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How To Become a Professional Skydiver

Learn To Skydive

How To Become A Professional Skydiver

9 to 5 grind getting to you? Office life not your thing? Thinking of changing your career trajectory?

How about skywards?

The Chattanooga Skydiving team of instructors all make a living doing what they love every day. Here, we describe the process from zero to hero of becoming a professional skydiver.

Zero Skydives: Do a Tandem Skydive

It all starts with your first tandem skydive – if the skydiving life is for you, it only takes one jump to know for sure. At the Chattanooga Skydiving Company, your tandem also begins your TDS course.

1 Skydive: Get Your Skydiving License

Skydivers must first earn their A license. The minimum jump requirement to achieving a skydiving license is 25 jumps. This can be via either a TDS (tandem direct supervision) or an AFF (accelerated free fall course).

Skydiving certification courses involve a day of ground school. You then progress through a series of instructed jumps, known as levels, skydiving solo but accompanied by an instructor in free fall.

After your levels, you continue skydiving solo to accumulate 25 jumps for your A licence. During these jumps, you prove a range of skydiving safety skills to complete you A licence proficiency card. An instructor or coach teaches you these skills.

Learn to skydive packages save you hundreds of dollars over this process. If you know that you want your licence, invest in one.

25 Skydives: You’ve Got Your Skydiving License, Build Your Skills

You have your A licence, and you are free to fun jump with other skydivers! Whilst you’re at it, you are working on ticking off the requirements for your B, C and D licences.

You’ve outlaid a lot of moolah to get to this point, but the good news is you can start earning from the sport now.

Fund your jumping by being paid to pack parachutes for busy experienced skydivers and students. This is your first entry point towards making some good money in the sport. Packing parachutes is hard work, but it pays well and will help offset your jump tickets to rack up your jump numbers while you pursue your instructor ratings.

Charting Your Progress

JumpsAction StepsNotes
0Make a Tandem SkydiveNo experience? Try a tandem skydive first!
1Begin skydiving lessons to achieve your skydiving license with a TDS.You loved your first jump? Time to get your license!
25Jump a lot and learn a lot!Having a license allws you to jump with others. 25 jups may seem like a lot, but it’s not! Lots to learn still! The more you jump, the better you’ll get!
100Coach RatingNow you’ve got 100 jumps under your belt, you can apply for your Coach rating to help other new jumpers with their progression. Having a coach rating is necessary for more ratings down the line.
200Skydiving PhotographerNow you have 200 jumps, you can start flying with a camera. Hone your skills as a camera flyer so you can make money in the sport capturing photos and video of first timers making a tandem skydive!
500AFF & Tandem RatingThere’s a lot of experience to be gained between your 100th jump and 500th, but you’ve made it! Now you’re ready to pursue either an AFF or Tandem rating… or both!

(Eyes On The Prize)

Tip: Get to know everyone at the dropzone. Make yourself useful where you can. Build relationships with the existing instructors, staff and regulars. You will need their help to pursue your ratings.You should already be thinking about which instructor ratings you want to pursue – AFF, tandem, or both. Most full-time instructors have both.

100 Skydives: Get Your Coach Rating

With your B licence and 100 skydives, you can attend a Coach Certification Course. As a coach you can jump with students doing their pre-A license solos and teach those essential skills.

You’re getting close. You should be spending a lot of time on the dropzone, jumping, earning, and shadowing instructors.

200 Skydives: Become a Skydiving Photographer

Another milestone and a great way to make some money in the sport… become a skydiving cameraflyer (that title would look good on a business card wouldn’t it?). Practice your interview skills, and definitely learn to get your subjects in frame while falling at 120mph!

500 Skydives: Get Your AFF Instructor Rating

C licence and a completed AFF instructor proficiency card (signed by instructors on the dropzone) will get you on a USPA AFF instructor course. The course takes a week and then you’re ready to teach skydiving.

This rating allows you to teach ground schools, all levels of AFF and levels C to I of TDS. Congratulations, you are now a professional skydiver!

If you have decided you want your tandem rating, this requires 500 jumps as well, but also a D license.

500 Skydives: Get Your Tandem Instructor Rating

As an AFF instructor, getting to 500 jumps will happen so fast. Becoming a tandem instructor requires another proficiency card and another course. Once complete, you can begin taking students tandem jumping for experience skydives or TDS.


You now have both your ratings and are working (jumping) hard day in day out. You’re not only getting to do the world’s best sport all day, but also introducing others to it.

Living the dream in 500 jumps – this can be achieved within two years and for some who commit to it solely… even a year!

What are you doing sitting there? Book your skydiving course!

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