Ask a Rigger |Adding a Rigger Certification to Your Skydiving Portfolio
Ask A Rigger | May 03, 2024
Ask a Rigger |Adding a Rigger Certification to Your Skydiving Portfolio

Ron Bell

Whether you're a casual jumper or someone who holds skydiving ratings and works in the sport part- or full-time, earning a Federal Aviation Administration Senior Rigger Certificate can be a game-changer. Not only does it deepen your involvement and understanding of the sport and equipment, but it also opens up an additional income stream. On those weather-grounded days when you're waiting for the skies to clear, your rigger skills can keep the income flowing. Here's how to get started:

Eligibility and Requirements: First things first, ensure you meet these basic requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Have a good command of English, as the certification process is conducted in English.

Training and Experience: The path to certification involves hands-on experience: packing at least 20 parachutes of the type you want to be certified to pack. You can acquire this experience under the guidance of a certified rigger or at a dedicated rigging school. The training encompasses various aspects of parachute packing, maintenance and repair.

During your training and experience accumulation, it's essential to reference the FAA Parachute Rigger's Handbook. This comprehensive guide offers in-depth knowledge of parachute systems, rigging procedures and maintenance practices, which are crucial for passing your exams and becoming a proficient rigger. It's an invaluable resource for understanding the technical aspects of rigging.

The Written Examination: Your journey begins with a written test conducted at an FAA-approved center covering topics such as parachute systems, rigging procedures and FAA regulations. Online testing apps can help you prepare for these tests. These often ask the same questions you will be presented with when taking the test and will refer you to the material you need to know when you miss a question.  

Oral and Practical Assessments: Following the written test, an oral and practical exam conducted by an FAA Designated Parachute Rigger Examiner (DPRE) awaits. These exams test your practical rigging skills and understanding of relevant regulations. You can find a DPRE on the FAA’s website here: designee.faa.gov/#/designeelocator.

Choosing Your Specialty: Rigger certificates have different parachute-type ratings: back, chest, seat and lap. Although most skydivers will start with a back rating, adding other types can broaden your usefulness around the airport. Nevertheless, select your initial specialty and know that you can expand your qualifications later.

Application Process: Once you've completed your training and logged the required pack jobs, submit your logbook with your application (FAA form 8610-2) to your local FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO). A FSDO representative will schedule an interview to verify everything and sign you off to take the exams. First, you must pass your knowledge (written) exam with a minimum score of 70%, then schedule with the DPRE. When you succeed, you will walk out of the oral and practical exam with your FAA rigger certificate and license to learn.

As a skydiver, especially one who works in the sport, your active days depend on good weather. With a rigger's certificate, those downtime hours when the weather isn't cooperating become opportunities. Use these moments to offer your rigging services, keeping a steady income while contributing to the safety and efficiency of your skydiving community.

Adding a rigger's certificate to your skydiving portfolio is more than just a professional upgrade; it's a smart way to make the most of your time, both in and out of the sky. It enhances your role in the skydiving community, contributes to overall safety and ensures your income isn’t weather-dependent. For detailed information and the latest guidelines, check the FAA's website at faa.gov or contact your local FSDO.

Ron Bell | FAA Senior Rigger
USPA Director of Safety and Training

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