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Do instructors do well....

 

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FTP_07  (A License)

Nov 20, 2010, 10:04 AM
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Do instructors do well.... Can't Post

financially? And by 'do well financially' I don't mean, having a brand new car every year or anything like that - I mean, are you guys able to pay rent (if you rent), pay bills, ect? Or do you have to work a 2nd job (though anymore, who doesn't?). I know it depends a bit on the individual, but I've been thinking about throwing it all out the door (so to speak) and going that route. I'm just trying to get a feel for what I could be in for (I know instructors get beat up during AFF and even during tandems) and if it would be worth it to become a skydiving instructor. Thanks for any input!


(This post was edited by FTP_07 on Nov 20, 2010, 10:05 AM)


airtwardo  (D License)

Nov 20, 2010, 10:18 AM
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Re: [FTP_07] Do instructors do well.... [In reply to] Can't Post

You're a firefighter right?

Don't quit your day job, get you ratings and try teaching part-time for a while before making that kind of a career change.

You would likely need to teach all day every day to even come close to your current income...and pay your own bennies.


FTP_07  (A License)

Nov 20, 2010, 10:31 AM
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Re: [airtwardo] Do instructors do well.... [In reply to] Can't Post

I should probably clarify what kind of fire fighter I am - I'm a wildland fire fighter. Which means it's seasonal. And I rely on fires to happen which this season was pretty dismal unfortunately. When the forests are burning (noone wants that to happen but hey, ff's have bills too) then money is good. When they aren't, well....I'll be lucky to at least get my bills paid. :S. By the way - I like your name; Airtwardo. Nice. ;)


airtwardo  (D License)

Nov 20, 2010, 10:41 AM
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Re: [FTP_07] Do instructors do well.... [In reply to] Can't Post

If that's the case it may be something you would want to look into, I'm sure some full time instructors will chime in later...it's Saturday and they're all working now! Wink


Actually I had to shorten my name to AirTwardo...my 'real' name is so long it wastes bandwidth! Sly


FTP_07  (A License)

Nov 20, 2010, 11:02 AM
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Re: [airtwardo] Do instructors do well.... [In reply to] Can't Post

Lol! And yeah, you're right - it is a saturday. I guess we'll see what becomes of this post. Thanks for your input. :)


Premier PhreeZone  (D License)
Moderator
Nov 20, 2010, 12:03 PM
Post #6 of 29 (2852 views)
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Re: [FTP_07] Do instructors do well.... [In reply to] Can't Post

It depends on where you are and what the volume of students are at the DZ you are at. At some DZ's the full time instructors might get 400-500 jumps a year, at others I know instructors that are doing 1200-1500 a year. Average pay is $30-40 per jump with 3-15 jumps per day on the weekend and some during the week so do the math there. As a packer you could get $5-15 per pack job and do 10-50 pack jobs per day on weekends and some on weekdays.

You can either be near or even under the poverty level or you might be making $40k a year. As an independent contractor you have no benefits and rely on the weather and the DZ to provide your work. If you are at a good DZ that markets and is growing then you might get more work, if you are at a DZ that does nothing to foster growth and even living in a beat up camper or tent on the DZ will make it hard to feed yourself.


rhys  (D 95)

Nov 20, 2010, 1:28 PM
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Re: [FTP_07] Do instructors do well.... [In reply to] Can't Post

It varies from DZ to DZ and country to country.

I guess the best idea is to look into you local options, then regonal, national, international...

I travelled for 5 years jumping in different DZ's and countries chasing the experience and positions.

Some are fortunate enough to live down the road from a busy turbine DZ that offers good pay and some have to travel the whole time.

