Senior Patroller Primer

The Senior Program is actually a collection of several NSP programs that upon completion leads to a member’s advancement to the Senior Level.

The goal of the Senior Program is to encourage all patrollers to improve their ski patrol knowledge and skills through a program of continuing education and evaluation. Through the Senior Program, patrollers should develop increased ability and confidence and, in turn, provide better service to the skiing public. The Senior Program provides an outlet for the patroller who seeks personal achievement through definable goals.

NSP’s Senior Program is tailor-made for members who aspire to perform at the upper levels of skiing/snow-boarding, emergency care proficiency, and other skills used while patrolling. The Senior Program is designed to provide a forum in which patrollers can enhance personal skiing/snow-boarding and toboggan-handling proficiency, improve their ability to manage OEC-related problems, and expand their overall patrolling knowledge and skills. In addition, the program prepares patrollers for leadership roles within the NSP.

The Senior Program consists of core and elective requirements. It is designed for Alpine, Nordic, and Auxiliary patrollers with appropriate variations in requirements for each.

Training is an essential part of the program. Senior candidates are expected to spend a significant amount of time reviewing Senior criteria and using the required knowledge and skills to practice scenarios on challenging, Senior-level terrain under various conditions in the patrolling environment. Senior candidates can also take advantage of clinics (pre-courses) in which they receive constructive and corrective feedback on their performance.

Training varies throughout the system, depending on the resources of time, personnel, locations, equipment, etc., but its purpose is the same in all Divisions; to provide suggestions for improvement, and understanding of the required level of performance, and increased awareness of advanced patroller skills. It is unrealistic and inadvisable to participate in any evaluation clinic and expect to pass without training.

Appendices E-H of The Ski Patroller’s Manual (see Required Text) include study and training exercises for Alpine, Nordic, OEC, and Auxiliary components of the Senior Program as well as application forms. Performance on key maneuvers and scenarios are scored by Senior examiners, and these evaluations may either by conducted during a clinic held immediately after a training session for a particular skiing/snowboarding technique, toboggan maneuver, or Emergency Management (OEC) scenario, or at the end of the evaluation clinic process. Some Divisions hold formal evaluation clinics to determine whether a Senior candidate is able to fulfill the Senior requirements.

Senior candidates are responsible for keeping their own records of completing core and elective requirements (Activity Record – Senior Core and Elective Components). Authorized instructors or Region/Division supervisors then verify the completion of core and elective modules and send course records to the national office. It is the Patrol Representative’s responsibility to submit to the national office a change of classification form when a member has completed all the Senior requirements. Personnel at the national office then verify the request for a classification change against instructor course records.

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Senior Certification


Time Commitment

  • Each core component includes local and division training clinics
  • Evaluation clinics – time commitment varies by division


  • National – none
  • Division – varies
  • Region – Cost of materials


  • NSP Certificate of Achievement (distributed by the instructor for each component)

Continuing Education/Refresher

  • Varies with component. (A patroller who does not complete the continuing education requirements for alpine ski and toboggan must retake those core components to regain Senior status. The Senior Outdoor Emergency Care component need only be completed one time, but as part of membership requirements, OEC is refreshed on an annual basis.)
  • Completion of an on-the-hill/trail refresher at the Senior-performance level on a Senior-rated hill once every three years. Senior Alpine and Nordic skiing/snow-boarding and toboggan-handling skills re-certification (administered within the division.)

Instructor of Record

  • NSP Division-trained Senior Trainers
  • NSP Division-trained Senior Evaluators

Recommended Text

  • The Ski Patroller’s Manual, National Ski Patrol, 14th edition, NSP Catalog #501, $15.00

Senior Program Requirements

The following tables list the core and elective requirements to become a Senior Alpine Patroller, Senior Nordic Patroller, and Senior Patroller (formerly known as Senior Auxiliary Patroller), respectively. Also listed are the requirements for maintaining Senior status.

