FAQs

General Questions

What does Professional Ski Instructors Association/ American Association of Snowboard Instructors do?

Our job is to certify and educate Snowsports Instructors. A certification (Level 1, 2 or 3) from our Association tells your employer or potential employer that you have achieved a high level of professionalism in this field. PSIA has a National headquarters in Lakewood, Co, that provides direction and oversight to 8 separate Divisions. The Divisions are based on geographic location. PSIA/AASI West covers California and Nevada.

Why should I join?

Certification
PSIA/AASI certification is recognized across the country, and often can mean increased wages, additional benefits, and recognition

Deals
Certified members are also entitled to discounts on lift tickets at various ski resorts. PSIA/AASI members have access to the member accessories catalog which features Pro deals on ski gear and accessories, including such names as Atomic, Bolle, Burton, Fischer, K2, Marker, Nordica, Patagonia, Rossignol, and Volkswagon.

Publications
A subscription to the “32 Degrees” magazine, plus access to a wide range of manuals, videos, and other materials to support PSIA education programs

Personal and Professional Development: Educational Programs and Conventions
PSIA/AASI clinics and events are held throughout the country each season. These are invaluable opportunities to improve your skills as a teaching professional.

Promoting the Association and You
PSIA/AASI cooperates with supporting sponsors to promote the value of ski instruction to the public. We also establish links with other snowsports organizations to strengthen the industry as a whole.

What are the types of membership available?

Registered/ Uncertified: Must be 16 years of age and is a member of both the western and national organizations. The registered member is eligible to take education and the level one exams in any of the eight PSIA/AASI divisions around the country.

Certified: is the most common type of membership. The active member is a member of both the western and national organizations. Active certified members are required to fulfill the education requirements of the Division (see Education credits, below) to maintain their certification.

Alumni: is for members who are not actively instructing at a Snowsports School and DO NOT want National membership. Alumni members receive National and Divisional magazines,  can attend Divisional education events, and are excused from the education credit requirement. Alumni members are not considered certified nor do they qualify for pro-deals.

What is certification?

Certification is a set of standards developed and defined by PSIA/AASI National. These standards are divided into four disciplines (alpine, snowboard, nordic, adaptive). Each of the 8 divisions follows these guidelines but can customize their own process to suit the individual needs of their division. Certification is not required in order to work as a snowsports instructor or to be a member of PSIA or AASI. However, most instructors choose to pursue certification in order to be recognized by snowsport schools across the country, which often pay more for certified instructors. Membership and certification can include benefits such as professional discounts on equipment, clothing and accessories.

Exams & Certifications

How do you get certified as a Level 1 Instructor?

Most schools offer training for new instructors to get their Level 1, you should inquire at your school what training they offer and when they offer it. On our website you can Download Study Guides from the appropriate menu on this website. Look under the “Education Materials” menu. Sign up for one of our Level 1 Exams. See the event calendar for a schedule and information.

What is the best way to prepare for a Certification Module/exam?

Becoming a certified instructor requires a commitment to self-training, resort training and PSIA/AASI-W education clinics. Your motivation to train and use of all the published educational materials will help prepare you for the certification modules. These modules are your opportunity to be validated as meeting the national standards for certification. Each module is at 2 days long. A dry land training program should be incorporated into your training for certification. Nutrition should also be considered as your certification nears. Proper diet and rest can assist you in becoming successful. Read the Certification Guidelines listed within each discipline on the web site for further details on recommended training.

What is an Exam Module?

In the past several years, we have phased in a new method for putting on our certification events. We call this the Module format.

The examiner/coach is your partner rather than an obstacle to your Certification. You receive plenty of feedback. Our goal is a higher success rate while still upholding the rigorous standards required to reach your Certification.

For Level 2 and 3, the module is a two part exam:
Ski/ Ride first- Teach second. By the end of the Skiing/Riding portion of your module, your Examiner will know if you are ready to move on to the Teaching module.

What happens if I let my Education credits lapse?

You put your certification in jeopardy if you do not stay in compliance with our requirement for ongoing education.

