To understand where we are and where we are going it’s helpful to understand where we’ve come from. Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) was incorporated in 1961 out of a need to unify the various teaching and skiing organizations that previously existed in the United States. The goal was to create a consistent experience for guests, regardless of where they were travelling and at what area they skied. The popularity and success of snowboarding gave rise to the American Association of Snowboard Instructors (AASI), which was formed in 1997. Nine regional divisions of PSIA-AASI support their local members through education, certification, and PSIA-AASI membership services. In addition, PSIA-AASI represents the United States to the rest of the world through the International Ski Instructors Association (ISIA).
In an effort to create consistency across the country, PSIA published The Official American Ski Technique in 1964. Technique and tactics promoted by PSIA evolved into the American Teaching Method (ATM) and is currently called the American Teaching System (ATS), which also incorporates the Snowboard Teaching System (STS). The two primary components of ATS are education and certification.
PSIA-AASI's national office and the nine regional divisions create specific material for each of the disciplines that association members teach: alpine skiing, cross-country and telemark skiing, snowboarding, and adaptive skiing and snowboarding. In addition, we also provide materials focused on children, freestyle, and even cross-discipline material that addresses how to teach a great lesson regardless of how you slide on snow.
The foundation of The American Teaching System is Core Concepts for Snowsports Instructors. This manual provides insight into creating powerfully effective learning situations to help guests get the most out of their ski or riding experience. From this nucleus we produce the various satellite technical products focused on each discipline or population. To take advantage of current and emerging technologies, we also offer digital education via the Internet and our website.
In addition to tangible materials, PSIA-AASI also supports its Teams—consisting of the best of the best alpine, snowboard, nordic, and adaptive instructors from around the country. These Teams travel throughout the country, providing clinics to educate members about what’s new, what’s happening, and what they can do to improve their skills.
The other aspect of ATS is certification. PSIA-AASI develops national certification standards that the divisions then use to create examinations to validate your skills as an instructor.
Currently there are four primary categories of membership in PSIA or AASI: Registered, Level I, Level II, and Level III. As a new instructor you would first become a Registered member. Because you want to become a better instructor, you would then train and be examined at Level I. Levels II and III progressively require more depth of knowledge, skill at applying this knowledge, and demonstration of a greater range of sliding skills on progressively more difficult terrain and snow conditions. Each division requires Continuing Education Units (CEUs), at least 12 (approximately equivalent to 12 hours) every 2 years, in order to maintain your certification. Please contact your division for specific requirements and specifications regarding CEUs. Aside from these fundamental forms of certification, PSIA and AASI divisions also offer supporting credentials in specific areas such as instruction of children, seniors, and freestyle.
Click here to access the national standards for PSIA-AASI certifications and certificate programs.
PSIA and AASI Level III-certified instructors are invited to join ISIA (the International Ski Instructors Association). This is valuable if you are interested in teaching overseas or traveling to a foreign country to ski or ride. Every four years, ISIA hosts the International Ski Instructors Congress (or Interski), a gathering of snowsports teaching organizations—held in such places as Japan, Austria, France, and other countries enthusiastic about skiing and snowboarding. PSIA-AASI garners international recognition by being an active member of ISIA.
The sum of our parts equals our whole: PSIA-AASI. In 1961, our founders had the vision to unify and create a "system" that was more than all the smaller pieces could be individually. Education is the foundation of what our organization is about, with members teaching great lessons so that people want to ski and ride as often as possible. Within the snowsports industry and world community of ski and snowboard professionals, certification ultimately gives a measure of credibility to the title of “professional ski instructor" or "professional snowboard instructor." The PSIA-AASI system is built around the premise of enabling our members to feel the STOKE of helping guests be successful sliding on snow!