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Tom_Kennedy

Considering a career in skydiving

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Hi! I'm 23 and from the UK. I have no skydiving experience, however, once it's safe and possible to do so, I want to take my AFF course and get my A license.

What I want to know is how can I turn this into a career and how long will it take? Also, what kind of jobs (if any) can I get with an A license?

I know before becoming an instructor I would need to start with a basic instructor rating, and I think I'm right in saying I would need 2 years in the sport with x amount of jumps depending on the instructor rating? Is there any skydiving related jobs I would be able to do within that 2 years? So for example let's say I've just got my A license, would I be able to help out at a dropzone and boost up my number of jumps? If yes, what kind of jobs? Could I be a videographer or would I need a certain license to do that?

I understand that I've asked quite a lot of questions but would appreciate any feedback!

Thanks!

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The biggest problem with a career in skydiving is that your passion (one hopes) becomes work, and probably not terribly well-paying work. It'll most likely be a piece of an overall work history, unless you either get lucky, or like living in an RV on the DZ and eating ramen and mac-and-cheese.

The first skydiving job you can get is as a packer of parachutes at a busy center. That takes the ability to pack parachutes (including the big tandem ones) reasonably quickly and very accurately. Practice, practice, practice. And you can practice on old, ragged-out parachutes that no one wants. There are non-jumpers who are packers. If you like physical work, it can be one of the most profitable DZ jobs, because it's piecework, and few people actively like packing. But you're not jumping during the busy days, because, well, you're packing other people's parachutes (and getting paid for it).

In Great Britain, I think most of the DZs are largely (though not entirely) seasonal; i.e. the jumping activity is less during unpleasant weather, so if you want to be only a professional skydiver, you might have to move elsewhere. I'm in the US, so I don't know about specific licenses or which DZs etc.

You can work in other capacities for a busy DZ or airport without licenses: loading airplanes, editing videos, even washing the airplane -- but they're not necessarily steady work, more a way to supplement your income and pay for your jumps. And you generally have to know someone to get that kind of gig.

I've made my living in skydiving (in the 70's, so yeah, a long time ago). Then I went back and got a real job, to do skydiving on the side. An instructor's license meant that my jumping was largely paid for, and I had to buy mainly gear etc. That worked for me.

Jumping is expensive and time-consuming. It takes 200 jumps to begin amateur videoing of skydiving, and similar numbers to become a coach and/or instructor. Most DZs want more jumps before you actually teach or video students. If you have enough to get those certifications in a short time, you're already at a busy DZ and have money -- spend your money on jumping, and keep whatever income source is paying for it. Really.

Wendy P.

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On 3/4/2021 at 1:10 PM, Tom_Kennedy said:

Hi! I'm 23 and from the UK. I have no skydiving experience, however, once it's safe and possible to do so, I want to take my AFF course and get my A license.

What I want to know is how can I turn this into a career and how long will it take? Also, what kind of jobs (if any) can I get with an A license?

I've heard this story many times. Get an education and get a good paying job. Take up skydiving as a hobby. You can become an instructor on a part time basis and as you gain experience in life you can then decide if following the madness of a career in skydiving is still something you would like to pursue. If you seriously want to get into the real business of DZ operations become both a competent skydiver and a pilot. In the end it is an aviation career and if you don't have the discipline and drive to succeed in aviation you are probably just another starry eyed dreamer.

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6 hours ago, wmw999 said:

The biggest problem with a career in skydiving is that your passion (one hopes) becomes work, and probably not terribly well-paying work. It'll most likely be a piece of an overall work history, unless you either get lucky, or like living in an RV on the DZ and eating ramen and mac-and-cheese.

The first skydiving job you can get is as a packer of parachutes at a busy center. That takes the ability to pack parachutes (including the big tandem ones) reasonably quickly and very accurately. Practice, practice, practice. And you can practice on old, ragged-out parachutes that no one wants. There are non-jumpers who are packers. If you like physical work, it can be one of the most profitable DZ jobs, because it's piecework, and few people actively like packing. But you're not jumping during the busy days, because, well, you're packing other people's parachutes (and getting paid for it).

