How Much Money Do Ski Instructors Make?

Instructor teaching ski lessons for a child

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How much you can earn as a ski instructor depends on where you work, your level of experience, and how much you get in tips. Many ski instructors work full-time through the ski season, while others have different full-time or part-time jobs and work as ski instructors on the weekends. Either way, a free ski pass is a common perk for this type of work.

But is being a ski instructor truly worth it to spend all day on the slopes; Is it enough to feed a family of four or save up for a new car? Sadly, it's only worth it if you're looking for a low-wage job that keeps you in the place you love the most: the slopes.

Although perfect for a summer job for high school and college students alike — or even those in-between-jobs ski enthusiasts in their early 20s — ski instructors don't really make enough to pay the bills throughout the year, with most instructors making less than $15 an hour.

Hourly and Annual Ski Instructor Salary

Most ski instructors start out earning between $9 and $15 per hour, but experienced instructors can make around $20 per hour while clinic and private instructors can make even more.

In addition to experience, salary can depend on the instructor's level of Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) certification. Depending on the amount of time an instructor has spent training and teaching over the years of his or her career, the salary may increase exponentially. Some instructors are even hired as personal trainers for professional winter sports athletes.

The annual salary for ski instructors is particularly difficult to estimate due to the highly seasonal nature of the work. Most ski instructor positions last through the ski season — about 5 months or less at most U.S. resorts. Therefore, the hourly pay rate is much more meaningful than the annual salary. According to Glassdoor, the national average annual salary for ski instructors is about $25,000.

Other Benefits for Ski Instructors

In addition to wages, ski instructors often receive tips from clients. They are, after all, providing a service, and the quality of the service is likely to be represented in the clients' tips.

Instructors of group lessons report tips (when they get them) of $5 to $10 per student. Tips for a full day of private instruction may be $50 or up to $100. Most ski instructors also get free lift tickets or free season passes, depending on the number of hours they work.

In other situations, especially for private instruction and hiring, a ski instructor may even be flown to a location where winter conditions happen year-round, put up in hotels, and offered meal stipends. It really just depends on how good the instructor is and what kind of clients he or she can get.