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AFF instructor salary

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Are you feeling guilty about anything I said?



Why should I?

I know plenty of wealthy DZO's and I applaud them for that. They are the ones who can offer the best of everything at their DZ's. The best aircraft, the best training programs, and the best gear. They run well organized businesses.

The skinflints seem to offer the opposite. Hmmmm.....

I have no illusions of 6 figure incomes, or 401k's, I shouldn't since like everyone else I'm an independent contractor. My own business.

What should be happening is a evaluative process that weeds out the non professionals, thus increasing the value of the instructors that put in the work to be the best.
----------------------------------------------
You're not as good as you think you are. Seriously.

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If I misunderstood your statement about standards, I apologize.

What does 'insanely low' mean?

$35 + slot + pack was my pay.
Is that insanely low?
It's just about the norm. Some slightly more, some slightly less.

If I wanted more money, I'd go to a DZ with more volume and fewer AFFI...and bust ass making as many jumps per day as my body would allow.

At most DZs, it doesn't matter if you're brand spankin' new or a 30-year old timer...the volume determines DZ income and the cost of doing business and the needs of the DZO both come before you in the pay line. It's simple really.

Nobody owes us anything. Nobody forces us to teach skydiving. No DZO is going to let you take food off his table.

It's best to get a job that pays your needs and skydive for the love and fun of it ln your off-time.
My reality and yours are quite different.
I think we're all Bozos on this bus.
Falcon5232, SCS8170, SCSA353, POPS9398, DS239

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Are you feeling guilty about anything I said?



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Why should I?


You're asking me? How should I know?

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I know plenty of wealthy DZO's and I applaud them for that. They are the ones who can offer the best of everything at their DZ's. The best aircraft, the best training programs, and the best gear. They run well organized businesses.


I'd argue the use of the word plenty but yes, everybody knows a few. I think it woud be a grand mistake to think that the sport is all so well off as that in general. IMHO, far from it. For every big onje there's umpteen week-end Cessna places squeaking by.

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The skinflints seem to offer the opposite. Hmmmm.....


Skinflints? Really?
Who's the guy making bundles and paying shit?
Let us know so we can avoid working there.

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I have no illusions of 6 figure incomes, or 401k's, I shouldn't since like everyone else I'm an independent contractor. My own business.


So think of the day when you may have employees and they come to you demanding more money. Whatchyagonnado?

You'll examine the books to see if there's room for it with out running yourself into the gutter.

And if it's not there?

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What should be happening is a evaluative process that weeds out the non professionals, thus increasing the value of the instructors that put in the work to be the best.


Dammit. What have I been saying all along except that it starts at the instructor training level. Get rid of the bozos. Train for success.

I assume you are saying something like an annual evaluation conducted by a subject matter expert that determines Renew or Suspend ratings. Good idea that been proposed multiple times. Who conducts? Who trains the evaluators? Who pays?
My reality and yours are quite different.
I think we're all Bozos on this bus.
Falcon5232, SCS8170, SCSA353, POPS9398, DS239

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If I misunderstood your statement about standards, I apologize.

What does 'insanely low' mean?

$35 + slot + pack was my pay.
Is that insanely low?
It's just about the norm. Some slightly more, some slightly less.

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This aint bad really, 35 +25 for jump + 5 pack = roughly 60 bucks. You got to teach, fly for free and someone else packed for you. That is a pretty good gig.

It's best to get a job that pays your needs and skydive for the love and fun of it ln your off-time.
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I truly appreciate this last statement!

You will never be more alive than you are the instant you let go!

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I never mentioned the word "unions" before now. I know plenty about them though, likely more than you. (Do not assume that because I believe in ethical business practices that I am somehow ignorant.) I don't have any interest in debating unions with you because it is not relevant to anything I said and hopefully won't be in the future.

I'm actually not interested in debating much anything with you at this point. I just hope that if you stick around, that you actually give back since you want everyone else to give you all that education for free or close to it. (For that matter, I hope I do a good job of giving back too.)

A big thanks to all of you that take the time (paid or not) to educate the rest of us.

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I never mentioned the word "unions" before now. I know plenty about them though, likely more than you. (Do not assume that because I believe in ethical business practices that I am somehow ignorant.) I don't have any interest in debating unions with you because it is not relevant to anything I said and hopefully won't be in the future.

I'm actually not interested in debating much anything with you at this point. I just hope that if you stick around, that you actually give back since you want everyone else to give you all that education for free or close to it. (For that matter, I hope I do a good job of giving back too.)

A big thanks to all of you that take the time (paid or not) to educate the rest of us.



