How Do I Become A Certified Skydiver

Make no mistake about it: Becoming a licensed skydiver is a challenge. For most of us solo skydiving aficionados, however, it was the most satisfying, rewarding challenge we ever took on, and it has, in turn, led to the most satisfying, rewarding hobby we could imagine ourselves enjoying. Becoming a certified solo skydiver takes effort, commitment, resources and time, but the benefits you’ll reap will enrich your life immeasurably for many years. Seriously. No kiddin’.

If you’re truly interested in getting your skydiving license , we couldn’t be more excited to help you on the first steps of your journey. Since familiarity and forewarning help enormously, here’s a little rundown of what you can expect from the process. Bon voyage!

Decide To Commit.

You’re probably wondering the same thing everybody wonders: How much does it cost to become a certified skydiver? Since that will vary depending on the number of jumps it takes you to pass each level, we can’t give you a hard-and-fast figure. We can, however, tell you that it will indubitably be one of the best investments in yourself and your personal development that you will ever make.

To train students in its AFF skydiving program, Skydive Orange uses the USPA ’s safety-oriented Integrated Student Program (ISP). The ISP curriculum was developed right here at Orange! The ISP program teaches each skydiving student the essential skills she or he will need to skydive competently. The syllabus works through a series of jumps in eight categories (A-H), each of which works toward the 25 jumps that are required in order to earn the USPA’s initial “A” skydiving license. To graduate and nail that license, you must complete 25 freefall jumps, and 19 minutes of freefall time. (Here at Orange, all student jumps are from 13,500’, except for two USPA-mandated “low solo” jumps.)

Making that initial commitment is the first round of the challenge that is skydiving certification. The moment you pick up the phone (or sit down at the keyboard) and ask us to hold your place in our certification program will feel like a skydive in itself–scary, exciting and full of possibility. Enjoy the significance of it!

Complete Your First Jump Course.

You’ll begin your solo skydiving education with a classroom-based First Jump Course. This classroom time lasts about 6-8 hours of thorough on-the-ground training and a written test. During “skydiving school,” you’ll learn a little about the history of the sport, about the equipment, about the different types of malfunctions and about our skydiving procedures ( especially the ones we use in case of emergencies).

Get Your First Jump Done And Dusted.

The first AFF jump is a landmark moment for everyone. Sure, you’ll have two instructors holding on to you until deployment time, but it’s still a toe-tingling challenge to face off with those nerves. Make sure to show up well-rested, nourished, hydrated and stretched because you’ll have your work cut out for you!

Weather permitting, you’ll make your first jump on the same day as your ground school. For that first jump, you’ll leave the plane with two instructors holding securely on to special handles sewn into your jumpsuit. This first jump is a getting-to-know-you affair between you and the sky: It’s about getting acclimated to the sensations of freefall, to altitude awareness, to a stable freefall body position, and to that eventual parachute deployment). You can expect your instructor to hang on right up until s/he has witnessed you deploy your parachute. From there, you’ll listen to ground-crew guidance on the radio to help you navigate safely down to the landing area.

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After your landing (and the resultant flurry of giddy high-fives), your instructors will sit down with you to talk about your jump. This first “debrief” will get you set up for the next steps.

young man makes first jump towards skydiving certification

Work Your Way Down The “To-do” List.

From there, you’ll pass the remaining seven levels of the course. You’ll demonstrate to your instructor(s) that you can safely and stably exit the plane, fall in a stable configuration and stay aware of your heading and altitude. You’ll refine your body position, learn how to control your degree of turn, move close to and away from other jumpers in the sky and execute barrel rolls, front flips and backflips. Finally, of course, you’ll demonstrate those all-important “canopy skills,” proving that you can safely control and navigate your very own parachute using a variety of inputs.

It may sound like a lot to tackle–and it is–but it’s a boiled-down checklist of absolutely necessary skills. You’ll need to demonstrate your mastery of these essentials before your instructor signs off on your completion of the the AFF course.

Take On The Next Steps.

Once you have that USPA A license in hand, you’ll be primed and ready to tackle the next steps. The more advanced skydiving certification levels–the B, C and D licenses–will move you well into your skydiving career, and the ratings you can earn will allow you to do demonstration jumps, participate in incredible airsports events and even teach new jumpers how to skydive. With time, effort and dedication, you can even become a certified skydiver instructor . (For more on this, check out the USPA’s website.)

certified skydivers having fun in the sky

photo by: David Cherry

Get Started. (Today!)

Your AFF first jump course must be scheduled in advance, so get on it! Please contact us to discuss available course dates. View our pricing packages and call us today to book your class!

Please note: You MUST be at least 18 years of age to jump and under 225 lbs. No exceptions!


Maybe you just landed, whooping and hollering with joy, from that first jump. Maybe you’ve been there and done that, and now you’re starting to make your first steps into your future as a licensed sport skydiver. Either way, there’s probably one question that’s looming in your mind: What’s it gonna take to become a certified skydiver? How do I work it so that I can flit around in the sky, fancy-free, in my downtime?

Aspiring sport skydivers, listen up–while learning to skydive does require commitment, a learner’s mind and a sense of adventure, there are a few things that it definitely doesn’t. Here’s what you need to know.

1. It Doesn’t Take A “Need For Speed.”

As you move along your path as a skydiver, people who have never made a jump are going to accuse you of being an “adrenaline junkie.” It’s probably going to happen a lot. By this point, you already know that’s not necessarily true–that you jump for the sense of freedom and for that sparkling flow-state feeling.

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To add to that: the skydiving certification progression was not designed for daredevils. Learning to skydive is a process like any other sport, and the progression has been carefully designed to be gradual to make sure that students are as comfortable as possible as they work their way through it.

