Rating Certification Course

The Tandem Instructor Course can be looked at as skydiving's “professional pilot” rating:  The course prepares you to take "passengers" skydiving, and you’re responsible for their entire flight.

The Tandem rating requires a solid proficiency of canopy control skills–and more importantly–landing skills.  Of course, landing with a passenger is biggest factor that sets the tandem rating apart from other instructor ratings.

The Tandem course is a 2-4 day course (includes one weather day) and is completed in two or three phases, depending on the particular tandem rating you’re being certified for.  Phase one (1) is the “instructional” phase where theoretical topics will be covered in the classroom, followed by practical testing and five jumps. In this phase, the jumps will be performed under the close supervision of an evaluator. The following phases are to accumulate more practical experience as you lock in your skills as a Tandem Instructor prior to jumping with real customers:

On phase two (2) you will do five jumps with experienced jumpers.

UPT ONLY: Phase three (3) is a requirement for Vector and Sigma ratings, in which you are on a “probationary” period until you accumulate a total of 25 tandem jumps. You will be allowed to jump with customers but will not receive the actual certification until you have reached 25 jumps.

In the USA, the tandem rating is such that each manufacturer issues their own, unique tandem instructor rating. Note: USPA group member drop zones require all tandem instructors to hold the USPA Tandem Instructor rating in addition to the factory rating.

Additional Ratings:You can obtain multiple ratings once you have earned an initial manufacturer’s rating. Cross training is also available so that you can learn the specifics of another type of system after you’ve earned your manufacturer rating. The cross training is an abbreviated version of the actual manufacturers course, and the manufacturer must approve the rating you have—In other words: a tandem rating is only good for the “type” of system you are trained on. It is not a universal rating.

At Skydive University, we offer instructor courses for the United Parachute Technologies Tandem systems, as well as Vector, Sigma, and the Wings Plexus System.



USPA, UPT Vector/Sigma, Wings Plexus

  • Must be over 18
  • Hold or has held any USPA Coach or Instructional rating
  • Earned a USPA D License(must be a USPA license)
  • Logged 500 jumps on a ram-air canopy * Logbook required!*
  • A minimum of three years in parachuting
  • Presented a Class 3 Medical Certificate or the equivalent:


    Levels of Tandem Training

    Levels of tandem training vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Most Tandem courses consist of at least two phases of training, excluding Plexus. USPA enters into training at Phase 2, as a manufacturer’s rating is required first.

    Phase 1: Formal Application


    For UPT there are five jumps: one solo and four with the examiner.

    Jump 1: Solo; this is an equipment orientation jump, including the opportunity to fly a flight plan and land a tandem canopy on your own.

    Jump 2: Tandem Instructor Candidate (TIC) as Passenger (examiner or evaluator). On this jump the routine of the TI is realistically demonstrated in full.

    Jump 3:TIC as Tandem Instructor (TI). Stable exit about 7.5K Ft, drogue within 5-8 seconds, maintain stability while doing 3 practice handle checks; pull drogue release by 5,500 Ft.; good landing.

    Jump 4:TIC as TI. Stable exit above 10.5k ft. Drogue within 5-8 Seconds; 3 handles check, two 360 turns right and left; drogue release by 5.5k ft.; stand up landing (wind permitting) within 50 meters of target.

    Jump 5: TIC as TI; Unstable Exit above 10.5K; 3 handles check, 2 x 360 turns with heading control; stable drogue deployment at 7.5k Ft.; pull drogue release by 5.5K Ft., stand up landing (wind permitting) within 50 Meters of target.


    The Plexus course consists of 5 jumps, one solo and four with an evaluator.

    Jump 1:Solo

    Jump 2:TIC acts as passenger, IE acts as TI.

    Jump 3:Standard Tandem Skydive. (Practice a normal skydive)

    Jump 4:Unstable Exit

    Jump 5: Tandem Terminal 

    Phase 2: Practical Application

    UPT and USPA

    The second phase is done on your own. It consists of 5 jumps with licensed skydivers.

    Jumps 6-10: These are done with licensed skydivers, with at least 100 jumps that are current. Passenger must be briefed on correct tandem emergency responses. Nice stable exits are a must. This is where you are working on perfecting the exits with different body types, further learning to fly your body in a tandem configuration. Performing correct procedure is mandatory – Passenger must sign the logbook. These jumps must be made as solo tandem jumps, no Formation Skydiving is to be performed.


    Phase 3: Probationary Period

    This requirement is for the UPT Vector and Sigma Tandem ratings only.

    The “probationary period” consists of jumps 11-25, where you can take actual students. These jumps can be with first-time students and a witness. The witness must be a licensed skydiver or Sigma/Vector owner who will sign the logbook when they are satisfied with the TI's performance. Again, these jumps must be made as solo tandem jumps, no Formation Skydiving is to be performed.

    Once the 25th jump is completed, you will submit your logbook and paperwork to UPT for your Tandem Instructor rating!


    Course Evaluations

    Written Evaluations:

    Freefall evaluations:

    Pass five (five) Tandem evaluation jumps

    The Tandem evaluation jumps were described in Phase one of the Tandem training phases above.

    Pass a Category “D” jump (USPA Tandem rating only)

    Non-method-specific training evaluation: Candidates will successfully train, observe, and critique at least one freefall jump taken from the static line and Instructor Assisted Deployment dive flows in Category D are to be performed by the IE during the course (waived for instructors who hold a USPA Instructor rating in another discipline).