Step 1- We will send a warning letter/ e-mail informing you of the problem, and giving you a certain amount of time (usually 1 season) to correct it.

Step 2- Members who ignore the warning will ultimately have their certification removed from their record, and will be moved to Inactive status.

Step 3- You can petition to reinstate at your former certification level at your option, pending completion of the required education.

What is an Education Credit?

Every Division within PSIA/ AASI has requirements for ongoing education. The Education requirement is intended to increase your proficiency and competence, while maintaining the high level of Professionalism signified by wearing the PSIA/AASI pin. Education credits are obtained by taking an Education Event in any Division of PSIA/AASI. The Western Division requirement is 2 credts (2 days on snow) every two years. Education classes are posted on our event calendar every Fall.

You must be current with your education credits to be eligible to take an exam or module. Members who do not keep up on the Education requirement run the risk of losing their active certification status.

Are there other ways to get Education credits?

This program was designed to provide an orderly process for obtaining continuing education credits for participating in events outside PSIA/AASI-W, PSIA/AASI NATIONAL, or other PSIA/AASI divisions. Courses or events must be approved IN ADVANCE by the Education Chair. The types of events that could be considered for credit are: USSCA coaches clinics, ski racing camps, sports training education classes, Interski events, group leadership training classes, etc. The training must be an official formal education program offered to the public by an educational organization such as a college, association, company, etc. that normally provides training courses.

USE THIS FORM: Educational Credit Request Form

Here is a list of the organizations and courses that would be acceptable to PSIA/AASI — W. for educational credit.

Backcountry guiding, teaching and avalanche education:
North American Ski Training Center, NASTC
Alpine Skills International, ASI
American Mountain Guides Association, AMGA
American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education, AIARE
Expedition Kirkwood

Coaches certification and educational courses, including:
United States Ski and Snowboard Association, USSA
Canadian Ski Coaches Federation, CSCF
American Sport Education Program ASEP

These organizations offer certification and education courses and clinics for ski and snowboard instructors
Canadian Ski Instructors Alliance. CSIA
Other national ski and snowboard organizations

These organizations offer adaptive educational and training courses to snow sports instructors.
Disabled Sports U.S.A, DSUSA
Paralyzed Veterans of America. PVA
Special Olympics

This organization offers courses on avalanche control, first aid and rescue.
National Ski Patrol. NSP

Other types of education courses and clinics for ski and snowboard instructors that may be considered:
Sports physiology
Teaching sports skills
Coaching children
Sports safety and first aid

PSIA/AASI-West has no control or responsibility for the course content, curriculum and safety practices used by these or other organizations.  All requests for education credit will be reviewed on a case by case basis. Informal and/or private training such as conventional ski lessons and ski school clinics do not meet this requirement even if the group leader is highly qualified, e.g. certification examiner, Ed Staff member, etc.

Printed material (e.g. flyer, brochure, etc.) provided by the educational organization that describes the program and gives information concerning the dates the program is offered, program fees, etc., must also be provided.

After participating in the education event, the member must return a documentation signed by an official of the sponsoring organization to the PSIA-W office in order to receive PSIA-W education credit for the current season and the following season.

Credit for participation in NON-PSIA/AASI-W education events is determined by the Western Division Education Committee Chair.  A one-day event counts as (1) credit for the current season. A two-day or more event will provide (2) education credits.

If there are national standards, why are Western’s modules different from other division’s exams?

The national standards provide detailed guidelines for each level of certification. The national standards do not provide an exam format or any other details of the certification process. Each division can customize the certification process to suit their division. Technical Teams, examiners and clinicians from each division meet regularly to review their exam formats to ensure consistency among the divisions.

Can I take an exam in another division?

Yes, however you will need to get permission from the Discipline Chair in your ‘home’ Division to take an exam in another Division. You must get this permission at least three weeks prior to the exam. Division exam formats may vary. You need to meet all the requirements of the other Division and  pass all the components of their exam.  Partial passes in separate Divisions do not count for full certification. There is a $ 25 administration fee due to West to apply for this permission.

Once I get certified, what do I need to do to keep my certification?

