Can You Become a Professional Skydiver?

Can you make a career out of skydiving and become a professional skydiver? Most definitely! Not only can skydiving be the source of your income, but there are multiple segments within the skydiving industry you can enter dependent upon your interests and skills.

The most common entry point into being a professional skydiver is via your local dropzone (skydiving center). Other entry points can involve joining the military, manufacturing or as a pilot.

For the sake of this article, we’ll focus on the various positions found at a dropzone, like Skydive Carolina. These positions progress from entry level (often as a packer, through General Manager).

Parachute Packer

Packing parachutes is your fastest way of working within the skydiving industry and usually serves as a way to fund your new skydiving addiction! Packing parachutes isn’t rocket science though it looks intimidating. With good training, practice and patience, becoming proficient a packer is possible!

Parachute packers at Skydive Carolina

Good packers who develop a clientele or who work for a busy skydiving center packing tandem parachute can make a lot of money in a day. Sometimes, packers make more than anyone else on the dropzone, but make no mistake… they earn it. At a busy facility, chances are, you’ll be in different states of crouching, standing and kneeling from sunup to sundown! Aside from making good money, packers tend to sleep really well at night from sheer fatigue!

That said there are many who have made a career from packing parachutes and still do today.

Professional Skydiving Instructor

There are many different instructor ratings available with varying degrees of minimum requirements (usually based on the number of jumps). These positions can vary between being a USPA Coach, AFF-Instructor (a person who teaches people how to become a licensed skydiver), Tandem Instructor, Canopy (parachute) Coach, Wingsuit Coach and others.

professional skydiver tandem instructor

The most popular and lucrative instructor rating is that of the tandem instructor and many people have built skydiving careers on this single profession. Tandem instructors are in high demand (and limited supply) which presents opportunities to travel the US and the world. Many instructors will work at their local dropzone while others travel the globe jumping with first-timers representing nearly every nationality. It’s not unusual to see many international instructors in Australia and New Zealand (one of the busiest tandem skydiving countries in the world).

Individuals must have a minimum of 500 jumps before they can enter tandem instructor training!

Skydiving Videographer

In skydiving, it’s said if it’s not on video, it didn’t happen! Videographers are the stars of the sky who capture many first timers enjoying skydiving for the very first time. Highly experienced videographers like Norman Kent, Craig O’Brien and Tom Sanders have made careers out of filming commercials and Hollywood movies that include skydiving scenes.

The minimum requirement to begin training with a video camera is 200 jumps.

Parachute Rigger

Without riggers, there wouldn’t be skydiving! Riggers are the people that keep skydivers in the air as they repack reserve parachutes (the FAA mandates that reserves be packed every 180 days) and maintain gear and maintenance from patching tears in canopies to more complex repairs the may involve the container (rig) other equipment components.

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Every skydiving center in the country has an office known simply as ‘manifest.’ Manifest is the nerve center of a skydiving center as it coordinates every departing flight with the right combination of skydiving students, instructors, videographers and licensed skydivers. While it may sound simple, manifest is the ultimate timekeeper and sets the rhythm and pace for the operation.

Imagine coordinating 400 skydivers using five aircraft, simultaneously! Individuals who can manage manifest effectively can make a skydiving career out of it!

DropZone Manager (DZM)

The DZM is another term for the general manager. The DZM is responsible for the coordination between the many different departments that all must work together for a successful outcome at the end of the day which is getting everyone in the air without injury. These departments include the coordination with the school, manifest, instructional staff, packing mat and the video department!

Being the DZM can be stressful (like many management positions) but carries huge reward when everyone comes together as a team. There’s nothing quite like having a beer at sunset having pleased hundreds of people!

Skydiving Pilot

Being a pilot in the skydiving industry is an amazing way to build precious flight time with many takeoffs and landings! Pilots who love flying, generally love flying skydivers and for others, it can serve as a stepping stone to becoming a commercial pilot for major airlines.

Skydiving Pilot giving a thumbs up in the cockpit.

If you desire to follow a nontraditional career path, then pursuing a career in skydiving might just be for you!

If you’re interested in learning more, please contact us or come down to our dropzone to observe and interact with

How Much Does it Cost to Become a Skydiver?

A few clicks across our website can land you on a page that outlines how much it costs to tandem skydive, but what if you have your sights set a little higher? What if you want to learn to fly solo?

Is learning skydiving an investment? Without a doubt.

Is it worth every penny? You better bet your bottom dollar it is.

Getting into skydiving is going to require an investment of both your time and your money. But, how much? Here’s what you can expect to invest in becoming a skydiver.

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Getting Into Skydiving

Before beginning your Accelerated Freefall student progression, we highly recommend making at least one tandem skydive. Tandem skydiving enables you to have a taste of the skydiving experience without the pressure of having to perform or the onus of being solo. A tandem skydive gives you the chance to see if skydiving is the right fit before you make the financial commitment it takes to learn to skydive.

If you’re already sure skydiving is for you, keep reading for more detail on the different costs of getting into skydiving.

Skydive Certification Cost

We won’t lie: there is a heavy front-end investment in becoming a skydiver. To achieve skydiving certification, you will need to accrue a minimum of 25 skydives.

For this 25 jump skydiving progression, you have two options: pay as you go or pay upfront.

If paid jump by jump, the skydiving certification cost for the 25 skydives is $4766*. For some, taking it bit by bit, level by level, best suits their financial situation.

