be found on the BASI website). In order to begin you must enrol on the 1-week training course, these are held in both the Alps and also UK facilities. You must complete all elements of the level 1 course to receive the qualification prior to working as an instructor, then you must complete a further 35 hours work experience (teaching preferable) prior to booking on to your 2-week level 2 course. You can complete level 1 from age 16, and commence level 2 training, but need to be 18 years old to achieve the full level 2 ski instructor licence.

BASI associate member
BASI level 1 Instructor training (1 week)
Safeguarding children course
2 Day first aid certificate
35 Hours work experience
Minimum age 16 years

BASI full member
BASI level 2 Instructor training (2 weeks)
35 Hours work experience
Minimum age 18yrs

BASI level 1 instructor allows you to work in non-mountain environments such as UK snowdomes and dry slopes, (this is similar to the old ASSI qualification). BASI level 2 is recognised worldwide allowing you to apply for work in Europe (excluding France) America, Canada, New Zealand and Australia (with visa). Some countries require you to complete a training course within their system, however this is usually included in any Instructor training, or as a week prior to employment.

Now all that’s left is to sign up and you could be just 8 weeks away from one of the best jobs in the world. Good luck!

Lee Townend works full time for Snoworks and is the Snoworks Gap trainer and mentor, and a BASI tutor.

Snoworks GAP course is run each year Oct-Dec in Tignes, click here for more information.

For more information about BASI, click here

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