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How to Become a Licensed Skydiver


Start Skydiving Posted by: Start Skydiving 8 months ago

Are you ready to take your love of skydiving to new heights? Whether you’ve completed a tandem skydive or not, you can be ready to start your journey toward earning your skydiving license. If you’re wondering, “can I skydive by myself”, the answer is yes and we have all the details on how to become a certified skydiver and get you flying solo through the sky!

How Do You Get Certified to Skydive?

Becoming a licensed skydiver isn’t exactly a walk in the park. It takes a lot of dedication, commitment, and a thorough understanding of the safety of skydiving. The most popular way to achieve your skydiving certification is through the Accelerated Freefall (AFF) Program. This structured training program is recognized by the United States Parachute Association (USPA) and is designed to guide beginner skydivers from their first jump to becoming qualified, A-licensed skydivers. The program includes classroom time, training materials, one-on-one instruction, all required jumps, and gear rental. Please note that you must be at least 18 years old and weigh less than 235 lbs to participate in the AFF program.

Requirements for a USPA A License

USPA skydiving licenses serve as an official documentation, recognized by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and all other USPA-member dropzones, proving that the individual performed the duties necessary and has the knowledge and skills to skydive properly. Once you become a licensed skydiver, dropzones will use this license number to check if your license is valid and current before your jump. The USPA A License is the first you will receive after completing the necessary requirements to become a certified skydiver. From there, the A license will serve as a prerequisite to achieve other licenses such as: B, C, and D licenses. Here is what is required to receive your USPA A License according to the USPA:

  • Completed/passed 25 freefall jumps
  • Completed, signed, and stamped USPA A License Proficiency Card (must be sent within 60-days of validation)
  • Complete five group freefall skydives involving at least two participants
  • Passed the written and oral USPA A License Exams
  • USPA Membership

AFF Skydiving Program: The Breakdown

The AFF program begins with a skydiving ground school, where an AFF instructor will teach you everything you need to know in a classroom setting before doing the real thing. This opens the floor for any questions/concerns you may have and gives you that hands-on experience before your jump. AFF skydiving typically includes 7 – 9 levels, each focusing on specific skills and tasks. On the first few jumps, you’ll be accompanied by certified AFF Instructors who will provide hands-on guidance while in freefall. As you progress throughout the program, you’ll gradually take on more responsibilities and independence until you are ready to take on solo jumps. 

The Integrated Student Program (ISP) developed by the USPA is a comprehensive training outline that meets the USPA Basic Safety Requirements (BSRs) – it can be used as a guide, giving skydiving centers the freedom to develop their own student programs with a twist (as long as all qualifications are met through the USPA). Here is the breakdown of the Jump Institute AFF Program at Start Skydiving:

  • AFF Ground School (or First Jump Course): 4-8 hours of ground school training where you will learn all of the necessary skills to begin your jumping journey.
  • AFF Cat-A Jump: Two-instructor jump
  • AFF Cat-B Jump: Leg extension and heading control
  • AFF Cat-C1 Jump: First two-instructor release-dive
  • AFF Cat-C2 Jump: First solo-instructor release-dive
  • AFF Cat-D1 Jump: Right and left 90-degree turns
  • AFF Cat-D2 Jump: Right and left 180 and 360-degree turns
  • AFF Cat-E1 Jump: Right and left barrel-rolls
  • AFF Cat-E2 Jump: Back-loops and front-loops
  • AFF Cat-E3 Jump: First unsupervised solo free fall jump
  • Coach Jumps: Categories F-H5
  • Continued-Education Coach Jumps
  • Self-Supervised Solo Student Jumps
  • A License Checkout-Dive
  • Parachute Packing Class

How Much Does it Cost to Become a Licensed Skydiver?

Skydive license prices can vary depending on location and the specific dropzone you decide to get your license at. Your skydiving certification can be paid in full or paid as you go – usually there is a hefty discount associated with paying the license in full. 

Here at Start Skydiving we offer our extensive program for $3,460 (at a 20% discount) if paid in full as compared to the total of $4,325 if paid per jump. This may sound like a lot at first but when you break it down and consider all that goes into it (25 jumps, all gear rental for each jump, and dedicated instruction) it can be easier to understand. Especially when you compare it to the tandem skydiving price of $279. At Start Skydiving, we do not require a tandem skydive, however, any tandem skydives you have made will count towards the 25 jump requirement for your license.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Skydiving Certification?

AFF is a self-paced program that depends on your availability and commitment. This means the more often you jump, the quicker you will progress and complete the program. The AFF program can be completed in as little as two weeks, but most students take about a month or more to complete the program. Students must jump every 30 days to stay current or they may have to repeat the first jump course.

Not all skydiving centers provide a skydive school, so we suggest researching “AFF skydiving near me” to get the best results. Make sure to read reviews, check their safety record and inquire about training methods. Remember, safety should always be your top priority when choosing a skydiving training center.
Come see what makes our AFF program at Start Skydiving truly one of a kind and book your AFF First Jump Course today! Blue skies.