Once certified, members need to pay annual dues and maintain their educational credits (12 clinic hours [2 education events] per 2 years). Similar to other professional associations, you need to continue to receive on-going education to remain current with modern teaching and sharpen your skills. If you do not pay your membership dues or maintain your education credits, you will loose your professional benefits. If your membership or educational credits have lapsed, you can complete this membership reinstatement application to become a current member again.

Is the certification I achieved in another division recognized by Western division?

Yes, certification is nationally recognized and transferable throughout the 8 divisions.

How do I fill out a Petition Form?

How to Petition for compressed exams or extension of ski/ride passes:

        • Petitions must be submitted in writing or electronically to the Office or
          appropriate Discipline Chair. Click here
        • Candidate must be a registered member of PSIA/AASI
        • Petition must include proof of certification, biographical information, and
          employment information in the snowsports field.

What is the use of national standards if someone fails an exam in one division and then takes it in another division and passes?

Every day on snow is different due to the variables that effect snow conditions and an individual’s performance. The national standards set common guidelines but there are many ways to assess these areas. The only objective test would be to require a written exam and no on-snow assessment. This format would suit our profession and needing to assess an instructor in action on-snow. Due to the variables in our sport we have to accept that individual experiences, like snow conditions, vary from day to day and place to place. This does not mean that because of some variability in our sport, our exams are inconsistent or unfair.

Transfers

What does a Division Transfer entail?

Members may elect at any time to re-locate their membership from one PSIA/AASI Division to another. This is usually LEAST EXPENSIVE when requested during the Spring Dues cycle (April-June). Mid-season transfers are subject to double paying divisional dues (in essence paying as dual members). National dues transfers directly between Divisions.

Members are not required to transfer simply because they move. All Divisions fully recognize membership in another Division for purposes of recognizing benefits. Transfers ARE NOT a method for a member to circumvent their home division’s policies on dues, education, etc.

Members who wish to transfer should consider:

  • Is their move outside of their home division permanent or semi-permanent?
  • Are they planning on taking an exam in the new Division?
  • Do they have to pay additional dues/ fees to transfer?

If a member decides to transfer:

  • Step 1-Contact your home division. Home division collects any applicable fees (back dues/ Ed delinquent)
  • Step 3- Home division notifies New Division of the transfer with an email.
  • Step 3 -New division contacts member and collects dues.

*Partial Pass of an exam (i.e. member passes the ‘Ski’ in Western) does not transfer to the new Division. However, member can return to old Division to complete the certification.

If I am certified in another country and I want to become certified in the United States, do I have to start at the beginning (Level 1) for a foreign transfer?

PSIA-AASI is a member of the International Ski Instructors Association (ISIA) that unites skiing, snowboarding, telemark and nordic. The ISIA promotes collaboration in skiing/riding technique, methodology, and safety ensuring the highest standards of professional practice.

We welcome instructors from across the Globe to work in our Division. Your document certifications from another country allow you to fast track through the PSIA-AASI certification system, per the following rules (copied from the PSIA-AASI-W Policies and Procedures Handbook).

A member who holds Foreign Certification may petition to participate in the PSIA-AASI Western Certification process.

Level 1 foreign certified instructors  may proceed directly to PSIA/AASI-W Level 2 in the same discipline, provided they have two seasons (400 hours) of teaching experience.

Level 2-3 foreign certs can challenge the same level, or a lower level, but cannot “hopscotch” to the next level. For example, a Canadian or Australian Level 2 can petition to challenge the PSIA/AASI-W Level 1 or Level 2. He/she could petition to do both in one year if he wants, providing they have 400 hours of teaching experience.

If the candidate is not successful, he/she will be considered a Registered member (will not have any certification with PSIA/AASI-W).

How to Petition for Foreign Certification Equivalency:

    • Petitions must be submitted in writing or electronically to the Office or
      appropriate Discipline Chair. Click here
    • Candidate must be a registered member of PSIA/AASI
    • Petition must include proof of certification, biographical information, and
      employment information in the snowsports field.

Is the certification I achieved in another division recognized by Western division?

Yes, certification is nationally recognized and transferable throughout the 8 divisions.