Get free flying hours with flight instructor jobs…
Flight instructor jobs are certainly not at the top of aviation jobs. In fact it’s one of those unglamorous ones that many would not want to be in. It also means inexperience and low flight time. And you’re just flying these tiny two or four seater airplanes. Talk about ego, pilots have lots of it.
Of course I’m not talking about the advanced flight instructors in the airlines and corporate flying world. They have their own flight instructors to train new hires and keep their pilots current and up to date or train them in new equipment.
I meant flight instructor jobs that involve basic flight training, making someone with zero flying hours to flying an airplane by himself after several hours of flight training. These flight instructor jobs are considered entry jobs in aviation, carried out by new and considered inexperienced commercial pilots with a flight instructor certificate.
It is pretty much a job taken by someone without any choices at all, considering how bad the competition is in the aviation job market. Although the pay is on the low end of the scale, for a low time pilot, a flight instructor’s job could mean a gift from heaven.
Being in one of these flight instructor jobs can be challenging financially for someone with a family to support. The National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI) conducted a study about flight instructors salary. They concluded that many flight instructors may not be able to support themselves and actually need to get a second job to have enough money to make ends meet. It is unfortunate that this is the situation, I can see the analogy here of teachers in our elementary schools not getting the pay they deserve for their role in the community as a whole.
My experience with these flight instructor jobs
Back in my time I felt the same way about flight instructor jobs. Because there were no other available pilot jobs then, I didn’t have a choice but to become a flight instructor. I was able to make a deal with the flying school where I did my flight training and they agreed to hire me as a flight instructor with my huge 200 hours of flying time.
Even back then the pay for flight instructor jobs really sucked. Flight instructors were only paid on an hourly flying time basis, meaning if you don’t fly you don’t eat. But at 18, I was even willing to do it for free. I didn’t have a family to support and I’d do anything to get my feet into any of those commercial pilot jobs. Of course I didn’t tell them that.
I was surprised that I enjoyed doing that. I was not embarrassed meeting all those high end pilots in the tarmac. In fact I was proud that I was a flight instructor. My flying time quickly built up. I was doing between 60 to 90 flying hours a month.
It sure beats renting an airplane to fly and at the same time getting paid to do all that flying. I loved doing it, my only problems were the older (40 year-old and above) and professional students (some were doctors, lawyers, accountants) who couldn’t stand being taught how to fly an airplane by an 18 year old.
Everything went well and in two years I accumulated around 2,000 hours of flight instructor time. I had many students that I was proud of and succeeded in their aviation careers. Although my flying time was all on singe-engine trainer airplane, it was still flying time.
I also didn’t know that my flight instructor time was regarded highly in the higher commercial flying jobs that I got later. In addition to my being a line pilot, I was also made a flight instructor. At age 20 I got into one of those commercial pilot jobs which I can finally call “real”. A big factor in my getting these “big” jobs, one for an overseas international airline, was my flight instructor job experience.
If you are a low time pilot, these flight instructor jobs are great for building up your flying hours without paying for it. And you’re earning some money, although not as much as you want it to be. Also, being a flight instructor means you are a very highly skilled pilot. It does take razor sharp skills and extra-ordinary abilities to turn someone off the street into a pilot flying up in the air by themselves. Every minute that you’re out there with a zero-timer anything can happen. Compare that to being in an airliner at 35,000 feet.
The best place to start would be at the flying school or flying club where you did their training. You can maybe start there part- time or if luck is on your side they offer you a full-time position. They pay is still based on the actual flying hours that you did with your student. You may also get extra pay if you conduct a ground school class.
For someone who is young and does not support a family, this is a good opportunity to advance your career in aviation. For someone with a family to support, it is more challenging and it all comes down to finding the means to continue on and make that dream come true.