How to get into the Skydiving Business as a Seasonal Worker
So, no one goes into skydiving and gets a job jumping right away. That just does not happen. First of all, with USPA requirements you need to fulfill your licenses in order to get paid to jump, and even then, with all the training, courses, gear, and actual jumps you are looking at 15 to 20 thousand dollars to get a Tandem Rating.
This post is not directed towards getting a Tandem Rating. Instead, it’s how to get a seasonal job skydiving by working from the bottom as a parachute packer into what you want out of the sport. So ask yourself these two questions?
Do I want to progress Skydiving?
Do I want to supplement my traveling instead and treat this soley as seasonal work?
Why am I phrasing it this way? Well, partially because the more you travel, the less you work, and the more you work the less you travel. So if you plan on progressing in the sport of skydiving, whether it be to get a D License, work on crew, learn to swoop, freefly or progress at belly flying, this all takes practice, which in turn, TAKES MONEY and lots of it. If you want to travel place-to-place with destinations in mind, going job to job, then yes, you can skydive and travel, but if you want to wander around and you want to skydive, it is really hard to get to the level you need to increase your skill set without spending all your money on skydiving, gear, jumps, etc. Once you’ve answered the questions above, ask yourself the following?
Am I willing to do unpaid training to learn how to pack parachutes in order to gain a skill that can be used worldwide to make money?
If you’re not willing to put in the work, time, and effort to work for free and learn to pack, then this is not the seasonal job for you. Why do I say this? Because no one is going to hire you if you don’t know what you’re doing, train you to pack, and give you paid training to get good at it. They will hire you if you’re willing to put in the time and effort to learn to pack. They will show you how to pack and work with you. But they will not pay you while you’re learning. So what does this mean. Have a little cash saved up to eat for a few weeks before you get good enough to start making money packing fun jumpers and tandem rigs.
So I want to learn how to pack. I’m driven, willing to learn, will put in the hard work to fold that nylon in the deployment bag, but what do I do next? Is wanting to learn enough?
Sadly, no it’s not. You need to peruse the Internet. You need to check out the employment section of Dropzone.com and look for Drop Zones that are willing to train you to pack. I would look into smaller Drop Zones, which are smaller operations running slower planes, that aren’t tandem factories because they won’t be concerned with speed. Don’t bother applying to turbine Drop Zones if you have little to no experience, these places want both speed and efficiency. They need to know you can perform meticulous tasks and pack the upwards of 20 to 30+ tandem rigs a day, every day. This is too much in the beginning. Check the site for Cessna 182 operations. Check Google and search for small operations in the area of where you are that are looking for a packer to train, will offer lodging or tent camping, and will pay you as an employee or under the table.
Avoid Drop Zones that want to hire you as a contractor. They require you to fill out information with the Government to get an LLC so they don’t have to give you health benefits and so they save money on their taxes at the end of the year. It’s great if you aren’t working seasonal jobs, going from place to place, but otherwise it’s a pain in the ass to file taxes at the end of the year with no address. They don’t take taxes out of your paycheck this way so in essence you will owe the Government money. It will come back to haunt you if you ever settle down. If not, keep at it.
Questions to ask about Seasonal Work Skydiving?
Do they offer on-site lodging or tent camping?
Do they have a grill, stove, shower, or any of those amenities on site for employees?
What Tandem system do they use, Sigma or Strong?
How many parachutes must I pack to pay for my Unpaid training? (Some Drop Zones teach you, but have a trial period of 10 pack jobs before you get paid to make sure you have no malfunctions or you don’t forget to set the brakes and have a blow out).
How much will I be paid for each sport parachute I pack? (Usually $5 to $7 USD per chute)
How much will I be paid for each tandem parachute? (Usually $10 to $15 USD per chute)
Will I be expected to do unpaid work on top of my parachute packing? (Normally tandem catching is included)
Do you offer discounts on Accelerated Free Fall and Basic A Licensure programs if I choose to get into skydiving?
Do you offer discounts on gear rental or free gear rental for employees? (Normally this is free for employees)
Is there the opportunity to get a rig ticket through your company?
Will a monthly schedule be given to me prior to starting or is it on a day-to-day basis? (weather is a big factor in most areas)
Do you pay in cash, check or requirement me have my own LLC in order to work for your company? (This is the biggest one and most important, don’t assume)
How many packers work at the Drop Zone already? This is a big one as they will be taking money from you and a small operation should really only have 1 person or at the most 2 packers.
Other Seasonal Work Skydiving that Pays
- Video Editing
- Camera Flying (typically 200 to 300 jump minimums, more likely 300 because you must shoot decent video to get paid, not really an introductory job, but if you pack a few years you can get into this line of work)
- Tandem Jumping (huge down payment to get here, not really worth it in my opinion, but then again, I’ve never had the money for this)
If you are interested in more seasonal jobs check out this post here that details all the different types of seasonal work you can do while you’re traveling to make some extra money.