Work as a ski instructor teaching adults at Whistler Blackcomb for a season. This unique opportunity allows you to gain your CSIA Level 1 instructor qualification in November and work for the season.
The Whistler Blackcomb University program allows the opportunity to receive top coaching from the highest certified ski pros before joining the team at Whistler Blackcomb Snow School.
Duration: Approximately 24 weeks (the whole season)
Dates: Mid November – late April each year. Check out our course in Austria as an alternative.
Arrival day: Thursday
Return day: Thursday
Eligibility: Good level of fitness required, along with customer service and ski experience
Age: 18-30 to be able to apply for the work permit
- Earning money as a newly-qualified ski instructor for a season in Whistler Blackcomb
- Comprehensive support & advice you’ll receive, particularly during our orientation, which includes a ZipTrek tour
- Living as a local in one of the world’s best and most popular ski resorts, regularly voted #1 in North America
Looking to spend a season enjoying deep powder and legendary terrain? Look no further than Whistler Blackcomb, North America’s #1 ski resort. Train as a ski instructor and work the ski season in one of the world’s most renowned resorts.
Oyster and Whistler Blackcomb have enjoyed a partnership since 2004 creating this program for participants to join the snow school. Applicants typically require a minimum Level 2 CSIA qualification before they can work as instructors. Our programme is a great way to step straight into an instructor role during your first season with just your Level 1!
Take our CSIA Level 1 course in Whistler and then begin work as a qualified ski instructor teaching adults to ski for the rest of the season. Guaranteed and central accommodation is provided for the season, along with full support throughout.
Join our programme and take part in a 4 week instructor training course which includes the examination and all fees for the CSIA Level 1 ski instructor qualification. On completion of the course you will start your pre-arranged job working for the snow school.
An internationally recognised qualification, CSIA Level 1 allows you to instruct in other countries and looks great on your CV. You’ll be coached by the best instructors in town, all Level 4 instructors, not just to pass the exam but also gain a real knowledge of both Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, setting you up perfectly for your season as a ski instructor in the adult snow school.
Since 2004, Oyster and Whistler Blackcomb have enjoyed a partnership creating this unique opportunity for participants to join the snow school. Applicants typically require a minimum Level 2 CSIA qualification before they can work as instructors. This is a great way to step straight into an instructor role during your first season!
Before you head to Canada, we will interview you and brief you thoroughly. This allows us to pre-screen you for Whistler Blackcomb and we have an excellent record of finding people jobs in the resort. If you pass our selection criteria and don’t get a job before you go to Canada, we will give you a full refund, that’s how confident we are in our selection process.
We ask for a £180 payment when booking this programme. If, in the event you are unsuccessful in the interview, or we cannot find a job for you before you leave home, the money that you pay Oyster is fully refundable.
As a qualified instructor, you’ll be spending your days working with beginner level skiers in the adult snow school. Your work in the adult ski school will include:
- teaching the basics of skiing in the beginner area as well as teaching on green runs, depending on the level of your group
- working with small groups – adult group ski lessons have a maximum of 4 people per ski instructor
- meeting people from around the world who come to Whistler for their winter holiday and skiing lessons
Given how much of an exciting responsibility this job is, ensuring that you are well suited and prepared is a big part of our job before you head to Canada. You will be interviewed by Oyster when we receive your application and also by a senior Whistler Blackcomb Manager at our briefing course in the autumn before the season begins.
This is a full time position with hours averaging 25 hours per week across the season. Expect to earn C$13 per hour (approx £7) as a qualified instructor and be paid fortnightly. People have been known to receive tips as well!
The season generally finishes in mid-April. The exact date depends on how good the snow is! Our programme runs until the end of April to give you some time to enjoy the spring skiing and relax after a busy season, before heading home or continuing your travels.
If you have childcare experience and would prefer to work with children as a ski instructor, check out our Whistler Kids instructor programme.
- Guaranteed bed in Whistler Blackcomb staff housing during the training course and for the rest of the season whilst working
- Housing is a real premium in Whistler, and our participants always comment how pleased they are that it is confirmed before arrival
- Accommodation located on Blackcomb Mountain very close to the lifts
- Share a room in a self-contained flat. Each flat caters for four people and has two bedrooms (with bunk beds), a lounge, bathroom and small kitchen
- WiFi and bills included in the rent
During the four week Level 1 course the fee for the accommodation is included. On completion of the course, the money for the accommodation will be deducted from your pay cheque at the rate of approx $12.60 (roughly an hour’s pay) per night.
