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Deisel

Is a Rigger's Ticket Worth It?

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Hi all. I'm going to soon have quite a bit of time on my hands as I move into what I'm calling my pre-retirement. So I'm considering taking a rigger course this summer but don't plan to work as one. Primarily I'd be doing it just to increase my knowledge about the equipment. I've also done some rough math and figure that it should pay for itself after about 3-4 years of maintaining my 3 rigs. But I also view this as similar to having an instrument rating as a pilot. It can actually become less safe to have if you don't use it regularly. Just curious if any of you experienced riggers had any thoughts on it. 

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I’m a lapsed rigger; I haven’t packed a reserve for someone else in about 35 years. I’d say it was worth the investment in time (no money was involved firme because it was the 70’s), because I like understanding things, and in general having been a rigger just makes me more comfortable with the boundaries of gear.

Wendy P. 

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4 hours ago, Deisel said:

I'm considering taking a rigger course this summer but don't plan to work as one. Primarily I'd be doing it just to increase my knowledge about the equipment. 

Unfortunately, most rigging courses are focused on reserve packing proficiency, plus the small amount of additional knowledge required to pass the test for an entry-level parachute rigger.

If you are interested in how things work, how they are made and how they break, how to fix them when they break, you will need to be an active rigger.  The way we learn and get better is by inspecting every rig that comes through the loft, evaluating the work done by the previous rigger and hoping to find something that is different and better than our work, then upping our game.

If all you work on is your own rig, you will be just a perpetual entry-level rigger.  At best.

(Also, you will also always be legally uncurrent, although I don't know anybody who has ever been busted for that.)

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Since this is essentially what I have ended up doing, I may be able to give you some perspective on it.

Background: I was part of a small club DZ that was in decline. The two members that were riggers both left and the club didn't have one anymore. So, according to the rules, the TIs had to pack their own and we couldn't do Static Line or AFF students (by that time the two AFFIs had left too). 
So, in 09, I went down to Para-Concepts and took the course. It was an excellent course and I would recommend it without reservation (keep in mind it was 13 years ago and may have changed).
While the reserve repacks were a primary focus (including rounds), the course was very comprehensive.

So I became the club rigger. I did all the student rigs and did the 'supervision' part of packing student & tandem mains. The TI wasn't totally comfortable with my level of experience and had the tandem repacks done by one of the former club members/riggers. I didn't have any issue with this.
I would also do the repacks on club members' rigs.

When the club closed down in 2012, I kept doing friends rigs, but that was about it. As I got older (knee & shoulder issues) and less and less current, I chose to not do other people's stuff. I know my Infinity inside, outside, backwards & forwards (I still pull out the manual when I work on it). Other rigs? Not so much.

So, by Mark's very apt definition, I'm a 'perpetual entry level rigger'. 

Was it worth it?

I think so. The knowledge I gained during the course was really cool. I learned a boatload of stuff about the gear. I've been able to pass some of that on to newer jumpers, which is nice.

Did it 'pay for itself'?

I don't think so. Between the course, course materials, tools (I'm always happy buying new tools), tests, travel expenses and such, I probably spent close to $2k for the rating. Since the student stuff was to keep the club going, I didn't take actual pay for it, just credit on the books. I didn't pay anything for my jumps those last 3 years, but still had a fair amount of money owed me when we shut down - I pretty much knew it was going to be that way from the beginning. I was just happy to help keep the doors open.

I'm not going to tell you which way to go. That's up to you.
If you want to gain a fair amount of knowledge about the gear, if you want the freedom to take care of your own stuff (I also do most of my own work on my vehicles too), if you simply want the rating to be able to say "I'm a rigger", then go for it.

But keep in mind that you likely won't be legally current, you won't be experienced on anything other than your own stuff, you will be lacking in many areas. 
 

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I know many licensed jumpers and instructors who earned rigger ratings back in the day, but no longer repack their own tight Javelins. Many also only instructed for a year or three before retiring their instructor ratings. They brought their tight, fashionable tiny Javelins to me because they knew that I would do a better pack job, considering that I was the busiest rigger in town. None of them regret the time and money they spent on learning how to rig.

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Thanks for all the feedback here - lots to consider. I'll certainly continue to pursue some type of continuing education, but I'm not sure if a ticket is the way to go. Based on what I've seen online, a course will cost around $3K if you add in food, lodging, and travel. But hell, I just might do it anyway. Not sure yet. 

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It depends on what you want to do.My ticket has paid for itself ten times over, and I invested less for it in 95. I got most of my experience working for 2 container manufacturers. I've chased a few government contracts. overall its one of the best investments, you can make money if you bust your butt

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(edited)

In my opinion: It can be worth it, depending on what you value most.

