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Employment after earning instructor ratings

 

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rss_v

May 17, 2012, 5:37 AM
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Employment after earning instructor ratings Can't Post

Just a general question here - I'm very new to skydiving and this doesn't concern me directly.

I'm wondering how an instructor (of any sort, tandem, AFF, or anything else) becomes employed once their training is complete. Is it, as I assume, that the person will likely already be linked with a DZ (as a long-time club jumper perhaps) and will undertake their training with the blessing of the DZO etc. on the understanding that they would have a job there if they qualify?

Or do people do the training and THEN go to seek employment at a DZ much like how people look for jobs anywhere else?

Perhaps it differs between countries, as well.

Thanks for any info. I'm just trying to see how it all fits together.


DougH  (D License)

May 17, 2012, 6:34 AM
Post #2 of 26 (3619 views)
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It varies from jumper and jumper, DZ to DZ, country to country. Not much different from the overall labor market.

Some DZO's are course directors so they groom jumpers to be instructors. Similar to an internship in a sense.

Other DZO's put up classified adds.

Some DZ's have a mix of part time instructors who have been associated with place for a long time, and hired guns who are full time jumpers.

Not unlike the overall job market it really helps to know people at different dz's so that you can network and find openings.


(This post was edited by DougH on May 17, 2012, 6:44 AM)


Deisel  (D 31661)

May 17, 2012, 7:09 AM
Post #3 of 26 (3594 views)
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Some DZs grow their own pool of I's from the ground up. That's what happened in my case. But there are also places that don't do AFF or any other entry level training. In other words - tandem factories. They hire in a different manner. Especially the seasonal DZs that don't stay open year round. I imagine that it's much more difficult to keep enough TMs and vidiots around.


davelepka  (D 21448)

May 17, 2012, 7:23 AM
Post #4 of 26 (3584 views)
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The trouble with the 'job market' is that most of the 'good' jobs out there are looking for experienced instructors. Busy, full time DZs don't want to hire a guy who got his rating last week, they want to know that their employees can do the job, and handle the workload of doing 8-10 jumps per day, several days per week.

What most guys do is get their rating and then work at their home DZ for awhile. Either part time, or as a 'second string' full timer, just to get some experience under their belt.

For some, it ends there and that's what they do with their rating. If you're a jumper looking to jump weekends, you can do 3 or 4 instructional jumps each day along with 3 or 4 fun jumps, and you'll make 12-15 jumps per weekend and spend no money (you might even 'make' a couple bucks).

For others, they take their rating and experience and hit the road looking for a full time slot. You can check the classifieds, or just call every DZ you can think of, but it's not all that different than getting a non-jumping job. Get a certification, gain some entry-level experience, and then look for a 'good' job.


(This post was edited by davelepka on May 17, 2012, 7:24 AM)


GLIDEANGLE  (D 30292)

May 17, 2012, 7:41 AM
Post #5 of 26 (3571 views)
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Re: [rss_v] Employment after earning instructor ratings [In reply to] Can't Post

Another matter is that many/most skydivng instructors are NOT employees of the DZ. For legal reasons, many/most DZs engage their insturctors as independent contractors. This has implications for instructors who get hurt while jumping, as well as tax implications.


rss_v

May 17, 2012, 7:54 AM
Post #6 of 26 (3565 views)
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Re: [GLIDEANGLE] Employment after earning instructor ratings [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Another matter is that many/most skydivng instructors are NOT employees of the DZ. For legal reasons, many/most DZs engage their insturctors as independent contractors. This has implications for instructors who get hurt while jumping, as well as tax implications.

I got that distinct impression from my DZ, yes. There seems to be a pool of instructors, of differing experience and qualifications, and the DZ basically just picks them up and uses them as required. Most days there are 2-3 times as many staff on site than students or club jumpers!