A Senior candidate need only complete any one of the three primary components of the Senior program once.  There is no longer a requirement to complete all three within a three year time span.  Once you pass Senior Skiing, you may concentrate on the other components without any expiration time. Furthermore, a Senior Patroller need not complete any of the Ski and Toboggan components when attempting to earn Senior Patroller certification.

Senior Alpine (Ski/Snowboard) Patrollers
Core and Elective Requirements
(Activity Record)
Alpine skiing/snowboarding Continuing education review once every three years
Toboggan handling Continuing education review once every three years
Senior OEC (formerly Senior EMM) Satisfied by completing annual OEC refreshers
Three electives from the Senior elective list Not required to maintain Senior status
Senior Nordic Patrollers
Core and Elective Requirements
(Activity Record)
Nordic skiing Continuing education review once every three years
Toboggan transport and belay Continuing education review once every three years
Extended nordic ski tour Continuing education review once every three years
Senior OEC  (formerly Senior EMM) Satisfied by completing annual OEC refreshers
Mountain Travel and Rescue II (formerly Advanced Mountaineering) Not required to maintain Senior status
Two additional electives from the Senior elective list Not required to maintain Senior status
Senior Patrollers (formerly Senior Auxiliary Patrollers)
Core and Elective Requirements
(Activity Record)
Leadership Development Seminar
(formerly Patroller Enrichment Seminar)
Continuing education review once every three years (satisfied by fulfilling one of the following requirements):

  • Hold a leadership position
  • Complete an additional Senior elective
  • Complete a special project (approved and documented by Division leadership supervisor)
  • Retake the LDS
One education course or one leadership course from the Senior elective list Not required to maintain Senior status
Senior OEC (formerly Senior EMM) Satisfied by completing annual OEC refreshers
Three electives from the Senior elective list Not required to maintain Senior status
Senior Electives
  • Instructor Development
  • Mountain Travel and Rescue Fundamentals
  • Mountain Travel & Rescue Level I (formerly Mountaineering)
  • Mountain Travel & Rescue Level II (formally Advanced Mountaineering)
  • Avalanche Fundamentals and Rescue
  • Avalanche Level I (formerly Basic Avalanche)
  • Avalanche Level II (formally Advanced Avalanche)
  • Powderfall (with documented attendance)
  • Patroller Enrichment Seminar
  • Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) full certification (Level III)
  • NSP Instructor Certification (any discipline)
  • NSP Instructor Trainer Appointment (any discipline)
  • American Red Cross BLS CPR instructor or instructor trainer** (documentation required)
  • Equivalent education programs or division-option elective (submitted in advance through an NSP board-approved application process with review by the National Education Committee)

Disciplines include Alpine Toboggan, Avalanche, Instructor Development, Mountain Travel and Rescue, Nordic, Outdoor Emergency Care, and Leadership Development Seminar.  See Chapter 18 of The Ski Patroller’s Manual, National Ski Patrol, 14th edition for information pertaining to the following Senior Core Components:

  • Alpine Skiing/Snowboarding
  • Alpine Toboggan-handling
  • Nordic Skiing
  • Extended Nordic Ski Tour
  • Nordic Toboggan Transport and Belay
  • Senior OEC (formerly Senior EMM)
  • Leadership Development Seminar (The Leadership Development Seminar (LDS) is an approved Senior core component for Senior Auxiliary and a Senior elective for Alpine and Nordic patrollers.)

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The appendices of the Ski Patroller’s Manual pertaining to the Senior Program are:

  • Appendix E – Senior Alpine Terms and Exercises
  • Appendix F – Senior Nordic Exercises
  • Appendix G – Senior OEC Scenarios / Exercises (now called “Senior Emergency Management”)
  • Appendix H – Senior Auxiliary Exercises
  • Appendix J – Forms (most of which have been made available for download on this Web site)
  • Refer to the NSP Policies and Procedures for the most current components, electives, requirements, etc. relating to the Senior Program.

For more detailed info, please contact the Senior OEC or Senior OET Advisors:

Senior OEC Training Coordinator

Senior OET Supervisor