How Much Money Do Ski Instructors Make? [Revealed]

Most people want to know how much money do ski instructors make before coming one. It’s a good question that depends on the skill level of the ski instructors, the resort size and where they are located in the country. Don’t worry, we will break all of that down for you and more.

Read on to learn how much money do ski instructors make and what you can do to increase your pay as a ski instructor.

Lady ski instructor teaching child
Ski instructor giving lessons. Photo Credit: PEIgov (Flickr CC)

How Much Money Do Ski Instructors Make?

Ski instructor pay varies by levels, states and resorts. You might already know there are level 1, 2 and 3 instructors by the PSIA -AASI. That is a whole another subject in it’s own if you should get certified. For most people it isn’t the best option. Nonetheless pay is affected by certifications and years of experience teaching on the mountain.

Pay By Levels

The PSIA-AASI offers three levels and multiple disciplines for ski instructors. As one would expect, the higher the certification, the better the pay.

When most instructors start out they don’t have a PSIA-AASI skiing certification. Many go their whole career without getting one. We argue that even for a lot of full-time instructors, it doesn’t make sense. Let alone part-timers who may only be a ski instructor for a year or two.

So where does ski instructor pay start? Here is an idea of how much ski instructors make-

  • An uncertified ski instructor starts around $10-$15 per hour
  • Level 1’s see their pay increase to the $14 to $17 an hour range.
  • Level 2s often sees their pay go up to $17 to $20
  • The highest pay for ski instructors is level 3s or one’s with specialized experience. From the ones we have spoken to, their pay is often in the range of $20-$25 an hour. This takes into account a mix of states and ski resort sizes.

While immediately it may seem attractive to be a level 3 ski instructor, it is not something that is completed overnight. It takes time and effort to develop your skills and then pass the levels. It isn’t a journey for everyone.

chart of how much do ski instructors make

Big Resorts vs Small Resort Ski Instructors Pay

If you think big ski resorts pay ski instructors more than small resorts, well, you are generally correct. With that being said, you need to also factor in the cost of living is generally higher near large ski resorts. While that can be a drawback, one of the positives of large resorts is their willingness to help put instructors through training.

There is often a more consistent set of new students at a small resort, This means you’ll spend a lot more time teaching and that is how a lot of resorts pay. The last benefit to these bigger resorts is they have a lot more full-time positions. The small resorts just can’t justify full-time and most of the ski instructors there are made up of part-time workers.

While the pay at smaller resorts can be a few dollars less per hour, you also have to factor in that you might be teaching fewer lessons, which, if part-time is how you often earn your pay.

Ski Instructor Pay in a Few Different States

All ski instructors are not paid equally. That is a line you will come to be familiar with quickly in the ski industry. It might even make you want to move resorts or states.

At the end of the day, it will be a few dollars difference and the average will fall in the range above. Let’s have a look at some of the most popular areas for ski instructors and how much they make.

How Much do Ski Instructors Make in Colorado?

Colorado ski instructors generally fall into the $12- $17 range. That takes into account small and large resorts. It also factors in ski instructors being trained to different levels.

While some level 2 and 3 instructors are making a lot more than that, there is still a lot of new instructors starting at the lower end every year.

What do Aspen Ski Instructors Make?

Ski instructor teaching group lessons
Group ski lessons. Photo Credit: Simon Hannaford (Flickr CC)

Aspen ski instructors are know to make a bit more. The jobs are a bit more competitive, there is a bit of prestige to say you have worked as a ski instructor at an Aspen resort and frankly you are working at a world-class resort.

The ski instructors at Aspen usually start in the $14 to $15 an hour range and instructors are making well up over that $20 per hour mark.

Remember that at the end of the day, the resort will sell you a dream of riding on a world-class mountain but you should technically try to negotiate the best starting pay. After all, ski instructors are there to work and get paid, it’s more of a given that you’ll be riding in Aspen.

How Much Do They Make at Vail?

Vail ski instructors make a comparable rate to Aspen You might be looking for a more exciting answer but starting ski instructors don’t have a ton of leverage until they have been there a few years.

At most you’ll probably be Nickle and diming between ski resort offers on your first few. You could get $14.25 at one resort and [$14.75] at another. When it comes down to that, you should make your decision based on the trails the resorts offer.

How Much do Ski Instructors Make in Utah?

Ski instructors in Utah face a different challenge compared to states like Colorado. The minimum wage. It is much lower than Colorado so while it is technically a good thing for resorts, it isn’t the best for ski instructors. Some starting rates come in a bit lower and small ski areas are even in the $10-$13 range.

So What Does This Mean for Utah Ski Instructors?

Some Utah ski instructors are leaving the state and going for a little bit higher wages at large resorts in nearby states. For the ones who want to make a career, they have to weed out a few offers and go where is best. That is not to say there isn’t amazing skiing in Utah but ski instructors can sometimes make a bit more in other states. Considering that, the cost of living can be higher in those other states as well.

The East Coast Ski Instructor Pay: Vermont, Maine and New York

The east coast is often known for decent wages to begin with. When we spoke with some ski instructors we know at Killington, Sunday River and Bretton Woods, the feedback we received was they are all in the general ranges above with most in the $15 to $20 range when teaching.

It is almost to be expected that they are in line with the national averages with the occasional bump here and therefore cost of living or dip for cheaper areas.

Is Becoming a Ski Instructor Worth It?

Ski instructor teaching private lessons
Private ski lessons. Photo Credit: Rob Wall (Flickr CC)

This is the big question now that the ski instructor pay is out. It really depends. You have to become a ski instructor for the right reasons. You should become a ski instructor if you resonate with the following –

  • Have a passion for teaching
  • Love being on the mountain
  • Want to ride for free
  • Don’t mind a little extra cash
  • Discounts on food and possibly gear

You shouldn’t become a ski instructor if you are solely looking for a high paying gig. We’ll just put it out there, it isn’t the one for you.

Final Thoughts on How Much Money do Ski Instructors Make?

Now that you have an idea how much money do ski instructors make, you can make an informed decision if you want to become one or not. Maybe you just needed a comparable to other states and resorts.

Whatever the case, just get into it for the right reasons; the love for the trails and a passion for teaching!

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