- The accommodation is self-catered with a small kitchen to be able to cook simple meals. The kitchen has a sink, fridge/freezer, hob, microwave and storage space
- Instructors tend to eat lunch with their clients and you’ll get 50% off food in the mountain restaurants
- Enjoy evening ‘staff meals’ next to your accommodation. A three-course meal is currently $7!
- Whistler is a foodies paradise offering cuisine options from around the world
Airport: Vancouver (YVR)
Arrival day: Usually a Thursday – this will be confirmed before you book your flights
Transfer details: Assuming you arrive with the rest of the group, we will transfer you to a hostel in Vancouver for the first night. The next morning, Tory shows you where you can register for your Social Insurance Number before you hop on the coach and head up the Sea to Sky Highway (Highway 99) to Whistler. The journey takes about two and a half hours. On arrival, we’ll get you checked in and give you time to settle into your accommodation before beginning our thorough orientation.
Departure day: Usually a Thursday. If you are flying home on our end date, the airport transfer is included. If you are returning on a different date you will need to organise your own transport
As an ATOL bonded company we can book flights for you from the UK or elsewhere. If you are flying with the group from London, we will see you off at Heathrow on departure day. On arrival, our rep Tory will pick you up at Vancouver Airport and transport you into the city.
If you want to arrange your own flights to Vancouver, that’s fine too. If you arrive at the same time as the rest of the group, the airport transfer will be included, otherwise you will just need to make your own way to the hostel for the first night.
Dual-national Tory (she is British and Canadian) took her gap year in Mont Tremblant, went back to the UK to complete her degree and returned to Whistler to become a ski instructor. She is married to Mike, one of Whistler’s most respected ski instructors, and they have two young children. Tory’s full time job is as the Senior Manager at Whistler.com. She has been our representative since the beginning and is very well connected in the village, she knows what she’s talking about!
On arrival, Tory will arrange a short orientation course and be in close contact with you over the first couple of days. As time goes on, Tory will take more of a back seat and be there as a helpful friend should you need any help or advice. Once a month Tory hosts a meet up with the Oyster group where we provide either a meal, drinks or activity which gives you the opportunity to chat through any issues you might have. Tory is a local expert on where to go and what to see in the area.
Our representatives are there to be a helpful friend to you and steer you through difficulties of any kind. Tory will keep us updated on your health and welfare throughout.
Read more about Tory in our ‘meet the reps‘ blog.
- Access to your own personal ‘My Oyster’ account – our online portal where you can find out much more about the program and manage your booking
- Dedicated contact time with an experienced destination manager to discuss the project, answer any of your questions and for us to find out more about you
- Help and advice from our UK office before arrival and whilst you are away
- In-country support
- Pre-departure information covering medical, safety and project advice
- Gold level, 24/7 Pharos crisis management and incident support cover
- Financial protection: ATOL (if we book your flights); IPP (if we don’t book your flights)
- Thorough orientation on arrival
- Accommodation (see the ‘accommodation’ section above for details)
- Advice on visa requirements
- Oyster plants a tree in Africa with TreeAid to help reduce the impact of global carbon emissions
- UK briefing day covering work advice and meet a senior manager from Whistler Blackcomb
- A job with Whistler Blackcomb Snow School on successful completion of the Whistler University course and pre departure interview
- Organisation of staff accommodation before arrival (free during the Whistler University course and then approx $12.60 per night taken directly from pay cheque, which is roughly £50 per week)
- Whistler University fees including tuition from Level 4 instructors, exam fees for the CSIA Level 1 Ski Instructor exam and accommodation fees during those 4 weeks. (In the unlikely event you fail you will need to pay for a re-test)
- 4 week ski pass, including 20% discount off food, for the duration of the Whistler University course
- Full season Epic ski pass, with staff discounts, once you begin your job
- Arrangement of transportation to your accommodation from the airport and local information
- One night in a central Vancouver hostel when the group arrives in Canada
- Assistance organising your Social Insurance Number and bank account (with TD Canada Bank in Whistler)
- Assistance and support from our representative whilst on the programme with us in Whistler, including regular social ‘meet ups’
- Wages once you begin your job (approx. C$400 per week, before tips)
- In-resort discount on buying skis and boots when you first arrive in Whistler
- Oyster ski season hoody
- Oyster luggage tag
- ZipTrek session during the orientation
