If you’ve made a tandem jump or two and you’ve fallen in love with skydiving, you might be wondering how to get a skydiving license. The process of learning how to become a skydiving instructor starts with your very first jump, and if you want to go further, you’ll need to complete the USPA Integrated Student Program with the instructors at our Jump School! The USPA ISP includes eight categories—at the end of the process, you’ll earn your USPA A license. From there, you can continue your training to move from “Coach” to “Instructor” to “Examiner”.
While skydiving certification costs will vary by student, they’re worth it if you’re considering becoming a skydiving instructor or a sport skydiver looking to break some records in Bozeman, MT.
The Integrated Student Program consists of eight categories that each student must progress through in order to become licensed. We’ve laid out the basic elements of each category below:
Category A & Category B
The difference between skydiving license category A and B lies in your level of proficiency:
- Category A signifies that you have the skills to successfully complete a jump on your own. Tandem students will need to demonstrate reasonable arch and stability control, show reasonable altitude awareness, and initiate canopy deployment procedures within 1,000 feet of the assigned deployment altitude.
- Category B certification is earned when you can demonstrate stability within ten seconds of leaving the aircraft and initiate deployment within 500 feet of the assigned altitude.
Category C – H
Before you move on to Category C, you’ll spend some time in class. Ground school at our Boise, ID or Coeur d’Alene, ID location involves preparing for your first solo jump. Attendance is required, and can be completed at any time: while in Category A, in between Categories A and B, or after you’ve reached Category B. This portion of the skydiving certification costs $98.
Before you make your first solo jump you’ll need to purchase a few pieces of equipment. You should already own your goggles from your first jump. Consult with your instructor on the best kind of helmet to purchase. We also recommend that you buy your own altimeter at this point, but it’s not required.
You’ll also need to join the USPA before your first solo jump. Make sure you apply early so you don’t find yourself waiting for approval.
Once you’ve completed ground school, acquired the necessary equipment, and gotten your USPA membership, you can train for your first solo jump! Category C focuses on relaxed freefall, how to plan a canopy pattern to fit the wind speeds and avoid obstacles, how to deal with turbulence, and more high-level skydiving skills. It ends with a quiz.
You’ll build your skydiving skills by learning how to do controlled 90-degree, 180-degree, and 360-degree spins while in freefall with a minimum of three jumps and a quiz to show your proficiency.
This is where you really get to enrich your skills by adding barrel rolls and flips in freefall, then regaining your stability. By the end of Category E, you should be ready to self-supervise and demonstrate parachute-packing skills. You’ll also need to get a passing score on the USPA A-License written exam, and have an instructor sign off on your logbook. This level requires three jumps and costs $298-$338 per jump. You should also have your own altimeter by the end. Congratulations! You’re now able to jump alone or with an instructor!
These self-guided categories give you the opportunity to expand your skills while preparing you for skydiving in groups in freefall and under canopy. All that’s left is the A-License Proficiency Card closed-book exam, and 25 completed jumps to make you a fully licensed skydiver.
Earning Your USPA A License
After you’ve completed your A-License proficiency exam, you’ll want to continue jumping until you’ve completed at least 50 drops. At this point, you’re eligible to apply for a B License,
B License holders are eligible, after 100 jumps, to apply for the USPA Coach Rating, USPA Coaches are entitled to act as supervised assistants to USPA Instructors and teach specific portions of the first-jump course.
After 200 jumps, involving at least 60 minutes of controlled freefall, you can apply for a C License. From here, you can train to apply for one of several USPA Instructor certifications. The IAD, AFF, and Tandem certifications (among others) each have different requirements, so be sure to do your research and plan ahead when you’re deciding which certification is right for you. It’s also worth noting that the various manufacturers of tandem skydiving equipment each require specific training that goes along with their gear. Generally speaking, USPA Instructors are entitled to conduct skydiving training.
If you want to go further in your training, you can become a USPA Examiner. Earning your D License requires a total of 500 jumps.
How Many Jumps Do You Need to Become a Skydiving Instructor?
Learning how to become a skydiving instructor takes time. For most students, the full process takes around three years to complete—but what does this timeline look like in practice? How many jumps do you need to become a skydiving instructor, anyway? The answer will vary depending on your goals. You can become a Coach with as few as 100 jumps, or you might decide to pursue IAD or Static Line instructor certifications with as few as 200. On the other end of the spectrum, you’ll need at least 500 jumps to work as a Tandem instructor. To become fully licensed as an examiner, you’ll need to complete thousands of jumps.
How Much Do Skydiving Instructors Make?
While many people get their skydiving license so they can compete for records, or just to expand their skills, some people love it so much they opt to go pro. How much do skydiving instructors make? During jumping season, DZONE® instructors will make around $30,000 to $40,000 with tips.
What’s It Like to Work as a Skydiver?
Skydiving instruction isn’t just a job—it’s a lifestyle. Generally speaking, skydiving instructors work as contractors on a 1099 basis, and are paid by the jump. Here at DZONE®, tandem instructors make at least $45 per jump, and up to $90 per jump if the skydiver requests videos and/or still photos. Since contractors can work as much or as little as they like, many skydiving instructors do it as a hobby or a part-time job.
If you decide to pursue skydiving instruction on a more consistent basis, you might even chase the summer as you move from place to place! By becoming a contractor, you’ll be entitled to write off expenses related to your career. Just remember to get an accountant who can help with that side of the work!
Get A Skydiving License With DZONE®!
No matter which level of skydiving licensing you want, you can get it with DZONE®! Take a look at our Jump School to find out how to get started.