Look, I apologize for the fact that I came across in a way that upset you, or anyone else. I just have a real bad taste in my mouth with unions...I have managed several businesses that were union and several that were not. I never assumed that you were ignorant though.

This is in no way a reflection on you or any of the instructors that I have learned from. I want nothing for free...nothing. I was glad to pay for the instruction that I received and would gladly pay it again.

I do not undervalue the work that the instructors and coaches put into my skydiving. I appreciate all of those that have given, and that is why I am working on my ratings, no other reason.
You will never be more alive than you are the instant you let go!

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I think maybe our contention stems from what we consider "ethical business practices".

Me? I don't believe it's a companies responsibility to see to it that you are living the lifestyle you want to live. A company's responsibility is to the owners.

I believe that it's the employes responsibility to do the job he was hired to do at the pay rate he agreed to up front.

If, at any time in the future, an employee decides that he wants to modify the original agreement he started under, he needs to negotiate with the company.

Depending on the results of the negotiation, he will face one of two choices:
- Stay and work at whatever modification, if any, he can get, or
- Look for employment elsewhere.

If, at any time in the future, an employer decides that he wants to modify the original agreement, he certainly can do so. Usually, that modification comes in raises and/or more perks. Unfortunately, sometimes it goes the other way. If it's to the employees detriment, the employee sometimes has recourse, sometime not.

By no means is company 'required' to do anything with respect to your wages other than meet federal/state law,

What's unethical is either employer or employee not living up to the mutual agreements made.


Naive? Maybe. Hell, I'm just a skydiver.
My reality and yours are quite different.
I think we're all Bozos on this bus.
Falcon5232, SCS8170, SCSA353, POPS9398, DS239

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I do not undervalue the work that the instructors and coaches put into my skydiving. I appreciate all of those that have given, and that is why I am working on my ratings, no other reason.



Like most things, plans like yours start off with the best of intentions. It's exciting to be a 'pro' skydiver getting paid to jump. It's exciting to have the status around the DZ and with the students. It's exciting to turn back-to-backs on busy days and really rack up the jump numbers. At first.

Sooner or later, it does turn into a job. When the DZO/manager really 'needs' you on a big weekend, and something in your non-jumping life (wife, girlfriend, family) does too. Or on the same weekend, when there's a boogie at a neighboring DZ, or skills camp at your own DZ. Or on the same weekend when all of your buddies are just having a blast doing fun jumps.

It's easy to sit on your end looking forward, and have the attitude that you do. Jump for 10 years, and invest tens of thousands of dollars in jumps, gear and ratings, see how you feel then. See how you feel about being told who to jump with, when to jump, and how long you have to jump for (all day, right to sunset, everyday).

Some people get there, and stick with it, but most don't. I don't have enough fingers and toes to count all the of accomplished, highly experienced TIs and AFFIs I know who have quit the sport.

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Some people get there, and stick with it, but most don't. I don't have enough fingers and toes to count all the of accomplished, highly experienced TIs and AFFIs I know who have quit the sport.



This ^. Don't end up hating both a job and hobby that you used to love.

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Some people get there, and stick with it, but most don't. I don't have enough fingers and toes to count all the of accomplished, highly experienced TIs and AFFIs I know who have quit the sport.



This ^. Don't end up hating both a job and hobby that you used to love.



Years ago I was a tattoo artist, and that is exactly what happened. :o...
You will never be more alive than you are the instant you let go!

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Some people get there, and stick with it, but most don't. I don't have enough fingers and toes to count all the of accomplished, highly experienced TIs and AFFIs I know who have quit the sport.



This ^. Don't end up hating both a job and hobby that you used to love.



Years ago I was a tattoo artist, and that is exactly what happened. :o...



OK, I'll bite... how does one get burn-out as a tattoo artist?

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Some people get there, and stick with it, but most don't. I don't have enough fingers and toes to count all the of accomplished, highly experienced TIs and AFFIs I know who have quit the sport.



This ^. Don't end up hating both a job and hobby that you used to love.



Years ago I was a tattoo artist, and that is exactly what happened. :o...



OK, I'll bite... how does one get burn-out as a tattoo artist?



How does someone get burn out skydiving?

Likely the same way, it becomes nothing more than a job and the money is seasonal, and inconsistent...kinda like working at a DZ I would imagine.

Started as a hobby, then a fun job, then just plain work.
You will never be more alive than you are the instant you let go!

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Some people get there, and stick with it, but most don't. I don't have enough fingers and toes to count all the of accomplished, highly experienced TIs and AFFIs I know who have quit the sport.



This ^. Don't end up hating both a job and hobby that you used to love.