2. It Doesn’t Take Trust-fund Status.

Lots of skydivers are cash-strapped, paying for jumps and equipment by saving their pennies during the week and packing parachutes all weekend. Sure, skydiving is an investment–but it’s well worth it, and you’ll find the financial space for it. Everyone else in the sky has done just that!

3. It Doesn’t Take Natural Talent.

There’s a joke circulating on the internet that you’ve probably seen: “If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving is not for you.”

Right. So. That’s funny and all, but it’s not actually, like, true. Skydiving, like every other athletic skill on the planet*, takes lots of practice and commitment to master. The art and sport of skydiving combines a lot of proprioceptive skills, and you’re mastering all of them in a stress-intensive environment. That makes it doubly important to go easy on yourself. If you’re struggling with some aspect of it, you’re not “untalented;” you’re just at a certain point on a long, satisfying journey, and you’re not alone.

Also keep in mind that everyone on the dropzone is working on mastery on some level. If you look closely, you’ll notice that most of the jumpers around you, though they’re at different skill levels, are also striving to be better jumpers. Some may be aiming straight at what they see as perfection; you may notice a high level of self-critique. Don’t get sucked into negative self-talk; it’s important to enjoy the process of learning, accompanied by an open mind to listen and learn.

All that said: We’re pretty sure you’ve got what it takes to become a certified skydiver. Come on over and show us!

*Except for the luge, which is the only Olympic sport that can be performed without the athlete’s consent

Ready to Solo Skydive? Skydiving License Requirements Explained

Many first-time skydivers make the mistake of thinking they’ll be jumping out of an airplane alone. but that’s not how it works.

Any novice’s first few plunges will be tandem jumps , where you’re safely strapped to a certified tandem jump instructor. But how many tandem jumps do you need before going solo?

In this post, we’re talking about solo skydiving requirements: everything you need to know to become a licensed skydiver and freefall solo from any dropzone in the world.

Understanding the Tiers of Skydiving Licensing


After you’ve made a few tandem jumps and caught the skydiving bug, you’ll want to study up on the varying levels of skydiving licensing.

Just like any expert invests hours-upon-hours of work mastering their craft, so too do certified skydivers. They go through rigorous levels of schooling and application to earn higher and higher ranks of skydiving status.

There are four tiers of skydiving licensing , including skydiving A through D licenses, each with more advanced instruction.

Good news though. For you to go solo, you’ll only need a USPA A License.

Solo Skydiving Certification Requirements

Generally speaking, your USPA A License requirements aren’t too extensive when compared to some of the more advanced levels of jump school (like getting your tandem instructor license !)— but it still requires a lot of studying, training and focus to achieve.

You’ll have to take some skydiving classes and learn the basics, such as:

  • Your skydiving equipment – Including all about your harness, parachutes, etc.
  • How to properly exit the aircraft and land
  • Proper body positioning and movement during freefall – This includes controlling your degree of turn, barrel rolls, front flips and backflips
  • Canopy skills – how to control your parachute during the descent and landing
  • Emergency procedures – what to do if something goes wrong.
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Here’s a sneak peek of the USPA’s A License Proficiency Card .

Specific skydiving requirements like on the card include:

  • “Above 2,500 feet, perform a maximum-performance 90-degree toggle turn, followed immediately by a turn of at least 180 degrees in the opposite direction (two times)”
  • “Using an aviation winds aloft forecast, select the correct exit and opening point.”
  • “Change or adjust a main closing loop.”
  • “Jump and deploy while stable within five seconds after exit from 3,500 feet AGL.”

And that’s just a taste. For how many jumps you need to skydive alone, plus more, let’s look at what the United States Parachute Association lists as its solo skydiving requirements:

  1. Complete all requirements laid out by the USPA A License Proficiency Card
  2. Complete a minimum of 25 freefall skydives (including tandems)
  3. Make five skydives with one or more other people
  4. Pass the USPA written and oral exams
  5. Get skydiving license stamped by the USPA

That’s right. You’ll take classes, perform graded challenges and have to take a written exam before you can freefall by yourself. You will also need an active USPA membership for any license to remain current.


You’re probably curious about the solo skydiving classes you’ll need to achieve licensed status. You’ll begin with a ground school course and including instruction on equipment, parachute packing, and flight regulations.

Then, you’re ready for the sky. Your in-air classes are going to vary based on the skydiving center you choose, but if you enroll in the Freefall University here at CSC with our experienced instructors , they can take you through the 7 levels of AFF (Accelerated Freefall) training jumps to learn how to solo skydive. Click each link for a video!

    . Achieve stability, pull on your own and land safely.
    Stable exit, two turns and stable pull.
    Stable exit, unassisted heading control and stable solo pull.
    Stable floating exit, controlled turns, altitude awareness and unassisted pull.
    Solo exit, gain stability unassisted, delta track on instructor’s heading and unassisted pull.
    Unassisted floater exit, circle of awareness, practice touch and barrel roll initiation.
    Diving exit, circle of awareness, practice touch and initiate back loop.

In addition to these observed 1-on-1 jumps with USPA coaches, you’ll leave with the smarts and skills you need to take your written exam and apply for your USPA A license with confidence.

Ready to Go Solo?

If you’re ready for solo skydiving, you’re in luck. Our Chicagoland Skydiving Freefall University (Freefall U) can get you trained and certified in no time.

Click the link above to see our course dates and enroll today.

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Douglas Smith

Douglas Smith

Douglas Smith is CEO/President, and Guest Relations Associate at Chicagoland Skydiving Center. He has owned and operated the business since 2000. He has been skydiving since 1994, and in addition to leading the CSC Team, is currently an instructor, videographer and pilot for CSC.

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