Want a Career Change? Ski Guiding Could Be It!

March 12, 2014 Katie Burrell

Every skier has had that moment where they take a good hard look at their life and think to themselves…maybe I should quit everything and become a ski guide. I mean, look at these guys! They are in the mountains everyday, physically and mentally benefitting from the exercise and fresh air. They understand snow, weather, and it seems, life. They eat delicious gourmet food and drink incredible wine. They seem to know how to have a good time. Plus, they shred everyday, in the front of the group.

Loadin' Er Up! Photo: Dave Silver
Loadin’ er up! Photo: Dave Silver

Well, becoming a ski guide isn’t quite as simple as snapping your fingers and leading groups through the mountains. Sometimes guides take some heat for being overly confident goofballs, but these guys and gals have worked really hard to get where they are. In fact, it takes as long to become a fully certified ski guide as it does to become a surgeon! So, if you’re seriously thinking about a career change, or making your first step towards a career in the ski industry and spending the rest of your life in the mountains…here is a basic outline of what it takes to become a ski guide, on top of becoming superhumanly fit.

Prepping For The Day. Photo: Caton Garvie
Prepping for the day. Photo: Caton GarvieBe

1. Do lots of ski touring in complex terrain. Compile a ski touring resume consisting of multi day trips in complex glaciated terrain.

2. Complete Canadian Avalanche Centre Level 1 and Level 2 courses. Also obtain an Occupational or Wilderness 80 hour first aid certificate.

3. Learn how to understand and correlate weather changes to snowpack and stability evaluation and assessment.

4. Begin to appropriately apply terrain to client ability.

Guests Wait For The Next Move. Photo: Dave Silver
Guests wait for the next move. Photo: Dave Silver

When you can sufficiently do all of that, then you can apply for an accredited (like Thompson River University’s) Canadian Apprentice Ski Guide Training program. During this process and afterwards, you will need to have mentorship from different guides and gain experience in different mountain ranges.

And, Of Course, The Shredding. Photo: Cedric Bernardini
And, of course, the shredding. Photo: Cedric Bernardini

But the most important thing that it takes to become a guide has probably got to be a sense of adventure and the desire to really and truly enjoy your life. Remember, this is ultimately a service industry job, and so you must have a passion for sharing the experience of adventure in the mountains with others. Also, extreme quad strength, but that will come naturally.