    Supervision Test

    The supervision jump will be included on one or more of the abovementioned freefall evaluations.  The supervision test is done with the “student” being played by a course evaluator.  The instructor candidate will have to demonstrate:

    Conduct Two Presentations, Category “C” and Category “D”

    Candidates will teach Category “C” and Category “D” jump four from the SDU handout manual.  The presentation will take approximately 45 minutes.  The key issues are:

    • 1) USPA will issue a Tandem Instructor Rating even if the medical certificate will expire prior to the expiration date of the rating.
    • 2) Each USPA Tandem Instructor is responsible for keeping his or her medical certificate current.
    • 4) Complete the exam prior to the course (USPA, IRM or UPT exam

      USPA rating: Additional prerequisites

      The USPA AFF Proficiency Card:

      The Tandem proficiency card is in the USPA IRM–or can be downloaded from USPA’s website. This card needs to be signed off in the required areas. Coaches need to have the numbers 1-7 signed off at the start of the course. The examiner will verify number 9. If you are already an instructor you can skip the topics that are marked with an asterisk (*). The first thing you should do if you consider taking the course is look at the proficiency card to see what needs to be done prior to the course. The signatures will be valid for 12 months. Some requirements will get signed during the course by the course examiner. This is all marked on the card itself and is self-explanatory.

      Course Schedule:

      Contact SDU for more information.


      Day 1   8:00 AM Introduction
          Equipment Orientation
          Passenger Harness
          Student Briefing
          Ground Preparations
          In-Aircraft Procedure
          Freefall/Drogue Fall
          Canopy Control/Landings/Shagging
          Formation Skydiving
          Jump 1 (time/weather permitting)
      Day 2   8:00 AM Emergency Review
          Ground - air evaluations (jumps 2-5)
          Ground - air evalutions (jumps 2-5)
      Day 3   8:00 AM USPA ISP Tandem Progression
          Special Needs
          Accident Report USPA
          Sexual Harassment
          Packing Demonstration
          Emergency Review
          Finish Ground Evaluations, In Air Jumps and paperwork
      Day 4     Weather Day or optional jumps 6-10

      The Instructor’s Clinic is 3-4 days (a 20 hour program). The first day consists mainly of classroom and practical ground training, the second day consists of practical activities (including jumping and evaluations), and the third day is spent accumulating the additional practical requirements to become certified or allowed to jump with customers (optional). As a participant, you must attend the entire program in order to gain maximum benefit.  The program scheduling includes one rain day, as jumping is necessary to complete course.


      Please bring the following to the course:




    • Helmet
    • Altimeter
    • High Drag Jump Suit (if you have one)
    • Sport rig (USPA rating)
      • Test all required review content for the category
      • Conduct the motor skill drills by the required repetition and holding times
      • Immediately correct any student body position errors that may occur
      • Teach all theoretical content correctly.
      • Pass the USPA General and Tandem exam with a pass mark of 80%
      • Pass the UPT exam 80%
      • Pass the Plexus exam 80%
      • Proper preparation for the jump
      • Supervision in the boarding and in-aircraft ride to altitude
      • Positive psychology and focus strategies during the ride up to altitude
      • Proper hookup procedure
      • Exit launch and presentation
      • Role during freefall, as described above
      • Perform a good flight plan and landing

Cross-over training:


If you already possess a current Tandem Instructor rating from another manufacturer you can get a “type” rating from another manufacturer.

To qualify for cross-training you must:

The course consists of some classroom and a minimum of 2 evaluation jumps. Obtain the necessary manuals and information prior to the “cross-over checkout. You can do this by going to the website of the manufacturer of the system you would like a rating for.

Foreign tandem ratings that are not recognized by USPA are therefore not allowed to cross train. In that case a full course is required.


1. Go to the FAA website MedXPress to find a qualified doctor in your region. You will need to fill out this information and print out the form they give you to take to your appointment.

2. Next go to a qualified FAA AME Airmen Doctor to obtain your Class 3 Medical (AKA Student Pilot Medical).

OPTION A Find a local doctor. Look Here

OPTION B Doctors you can get a class 3 medical from Daytona Beach and Orlando area:

Dr. Ryan Rees MD East Volusia Family Practice
201 North Clyde Morris Blvd
Daytona Beach, Florida 32114
Phone (386) 258-4960

Dr. Woodard Gerald Shores Medical Center
3512 South Atlantic Avenue
Daytona Beach, Florida 32118
Phone (386) 767-9544

Dr. T Eugene Chambers Jr. Orlando Physician (East Orlando Medical Group)
7975 Lake Underhill Road, Suite 220 B
Orlando, Florida 32822
Phone: 407.303.6285

Dr. David F. Cowan MD
615 S. Orange Ave
Orlando, FL 32806
Phone (407) 855-2526

Craig P Jones, MD
25 West Crystal Lake Street #200
Orlando, Florida 32806
Phone (407) 254-2500

Gerald J. Kivett, MD
4711 Curry Ford Road
Orlando, Florida 32812
Phone 1-407-273-1361

Dr. Christian A Kovats DO
2572 West State Road 426 #1040
Oviedo, Florida 32765
Phone (407) 366-9800

Dr. John A. Shewmaker DO Sun Osteopathic Medical Center
7106 SE Osprey Street
Hobe Sound, Florida 33455
Phone (772) 546-7027


At the examination you will be given an eye exam and asked several questions about your health. A urine test will be provided to test for Albumin and Glucose. Once your physical is complete the doctor will give you copy of your medical. Bring your medical to the course.

  • Proof of a “current” Tandem rating from another approved manufacturer
  • Have a current Class 3 Medical Certificate

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