People throw around the word ski bum, talk about it and tell stories, but what does the expression really mean? Explained in an alternative way: a ski bum loves to ski but earns money working in a ski area, but not on the slope. Whereas ski instructors make money while doing what they love most: skiing. It is as simple as that ;-)
To work as a ski instructor, you need a certain level of education and experience teaching. Depending on the level of education, ski instructors get paid differently. The higher the level, the more qualified a ski instructor is; therefore, the guest's wage and responsibility vary. To not understand it wrong, every ski instructor is responsible for the wellbeing and safety of their guests, but with higher education, a ski instructor can ski more challenging slopes, to put it that way. An "Anwärter" (level 1 ski instructor) will teach kids or adults how to ski and is not allowed to ski into certain parts of the ski area etc.
On the contrary, a "Landesskilehrer" or a state-certified ski instructor is allowed to ski off-piste with their guests, for example. Skiing off-piste brings many more potential risks; therefore, the education must be a lot higher and the experience a lot more, which should also be noticeable in the payout. To conclude, a ski instructor works outside on the slopes and teaches, advances or perfects any level of skiing required by their guests.
By contrast, a ski bum loves to ski, but they work in bars, restaurants, at the lift station or in whatever service provider within a ski area. That's how they earn money, and skiing is their hobby that they can or might afford through having that other job, as just explained. Usually, someone is referred to as a ski bum if they come to Austria for the winter season to work somewhere and enjoy the easy way of living while skiing.
I hope it is clear what the main differences between a ski instructor and a ski bum are, and hopefully, everyone can work as such in the upcoming winter season as the whole Covid-situation made these jobs a lot harder in the past winter season. See you on the slopes!
Photocredits: St Anton am Arlberg Presse