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Yesterday morning I woke up super tired, after a week of lessons, and on Saturday I spent all day at the beach teaching, thinking that it would have been the longest day ever as I had another full day at the beach… AND INSTEAD: what an incredible Sunday! I’ve had a combo of 3, not 1, but 3 very successful lessons where my students came out super happy and achieved all the goals of the lessons. These are the days I am really proud of!
So you might think that the life of a kitesurfing instructor is a piece of cake, wakes up, goes to the beach, enjoys the sun, she/he’s all tanned, chill out at the beach for a few hours teaching the students, hangs loose, goes for a kite session and then goes for beers…living the good and easy life!
HAHAHAHA you wish!
No I mean, it’s generally like that but I choose to work in a very cool spot called El Médano where the conditions sometimes are not really your friend teaching-wise.. riding-wise instead it’s a lot of fun!!!
So if you are an instructor or you would like to become one here’s a few things to consider when selecting your first or next job 🙂
THE DRESS CODE
Since we were talking about this let’s start from here 😉 Depending on the spot, how you get ready for the class can be quite different.
Unless you teach on a tropical island in the Caribbean where the temperature is warm and the wind is warm, you have to wear the wetsuit all day long and in some cases a wind jacket so you get a super weird tan… On my legs, I have 3 marks of tan based on which wetsuit I use therefore I look ridiculous with shorts ahahah
When you work in a spot with strong and gusty wind, in a small space, with waves (seriously what a combo) the chances of falling kites arise so I use a helmet while working because I got a few kites dropping on my head and it wasn’t fun.
And generally speaking, when you work all day under the sun with flying sand your face and skin get a lot of damage, most of us in El Medano use a sort of scarf/neckwarmer to protect the face, sunglasses otherwise your eyes will get red and hat.
I ended up going to the beach like this:
And my colleagues as well!
The most important thing I would like to clarify is that being a Kitesurfing instructor is a job, a very fun one but still a job, and like any other job there are responsibilities and you need to be professional also because you are teaching an extreme sport.
How can you do so? By learning a teaching method that will allow you to teach in the safest way possible all the steps to bring your student to zero to an independent rider.
Mind my words > independent rider and not simply to teach the student to ride. Because the world is already full of people that don’t understand the wind window and don’t know how to launch a kite or kiters who never walked on the beach before, never body dragged and don’t know how to get back to the board when they lose them, etc., etc., etc. At the end of the day kitesurfing it’s an extreme sport and we, the instructors, have the duty to prepare future kiters to be independent to avoid most of the injuries and accidents.
There are several international and national certifications. You can choose your certification depending if you stay in one country or if you travel around the world. For example, if you live in Tarifa you will need the FAV certification otherwise you won’t be able to work there. Instead, if you would like to travel around the world, working in a different spot I would recommend an international certification like IKO. Which has an incredible network of schools all over the world following the IKO standards always looking for new instructors and gives you a good carrier perspective if you want to grow into the teaching world of kitesurfing and becoming an instructors´ trainer or a coach. Click here to see when is the next IKO course!
There are several types of spots where you can work as a kite instructor.
Imagine a big lagoon or a long beach with shallow flat water, warm light stable wind, not a lot of kiters= heaven!
Imagine a narrow beach, choppy sea with a fun shore break, gusty strong wind, lots of kiters= nightmares
In between these two, there is a huge amount of different combinations that can make your job easier or harder.
Then you can work from the boat or from the beach and these are two completely different worlds… So in general when you’re about to choose a spot to work there, try to understand well how the spot works to avoid any incredible surprises.
For example, in the past days we had heavy conditions: strong gusty winds (the anemometer at the certain point was going crazy 24 avg 32 gust WHAT?!?!), high tie in the middle of the day which reduces the space of the beach by half, then a meter of shore break to make the entrance and exit of the students more difficult and rocks all over the place… Luckily we don’t have a lot of days like this, but these days my heartbeat is basically dancing the cha cha cha all the time.
THE DIFFERENT KITE LIVES
There is a lot of type of lives that you can do while being a kite instructor.
I’ve heard of instructors doing each season in a different place so that they can travel and discover new amazing spots every 4-6 months.