The answer to your question has many variables.


petejones45  (C License)

Nov 20, 2010, 5:00 PM
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Re: [FTP_07] Do instructors do well.... [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
When they aren't, well....I'll be lucky to at least get my bills paid. :S

, i know several firefighters like that, during the winter months they file for unemployment and have no problem paying the bills


davelepka  (D 21448)

Nov 20, 2010, 8:01 PM
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Re: [FTP_07] Do instructors do well.... [In reply to] Can't Post

 
There are too many 'what ifs' to answer your question accurately.

For starters. you'll need to get all of your ratings (including a riggers ticket) and be preparred to use any or all of them to make a living. Don't zero in on AFF or tandem, and figure that's what you want to do. Get both of those ratings, learn to shoot video, and get the riggers ticket, this way any need that the DZ has, you can fill. Chances are, your income will end up coming from a little of this and a little of that.

Once you have all your 'paperwork' in place, you're going to need some experience to get a 'good' job. You'll need to be working at a busy, year-round DZ, and those jobs aren't the easiest to come by. They will look at your total jump numbers, and total jumps performing the various tasks you'll be looking to get paid for.

What most people do is spend a few seasons at a smaller DZ, and build up their resume. From there, you need to put the feelers out to see if any of the big DZs are hiring, and go get yourself a job.

Another avenue, is just to show up at a big DZ with all your ratings and hang out or try to get a non-jumping job to get your foot in the door. If you work manifest, or as an aircraft loader, you might also be able to get some paid jumps in during the week if the regular staff wants a day off. Then you're poised to pick up the next full time slot in the rotation.

What does all that get you? For starters, it gets you waiting for the weather and for customers to show up (sounds like your current job) in order to work and get paid. It also gets you no insurance, 401k, or workmans comp. There's no union, and no 'supervisor' job to look forward to in your old age, you'll be making your money with your blood, sweat and tears until the end.

However, with the above considered, there's no shortage of jumpers willing to make a life out of it, and try to squeak by any way they can. The good news is that you can get some sick discounts on gear, and you'll save a bundle on jumps becasue you'll be getting paid for most of them.

My vote is you start packing right away at a local DZ. The money is great, and being on the DZ all the time will help. Work on getting your ratings together, and by the time you have all of them, you'll have a clear idea of the industry and what it has to offer.


kawisixer01  (C 38984)

Nov 20, 2010, 8:02 PM
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Re: [petejones45] Do instructors do well.... [In reply to] Can't Post

I was on a ski lift a few years ago with a fire jumper that was a ski patroller all winter. Not sure what ski patrol makes but i remember thinking "man now thats a life of adventure!". I would think finding a winter seasonal job would be the right answer for you, just not sure skydiving instructor would be the best one?


FTP_07  (A License)

Nov 20, 2010, 11:12 PM
Post #11 of 29 (2687 views)
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Re: [petejones45] Do instructors do well.... [In reply to] Can't Post

I was talking about during the summer months. I have no problem filing for unemployment. It's just when I'm gone and having to pay for an apartment that I'm not at, and for someone to take care of my dog, and the season is dismal, I don't stand much of a chance of accumulating any kind of savings unless we're out on plenty of fires. All fire fighters this past summer suffered due to lack of forest fires.


petejones45  (C License)

Nov 20, 2010, 11:14 PM
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Re: [FTP_07] Do instructors do well.... [In reply to] Can't Post

ah i see


FTP_07  (A License)

Nov 20, 2010, 11:23 PM
Post #13 of 29 (2684 views)
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Re: [kawisixer01] Do instructors do well.... [In reply to] Can't Post

Looking at all of this, and getting a pm from someone displaying previous posts about working as an instructor, I certainly got a better idea of things. All I could think was 'Wow.....Instructors are unsung heros of the dz and they too are underpaid....' I guess I'm just sick of not being able to jump and really need to get out and jump again. If I could just get back out there and jump a bunch of times I'd be okay again. Got all this pent up jumping frustration and noway to release it due to being a 'responsible' adult and opting to pay bills instead of soothing my needs to jump. I should have listened to the side that said 'Aw screw it....go jump! Don't pay bills!'.


labrys  (D 29848)

Nov 21, 2010, 8:27 AM
Post #14 of 29 (2638 views)
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Re: [petejones45] Do instructors do well.... [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
i know several firefighters like that, during the winter months they file for unemployment and have no problem paying the bills

I'm totally happy if my tax dollars go to unemployment for seasonal firefighters who can't find other work... but I'm not going to encourage one who can find other work not to...


