As Confucius said: “Choose a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” If you’re madly passionate about skydiving you’re probably pondering the possibilities of working as a skydiver. But just how much money can skydivers make?
The job ‘skydiver’ as in a performance artist, is only for the fortunate few. Very few skydivers are skilled and talented enough to get paid to perform skydiving alone. But there are many jobs and paid tasks within the skydiving community, from packers and photographers to pilots and instructors.
Let’s take a look and the types of skydiving jobs available. We’ll explore the different roles and salaries and how to gain employment. And we can answer that all-important question: how much money can skydivers make?
In what ways can skydivers make money?
- Web and marketing: Skydiving jobs aren’t all up in the air. Marketing and content creation plays an integral part in the skydiving industry. Web builders and designers, content creators, and social media managers, there are many skydiving-related jobs you can start while sitting at home in front of your laptop.
- Drop zone crew: Then there is the admin and drop zone operators. They make sure everything is prepared and organized, and your skydiving day goes super smoothly. The ground staff and admin are usually the first points of contact and the backbone of any skydiving team. Another such role is that of parachute packer. Packing is a critical role and one for which anyone can be trained. With the right commitment and dedication, you can become a skilled parachute packer. As a packer, you will gain a lot of knowledge and respect, and make lots of valuable connections.
- Skydiving instructor: Being a skydiving instructor is one of the most prestigious jobs to have. It requires a lot of skill, training, time, and determination to achieve. As a skydiving instructor, people are constantly putting their safety and trust in your hands. But this isn’t the only skydiving job that will take you up in the skies.
- Skydiving photographer/videographer: Most modern skydiving organizations will have at least one. Being a dedicated skydiving photographer is a thrilling and rewarding job; you get to make skydives while also being creative.
- Jump pilot: A skydiving pilot, also known as a jump pilot, is a unique job. This job is an ideal role for commercial pilots working their way up the career ladder. With lots of short flights, you’re going to learn fast and become a valuable member of the skydiving community.
How much money do skydiving instructors make?
To become a skydiving instructor, you will need a lot of skill, knowledge, passion, and experience. Not everyone can become a skydiving instructor. Firstly, you’re going to have to become a licensed skydiver.
The first step on the path to becoming a skydiving instructor is to work your way up the skydiving licenses. To do this, you’ll need to attend a beginner’s skydiving course or program.
Here you will learn all the basics, and within your first 17-25 skydives, you’ll receive your skydiving A license.
Once you have your A license, you can start to jump solo and work your way towards your USPA coach ratings. At this stage, you can already become part of the manifest team or ground crew and learn to become a parachute packer.
In fact, many skydiving organizations don’t require any parachuting experience to become gound crew or packers. This work can be trained for, although diving experience will always be beneficial.
To become a basic level skydiving instructor with a USPA coaching rating, you’ll need a D license (achieved after 100 solo jumps). You’ll also need to complete an instructor’s course and pass the exam. On top of that, you’ll need at least three years of skydiving experience and achieve an FEE Class III Medical certificate.
Remember, this will only bring you to the bottom rung of the coaching ladder. You will need to start working on your teaching skills and gaining valuable knowledge and reputation. If you are lucky to find a full-time role as a skydiving instructor, as a new instructor, your wage will be around $20,000 to $40,000 per year. More experienced skydivers can make more money. Career site, Glassdoor puts the average skydiving instructor’s wage at over $44,000 per year.
What a skydive instructor does
If you’re passionate about skydiving, you might be thinking about becoming a skydive instructor. But how much can you make in this profession?
Skydive instructors are the ones who teach people the basics of skydiving. This includes safety precautions, details about equipment, how to handle freefalls, manage drop zones, operate airplanes, and ensure safe landings. As a skydive instructor, you’ll find yourself in the sky regularly, paying close attention to safety.
In this role, you typically engage in two main activities. First, you become a tandem instructor, which means you jump with less experienced skydivers, usually folks who are trying skydiving for fun and might only do it once. Skydive instructors also help students achieve their own skydiving certifications, assisting with tandem jumps until they can jump on their own.
You might also handle classroom training, educating students about safety rules and requirements for their certifications.
How much money do tandem skydivers make?
As you gain more experience and continue to work your way up through the skydiving licenses and USPA coaching ratings, you’ll eventually qualify as a tandem skydiving instructor.
To become a tandem skydiving instructor, you will need to have your D license. While you can achieve your D license after 500 solo skydives, in the U.S., many organizations will be required to have completed 800 skydives before qualifying as a tandem instructor. We have seen some companies which require at least 1,000 skydivers. However, in some countries, such as Australia, it’s possible to work as a tandem instructor with 500 skydives under your belt.
As a tandem master, you will be able to go straight into the $40,000+ per year earnings category. It’s worth noting that while talking about how much money tandem skydivers can make, full-time jobs are often hard to find. In areas where skydiving is seasonal or sporadic, companies tend to pay per day or hour. Getting paid by the hour, a skydiving instructor can make $15 to $45 an hour, with a tandem master likely to earn towards the top end.
How much money does a skydiving photographer make?
Most modern skydiving companies will use a skydiving/videographer, so how much do they make?
A skydiving photographer will usually have a video camera and stills camera mounted to their helmet. They will have to jump alongside the other skydivers and maintain perfect positioning to get the best angles and distances to record everyone.
It’s a rare or one-off occasion for many of the skydivers being filmed, so the photographer is under pressure to capture all those magic moments.
While a skydiving photographer isn’t directly responsible for the well-being of the students and other skydivers, they need to be highly skilled and know what they are doing. Most companies will require skydiving photographers to have a C license and 100 solo skydives to their name. They also need to show a lot of skill for filming in the air and edit photos and video professionally.
Skydiving photographers tend to be required and paid on-demand and earn per hour. Some can find it hard to build a full-time living.
It’s possible to make $20 to $40 an hour as a respected skydiving photographer, as well as earning while editing footage back at your desk. However, the popularity of skydiving is expected to grow in the coming years. We should start to see more full-time skydiving photographer jobs.
How do you get work as a skydiver?
The best way to look for skydiving jobs is via the regular job website. It’s also worth contacting and following local skydiving companies and watching out for vacancies, as well as following popular industry noticeboards and forums such as Drop Zone.
If you are starting to work your way up through the licenses to become a skydiving instructor, consider seeking drop zone work experience. It can take some time to log enough jumps even to begin your instructor’s training course. In the meantime, it’s worth gaining extra knowledge by working as drop zone staff or as a parachute packer.
Working as a parachute packer would not only give you vital experience of how drop zones and courses work, but it will help you make important connections and build a reputation.
One possible career path would be to work as a drop zone admin and learn to pack parachutes. After gaining experience as a parachute packer and logging your first 100 jumps, you can become a skydiving photographer. While working as a photographer and getting paid, you will also be getting free jumps and working up the licenses. From here, you can gain the added experience and knowledge to progress and become a skydiving coach, then a tandem skydiving instructor, and an AFF fully qualified skydiving master. The sky really is the limit.
How much money can a skydiver make?
Ultimately it depends on the skydiving job you take. Skydiving performing jobs are rare and dangerous, but you can still earn an excellent living as a skydiving instructor. Even as a part-time skydiving instructor or skydiving photographer, you can make around $40 per hour. And you are also getting free jumps and doing a job you will love.
Remember, working as a skydiving coach or instructor carries great responsibility. As well as risk to your safety, as a coach and instructor, you are responsible for the lives and well-being of your students. But as a job, be it full-time, part-time, or seasonal, it’s undoubtedly one of the most rewarding and exciting out there.