Some instructors have agreements with schools so that they go in the winter season in one place and in the summer season in another place (every year the same ones) and in between seasons they have amazing holidays somewhere windy and exotic.
Other instructors do a very intensive season in one place where is granted that you work a lot of hours (like the Garda lake) and then they take the rest of the year off to travel and have a long holiday.
Some instructors do this job part-time in the summer season for fun in their local spot.
Others live in a place where it’s windy all year long so they can work on the same spot without moving too much.
When I started my instructor life I wanted to do like the first ones on the list, discover all the kite spots of the world. Then covid came and I was lucky enough to be in El Médano where I was able to live out of kiting lessons all year long. Now that traveling is a bit of a challenge, it’s nice to be able to stay in a place like this and work 🙂
HOURS OF KITING
When you think about the kitesurf instructor job you might think that you´ll also become a pro in kiting, sounds cool no?! well…. It depends.
If you go to work in a spot where there are only 4-5 hours per day of wind in the season, let’s be clear, those 4-5 hours will be dedicated to teaching and not riding.
I’ve done a summer season once in a spot where I completely forgot how to kite as we were teaching all the windy hours and once the wind stopped we were done teaching.
Now living in Tenerife where we have about 250-300 days of wind a year and 8-10 hours of wind a day I can go kiting every day, some times I am too tired to kite but some of my colleagues never miss a day.
This is quite an important point that sometimes we miss when selecting the first kite jobs and then you learn 😛
AMOUNT OF SCHOOLS ON THE SPOT
There are places where the spot is full of schools sharing the same beach like here in El Médano, Tarifa, or Cabarete and then there are places where there is only one school at the spot.
When you work for the only school in the spot it’s a very chilled atmosphere when you have more than one school then problems could arise.
Surprisingly in El Médano, we are about 7 schools (average 4-5 instructors per school) plus some freelancers, the beach is 250meters so not a lot of space and we all live in peace respecting the rules. Actually, there is such a good vibe that’s quite nice to spend the day at the beach! Sometimes when we go back to work after a few days of no wind it almost feels like going back to the office after the Christmas holidays everybody is so happy to see each other again!
However, I’ve heard of places where the schools are not as friendly to each other and there is not such a cool atmosphere…
LAST BUT NOT LEAST: MONEY
Usually, the hourly pay is more or less similar around the world, it goes between 15 and 25 euros depending on the spot.
The salary is based on the spot cost of living but also on the number of hours that you could work. Meaning that if you are on a spot where you could potentially work 40 hours per week, most probably the hourly salary will be slightly less. If you work only 10 hours per week it could be higher.
Some schools will pay you hourly, others could have a fix + variable formula, and with some, you could get a % if you sell more courses, equipment, etc.
Other things that can make the difference in the salary:
Equipment > whether you can use the school material to go out and have fun. For example, in my school, we can use everything, from kite equipment to foil, wing foil, surf, sup.. It’s awesome! We also have a great discount when we buy material from the school.
Tips > Another thing that can make the difference is the tips there are places in the world (like schools in 5 starts hotels) where you have more chances to get tips and you’ll make more money with them than with your salary. Once for a 2 hours class where I got paid 50 dollars, I received a tip of 70 dollars isn’t it nice?!
Sleeping arrangement > some schools provide a room, others give you an allowance to cover a bit of the cost and others nothing.
WORKING VISAS AND INSURANCE
Unfortunately some times in this industry the instructors are contracted not in the most legal way. Always check with the school if they´ll give you a contract, if you are legally allowed to work in the country and mostly if the school has an insurance and if it would cover you in case of accident with a student.
To be 100% sure I´ve done my own insurance via IKO here you can see the different type of insurances that they offer https://www.ikointl.com/instructor-renewal
Am I missing something? Write it in the comments or send me a message 🙂
If you are interested in becoming an IKO instructor in PKS Tenerife we will host another IKO instructors course in November > https://www.pkskitesurftenerife.es/en/cursoinstructoriko/
For all the other locations you can check when are the next courses here: https://www.ikointl.com/it/corso/istruttore-livello-1
If you are not doing it already follow me on Instagram AKA lagiokite and if you come to Tenerife come to El Médano to say “hello” in the windy days I´ll be at the beach working as a kite instructor with the PKS Tenerife School!