However, in our humble opinion, it is far more economical to take advantage of our package pricing. If you can pre-pay your 25 jump A license package, you will receive $100 off the package price and ten FREE skydives (including parachute rental). We’ll do the math for you: that’s a $620 value.

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Regardless of the path you choose, we think it’s important to celebrate your success. This is why we also offer a graduation bonus! If you complete your entire A License progression with us at Skydive Orange, you’ll receive six free skydives including gear rental. (For the record, that’s a $370 value!)

*We also offer discounts for payments in cash versus payments in credit. A full price breakdown of our AFF program can be found here .

Skydiving Gear Cost

Once you’re a licensed skydiver, you’ll want to begin thinking about getting your very own gear. So, how much does skydiving equipment cost?

Well, honestly, it’s going to depend on which piece of skydiving equipment you’re interested in.

Skydiving GearBrand New Cost
Digital Skydiving Altimeter$300-$400
Automatic Activation Device~$1200
Main Parachute~$2500
Reserve Parachute$1465-$1750

While you may be tempted to try to get everything shiny and new, the sticker shock can be a knockout. Don’t worry: most skydivers have a piecemeal ensemble of new and used items!

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Solo Skydive Cost

At Skydive Orange, we have a bit of a choose your own adventure situation. We offer three different skydiving options. The solo skydive cost will depend on which option you choose. You can skydive on a “low pass” (an altitude of 5,500’) for $23, a full altitude jump (an altitude of 13,500’) for $28, or a high altitude jump (an altitude of 17,500’) for $38.

Reap the Rewards

There’s no denying that becoming a skydiver requires an investment, but, also, like any good investment, skydiving offers a pretty impressive return.

The skydiving journey isn’t the same for everyone. However, nearly every skydiver can attest to the improved level of confidence they attain through the pursuit of their skydiving license and long after as they discover new niches of skydiving to explore. Getting your A License is just the first step. The best part about it all is that you don’t have to “go it alone.” Skydivers are a unique breed. Even after that first jump, you’ll be welcomed into the fold and join a special group set on making the most of every moment.

The rewards are worth every bit of the cost of skydiving. Like we say in skydiving, “To those who jump, no explanation is necessary. For those who don’t, no explanation is possible.”

Give us the chance to show you our world, begin your skydiving adventure today!

How To Become A Professional Skydiver, Or Close To It

How To Become A Professional Skydiver, Or Close To It

Skydiving is perhaps the definitive bucket list experience, but it is also much more than that. Since people realized that you could jump out of airplanes for fun, skydiving has grown into a leisure activity, hobby and even a competitive sport. Professional skydivers have various roles, but all have a couple of things in common – they are not superhuman, and everybody starts with a first jump. Here is a bit more information about what goes into a professional skydiving career.

Tandem Skydiving

Tandem skydiving was first developed in the early 1980s and has since grown into a global industry, with constantly evolving techniques and technology helping numbers expand year after year. The ability to have highly experienced instructors introduce people to skydiving after just a small amount of training opened up the potential of the industry as a full-time career, and is an essential part of skydiving operating at a much larger scale.

Tandem instructors not only need to be very experienced and qualified, but must also be good with people, as they guide them though what is likely one of the most intense (and awesome) experiences of their lives. To become a tandem instructor in the United States, you must have completed at least 500 skydives.

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Camera Work

Your very first skydive is an amazing experience, and capturing it in photos and on video to share with your friends and family is an important part. You’ll want to have a qualified camera flyer jump with you in freefall and record the action from a third, or “outside,” perspective. Flying camera is traditionally the first job that people get in the industry that pays them to jump, and you can start doing this when you have more than 200 jumps. It’s a way to build skill and experience before moving on to other areas of employment.


Teaching people to skydive for themselves can be a very rewarding thing to do, and for many professional skydivers this represents an important career goal. To become an instructor in the United States, you need over 800 jumps. Instructing can be a job on its own, but just as likely by the time people get to this stage they also continue to do the other things as well. Skydiving is a diverse sport, and can represent a varied and involved career. By the time you become an instructor, you will likely already have occupied many of the other roles on the dropzone – all of which give you the correct experience to pass on to others.

Other Things

Packing Skydiving Parachutes is a traditional way to earn money to pay for jumps, and completely immerses you in dropzone culture. Learning while on the ground, and simply spending time in and around the sport, is extremely important.

Coaching is something you can do once you have developed enough skill in a particular area that other qualified skydivers will pay you to share your knowledge with them. Many professional skydivers use coaching to supplement their other work, but the very best can make a living from coaching alone.

Dropzone Operations involves all of the various ground-based tasks that keep a skydiving operation running – such as manifesting all the jumps or editing video. There are also all the non-skydiving related things like groundskeeping and facility management, which keep you close to the action until you’re ready.

How Do I Get Involved?

Start skydiving! Becoming a professional skydiver might seem as though it involves a staggering number of jumps, but everyone starts with zero jumps and builds from there.

A tandem skydive is by far the most accessible way to experience skydiving for the first time. Once you get involved and start hanging out at the dropzone, you will be surprised at how those jumps numbers start to creep up. There is no professional skydiving course that will take you all the way to being an instructor, but the things listed above are established stepping stones and guidelines for how to be a professional skydiver.

Jumping out of aeroplanes for fun is potentially life-changing, and those that work in the sport are simply people that tried it once and then wished to do it again, and again, and again. It all starts with that first jump, though, so book it with Skydive OC today!




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