I started my rigging course in 2019, basically apprenticing for a Master Rigger in his loft here in the Netherlands. Last fall I have taken and passed the Dutch examination for senior rigger.

It is worth it for me because my technical knowledge of equipment vastly improves. And even so is the stuff I know that I don't know. As a CRW-dog, I was already more-than-average interested in equipment prior to 2019, but I now know that I knew next-to-nothing back then.

It is worth it for me because it gives me good satisfaction to do a job properly, and to make and fix things. My sewing machine skills have improved and are still improving further.

It is not worth it for me because the money earned isn't stellar. As a technical person, I make more money in less time and effort in my day job than I can ever make with rigging. You can earn a living as a rigger, but don't expect to become rich doing it. And the training is long and costly.

So it boils down to what you find most important in your life. For me, the first two points definitely outweigh the third.

And I agree with previous remarks that currency as a rigger is important. In that sense, I am lucky with the Dutch labour possibilities, as I have a 4-day/week day job and spend the fifth day of the week rigging and the weekend relaxing/skydiving.

Edited by IJskonijn
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As a job, I don't think it is worth it for the hourly wages. People become riggers for love of the technical part of skydiving. Maybe I should say people advance in rigging for this reason. I've had my rigger's ticket for 15 years. I've packed lots of reserves, fixed lots of things and paid more in tools than I will ever make. Rigging properly takes time, and at $60 to pack a reserve, you don't get far once you've properly inspected everything and packed it properly. How much are your knees worth anyway?

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On 6/18/2022 at 3:08 PM, Deisel said:

Hi all. I'm going to soon have quite a bit of time on my hands as I move into what I'm calling my pre-retirement. So I'm considering taking a rigger course this summer but don't plan to work as one. Primarily I'd be doing it just to increase my knowledge about the equipment. I've also done some rough math and figure that it should pay for itself after about 3-4 years of maintaining my 3 rigs. But I also view this as similar to having an instrument rating as a pilot. It can actually become less safe to have if you don't use it regularly. Just curious if any of you experienced riggers had any thoughts on it. 

It's like holding a fart in the airplane. You don't do it for yourself, you do it for your fellow skydivers. What could be more noble?

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(edited)
5 hours ago, JoeWeber said:

It's like holding a fart in the airplane. You don't do it for yourself, you do it for your fellow skydivers. What could be more noble?

That's why I got a ticket. The most local rigger left the province and our DZ had none. It took nearly 4 years to just make the cash investment in training and tools back. Not even mentioning the lost time.

Edited by gowlerk
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For me - absolutely.

For you - depends on what you want out of it.

I am convinced that in this sport there are many ways to make more money per hour.  A part-time rigger can be the worst paid person on the DZ (per hour invested). 

But the knowledge and hands-on experience are worth the investment to me... I know more about my rig (and others) than I would have just being a jumper.  I know how it was inspected, assembled, packed. 

Though not part of my original plan (to pack only my own reserves), I did end up packing hundreds of mostly pilot rigs, learned to repair, and was a speaker/presenter at multiple PIA symposiums.

If you are not doing it full time, it will take more effort on your part to stay up with changes, even with regard to your own gear.

 

JW

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, fcajump said:

For me - absolutely.

For you - depends on what you want out of it.

I am convinced that in this sport there are many ways to make more money per hour.  A part-time rigger can be the worst paid person on the DZ (per hour invested). 

But the knowledge and hands-on experience are worth the investment to me... I know more about my rig (and others) than I would have just being a jumper.  I know how it was inspected, assembled, packed. 

Though not part of my original plan (to pack only my own reserves), I did end up packing hundreds of mostly pilot rigs, learned to repair, and was a speaker/presenter at multiple PIA symposiums.

If you are not doing it full time, it will take more effort on your part to stay up with changes, even with regard to your own gear.

 

JW

 

 

 

Hi Jim,

And, sometimes, if the stars all line up, you get asked to work on developing some new gear.

Jerry Baumchen

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52 minutes ago, JerryBaumchen said:

Hi Jim,

And, sometimes, if the stars all line up, you get asked to work on developing some new gear.

Jerry Baumchen

One of the coolest items on my Parachute Rigger CV

THANKS Jerry!!

JW

Master Rigger 
Co-Developer Lap Parachute System

 

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It's worth it to me after 27 years and a Master Rigger for two container manufacturers, I've been on drop tests, worked on a lot repairs for containers and canopies, besides my full time job the extra money is my play money, Bottom line if you work at it and bust your hump, Yes.

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On 6/18/2022 at 9:27 PM, RolandForbes said:

Cant you just become your own rigger by buying a pencil?

...queue Dropzone.com Karens coming in to save the day

No we have a good sense of humor around here about things like that. Btw, pre-referencing the appearance of the Karens makes you a Sharon. We have more interesting things to bitch about.

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