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10 Reasons Why Working As a Flight Instructor Might Be For You

Pilot Learning to Fly

1) Home Every Night

If traveling isn’t your thing flight instructor is one of the few pilot jobs that will have you home every night. You will also have control over your days off – including the ability to have holidays off.

2) You Can Work For Yourself

Starting your own business in aviation has a very high cost of entry. There is a standing joke that to make a small fortune in flying you need to start with a large fortune. But getting a flight training business going and being your own boss is achievable. Even if you aren’t your own boss most flight instructors have more control over their schedule than other professional pilots.

3) Working As a Teacher Is Rewarding

Any person who has had the opportunity to teach knows the exhilaration of seeing a student finally “get” something that you’ve been teaching them. Seeing the joy of another as they truly grasp a skill or knowledge is contagious. And this joy is especially common in flight training as people that pursue learning to fly are passionate about it.

4) More Variety and Challenge In Your Work

Diamond DA42 Twin-Engine Trainer

Working in many professional pilot roles becomes routine quick. Flight instructors enjoy a variety in their work not common in most pilot jobs. Helping each student learn becomes a unique challenge. There is significant variety among the types of flying instructors can teach.

Many career pilots will attest that the initial flight instructor certificate was among the most challenging certificates earned. Completing the certification is very rewarding.

5) There is High Demand For Flight Instructors

The combination of a growing airline industry, fewer pilots available, and looming mandatory retirements has caused an acute pilot shortage that is being felt across many professional pilot positions. In the face of this shortage regional airlines have made significant effort at poaching flight instructors.

Many pilots go into the career in pursuit of airline flying. “If somebody’s goal is to become an airline pilot, no amount of money you pay them to be a regular flight instructor will keep them here any longer because their goal is to go become an airline pilot,” said Mike Wiggins, department chair for aeronautical science at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Florida campus. “I don’t know that there’s an easy, quick solution. Every time we try to take a look at something, there’s another issue that pops up.”

6) The Pay Can Be Good – Eventually

One of the main reasons the flight instructor profession has been viewed as a step along the pilot career is the pay is lower than it is for airline pilots. In years past flight instructor pay has been abysmal. However, this has changed in recent years with the pilot shortage in full swing. Entry level flight instructors can now make livable wages. Once a pilot has gained enough experience as a flight instructor salaries from $60,000 to $85,000 a year are reasonable to expect.

7) You Will Become a Better Pilot

Teaching others to fly will strengthen your pilot skills and knowledge like nothing else can. Teaching any skill demonstrates a deep level of learning and understanding. Through the teaching process flight instructors have the opportunity to uncover where they are lacking and are able to constantly expose themselves to and practice these areas. Observing others flying and helping them through their trouble areas gives flight instructors additional insight into their own trouble spots. Teaching the knowledge areas gives flight instructors deeper understanding of aviation and flying.

8) The Future for Flight Training is Looking Good

Flight Instructor and Student Walking

As mentioned above there is a shortage of flight instructors. This will continue for as long as the pilot shortage persists. As pilot employers seek to get more pilots into the ranks they will need to find ways to increase flight training options – leading to even more demand for flight instructors in the near future. And this increase will likely lead to unique training ideas that will make a larger variety of jobs to choose from for instructors.

9) Flight Instruction Boosts Your Resume

Pilot employers will see you as a higher quality applicant if you have worked as a flight instructor. They know that working as an instructor hones piloting skill and knowledge. Additionally, experience as an instructor makes you more versatile for any needs they may have in the future. Airlines have check airmen and instructors in their ranks – having more pilots in their ranks with flight instructor experience gives them more applicants with applicable experience within to choose from for these positions. Captains, while working in the crew, are often mentoring and helping new first officers learn the ropes of line flying.

10) Good Way to Build Flight Time for Low Hour Pilots

There are a few options for low hour pilots to gain experience when they are starting out in the pilot career. Working as a flight instructor for a first pilot job can be a great way to get your career going on the right foot and make your resume more attractive to future employers.

Greg started his professional pilot journey in 2002 after graduating from Embry Riddle. Since that time he has accumulated over 8,000 hours working as a pilot. Greg’s professional experience includes flight instructing, animal tracking, backcountry flying, forest firefighting, passenger charter, part 135 cargo, flying for a regional airline, a national low cost airline, a legacy airline, and also working as a manager in charge of Part 135 and Part 121 training programs.

Greg Thomson