- Bus ticket back to Vancouver Airport on the Oyster programme end date
On your return:
- Welcome home pack
- Certificate of Recognition (on request)
- References (on request)
- Flights – as an ATOL bonded company, Oyster can book flights for you
- You need a valid passport that meets the requirements of the country you will be travelling to
- Insurance (covering your time with Oyster and any planned independent travel)
- Any costs associated with changing your return flight date if you need to
- Independent travel costs
- Home country travel costs
- Spending money for additional trips, food and entertainment
- Be eligible for the Canadian IEC Working Holiday Program (sign up for our free application guide)
- Have face-to-face customer service experience and be a confident intermediate skier
- Accommodation and food costs, approximately C$20 (£12) per day. Accommodation cost is taken directly from your pay cheque
- Cost of retaking your Level 1 examination in the unlikely event you fail first time
- Police check for immigration purposes (approx. £55)
- Cost of IEC Working Holiday Work Permit and biometrics fee – C$338
“I always enjoy visiting Whistler and hearing the stories from our participants and the great feedback from management. We’re proud of the fact Whistler Kids want to work with us and we’ll continue sending well selected and prepared participants every year.” Says Jon.
We have worked with Whistler Blackcomb to offer you a place on the Whistler Blackcomb Snow School University programme.
The 4 week course provides of 3 weeks intensive training (two weeks on snow training) to improve your technique and confidence to prepare you for your Level 1 exam, which takes place in week four.
The programme runs Monday-Thursday and includes the exam fees for your CSIA Level 1 and the Teaching Children Module – a pre-requisite to you starting work as an adult ski instructor.
You will be provided with a ski pass for the duration of your course. This turns into a season long ski pass once you begin your job.
To work as an adult ski instructor in Whistler you will need to be a confident skier before you arrive. You need to be able to ski parallel, pole plant and be confident on all intermediate slopes (blues in North America and reds in Europe).
You will need experience of working with people face to face in a customer service role.
Arrive mid-November at Vancouver Airport and meet Tory, our Oyster rep. You will then transfer with the rest of your group to a hostel in the city for your first night.
Receive assistance with organising your Social Insurance Number, after which we will transfer you by coach up to Whistler to then settle into your new home.
We will run a group tour of Whistler village and give you a thorough orientation of what to expect during the season. You’ll receive bank account advice; help with organising SIM cards and buying skis.
First Monday of the week to the end of week 3
During this time you will be on the Whistler Blackcomb Snow School University course, being trained to pass your CSIA Level 1 exam. The qualification allows you to instruct in other countries, as well as Canada, and looks great on your CV. The course runs 4 days a week and mainly takes place on snow. Expect some classroom days as well.
This is exam week! During this week you will take the CSIA Level 1 exam and the Teaching Children Module – a prerequisite for teaching children as a ski instructor. All exam fees are included.
(Or, more likely, the end of week 4) begin your job which has been arranged with Whistler Blackcomb before you even arrive in Whistler. We arrange for our applicants to be pre-interviewed by a senior manager from Whistler Blackcomb before you head to Canada. For the remainder of the season you will be working full time for the Snow School, teaching adults the basics of skiing.
Working as a ski instructor for the adult ski school at Whistler Blackcomb is hard work but immense fun. You will be working with, and meeting people, from around the world.
Your day typically starts around 8.30am when you prepare for the arrival of your students. By 9-9.30am, your 4 adult students will have arrived and you will be setting off for your lesson. All lessons start from Whistler village and exactly where you ski will depend on the level of your group. Most of the adults will be beginner skiers or wanting to build on their foundations.
Groups typically take a break for lunch for an hour around midday before continuing in the afternoon. Lunch is usually in the Roundhouse or Rendezvous and most instructors pay for a meal there and eat with their group, or take a sandwich.
Most people sign up for a whole day of lessons, although some will just join you for the morning or afternoon session. Lessons finish at 3.30pm at which point you will clear up your area and be free to head home.
It’s simple, combine your love of skiing with earning money and skiing every day of the season. This has proven to be a snow lover’s dream gap year or career break option since we began.
Working in Canada for a season, particularly in this responsible role within the adult ski school, will look great on your CV. Not only this but you will boost your own independence and confidence, living and working in a resort that most people only get a week or so to enjoy. Make Whistler your second home!
