Ski instructor internships : Japan's newest ski season travel trend -- Sep 05
It is not ground breaking news to hear that Japan's ski industry is booming, each winter record levels of international tourism are achieved, driven largely by a growing global awareness and explosion in Asian ski culture.

Japan's ski economy is also thriving, especially with international seasonal workers, and in particular, ski instructors looking to start a career in snowsports. This growth has been spurred on by the rapid development of resorts across Japan and the opportunity afforded by ski instructor internships, a novel, new way of starting a career in snowsports which has taken the country by storm!

What is a ski instructor internship?

The vast majority of ski schools in Japan require certifications to teach, but the growing demand for lessons has created issues in recruitment for snowsports schools. The solution, ski instructor internships. Or of course for snowboarders, a snowboard instructor internship!

A ski instructor internship is, in its simplest form, is a package which includes all the necessary training to become certified followed by employment. Internship courses tend to start early in the season, before guests arrive, so that by Christmas interns are busy working and able to fulfill lesson demand.

It provides skiers and snowboarders the chance to experience life working as an instructor, while helping ski schools to meet the growing lesson demand from people learning to ski or board.

The other key benefit to ski and snowboard internships is the packaged nature of the programme. Travel, accommodation and general communication can be more difficult in some countries, but an internship is structured with all elements pre-arranged to avoid any problems in transitioning. Often it can be difficult to find work in ski resorts, but internship programmes will guarantee this before you start your course, providing you attain your certification.

Where can one become an instructor in Japan?

While there are over 600 ski resorts dotted across Japan's two main islands, Hokkaido and Honshu, there aren't so many destinations which offer internships. Generally speaking the resort needs to be of a certain size and have a certain number of international clientele for them to succeed.

Niseko United is home to the largest number of internships, and is often used as a training ground for other resorts in the local area. It's sheer resort size and the number of established ski schools make it the perfect destination to train to become an instructor. Recently some of the lesser known and smaller ski areas of Japan are finding their way into the mainstream. Places like Myoko and Madarao offer an authentic Japanese experience, allowing instructors and visitors to experience the “Real Japan”, something that is starting to diminish from the larger international resorts as they grow in size.

Is becoming a ski instructor worth the investment?

Becoming an instructor requires several weeks of intensive training, so it isn't really a low cost career option. Starting at around $6,000 USD, excluding flights, a training course should be viewed as more of as an investment in your education. Much like completing a university degree, only far less expensive and much more enjoyable!

While instructors are unlikely to recoup their initial outlay on course during the first winter, a high performing ski instructor can build great earning potential quickly. Private lessons and return requests can pay significantly higher than the majority of jobs available in ski resorts. What's more, with every additional certification achieved and season completed, instructors are also able to increase their earning potential and move up the career ladder.

Finally, one of the major advantages of completing a ski instructor internship course is the opportunity to travel. A qualification under the International Ski Instructors Association (ISIA) structure will allow you to teach in 39 countries (providing you obtain a visa to legally work), including New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada, USA and Australia. Many instructors live their dream by experiencing back-to-back winters between the hemispheres.

What should I do if I'm interested?

It is important to research a selection of course providers and options before booking onto an internship, you need to be sure it is the right one for you and that you are suitable for it.

Firstly, you should check if you can get the correct visa to complete an internship. The Japanese government website gives a list of countries that are eligible to receive a working holiday visa in Japan

When considering different resorts, Snow Season Central is a great website with lots of information on working a season at different resorts.

There is a minimum level of ability that is usually required to become an instructor, this is generally around 4-6 weeks on snow. WE ARE SNO have a useful tool which checks your eligibility for instructor courses, you can find it on their website -

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