Who becomes a licensed skydiver? You might imagine all skydivers are just some crazy yahoos. Basically, beach bums of the sky, living out their own Endless Summer, Point Break dreams. However, you may be surprised to find skydiving attracts an incredibly diverse group of people. There are more than 70,000 skydivers worldwide and 41,000 are members of the United States Parachute Association (USPA). As of 2022 the USPA has the largest membership in its history! That means there are more skydivers in the world than ever before. Here we’ll discuss what it takes to become a skydiver and some interesting data collected on who makes up the skydiver community.

Lincensed Skydivers posing before a boogie board jump


Only about 9% of licensed jumpers skydive professionally, as a job. They earn a living by becoming tandem instructors and take folks on their first skydives. Others work as aerial photographers/videographers and capture those first skydive experiences. Others become skydiving coaches or instructors and teach others to become licensed skydivers or to compete on skydiving teams.  It’s not a very conventional job but it is oh so rewarding and oh so much fun!!

The rest of the people holding skydiving licenses are just “regular” people with “regular” jobs. Skydiving is simply a hobby, a sport, an outlet or a social club for them. We call these people “fun jumpers” because they do it just for fun! These people are doctors, lawyers, teachers, accountants, college students, musicians, electricians, police officers, mechanics……and countless other things in their day to day lives.

Licensed Skydivers Member Occupations pie chart


Skydiving is a literal melting pot of cultures and people and it’s one of the things we LOVE most about it. In addition to being a diverse community when it comes to professions, it is also diverse when it comes to age. You might think of skydiving as a “young man’s game,” but you’d be wrong. First, you must be at least 18 years of age to become licensed which is a limiting factor for younger demographics. The bulk of licensed skydivers, as of 2021, are between age 30-39. However, there is a large representation of jumpers who are over the age of 50. Skydiving can truly be for anyone. There is no upper age limit to this sport. As long as you are of relatively good health and fitness, you can be a skydiver for a lifetime!

Licensed Skydivers Member Age distribution graph


Skydiving is a global activity. Many countries participate in sport jumping. Once licensed, it is a skill set that can be utilized across the globe. On a given day, most skydiving centers will have jumpers from many other countries as part of their community. It’s a great way to travel the world and meet new people. Fun fact: A USPA skydiving license is valid anywhere in the world!

Countries that skydive by nations flag


Unfortunately, there are a few under-represented demographics in skydiving and one of them is women. Female skydivers make up only 14% of the total USPA Membership. However, this number has been on the rise in recent years.

Lauren Byrd and Megan George Pose infront of SDMW Plane

The skydiving community is actively trying to spread the word about female skydivers and help the sport become more mainstream and accessible for women. There are several groups and events working to connect and empower women in the sport. Skydive Midwest is very proud to have a jumper base with a female population MUCH higher than the national average.

Although women are only a small percentage of the total membership of licensed skydivers, they are a much higher percentage when it comes to skydiving at the highest levels. Being on a competitive skydiving team requires a mastery of skill. Though women are only 14% of membership, they often make up more than 40% of competitive skydiving teams. So, not a ton of women are skydivers, but the ones who are, do it exceptionally well!

Phoenix XP Skydive Team


Another misconception about the skydiving community is that we are all “thrill seekers” or “adrenaline junkies”. This is almost unequivocally untrue. Most skydivers would not describe themselves in this way. Skydiving is not about risk-taking, it’s quite the opposite. Skydiving is about risk management and doing everything possible to reduce the risks involved. As a matter of fact, a huge number of skydivers even report being afraid of heights! True adrenaline junkies won’t stay in skydiving for very long. The feel-good brain chemicals released after a skydive tend to wane once you become more competent and less afraid. Read more about the science of being scared.

Matt Congdon Skydiving in a speedo

Interested in working toward your license? Checkout our blog on how to become a skydiver.


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