Becoming a Skydiving Instructor
Can you imagine jumping out of a perfectly good airplane? People do it every day. It's called skydiving. For some it's absolutely terrifying to consider jumping out of a plane, but for others it's a fun and exhilarating experience. You can't go skydiving without some training from a skydive instructor.
Skydiving instructors teach people the basics of skydiving. They take willing adults miles in the air and let them dive out of an airplane. Surprisingly it's quite safe.
It is also very addicting. Once you dive, you'll most likely want to go again and again.
When you start skydiving you will attend a skydiving school where you will learn about equipment, drop zones, airplanes, freefalls, canopy flights, and landings. This is all covered over several hours in ground school. It's best to find one approved by the United States Parachute Association.
After ground school you will load the plane and fly to an elevation about 2 to 3 miles about the ground. There you will jump out of the plane and put your new knowledge to work. As you dive out of the plane you will focus on proper body position. Then you will freefall for about a minute at about 120 miles per hour, or terminal velocity. Eventually you'll open your parachute and enjoy 100-mile views as you float back to Earth.
A parachuting expert needs to skydive regularly and pay close attention to details and safety. You'll also need to earn skydiving licenses, which will ultimately let you become an instructor. Your student jumps, courses, and gear are your skydiving tuition. It can be expensive, but it's worth it. To become an instructor you need to be a member of the United States Parachute Association and log at least 500 jumps and 3 hours of freefall.
There are several levels of skydiving professionals - coach, instructor, examiner, pro, and judge. Each certification tests your knowledge, skill, and experience. Be sure to log your dives. Always record jump number, date, location, exit altitude, length of freefall, type of jump, distance from landing, equipment, and buddy. There are also challenging oral, written, and practical exams.
Skydiving is a weekend, weather dependent sport, which is nice because it allows you to start your skydiving career part time. On any given day, you can do up to 10 or so jumps. Being a skydiving instructor is a pretty great gig about 10 months a year.
Instructors often work sunup to sundown teaching, packing parachutes, and skydiving. Wages will depend on where you work and how many dives you do. Some drop zones pay by the hour, but most pay by the jump. Many instructors do about 1000 dives per year at about $25 to $35 per dive. They can supplement that income by earning a riggers ticket to pack parachutes and make about $10 to $15 for each parachute they pack. At the end of the year, full time skydiving instructors will make between $20,000 and $40,000.
Skydiving instructors quite possibly have one of the most adrenaline pumping instructor jobs out there. They manage to take complete novices miles into the air, jump out of airplanes, and make it to the ground safely. If you think you might be ready for a job like that, go skydiving this weekend to see if it's the career for you.
Quick Facts About Teaching Skydiving
Job Title: Skydiving Instructor
Office: In the air or at the drop zone
Description: Teach people how to sky dive
Certifications/Education: USPA Instructor Rating
Necessary Skills: Knowledge of skydiving and parachutes
Potential Employers: Drop Zones
Pay: Can be salaried, hourly, or by jump - averages $30,000 per year