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How to get paid to skydive

Working at a skydiving center, or dropzone, is like any other job – sometimes fun, sometimes stressful. You have co-workers, a water cooler, and there actually are people that sit at a computer most of the day! Working at a dropzone is also very much NOT like other jobs – safety is more critical than ever, weather is a major factor, and people falling from the sky is normal.

Regardless, maybe you’re a bit curious about what it takes to get paid to skydive. Many people make their first tandem skydive and immediately after, they want to know how they can work as a skydiver. There are so many questions, but mainly – “what does it take to do this?

While it might seem pretty far out there or out of reach, it’s actually more attainable than you might think. Below is some helpful information if you’ve been curious.

Types of skydiving jobs:

Typically, you’ll find 4 types of people getting paid to skydive at a dropzone:

Tandem Skydiving Instructors

  • Tandem Instructors are usually the most recognizable at a dropzone that everyone knows gets paid to skydive. Tandem Instructors take tandem students on skydives, harnessing the student to them for the duration of the jump.
  • To enter the USPA Tandem Instructor Rating Course (which includes classroom instruction, practical testing, and jumps) you have to have a minimum of 3 years in the sport of skydiving, have a minimum of 500 jumps on a ram-air canopy, hold another instructional rating, hold a USPA D License, and show a current FAA class 3 medical certificate.

AFP/AFF Instructors

  • AFP or AFF Instructors teach brand new students how to skydive. AFP/AFF Instructors teach, execute the jump, pass/fail beginning skydivers until the student qualifies for solo status.
  • To enter the AFF/AFP Certification Course, you have to have a minimum of 500 jumps, hold a UPSA C License, accumulate 6 hours of freefall time, hold another instructional rating, and complete a proficiency card of additional requirements.


  • A skydive Coach can teach the general sections of the first jump course (ground training before AFP/AFF) and train and supervise students for group skydiving skills. Coaches work under the supervision of Instructors.
  • A skydive Coach has to have a minimum of 100 jumps, hold a USPA B License, and complete the Coach Certification Course.


  • There are some dropzones that have people that film video of the tandem skydives with a camera usually on their helmet.
  • Commonly known as “outside video”, this is where the videographer jumps with the tandem pair, but separately, and films the video from around the tandem.

There are other skydiving jobs at the dropzone, too!

If you’re interested in the industry and curious about the non-skydiving jobs around a dropzone, here is some information on each.

parachute packers at Skydive Santa Barbara

Manifest – The first smiling faces you’ll see when you “check in” to skydive, these are the awesome people that work with all skydivers (both tandem students, fun jumpers and instructors) to keep the airplane loads efficiently moving throughout the day. They welcome and help you check in for your jump (including your waiver), prep you for your jump and answer any additional questions you might have.

Parachute Packers – These hard workers you see packing the parachutes at the skydive center are dedicated to packing the main parachutes that are jumped throughout each day.

Video Editors – Typically in a back office, there is usually at least one person editing tandem student videos all day.

Interested in Working with Us? Try the Skydive Santa Barbara Experience First-Hand by Jumping with Us!

If you have any other questions about getting into the skydiving industry, feel free to send us a message or give us a call! If you want to begin your skydiving career or see if it’s for you, we suggest booking a tandem skydive now and this quick read on what you need to know before your first tandem skydive. See you soon!

Blue Skies,

– The Skydive Santa Barbara Team

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