How to Become an FAA-Certified Parachute Rigger
Parachute riggers have people's lives in their hand. This is why the FAA requires certification for unsupervised rigging work. The FAA has Master and Senior Parachute Rigger certification programs and exams.
There are four rigger ratings for the four main types of parachutes. These are the seat, back, chest, and lap. A senior parachute rigger certified by the FAA has at least one of those ratings, while a master rigger has at least two.
To get either of these ratings, an applicant must have a certain amount of experience and take an exam. Military riggers will be instructed on all this in their parachute training school. Civilians need to contact the FAA to schedule an experience evaluation and the appropriate rigger exam.
There are various FAA district and field offices that must be contacted to get certification. These are General Aviation District Offices, Flight Standards District Offices and International Field Offices. Contact the closest one when you are ready to get certification as either a senior or master parachute rigger.
A senior rigger can potentially get qualified rather quickly, as applicants need to pack only 20 parachutes of the requested rating. Master riggers are a different story. They must have at least 3 years of experience and have packed at least 100 parachutes for each of the applied-for ratings.
Be aware that you need to take a written, oral, and hands-on practical test to get certification. Make sure you are confident in both speaking about rigging and doing it.
To get this training as a civilian, you will need to get hired with a company that does recreational parachuting or do an apprenticeship. An example of an apprenticeship is Don Mayer's Parachute Shop. Prices vary by training program or apprenticeship. Don also recommends looking in Parachutist or Sky Diver magazines for other training options. Of course, military parachute riggers get plenty of training and experience.
Federal Aviation Administration: Certification Requirements for Parachute Riggers
Don Mayer's Parachute Shop