+1
My reality and yours are quite different.
I think we're all Bozos on this bus.
Falcon5232, SCS8170, SCSA353, POPS9398, DS239

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Likely the same way, it becomes nothing more than a job and the money is seasonal, and inconsistent...kinda like working at a DZ I would imagine.

Started as a hobby, then a fun job, then just plain work.



OK, so given the above, wouldn't more money have made it a more 'viable' career?

Wouldn't the point where you 'gave up' have been further down the road if the financial rewards were more 'liveable'?

Wouldn't there be more long-term, experienced tattoo artists out there, as opposed to the pre-burnout new guys, if the situation was such that you could support a reasonable lifestyle on the tattoo money alone?

I would suggest that you apply all those question to skydiving instructors. While there will always be the problem of trying to make a living being paid per-jump, if the money was better, so would the instruction.

There would be more full-time instructors. There would be more long-time, experienced instructors who would hang in there at seasonal DZs if they didn't have to make 95% of a living off-DZ, and then fit in DZ work when the sun shines. With a larger pool of willing applicants, and more of them being long-term, experienced instructors, you're going to raise the overall level of skill and knowledge.

The key difference is that you're dealing with peoples lives in skydiving. If you can follow the basic health code/starilization procedures, an inexperiecned tattoo artsist is only going to give you a bad looking tattoo. The implications of inexperience are a bit more severe in skydiving.

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Likely the same way, it becomes nothing more than a job and the money is seasonal, and inconsistent...kinda like working at a DZ I would imagine.

Started as a hobby, then a fun job, then just plain work.



OK, so given the above, wouldn't more money have made it a more 'viable' career?

Wouldn't the point where you 'gave up' have been further down the road if the financial rewards were more 'liveable'?

Wouldn't there be more long-term, experienced tattoo artists out there, as opposed to the pre-burnout new guys, if the situation was such that you could support a reasonable lifestyle on the tattoo money alone?

I would suggest that you apply all those question to skydiving instructors. While there will always be the problem of trying to make a living being paid per-jump, if the money was better, so would the instruction.

There would be more full-time instructors. There would be more long-time, experienced instructors who would hang in there at seasonal DZs if they didn't have to make 95% of a living off-DZ, and then fit in DZ work when the sun shines. With a larger pool of willing applicants, and more of them being long-term, experienced instructors, you're going to raise the overall level of skill and knowledge.

The key difference is that you're dealing with peoples lives in skydiving. If you can follow the basic health code/starilization procedures, an inexperiecned tattoo artsist is only going to give you a bad looking tattoo. The implications of inexperience are a bit more severe in skydiving.



Would the money make a difference? only in delaying the inevitable. The fact is that there are millions of people in millions of jobs that simply change careers. Why? Because the extrinsic value of a job is NOT the most important thing that a person looks for.

I agree that there are risks for the instructor, but there are for Firemen, Police Officers and there are more of them injured and killed at work then there are skydiving instructors. Police officers have such an inherently dangerous job that they have to wear ballistic protection. Why then do the officers in New Orleans work in such a dangerous job? It sure aint for the money. They, or at least many, do it for the intrinsic value and what it provides them with regards to a lifestyle. Why do the teachers in Chicago do their job? Pay and benefits are likely on the bottom of the list.

In career choices I believe we can choose a job with the benefits of money and vacation, or we can choose jobs that have or can give us the other things we value, such as time off, the prospect of doing something that we enjoy.

Not only is skydiving a hobby, sport, activity that is enjoyed, but for some it provides at least a partial income. Now compare that to the police officers, teachers, firefighters, etc...what they do is not likely considered "fun" or a hobby that one would take up.

Not one of my instructors was a full time instructor, and they all seem to love what they do. I believe it is so because they also are not relying on it for their primary source of income.

It all boils down to the fact that you, or any other instructor chooses to be an instructor, and the benefits or lack there of when that decision is made. The choice was not made with eyes closed.

FYI...Tattoo artists are paid per the piece or time that they are actually tattooing, much like the skydiving instructor. And like a skydiving instructor, tattoo artists spend a great deal of time preparing for the actual tattoo, which is not compensated.
You will never be more alive than you are the instant you let go!

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There would be more full-time instructors....


Only because people hung on longer for the money....hanging in there simply for the money just as always before. Just like retiring at 70 instead of 62.

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There would be more long-time, experienced instructors who would hang in there at seasonal DZs if they didn't have to make 95% of a living off-DZ, and then fit in DZ work when the sun shines.


This assumes they have to depend on a DZ for ANY percentage of their living. Well, yes if you have no other skills, then maybe a DZ will hire you...at their rate, not yours.

