How to Become a Flight Instructor

Have you ever thought of flying a commercial airplane to distant locations? How about teaching others how to fly a plane? Both of these goals can be met by increasing the amount of flight time a person has by becoming a flight instructor.

A certification is needed to be able to teach other pilots how to fly.

Some of the basic requirements are a valid medical certificate, ability to read and speak in English and pass the knowledge based and practical flight test.

The requirements needed to become a flight instructor is a challenging route to a career, but also very rewarding.

Education Requirements to Become a Flight Instructor

The road to become a flight instructor starts with gaining a series of pilot certificates.

In order to obtain the flight instructor certification, there will be others that need to be completed in sequence to get to that level.

While there is not a formal degree requirement for any of the certifications, the appropriate courses will need to be completed.

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The first certificate is that of a Private Pilot.

A candidate must pass the FAA written and practical test.

They must also be at least 17 years old, be able to communicate in English and hold a current third class medical certificate.

Typical requirements for the flight school portion will be 40 hours of flight time with the time divided between solo and dual flights.

Most programs can be finished in about 60 hours maximum.

A commercial pilot certificate is the next step to become a flight instructor.

One condition for this certificate is that you must hold a Private Pilot Certificate, and attaining a passing score of the FAA knowledge and practical test pertaining to commercial flight is also required.

The amount of flight time needed is about 190 to 250 hours of total pilot in command time, but the amount of time needed to go through the program, excluding flight time, is around 90 hours.

The final certification is the Certified Flight Instructor or CFI certificate.

A candidate needs to have a Commercial Pilot Certificate prior to taking the exam, and you can expect to take a knowledge and practical test, pass the Fundamentals of Instructing.

The type of certification you get will depend on the type of airplanes you expect to teach.

A general CFI, CFI Instrument Rating Course and CFI Multi-Engine Course are all available.

Most students can complete their training in as little as 20 hours.

Flight Instructor Job Description

A flight instructor is there to help other future pilot gain their “wings.” Only certified flight instructors may teach other pilots how to fly.

Some of the duties they have include conducting dual flight instruction, ground instruction and perform flight briefings for students.

They are typically responsible for the maintenance of the aircraft to ensure a safe flight, and flight instructors need to be able to make corrections in a way that is constructive and safe while in the air.

The specific duties may vary depending on what type of place they are teaching, but the main focus of the job is to ensure that everyone that learns to fly does it safely.

Flight Instructor Salary and Career Path

Some pilots may choose to become a flight instructor to gain more flight time to be able to move on to a career in flying commercially.

Large airlines will usually require their pilots to have more flight time than just the minimum required for the credentials.

Other instructors will continue to find a rewarding career in teaching.

Exceptional instructors can gain the FAA gold seal, indicating their high standards for pilot education.

The average salary of a flight instructor will depend on location and how much you fly.

Basically, the more you fly, the more money you can potentially make.

Lots of instructors are on a commission system which pays for when they pick up another contract.

You can expect to make anywhere from $20 to $50 an hour depending on your certifications and location.

Some instructors can make upwards of $35,000 or more per year from just teaching.

Some instructors may decide to pick up some charter flights for extra money and add to their yearly earnings.

In this field, if there is someone willing to learn how to fly a plane, there is work to go around.

Many flight instructors do not make as much as a commercial pilot would, but still enough to do something as enjoyable as flying every day.

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