DougH  (D License)

May 17, 2012, 8:08 AM
Post #7 of 26 (3557 views)
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In reply to:
Another matter is that many/most skydivng instructors are NOT employees of the DZ. For legal reasons, many/most DZs engage their insturctors as independent contractors. This has implications for instructors who get hurt while jumping, as well as tax implications.

Good thing for DZO's that we are pretty low on the tax radar. Most state departments of revenue, and the IRS would disagree that tandem masters are true independent contractors.

AFF and Video is a different story, but the argument gets pretty weak for a tandem master who jumps from the DZO's aircraft, with the DZO's tandem rig, according the the DZO's schedule. CrazyTongue

That being said getting a 1099 isn't the end of the world for a instructor.


AdD  (D License)

May 17, 2012, 8:56 AM
Post #8 of 26 (3536 views)
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Re: [davelepka] Employment after earning instructor ratings [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
The trouble with the 'job market' is that most of the 'good' jobs out there are looking for experienced instructors. Busy, full time DZs don't want to hire a guy who got his rating last week, they want to know that their employees can do the job, and handle the workload of doing 8-10 jumps per day, several days per week.

That being said if you are willing to travel a lot of places end up short of staff and will hire just about anyone who can toss a drogue.


rehmwa  (D 12816)

May 17, 2012, 10:34 AM
Post #9 of 26 (3481 views)
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Re: [rss_v] Employment after earning instructor ratings [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Most days there are 2-3 times as many staff on site than students or club jumpers!

this is pretty common, especially when the economy dropped - people decide they'll supplement their income with ratings - but the full time instructors have to eat still

for the OP - some things to consider before getting a rating: do you really ENJOY teaching? you don't make much money at all - so you have to do it for the love of the sport, not to make a real living. getting work has it's own politics from DZ to DZ. do you really want to deal with all that? It can really suck.


DiverMike  (C 40024)

May 17, 2012, 1:16 PM
Post #10 of 26 (3410 views)
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Re: [DougH] Employment after earning instructor ratings [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Good thing for DZO's that we are pretty low on the tax radar. Most state departments of revenue, and the IRS would disagree that tandem masters are true independent contractors.

It doesn't matter if the IRS disagrees with the DZO's classification of the employee as long as the DZO meets the 'safe harbor' of section 530 of the Revenue Act of 1978, to wit:

•The “employer” does not treat any other individual holding a substantially similar position as an employee for purposes of employment for any tax period;
•All required federal tax returns (for example, Forms 1099 are issued to the workers) are filed by the “employer” on a basis consistent with its treatment of the individual as a nonemployee; and
•The taxpayer has a reasonable basis for not treating the individual as an employee. “Reasonable basis” includes: (a) judicial precedent or IRS rulings; (b) a past IRS audit; or (c) a long standing practice of a significant segment of the relevant industry; or some other “reasonable basis” satisfactory to the IRS.

It basically boils down to: No other TI on staff is a W2 Employee, all TI's receive a 1099, this is a long standing practice of DZ's in the industry.


5.samadhi

May 18, 2012, 3:49 PM
Post #11 of 26 (3155 views)
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Re: [DiverMike] Employment after earning instructor ratings [In reply to] Can't Post

what would change if they were on W2 instead of 1099? Benefits or less taxes? I guess it wont change since most people work at the DZ as a supplement to their main income...


Premier Remster  (C License)

May 18, 2012, 4:15 PM
Post #12 of 26 (3147 views)
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Re: [5.samadhi] Employment after earning instructor ratings [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
I guess it wont change since most people work at the DZ

Maybe at your DZ, but at large DZs, most (not all, but most) instructors get their main revenue from skydiving.


davelepka  (D 21448)

May 18, 2012, 4:20 PM
Post #13 of 26 (3146 views)
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Re: [5.samadhi] Employment after earning instructor ratings [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
what would change if they were on W2 instead of 1099? Benefits or less taxes? I guess it wont change since most people work at the DZ as a supplement to their main income...

A W-2 is for an employee, and if a business has employees, they have certain responsibilites to those employees. Workmans comp, social security, and various types of workers 'rights' come into play and would represent an outlay of time and money on the part of the DZ to handle all of that.