You can be out on the mountain pretty much every day of the season. You will have a ski lift pass included with your job, which means when you are not teaching adult ski lessons, you can be out on the slopes making the most of this awesome resort.
The ski season in Whistler Blackcomb usually runs from mid November until the end of April.
Included in this programme is a ZipTrek tour. This takes place during your orientation weekend in Whistler and is a great way to get to know Whistler, the local habitat and your fellow Oysters!
The tour takes about 3 hours to complete, it takes in 5 ziplines crossing over the Fitzsimmons Creek (between Whistler and Blackcomb). This is an exhilarating adreline rush adventure but also teaches you a lot about the local environment you will call home for the next 5 months.
Check out this video from ZipTrek.
Yes, you will need your own skis, boots, helmet, poles, goggles and clothing by the time you begin the instructor training course. Whilst this is an additional expense, it is far cheaper than renting for the whole season!
If you don’t currently have all of the equipment, we would recommend taking ski clothes with you and then buying the skis and boots in Whistler. We always try to arrange a small discount with one of the ski shops for the first weekend that you arrive in Whistler and will give you price details before departure.
Ski instructors in the adult snow school can expect an average of 4-5 days work per week across the season. Working in a tourist resort means that there are fluctuations in the number of guests and therefore the number of hours of work you will get. During peak times, such as Christmas, you may even be working 6 or even 7 days per week. In the quieter times you may only get 2-3 days work per week.
Expect to be paid for around 5 hours work per day. Lunch is not paid.
Each pay cheque will be different so there will be times you need to live on a budget. The great thing about fewer shifts though is that you’ll be able to ski on your days off!
The winter in Whistler is perfect for a ski season. Temperatures remain below 0 for the majority of the season meaning fantastic snow. Even when the village warms up, temperatures as low as -20oC are not uncommon mid-winter on the mountain.
It can take up to 6 weeks before your first pay cheque arrives so you will need to arrive in Canada with enough money to feed and entertain yourself. We would suggest having a minimum of £1000 available, plus extra if you are buying skis/boots. Once you start earning money, you should be able to live on the money you earn day to day. You might want savings in place to cover any extra trips or outings that you want to do.
NB one of the requirements of getting the work permit is that you arrive in Canada with the equivalent of at least $2500 in your account.
You will be able to set up a Canadian bank account with the help of our local representative at TD Bank in Whistler, which you will be able to get a card for. Credit cards are advised for emergencies, as well as enough cash to see you through the first few days. There are ATM’s in the village so you won’t need too much cash with you.
We recommend opening a free account with Revolut with you as well. You can read more on our blog here.
You will need to apply for a Canadian IEC Working Holiday permit if you don’t already have a Canadian passport. Visit the IEC website to check you eligibility. Generally, you need to be aged 18- 30 and hold a passport from an eligible country.
The cost of the work permit is $250. You will also need a Police Check for immigration purposes and this costs approximately £45.
We will help with applying for these once we receive your application.
Most people book with Oyster on their own and travel with the rest of the group. The group meets at a UK briefing course before you go to Canada and we also create a Facebook group each season.
You will be able to travel with a friend if you wish and we will try to arrange for you to share accommodation with each other.
If you live outside the UK or are travelling and cannot make it to the briefing course, don’t panic! We will arrange a time for you to have a Skype call with the senior manager from Whistler Blackcomb and we will brief you separately.
You will still be included in our Facebook group and will be able to get to know the rest of the group before departure.
You should visit your doctor or travel nurse to find out what vaccinations you will need. It is likely that only your routine vaccinations will need to be up to date.
There is a clinic and multiple pharmacies located in Whistler village. For anything major, the main hospital is in Vancouver.
Whistler is a very safe village but it is always advised to keep valuables secure and stick together when you first arrive.
Skiing is a safe sport if you follow the mountain rules and take adequate precautions. You should always follow safety advice from instructors and we would recommend always wearing a helmet.
Staff accommodation is located halfway up Blackcomb Mountain. This means that you are pretty much ‘ski in ski out’ and that your commute to work involves a ski down to the village creating fresh tracks in the morning! To get back to your accommodation you can take a lift, or if the lifts are closed, either take a bus or taxi.