AndyMan  (D 25698)

Nov 21, 2010, 9:31 AM
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Re: [FTP_07] Do instructors do well.... [In reply to] Can't Post

THe people that make the most money in skydiving without owning things do it by doing only one thing, and doing lots of it: Tandems.

Ignore the advice to get all your ratings, instead just go get both Sigma and Strong tandem, then go find a job at a busy tandem operation. One operation in Chicago, TMs do 15-20 jumps per day on weekends, 10-15 during the week (wx permitting), and most instructors work 5 days a week. Fulltime instructors are doing at least 1000 jumps a year and are making somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 -40K.

AFF instructors are basically breaking even while riggers are just trying to suplement their tandem income. People who are willing to throw a lot of drogues can eek out a pretty good living.

Finding a DZ that does a lot of tandems is key.

Otherwise, finding a way to own a business will let you earn more but that takes startup money and some good connections.

_Am


FTP_07  (A License)

Nov 21, 2010, 10:53 AM
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Re: [labrys] Do instructors do well.... [In reply to] Can't Post

Which is why I'm trying to figure out what I want to do, and in the meantime, trying to find more work. I'm not necessarily comfortable raking in unemployment. But I can tell you, there are some that milk that for all it's worth and won't bother in finding another job until the season kicks up again. Not all of us are like that, but I have heard of a few. I managed to find some work but it is based on project to project and I could be sent home anytime now - mostly due to weather. In the meantime, I'm waiting for the spring semester to start up (Jan) so I can go back to school, since I'm going to overhaul my entire career as so many have done. I was just trying to find a way to continue doing what I enjoy and still be able to pay bills.


FTP_07  (A License)

Nov 21, 2010, 10:56 AM
Post #17 of 29 (2589 views)
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Re: [AndyMan] Do instructors do well.... [In reply to] Can't Post

Exactly! Which is why I'm terrified of starting up my own business for fear of it failing and then I'm out just that much more money that I can't afford to lose. Thank you all for your input.


airtwardo  (D License)

Nov 21, 2010, 11:17 AM
Post #18 of 29 (2577 views)
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Re: [FTP_07] Do instructors do well.... [In reply to] Can't Post

Well...if what you've written here is any true reflection of who you are, you'll do well where ever life takes ya! Cool


Good luck!!


GLIDEANGLE  (D 30292)

Nov 21, 2010, 12:34 PM
Post #19 of 29 (2561 views)
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Re: [FTP_07] Do instructors do well.... [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
Or do you have to work a 2nd job (though anymore, who doesn't?).

I see it the other way around most of the time... jumping is the second job. That lets folks have insurance, retirement, etc from the primary job and jump as the second job. Of course, I know some folks who work full time as jumpers... but not many.


GLIDEANGLE  (D 30292)

Nov 21, 2010, 2:40 PM
Post #20 of 29 (2525 views)
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Re: [FTP_07] Do instructors do well.... [In reply to] Can't Post

Something to think about regarding working full time as a jumper, is injury.

I haven't heard of any working jumpers in the US being employees (all I know of are indendent contractors). Thus, no workers comp. Jumping is a physical endeavor, and injury can occur on any jump. Unlike an employee who would have workers comp to cover the medical costs and maybe disability insurance to cover some of the lost income, a working jumper who is hurt is instantly without income and faced with medical costs too.

This is another reason to be a rigger... perhaps you can sew and pack while recovering from an injury that prevents jumping.


