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Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management
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Skiers and Snowboarders on top of a mountain smiling
Image used with permission by PSIA-AASI.

Now Accepting Applications!

Please visit the World Campus website to apply.

Contact Pete Allison (pra7@psu.edu) with any questions.

Learn how to Become a Professional Snowsports Instructor

Penn State’s Certificate Program for Professional Snowsports Education prepares individuals for a career in snowsports instruction in collaboration with the Professional Ski Instructors of America and American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA-AASI). As a student of the program, you will be introduced to the fundamentals – People, Teaching and Technical skills – of snowsports instruction. As a part of the certificate, you will prepare for, and complete your PSIA-AASI Level I Instructor certification in alpine skiing, snowboarding, telemark skiing, or cross-country skiing. Additionally, you will learn of leadership responsibilities and skills associated with working at ski areas and in winter environments. All of your knowledge and skills gained of snowsports education will be supported by your understanding of leisure and the role it plays in people lives and theories that can help in enhancing the guest experience.

Group of skiers at top of a snowy mountain
Image used with permission by PSIA-AASI.
PSIA-AASI Logos
PSIA-AASI Logos

Why an Online Snowsports Education Certificate from Penn State?

Penn State has a long and short history in Snowsports! Tussey Mountain, which can be seen from Campus, was started by Max Dercum in the 1930s when he was a professor. He later went on to buy land and start Arapahoe Basin and Keystone resorts in Colorado. In addition, he was one of the founders of PSIA-AASI in 1960.

The shorter history is that since 2016 the Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management have been working closely with PSIA-AASI to evolve the National Standards, Performance Guides, Assessment Forms, and to transform practices to be consistent across the country so that credit bearing courses are popular. That partnership continues to go from strength to strength. In addition, PSU has faculty and PhD students who are researching snowsports and leading international bodies (e.g. IAESS, part of Interski).

Your credits may apply toward a Snowsports Certificate, a bachelor's degree at Penn State, or another accredited institution. In addition, your PSIA-AASI certification is recognized across the country.

Earn your certificate at a snowsports area near you – The online certificate program allows you to earn 9 credits and your PSIA-AASI Level I certification anywhere in the United States, giving you the opportunity to integrate your online learning experience with your professional development as a snowsports instructor at a snowsports area near you.

Skier instructing another skier on a snowy mountain
Image used with permission by PSIA-AASI.

Who should apply?

Snowsports enthusiasts, new instructors, and uncertified instructors who are seeking an education supporting their entry into the snowsports industry are encouraged to apply. If you aspire to facilitate positive learning experiences for your students and inspire lifelong learning in snowsports, the certificate can help you establish foundational knowledge and skills in the technical, teaching and, people skills of snowsports instruction.

A smiling group of skiers and snowboarders at the top of a mountain
Image used with permission by PSIA-AASI.

Associated Costs

This certificate includes RPTM 215, which involves collaboration with the Professional Ski Instructors of America and American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA-AASI). There are additional costs as a part of participating in this course, which students will pay directly. These costs vary depending upon which PSIA-AASI region you are in. The costs cover the membership and the assessment. You will also need to either volunteer or be employed at a ski or snowboard school. 

As a part of this course, you will need to join or show membership of PSIA-AASI. Reach out to your PSIA regional office if you have any questions. To successfully complete this course, you will need to schedule, pay for, and complete an on-site PSIA-AASI Snow Assessment. In addition, you will need your own protective clothing and equipment for skiing or snowboarding in winter conditions.