If you want to know how to become a skydiving instructor, you’re in the right place. We’ve outlined all the information you need to know, from getting your licenses to the physical requirements.
Read up on the requirements
Section 4 of the British Parachute Association (BPA) Operations Manual states that to begin training as a skydiving instructor, you need a BPA C Licence and must have completed 60 descents in the last two years.
You also need to have been involved in sports parachuting for two years and have received a recommendation from a Chief Instructor belonging to a BPA Affiliated Parachute Training Organisation (PTO). This person will have known you for at least six months and seen you regularly parachute in that time.
If the above sounds quite daunting, don’t panic. We’ve broken down the steps you need to take to get your A, B and C Licenses from the BPA, and included some of the main requirements for each qualification:
- Canopy Handling (CH) Grade 1: This is what you need to apply for an A License. To obtain a CH Grade 1, you need to execute flat turns on at least three descents, increase the range of the canopy using the toggles on at least three descents and complete a written examination.
- A License: You need to be CH Grade 1-qualified and have been awarded the Category 8 certification. This requires you to have completed a minimum of 10 consolidation jumps.
- B License: You need a BPA A Licence, 50 descents and at least CH Grade 2 and JM Grade 1. Among other criteria, CH Grade 2 requires you to have completed five of 10 pre-declared safe landings. To get a JM Grade 1 qualification, you must demonstrate the ability to ‘spot’ correctly from at least 10,000 ft above ground level.
- C License: This is the holy grail for skydiving instructors. To get your C License, you need a BPA B Licence, 200 descents and at least one further ‘Grade 1’.
This is a basic overview of the requirements, and the criteria are different if you want to become an international skydiving instructor. Visit the BPA’s website if you want to find out more.
Consider your age and agility
Becoming a skydiving instructor not only requires a certain level of experience, it requires a specific physical profile.
The minimum age at which you can legally skydive is 16 years old. If you’re aged between 16 and 18 years old, you’ll need the signed consent of a parent or legal guardian. While there isn’t technically an age limit for skydiving, the maximum age for enrolling on an Accelerated Free Fall (AFF) course is 55 years old.
Your physique is also an essential factor. A common skydiving misconception is that it’s just ‘falling’ when in reality, core strength is key to stabilising your body in mid-air and landing correctly.
The maximum allowable weight to go skydiving is usually around 14 stone for females and 16 stone for males, although this requirement varies from centre to centre. Your body mass index (BMI) will also be taken into account and ideally should be no higher than 25.
Investigate drop zones
If you want to know where you can train to become a skydiving instructor, there are 32 drop zones in the UK for you to choose from. The two main things you need to look for when exploring these drop zones are distance and reviews.
How far from where you live is the nearest drop zone and is it feasible to travel to and from there every day?
If the reviews aren’t the best, look at what others have said and consider whether you would still want to train there. These reviews are primarily based on the people, the area and the rates (which will vary from drop zone to drop zone).
Research the costs and working conditions
There is a range of costs associated with skydiving, as anyone who’s been doing it for a while will tell you.
Firstly, the equipment costs. From helmets and altimeters to canopies and jumpsuits, there’s a lot of gear you need before a skydive. A basic ‘rig’ or parachute pack containing the six essential skydiving items costs around £1,500-2,000 on average.
Then there is the cost of a jump. Most drop zones in the UK will charge around £20 per jump if you have your own parachute equipment. If you don’t have your own equipment, you can rent what you need for roughly £10 per jump.
There is also the cost of membership to account for – a yearly membership with the BPA costs £106.80.
Looking further ahead, you need to research how much you’ll earn once you’re fully qualified. You will most likely get paid per jump, rather than per hour or year.
Be mindful of the risks
There’s no such thing as a completely safe skydive. Relatively speaking, though, the risk of a serious accident when skydiving is extremely low.
‘Risks’ in skydiving are classified as injuries per 1,000 jumps and as fatalities per 100,000 jumps.
Common injuries include anything from a minor cut, bruise or scratch to fractures, sprains and internal injuries.
Once you’ve become a fully trained skydiver, the likelihood of injury is just over 1 in 3,000, while the fatality rate is just under 1 in 100,000. These rates are so low because all parachuting systems come with numerous safety devices, such as reserve parachutes and an Automatic Activation Device.
However, the risk of fairly innocuous injuries are slightly higher when you’re just starting out. According to the BPA, the injury rates for novice tandem skydivers are 1 in 1500 for men and up to 1 in 900 for women. Again, these stats aren’t anything to lose sleep over, they’re just worth thinking about.
Get specialist skydiving insurance
You’ve read above about some of the risks associated with skydiving – therefore, you need the right insurance to protect yourself against these risks once you get fully qualified.
It only takes one mishap during an instructional jump for someone in your care to get badly injured. If this happens, you could be facing a costly compensation claim and your skydiving instructor career could be over before it’s even taken off.
That’s why Insure4Sport offers Public Liability cover worth up to £10 million for skydiving instructors. This cover includes up to £1 million of Professional Indemnity cover, protecting you from accidents arising from the skydiving advice you give.
We also provide Personal Accident cover to compensate you if you injure yourself and require treatment and Equipment cover if your equipment is lost, damaged or stolen.