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With a larger pool of willing applicants, and more of them being long-term, experienced instructors, you're going to raise the overall level of skill and knowledge.


Well, that depends on what you have coming up.
Changing money scales is not going to change quality of instruction. Old bozos leave, new ones take their place. Good ones leave, good ones take their place.
Again, experience doesn't equate to quality.

How about this:
Since money doesn't generate quality, remove any monies involved. That would instantly weed out the money-mongers. It would instantly open doors for those who truly do it for the love of the sport.
(I can hear the love for this already. :D:D)

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... inexperiecned tattoo artsist is only going to give you a bad looking tattoo. The implications of inexperience are a bit more severe in skydiving.


Assumes an experienced instructor is going to give you good instruction and inexperienced giving you bad. I find it to quite the opposite in many, many cases as AFFIs get jaded, become the all-knowing skygod, take short-cuts and get secure in their position because of lack of oversight.
My reality and yours are quite different.
I think we're all Bozos on this bus.
Falcon5232, SCS8170, SCSA353, POPS9398, DS239

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Can I ask (seriously) what careers you find worthy of pay? There is a lot of investment in most career fields both in terms of initial education and experience to improve. Even if there is love to do it, people without trust funds need to earn a living.

You seem open to DZOs earning a profit, but I am curious why you think instructors must finance 100% of their living and then spend long hours working with students (only some of which appreciate them). This (as you probably know better than me) cannot leave much time/money for their own continued education in skydiving. If one loves the sport, he/she is going to probably want some time for that too.

I completely understand that you think there is a lot to be desired in the quality of some AFF instructors, but the animosity towards the field (and thus all the instructors) is truly puzzling to me. Especially since it is far easier to make money doing tandems. (No disrespect to all the great TIs out there.)

The way I see it is this: Is my dentist doing a lousy job because he makes (good) money doing it? I can assure you that he enjoys his work as much as anyone I know. Can I stop paying him because of this? He has been doing it quite awhile now and seems to be better than ever at his craft.

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Can I ask (seriously) what careers you find worthy of pay?


Sure!

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You seem open to DZOs earning a profit, but I am curious why you think instructors must finance 100% of their living and then spend long hours working with students (only some of which appreciate them).


Your curiosity is misplaced.
- I didn't say "must"
- I didn't say anything about "long hours"
- Appreciation from students, while nice, is not mandatory nor the bottom line goal.

What IS the goal?
Having young jumpers grow up to be old skydivers.

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This (as you probably know better than me) cannot leave much time/money for their own continued education in skydiving. If one loves the sport, he/she is going to probably want some time for that too.


True, but please do not assume that there is no time for anything. In real life, you make time for what you want...or go about sad that you didn't. Priorities.

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...but the animosity towards the field (and thus all the instructors) is truly puzzling to me.


You assumed "the field" in error. You said, "all" in error.
Nope...just those in the field who have bastardized it to the point of releasing students who are unequipped to handle themselves safely and those in the field who refuse to help those students without being paid to do so.

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Especially since it is far easier to make money doing tandems. (No disrespect to all the great TIs out there.)


"Far" is relative and well, some things "easier", yes....if you don't count the physical aspect of it. We'll not mention the total responsibility for their students. TIs get a tip o' the hat for that, at least.

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The way I see it is this: Is my dentist doing a lousy job because he makes (good) money doing it? I can assure you that he enjoys his work as much as anyone I know. Can I stop paying him because of this? He has been doing it quite awhile now and seems to be better than ever at his craft.


Good for your dentist! AND for you!
Please note, one sample does not make for valid conclusions.

Your reference to "stop paying him" is off topic.

Are you trying to convince me that you are right and I am wrong? We have differing opinions...is that so terrible? I'm opposed to paying anybody anything just because they have a title of any sort. Pretty simple.
My reality and yours are quite different.
I think we're all Bozos on this bus.
Falcon5232, SCS8170, SCSA353, POPS9398, DS239

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Can I ask (seriously) what careers you find worthy of pay? There is a lot of investment in most career fields both in terms of initial education and experience to improve. Even if there is love to do it, people without trust funds need to earn a living.

You seem open to DZOs earning a profit, but I am curious why you think instructors must finance 100% of their living and then spend long hours working with students (only some of which appreciate them). This (as you probably know better than me) cannot leave much time/money for their own continued education in skydiving. If one loves the sport, he/she is going to probably want some time for that too.

I completely understand that you think there is a lot to be desired in the quality of some AFF instructors, but the animosity towards the field (and thus all the instructors) is truly puzzling to me. Especially since it is far easier to make money doing tandems. (No disrespect to all the great TIs out there.)

