How to Become a Flight Instructor

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Many different types of aircraft are used for a variety of personal, commercial, and military purposes and specially trained professionals are required to instruct pilots on how to operate aircraft. This is the job of flight instructors.


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In 2015, I said goodbye to 16-hour days and hauling boxes up and down stairs for a living (I was a mover). I became a full-time entrepreneur, and I made my money by helping business owners make money.

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What does a flight instructor do?

Flight instructors are highly trained professionals that provide instruction to a variety of students on how to fly aircraft. They often teach students in ground-school courses, dual-controlled aircraft, and simulators. They schedule flying hours and provide instruction on a variety of topics such as the basics of different aircraft and the fundamentals of flying. Flight instructors explain the necessary principles that are important in flying and they supervise students in a variety of exercises. They provide the necessary feedback and often have students repeat the same tasks many times. Flight instructors also prepare students for examinations to become licensed.

What kind of training does a flight instructor need?

Flight instructors must have at least a high school diploma, but most employers prefer applicants with college degrees. Most airlines require flight instructors to have a minimum of 2 years of college. Flight instructors must learn how to fly airplanes from different positions, the fundamentals of flight instruction, and the necessary safety regulations. Flight instructors must have either a commercial pilot or private pilot license. Many employers also require flight instructors to pass FAA examinations. The examinations often include a rigorous physical examination and written examination. Flight instructors are also required to pass a medical examination and meet other flight requirements. They must complete regular continuing education to maintain their licenses, keep their skills up to date, and stay abreast with advancements in the field.

What are the prospects for a career as a flight instructor?

Employment of flight instructors is expected to grow about as fast as average for all professions, increasing 12% from 2008 to 2018 (1). The growing population and increase in the airline industry will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be good especially for flight instructors with extensive experience. Many job openings will stem from the need to replace flight instructors that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.

How much do flight instructors make?

As of March 2010, the middle 50% of flight instructors earn annual salaries between $81,158 and $99,387. The top 10% earn annual salaries of more than $109,501 (2).

A career as a flight instructor is an excellent choice for people with a strong interest in flying and providing instruction to a variety of students. Flight instructors must have a solid understanding of many different flying techniques and the ability to teach a variety of students. Patience, determination, detail orientation, critical thinking, and good problem solving skills are necessary characteristics. Flight instructors must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills and ability to encourage and motivate many different individuals. They must be quick on their feet and be able to make effective decisions.

Joshua T Osborne

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