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How Much Do Skydiving Instructors Make?


Wisconsin Skydiving Center Posted by: Wisconsin Skydiving Center 4 months ago

For many, skydiving isn’t just a one-time thing or a weekend hobby, it’s a lifestyle. Enter the world of skydiving instructors: we’re thrill-seeking professionals who are passionate about introducing newcomers to the beauty of soaring the skies. There are two types of instructors in skydiving: tandem instructors and solo skydiving instructors, which include Accelerated Freefall (AFF), Instructor Assisted Deployment (IAD), and Static Line (SL) instructors. 

At Wisconsin Skydiving Center, we utilize the most comprehensive method for solo instruction, AFF Progression and proudly offer tandem skydiving experiences, so that’s what this article will focus on. Strap in to dive head-first into questions about working in the industry: 

  • Can you make money as a skydiver?
  • How much do skydive instructors make? 
  • How to make a living skydiving without being an instructor? 
Woman giving a thumbs up after her first tandem skydive.

How Can You Make Money As A Skydiver? 

Making money skydiving happens when you’re committed to the industry! This typically starts with getting your solo skydiving license, the USPA (United States Parachute Association) A-license, followed by the B, C, and D. The D-license is the most difficult to obtain, requiring 500 jumps and three hours of freefall time, among other criteria. Only once a skydiver achieves the D-license are they able to even begin thinking about obtaining their tandem instructor rating. 

For example, a typical progression for an aspiring instructor could be: Tandem skydive, A-license, B-license, coach rating, C-license, videographer, AFF-I, D-license, tandem instructor rating, and so forth! The avenues of progression, the opportunities presented along the way, and the many disciplines of the sport make skydiving a virtually endless adventure! 

Although it may be common to search, “how to make a living skydiving,” before even stepping foot on a dropzone, it’s much more standard for someone to fall in love with the sport and decide to pursue it professionally out of a passion to share it with others, not the other way around. Skydivers, and especially instructors, are emotionally and physically committed to bettering the sport as a whole, and this motivation isn’t monetary! 

How Much Do Skydive Instructors Make In The US? 

In the US, skydiving instructor salaries are a bit all over the board. Why? Like any other profession, salary varies widely based on geographic location, the size and services of the dropzone, demand for the offerings of the dropzone, and working hours (many skydiving instructors work part-time).

How much do skydiving instructors make? An AFF instructor (AFF-I) is generally paid per jump and this rate varies based on which level the solo student is pursuing. 

How much do tandem skydive instructors make? A rough figure is anywhere between $20,000 and $80,000 per year. According to RedBull, the average is around $35,000. 

Man smiling with joy during skydiving freefall at Wisconsin Skydiving Center near Chicago

How Much Do Skydiving Instructors Make Per Jump? 

Good question! Most dropzones compensate their instructors per jump. Some pay per hour, but that’s rare. The amount a tandem instructor makes per jump is based on a few factors: 

  • What gear are they jumping – is it the dropzone’s, or do they own it? 
  • Are they shooting part of the video, or will this all be left to the professional videographer?
  • What about tips? We can’t give a solid answer to this question, everyone is different! 

Wait … are tips mandatory? Nope! In skydiving, tips are always appreciated, but never expected. Ultimately, we’re just happy you got to do an awesome skydive! 

How Many Jumps Can A Skydiver Do In A Day? 

Well TECHNICALLY, you can do 640 skydives in a single day. At least, that’s the standing world record! It’s critical to note that skydiving carries inherent, calculated risk, and this increases with exhaustion. Because they always put safety at the forefront, tandem skydiving instructors will typically tap out around 10 or 20 jumps per day. 

How To Make Money Skydiving Without Being An Instructor 

Skydiving is a lucrative business for people with all sorts of skills! Here are some other jobs in skydiving: 

  • Packing

Does not require jumping. Parachute packers are paid per pack job, typically making $8 to $10 for student or solo jumper rigs and $12 to $15 for tandem rigs. Being on the packing mat is not for the faint of heart; packing parachutes is hard work! But work that’s filled with camaraderie and immediate positive results (people getting to skydive!) is sooo worth it. 

  • Manifesting

Does not require jumping. “Manifest” is a verb and a noun on the dropzone. It refers to the place that skydivers go to sign up for a load, as well as the act of adding their name to the list – so, you go to Manifest to manifest! Think of “working manifest” as admin work with a bunch of awesome skydivers. You can’t beat it!

  • Ground Crew 

Does not require jumping. We couldn’t do what we do without any of these positions, but especially this one! The ground crew is responsible for keeping the airplane fueled and things running smoothly in the loading area. 

  • Pilot 

Does not require jumping. Jump pilots are typically paid per load flown. A major perk of flying jumpers is gaining experience; being able to accrue flight time while hanging out with a bunch of jumpers is fantastic fun. 

  • Videographer

Requires jumping. Shooting video for tandems is massively fun. Videographers get to experience the joy of first-time jumpers without being responsible for them like an instructor is. They take pride in their work and become pretty sick belly flyers from chasing tandems around the sky! 

  • Coach

Requires jumping. Skydivers are able to obtain their “coach rating” once they’ve reached 100 jumps and are permitted to jump with recent AFF graduates. Coaching is an extremely rewarding part of progression through the sport.  

Ready to dive into the skydiving realm and discover your newfound passion? Book your first jump with us – we can’t wait to show you what we’re all about! Blue skies.