Ron

Nov 22, 2010, 7:47 AM
Post #21 of 29 (2332 views)
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Re: [FTP_07] Do instructors do well.... [In reply to] Can't Post

Skydiving is a great second job, but not a great primary job IMO.

No insurance, no Vac pay, no disability, no retirement...etc. Your pay depends on good weather and you being fit enough to jump. You get hurt and you will not get paid.

Think about it this way:
For every 10k you need to make, that is ~300 jumps. (Most I have gotten paid, 42/jump, least 28/jump I used an average of 33/jump.)

So take what you need to live on, and divide it by 10k and multiply that by 300.

So:
10,000 = 300
20,000 = 600
30,000 = 900
40,000 = 1200

I have worked weekends at quite a few DZ's over the last 18 years. Around 300 work jumps a year is what I have averaged. The FT guys don't do a whole lot better since most jumping is done on the weekends. They seem to average a little better than double.

Big FT DZ's you might do better, but there is also normally a long line of people looking to work at those places.

Andyman had a good point... Most of the money is in Tandems. So that should be the rating you get first. BUT, being multi rated is a big plus at who the DZ hires. If you can do it all... then they will pick you over the guy that can only do one thing. Plus, you will have more opportunities to work.

It is a job with pretty low pay and no extra financial benefits. It is a job with no retirement, that you can't do forever. It is a job that is hard on your body with no medical costs covered.


Wings-n-Things  (D 12016)

Nov 25, 2010, 1:02 PM
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Re: [Ron] Do instructors do well.... [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Think about it this way:
For every 10k you need to make, that is ~300 jumps. (Most I have gotten paid, 42/jump, least 28/jump I used an average of 33/jump.)

So take what you need to live on, and divide it by 10k and multiply that by 300.

So:
10,000 = 300
20,000 = 600
30,000 = 900
40,000 = 1200

I'm thinking a bit further down the road than I should as I won't be jumping again for a couple years. But I figured if I had a tandem rating, it would help me pay for my fun jumps. However tandem rigs appear to cost well over 10K so it's definitely a business investment. Now I really have no idea what tandem masters make per jump but I would think it would depend on who owns the gear being jumped. I know if I dished out money for a new tandem rig, I'd want the bulk of that $200 charged to students to pay for my investment. However it sounds like the money I was thinking of is no where near what folks make.
I'm not sure what my point is. I'm just sayin'.


airtwardo  (D License)

Nov 25, 2010, 1:13 PM
Post #23 of 29 (2121 views)
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Re: [Wings-n-Things] Do instructors do well.... [In reply to] Can't Post

 
However it sounds like the money I was thinking of is no where near what folks make.
Hours are long, the money is not great and you always have the chance to getting busted up and losing what income you were pulling in...that being said, there are a whole lotta guys out there making a go of it because thankfully...money isn't their primary motivation. Cool


matthewcline  (D 21585)

Nov 25, 2010, 1:41 PM
Post #24 of 29 (2116 views)
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Re: [Wings-n-Things] Do instructors do well.... [In reply to] Can't Post

If you own a rig and jump with it your looking at around $75.00 a jump.

DZ owned rigs are around $40.00 a jump.

This doesn't factor in hand cam crap or packing.

Matt


Wings-n-Things  (D 12016)

Nov 25, 2010, 2:12 PM
Post #25 of 29 (2107 views)
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Re: [airtwardo] Do instructors do well.... [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
However it sounds like the money I was thinking of is no where near what folks make.

Hours are long, the money is not great and you always have the chance to getting busted up and losing what income you were pulling in...that being said, there are a whole lotta guys out there making a go of it because thankfully...money isn't their primary motivation. Cool
Just being honest and practical. If I was just going to jump for fun, I'd stick with wingsuiting and that would be that. But tandem jumping seems more like a business to me. And like I said, It would be a way to keep the cost of the sport down. I'm not thinking of it being a full time job.


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