Our participants live in staff housing (HOUSE) on the side of Blackcomb Mountain. There will be 4 of you living in a small apartment (usually with other Oyster people).
Each apartment has 2 bedrooms, a living room, kitchen and bathroom. You will be sharing a room and sleeping in a bunk-bed. On each floor of the building there are about 10 apartments. The Oyster group all live together in the one building which means you get to know everyone in the group really well.
The cost of the accommodation comes directly off of your pay cheque and equates to approximately an hour of pay per day.
Your accommodation is self catering so, for the majority of time, you will be cooking for yourself. This is far cheaper than eating out every night! There are supermarkets in the village where you can stock up.
On the days you are working you will need to pay for your own lunch. You are only paid for the time you are teaching so lunch time is unpaid. Generally instructors choose to eat with their group in one of the food outlets on the mountain.
If you are feeling flush, or it’s a special occasion, there are plenty of places in Whistler to eat out with something for every appetite. Expect to pay C$13-20 for a main meal.
There is a very good staff deal that people tend to take advantage of a couple of times a week for dinner at a restaurant close to the staff accommodation. For $7 you can get a 3-course meal!
WiFi is included in your rent. Each apartment has its own internet router so you will be sharing the connection with three other people.
You should take an ‘unlocked’ mobile phone with you to Canada (or you can buy a cheap Canadian one) and purchase a local ‘pay as you go’ SIM card. This is useful for contacting the representative and the rest of the group as local calls are very cheap.
Expect to pay around $40 per month for your mobile/cell contract. No need to waste money on a data plan as the WiFi is accessible all over. All you need is a deal with inclusive minutes and texts.
You will need a phone as part of your job.
Whistler is in the West of Canada, on Pacific Standard Time and is 8 hours behind GMT (GMT -8).
Canada, like the US, operates on 110V, 60 cycle electric power. You should bring an adapter with you that has a two pronged (flat) plug.
Most people use their days off to take advantage of their free ski pass and hit the slopes. However there is plenty to do in Whistler besides skiing and snowboarding.
Further afield, Vancouver is 2 hours bus ride from Whistler and you can head there to shop or to watch an ice hockey match. There are usually good discounts available for staff, and sometimes free, coaches to Vancouver.
Working in a ski resort means that the hours you work are dictated by the weather and the number of tourists that are on holiday there. During the peak seasons (Christmas, New Year, and school holidays) you could be working 5 or 6 days a week but then in quieter periods this might reduce to 3-5 days a week.
You will have the evenings free as work tends to finish between 3-3.30pm each day.
You will get to know our representative well in the first few days as they help you settle into life in Canada. You will go through an induction that involves a tour of the resort, assistance with setting up Social Insurance Numbers, bank accounts and mobile phones. You will also be introduced to your employer.
Once you start work, the representative takes more of a back seat role but is there as a helpful friend should you need assistance. Once a month, they will run a meet up with you and the rest of the group. Day to day, you will be under the supervision of your manager and supervisor at work.
Staff at Oyster’s head office and in-country will be responsible for your safety and welfare while you are on our programme. This will start from the moment you are picked up from the airport until the end date of the programme, when you will make your own way back to the airport. If you are arranging your own flights and arriving earlier or later than the rest of the group on arrival day, you will be responsible for getting yourself to the hostel in Vancouver where you will meet the rest of the group.
Before and after the Oyster programme, you will be outside Oyster’s responsibility and should make sure that you act safely and avoid risk. This is also true if you choose to get involved in activities during your time off. We will give you plenty of guidance and advice about this.
Although we are keen to send as many participants as possible this winter, the pandemic has of course brought some uncertainty as to how travel will unfold over the next couple of months.
Here at Oyster, we prioritise managing expectations alongside providing life changing experiences. We’re very hopeful that we will be about to place all applicants, however, we have taken the decision to accept no further bookings for the Whistler instructor programmes at this stage.
We are committed to providing Oyster participants with an amazing experience, wherever that may be. For this reason, we are asking participants to consider other programmes should we not be able to deliver on your first choice. Please see the list of alternative ski season options below:
Alternatively, we could offer you any other fantastic Oyster project and your deposit will be transferred. Popular options that skiers have taken in the past include:
- Sports coaching in South Africa
- Paid work in Outback Australia
- Horsemanship course and paid work in Australia
We look forward to providing you with an exciting gap year experience so please get in contact if you have any questions with regard to these programmes.
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