The way I see it is this: Is my dentist doing a lousy job because he makes (good) money doing it? I can assure you that he enjoys his work as much as anyone I know. Can I stop paying him because of this? He has been doing it quite awhile now and seems to be better than ever at his craft.



Hi Becka...I can take a stab at this. There is a direct relationship in the pay for jobs and the time and money spent getting that job. I know that there are exceptions, but Dr's, lawyers, accountants etc make a lot of money because they spend a disproportional amount in getting their education, then becoming board certified. Skydivers learn to skydive, which I would hardly attribute that cost to "education" but then become a coach, possibly canopy flight courses, AFF course and are set back what, 1500 in actual training.

I think that there is something else to consider, the time actually working. As a coach I might spend a total of an hour on a jump, then what? wait for the next jump. DZ's operate with the greatest part of their expenses being variable costs so that the amount that they are paying is directly related to the amount that they bring in, that is why they pay TI's, AFF's and coaches by the jump, because that is how they are earning money.

There are likely some AFFI's out there that work 40 or more hours per week. but in that 40 hours, how many of these are actually working? How many jumps does even the most active AFFI do in a day/week? Just curious because where I jump, there are no full time instructors.

It all comes sown to supply and demand: there are enough AFFI's in the business to keep them getting paid what they do. Tthe cost of becoming an AFFI is low enough that a whole lot of people do it...
You will never be more alive than you are the instant you let go!

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See I consider all the ground portion stuff (that is generally unpaid unless there is a jump accompanying it) to be work. And I see people who spend way more than 40 hours a week when that is factored in. The jumping (at least for those of us new enough to still be thinking AFFI is way more fun than work) is the part people are more interested in doing.

If someone else did the training and all the AFFI had to do was the jump and maybe a debrief, then I would agree that the pay is fine, the hours are not at all long, and that it would be quite easy to work in enough AFFI jumps to stay proficient as a part-timer with time to work on your own skills.

And at least for me, it cost more than $1500 to get that rating. I personally needed a bunch of practice before the course (and should have done more in retrospect). And that was working with people who didn't even charge me for the privilege. It was more expensive than 10 years of undergraduate/graduate education. Not many scholarships in skydiving. But for me, it was worth it even if I never earn it back. You learn a lot of stuff in the instructional courses that is good to know even if you aren't going to be an instructor.

I'm still very green in this sport which is why I keep bugging popsjumper about his views. I understand diablopilot's and davelepka's points which is why I'm not bothering them the same way on this. (This is not say you don't have good points too, but in terms of skydiving experience we are both still at the point where we don't know the whole story even at our own home dropzones.)

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He raises a good point. DZs get paid by the jump...so do we.

So, out of that money that comes in to the DZ, there's overhead, there's owners, pilots, fuel, maintenance (plane, building, gear, etc), gear repair and replacement, manifest people, ...and more to be paid out BEFORE we get to instructor pay. Just like any business. Certain expenses come first. You might say we get paid out of the net, not the gross.

And yes, you can lump in manifest people with us, if you like.

How do we pay more to 'employees'? We raise jump prices. I don't want to go there....especially so when all employees have other options they can exercise.

Union is a bad idea, IMO. Personally, I wouldn't join even if there was one.


And BTW, I appreciate the conversation not devolving to argumentation. Thanks for that.

Again, small DZs far out-numer large ones and I believe they cannot afford to pay much more than what's current.

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If someone else did the training and all the AFFI had to do was the jump and maybe a debrief,


Funny you should mention that...I offered that option in another thread....Coaches teach ground, AFFI teach air.
There was some argument back...."that's not how we do it now". Of course it isn't. That's why it was suggested as a new approach.


To give an answer to your request:
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Can I ask (seriously) what careers you find worthy of pay?



All careers.
:)
My reality and yours are quite different.
I think we're all Bozos on this bus.
Falcon5232, SCS8170, SCSA353, POPS9398, DS239

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Can I ask (seriously) what careers you find worthy of pay?



All of them. Now the LEVEL of pay is commensurate with the length of the training and the cost of the training to work in that field.

And the final answer is all jobs pay what the perceived value is to the customer. We have a difficult situation when we have customers that want discounts (Groupon), but some want the people working to get paid as a professional.

In the end, the market decides. If DZ #1 wants to pay their instructors 10 dollars a jump and they can't get good instructors and DZ #2 wants to pay 100 per jump and can't get enough customers... The answer is somewhere between the two.... And the market will self adjust.

Me? I have a real life job that pays my bills so my AFF/Tandem/Coaching/tunnel coaching is just for fun. The money is nice, but I'd most likely do it for free (and have).
"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms." -- Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson Papers, 334

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