On the other hand, a 1099 is for an independant contractor, who works for themselves and offers their services for hire. All of the above mentioned administrative tasks are handled by the contractor themselves, with the DZ only required to pay them and report that pay to the IRS. What the contractor does with that pay is between them and the IRS.

Given that many DZs are seasonal, and that many working skydivers are part-time or sometimes 'nomadic' following the jumpable weather, it makes way more sense for DZs to pay instructors as independent contractors as opposed to employees, and truth be told, I think the jumpers prefer it that way as it gives them a little more 'wiggle room' for being 'creative' with how they pay their taxes.


DougH  (D License)

May 19, 2012, 3:19 AM
Post #14 of 26 (3089 views)
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Re: [davelepka] Employment after earning instructor ratings [In reply to] Can't Post

Sorry for the thread detour, I was just thinking outloud. In my opinion the biggest risk comes from the state in the form of fines and penalties for miscategorizing employees to avoid wc and unemployment employer contributions. It has happened before.


(This post was edited by DougH on May 19, 2012, 3:21 AM)


5.samadhi

May 19, 2012, 4:24 PM
Post #15 of 26 (3026 views)
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Re: [Remster] Employment after earning instructor ratings [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Quote:
I guess it wont change since most people work at the DZ

Maybe at your DZ, but at large DZs, most (not all, but most) instructors get their main revenue from skydiving.
oh really remster. I could see that if somebody was making 1,000 jumps in a year. Even still thats pretty shitty pay for somebody for risking their life, health, and gear (with no benefits). An entry level manufacturing position beats that and has benefits and weekends free. But I guess some people really just want to work as a skydiver.


Premier Remster  (C License)

May 19, 2012, 7:33 PM
Post #16 of 26 (3000 views)
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Re: [5.samadhi] Employment after earning instructor ratings [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
In reply to:
Quote:
I guess it wont change since most people work at the DZ

Maybe at your DZ, but at large DZs, most (not all, but most) instructors get their main revenue from skydiving.
oh really remster. I could see that if somebody was making 1,000 jumps in a year. Even still thats pretty shitty pay for somebody for risking their life, health, and gear (with no benefits). An entry level manufacturing position beats that and has benefits and weekends free. But I guess some people really just want to work as a skydiver.

Some call it "Living' the dream"! Wink


5.samadhi

May 20, 2012, 6:55 AM
Post #17 of 26 (2941 views)
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Re: [Remster] Employment after earning instructor ratings [In reply to] Can't Post

hehe true that rem Smile

I would like to live that dream....for at least a year or two...someday when I own a few acres and have built my house (have that little detail taken care of Laugh). Still like to have a job that I could return to that has benefits though Blush


rss_v

May 22, 2012, 5:44 AM
Post #18 of 26 (2761 views)
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Re: [rehmwa] Employment after earning instructor ratings [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
In reply to:
for the OP - some things to consider before getting a rating: do you really ENJOY teaching? you don't make much money at all - so you have to do it for the love of the sport, not to make a real living. getting work has it's own politics from DZ to DZ. do you really want to deal with all that? It can really suck.

I do actually quite like teaching - I've taught some hobbies before and I think I have a good manner with people. I'm not very "sociable" and as crazy/energetic as the stereotypical skydiver but I'm calm and sensible and, imo, pretty good at pitching things to different people in the right way. I reckon I'd manage alright.

Now, I'm wondering about it because basically I have a pretty acceptable but dead-end job right now and don't want to stay here forever. I live in England and am considering going abroad for a while to see what happens. It's kind of played-out but I know people who have done well for themselves in NZ or Australia, working in mining or farming mostly, and it does appeal. I know there's a lot of skydiving in NZ and it occurred to me that that could be a way for me to make a living over there.

I'd have to spend a LOT of money here first of all to get my jumps in and get qualified but it would cost less than most training schemes leading to another job.

