Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.
Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.
Occupation: Skydiving Instructor
Overview: A skydiving instructor teaches willing participants the basics of safe skydiving, and then takes them miles into the sky to help them to jump out of a plane with a parachute (some solo, some in tandem dives). Instructors will teach, pack parachutes, assist clients with questions and gearing up, and ensure all safety regulations are followed.
Skydiving Instructors must be highly alert, dedicated, calm, work well with others in a high-pressure environment, be decisive, be strong communicators, exude confidence and enthusiasm that encourages trust, as well as have high standards and a strong work ethic. They also have a strong sense of adventure and and are able to analyze and mitigate risk very well.
Depending on the amount of dives, the certifications the instructor has, and their own personal areas of interest, skydive instructors might be Coaches (100 skydives; able to teach students the essentials as they do their pre-A licence solos); Skydiving Photographers (200 skydives; accompanying individuals and their instructors on skydives to capture the moment); and the at 500 skydive mark +3 hours of freefall, they could become AFF certified by taking an additional USPA (United States Parachute Association) AFF instructor course (in the US) after getting one’s C-licence & completed instructor proficiency card. Alternatively at the 500 skydive mark a person can obtain another proficiency card and course to get their Tandem Instructor rating. In addition to the jumps and classroom time, becoming an instructor also requires challenging written and oral exams. There are many additional courses a instructor can take for different areas of skydiving, learning maneuvers to become proficient so they may teach these specialized areas.
Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: A knack for languages, a knack for making money, charm, enhanced hearing, ESP (clairvoyance), exceptional memory, gaining the trust of others, good listening skills, high pain tolerance, hospitality, lip-reading, making people laugh, mechanically inclined, photographic memory, predicting the weather, promotion, reading people, strategic thinking, strong breath control, super strength, survival skills, throwing one’s voice, wilderness navigation
POSITIVE: Adaptable, adventurous, alert, ambitious, analytical, calm, courageous, decisive, diplomatic, disciplined, easygoing, efficient, enthusiastic, extroverted, focused, friendly, happy, hospitable, independent, industrious, meticulous, nature-focused, observant, organized, passionate, persistent, persuasive, professional, protective, responsible, spontaneous, thrifty, uninhibited
NEGATIVE: obsessive, perfectionist
Sources of Friction: working for a company that is always running a tight budget (walking the safety line), struggling to make ends meet as an instructor, friction between instructors and staff over preferential treatment or work ethic imbalances, having clients change their minds mid-flight, having clients who don’t follow instructions or who take risks, problems with the parachutes deploying smoothy, an inattentive skydiver who deploys too early or isn’t paying enough attention to the position of others (leading to a near-miss or even a collision), a malfunction with a skydiver’s automatic activation device (AAD), a fellow skydiver suffering a seizure mid-dive, a jumper blacking out, a near-collision with a plane or drone, camera malfunctions, bad weather, missing the drop zone and getting lost, plane issues that scrap the day’s dives (meaning no pay), straps that break mid-flight, a difficult landing that leads to injuries, being sued by a client, having a death occur within the skydiving community (especially if it happens onsite)
People They Might Interact With: other skydivers, first timers, staff at the facility, pilots, students, family members of participants
How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:
- Self-Actualization: A character who becomes addicted to the rush of skydives may struggles with feeling satisfied fully when on the ground.
- Esteem and Recognition: A character who dreams of competing on the world stage and being recognized as being one of the very best may not be able to dedicate themselves to jump mastery if most of their time is spent teaching others.
- Safety and Security: A career as a skydiving instructor does not pay well, and being part of the sport is expensive, meaning a portion of one’s earnings will go right back into skydiving. This can create a financial hardship if the character is not frugal enough or has a family to support.
- Physiological Needs: While parachute malfunctions and other accidents are rare, skydiving means ever-present risk to one’s life.
Common Work-Related Settings: airplane, field, hanger
Twisting the Fictional Stereotype: skydivers are often portrayed as fearless but many of them have a fear of heights, and it was the desire to overcome this fear that sent them on their first jump. Their love of the experience pushed them to pursue sharing it with others through instruction, but the fear of heights hasn’t gone away.
Skydivers are also portrayed as risk-seeking and reckless, but instructors are anything but. They understand risk and work to mitigate it for their clients for whom they are responsible. Skydiving instructors are meticulous and do things by-the-book.
Visit the other Occupations in our collection HERE.