In Great Britain, I think most of the DZs are largely (though not entirely) seasonal; i.e. the jumping activity is less during unpleasant weather, so if you want to be only a professional skydiver, you might have to move elsewhere. I'm in the US, so I don't know about specific licenses or which DZs etc.

You can work in other capacities for a busy DZ or airport without licenses: loading airplanes, editing videos, even washing the airplane -- but they're not necessarily steady work, more a way to supplement your income and pay for your jumps. And you generally have to know someone to get that kind of gig.

I've made my living in skydiving (in the 70's, so yeah, a long time ago). Then I went back and got a real job, to do skydiving on the side. An instructor's license meant that my jumping was largely paid for, and I had to buy mainly gear etc. That worked for me.

Jumping is expensive and time-consuming. It takes 200 jumps to begin amateur videoing of skydiving, and similar numbers to become a coach and/or instructor. Most DZs want more jumps before you actually teach or video students. If you have enough to get those certifications in a short time, you're already at a busy DZ and have money -- spend your money on jumping, and keep whatever income source is paying for it. Really.

Wendy P.

Really appreciate your answer, I'll definitely take all this into consideration! Thanks!

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3 hours ago, gowlerk said:

I've heard this story many times. Get an education and get a good paying job. Take up skydiving as a hobby. You can become an instructor on a part time basis and as you gain experience in life you can then decide if following the madness of a career in skydiving is still something you would like to pursue. If you seriously want to get into the real business of DZ operations become both a competent skydiver and a pilot. In the end it is an aviation career and if you don't have the discipline and drive to succeed in aviation you are probably just another starry eyed dreamer.

I see your point and I'll certainly make note of it! The problem is I have already have received a University level education, and currently have a well-paid job, but I'm miserable. I'd much prefer a job I enjoy that pays less, even if it doesn't involve skydiving. Just exploring different options.

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3 hours ago, Tom_Kennedy said:

I see your point and I'll certainly make note of it! The problem is I have already have received a University level education, and currently have a well-paid job, but I'm miserable. I'd much prefer a job I enjoy that pays less, even if it doesn't involve skydiving. Just exploring different options.

That's different. If you have a fall back and have done that work already it certainly is not the situation I assumed. The next warning is that being miserable may just be your normal state. I hope not. Anyway, if you have the aptitude for it and the resources to pursue the training you could probably begin to make it a job in about three years. But likely not in the UK. Too bad about Brexit complicating things.

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A job you hate sucks; I had a friend who got his dream job with a large accounting firm and quit after 8 months he hated it so much, to run a baseball card store. 
But he had partners and experience; Joe is right — get ready for a career in aviation, not just skydiving. And be ready to embrace, not just accept, surprises along the way. 
Wendy P. 

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4 hours ago, Tom_Kennedy said:

I see your point and I'll certainly make note of it! The problem is I have already have received a University level education, and currently have a well-paid job, but I'm miserable. I'd much prefer a job I enjoy that pays less, even if it doesn't involve skydiving. Just exploring different options.

This isn't like changing your major to accounting. Find something else you want to do and then take up jumping to see if you like it.

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2 hours ago, gowlerk said:

Wendy, my name is Ken.

You’re right; I’m not sure where my brain was. 
Wendy P. 

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Hi Tom, give yourself a 3-year plan to get the necessary knowledge, skills and experience to be able to work in the hobby full time. Also use that time to save as much money as possible and buy as much equipment as possible. You’ll want to be Tandem, AFF Rigger and S&TA ratings. Expect to spend about $30k USD to get prepared enough to cut away from real life.

As mentioned, you may be better off getting your Commercial Pilot’s License as well and set yourself up to be a DZ GM.

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9 minutes ago, wmw999 said:

Joe is right — get ready for a career in aviation

Wendy, my name is Ken.

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