Everyone wants to fly a big jet
For as long as I can remember I have always dreamt of learning to fly and becoming a pilot. When I was learning to fly, almost everyone who was learning with me dreamt of becoming an airline pilot. Part of the attraction was being able to fly a high-tech Jet Aircraft and also have the benefit of being paid a decent wage while doing something you love.
I totally understand why someone who spends a considerable amount of money and time on training to become a commercial pilot would want to have their investment pay off by joining an airline.
Instructing is usually viewed as a stepping stone to bigger and better things!
The current reality is that most new commercial pilots obtain their Instructor Rating so they can build up valuable flying hours while they are waiting to join an airline. Flying jobs in the major city centres of Australia can be limited when you first become a Commercial Pilot and Instructing will increase your chances of gaining employment.
I don’t personally think there is anything wrong with this approach providing the instructor puts the necessary effort and care into each student while they are building up hours.
Sure I have never been an Airline Pilot, but I have been a Commercial Charter Pilot and plenty of my close friends are now working for major Airlines so I understand exactly what their work/life balance involves. I have also been a Chief Pilot for over five years and have a very good understanding of what it is like to be a full-time flight instructor.
We need more career flying instructors
When I was learning to fly there were two types of Instructors. The career instructor who loved flying and teaching and the Instructor who was simply building up hours towards joining an airline. Which instructor do you think I prefered to fly with? If we could encourage more individuals to consider remaining as Instructors instead of joining airlines, I believe that the quality of Instruction would improve dramatically.
I am now going to list five reasons why becoming a long-term career Instructor may be a better choice than being an Airline Pilot
- It may be more rewarding
I’m not that saying being an Airline Pilot is not rewarding, I am only suggesting that being a Flight Instructor is a very different type of rewarding, as it allows you to help individuals fulfil their dreams of flying. There is something very satisfying about having a student walk in the door with no experience and eventually sending them off on their first solo flight .
- Instructing is about motivating and caring
Firstly to be a good flight Instructor you have to be good at developing a positive professional relationship with your student and you have to be very good at motivating them – because let’s be honest, learning to fly can be a challenge at times and it’s easy for any student to lose motivation when things get tough. You really have to care about your student’s dream of learning to fly and care enough to get them through the tough training times (and there will be many ). This motivational and caring aspect of teaching can be both meaningful and very rewarding. If you consider yourself a good motivator and a caring person then instructing may be a perfect fit for you.
- You are home every night and usually one day on the weekend
For the many Airline Pilots I have known, being home rather than being absent frequently, is desirable. Are you ready to be away from home, family and friends for up to 12 nights per month? For some individuals this works well but for others it may put a huge strain on their family life.
With Instructing you are home every night, and I can assure you, my children and my partner appreciate this as much as I do.
- The pay is quite good – eventually
One of the main reasons a lot of individuals don’t even think about instructing as a long term career choice is because the pay is lower than being an Airline Pilot. Unless you own a flying school your pay may always be less than an airline pilot particularly when you first start instructing. However, once you have gained considerable instructing experience it is possible to earn anywhere from $60,000 to $85,000 a year as a fulltime professional flight instructor. This is still a good wage for doing something you love doing. Regional airlines only offer $55,000 to $100,000 per year depending on experience and the larger national airlines only offer $75,000 to $140,000 and you have to be flying for the airline for a long time before you receive the upper pay scale. As you can see, the differences are not that great particularly for regional airlines.
- The future for flight training is incredibly exciting over the next 15 years
This one is huge. We at the beginning of a huge and innovative shift in flight training. The radical changes will include lower cost high-tech aircraft, advanced low-cost simulation and eventually electric propulsion. This is a very exciting time to be a flight instructor.
If you have always dreamt of becoming an Airline Pilot don’t give up the dream, butif you are curious about alternatives then maybe becoming a career instructor could be an exciting option for you.
I love flying and I love teaching. Helping students achieve their dream of flight is an incredible privilege.
Listen to your own voice
Don’t listen to others if they tell you that you have have to earn lots of money to enjoy life; that simply isn’t true. Working at something which is rewarding and meaningful to you is what is required for you to enjoy YOUR life. If the quiet voice inside your head is slightly excited about the idea of becoming a career flight instructor then listen to that voice; because there is a shortage of instructors and there is a future student somewhere right now who will be grateful that you did!
CEO, GoFly Group
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