But tbh if it would only let me scrape by and make ends meet while bumming around at the DZ it probably wouldn't be my thing. My instructors at the DZ earn very good money from what I hear, and they're hardly slaves to the place.

I guess the total cost of going from nothing to, say, a TI, would be around £15,000 or more :/


Deisel  (D 31661)

May 22, 2012, 6:51 AM
Post #19 of 26 (2752 views)
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If your reason for wanting to teach students is money, you are making a serious mistake. Please stop now before someone gets hurt.

D


rss_v

May 22, 2012, 7:42 AM
Post #20 of 26 (2739 views)
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Re: [Deisel] Employment after earning instructor ratings [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
If your reason for wanting to teach students is money, you are making a serious mistake. Please stop now before someone gets hurt.

D

Don't be ridiculous, everyone wants to earn money from their job and I very much doubt that tradition compromises their safety while doing it.
What alternative do you propose, only unpaid instructors who have to work elsewhere as well to make ends meet? Or just instructors who get paid but "totally promise" that they don't even care about money at all?


DiverMike  (C 40024)

May 22, 2012, 7:56 AM
Post #21 of 26 (2730 views)
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In reply to:
everyone wants to earn money from their job

But many people take it a step further and want to earn money from their hobby. The best way to start hating your hobby it to make it into a job.

I am a PADI MSDT with 10 times more hours scuba diving in a rock quarry than in the ocean. I've pretty much given up scuba diving since learning to hate it as a job. Unsure


davelepka  (D 21448)

May 22, 2012, 8:01 AM
Post #22 of 26 (2728 views)
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Quote:
Don't be ridiculous, everyone wants to earn money from their job

A good number of skydiving instructors do not earn their primary living from jumping. While they do make money at the DZ, they do the work because they want to. I can tell you from experience, it takes real desire to work 12-14 hours per day at the DZ Sat and Sun, and then get up Mon morning for your 'day job'.

Also, the majority of instructors didn't start jumping as an avenue toward employment, they started jumping because they wanted to, and then later moved toward instruction.

The point is that it's not much of a 'job'. The pay is low, and not steady. It's takes an unusually long time and large amount of money to qualify as an instructor, and then once you do, you're all set with your low, unsteady pay. See how much you make when it rains two weekends in a row, or you break a finger or twist an ankle.

Despite it all, there are instructors working everyday and new ones in the making as we speak. It's not about the money.


Deisel  (D 31661)

May 22, 2012, 9:00 AM
Post #23 of 26 (2716 views)
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What I'm saying here is that if you're looking to make money, this really isn't the way to do it. There are much better ways out there to get paid. The students are what this is supposed to be about. But my biggest problem with it is that the students often end up being short changed and poorly trained by instructors hunting for the next paying customer. And then it becomes a problem for everyone on any DZ they jump on.


Joellercoaster  (D 105792)

May 23, 2012, 6:02 AM
Post #24 of 26 (2636 views)
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Re: [Deisel] Employment after earning instructor ratings [In reply to] Can't Post

All depends on what you mean by 'better', and 'paid' I guess.

There are full-time instructors whose only want from a job is that it keep them fed and housed and able to skydive. They manage that, and although there are drawbacks for sure, they are satisfied.

I know a few people with thousands of tandems, who haven't jumped solo in years, and they seem pretty happy with their lot. Not everybody ends up hating their job, and not all jobs make you hate them.


Premier billvon  (D 16479)
Moderator
May 23, 2012, 3:09 PM
Post #25 of 26 (2596 views)
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Re: [rss_v] Employment after earning instructor ratings [In reply to] Can't Post

>But tbh if it would only let me scrape by and make ends meet while
>bumming around at the DZ it probably wouldn't be my thing.

Then don't do it. If you love skydiving so much that you're willing to sit at the DZ for days on end while it's raining, and are willing to live in a trailer and eat ramen noodles to get a chance to make a living at it, then go for it.

If you want to make good money become a network engineer and jump on the weekends.


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