25 August 2017 | Career Advice | Guest Author
While many who are interested in flying have a goal of becoming a commercial pilot, others see flight instruction as either an intermediate or end goal. Which path you take depends a lot on your personality. Steering big jets through the sky probably pays more, but when you examine self-satisfaction and quality of life issues, flight instruction might be preferable. Here are three reasons pilot candidates go on to become instructors.
Prepare for a commercial pilot career
The hard truth is you probably won't be hired by a major airline as a commercial pilot the moment you receive your commercial pilot's certification. It takes a bit of experience to make your way into the airline world. An airline is hesitant to turn over command of one of their multi-million dollar aircrafts to someone without experience. How do you gain experience? Working a few years as a flight instructor is a great way to gain necessary experience. The compensation is fairly competitive and you can gain necessary experience at the same time.
Love the self-employment idea
There's something about some people that makes them crave self-employment. As a flight instructor, there are plenty of ways for you to call the shots without having to answer to a corporate board. You could work on a freelance basis with individual students or open your own flight school at the local airport, leading classes. Either way, you'll live more on your own terms than most other commercial pilots.
You've got the teaching bug
For some, there is nothing more rewarding in this life than teaching others. Combine that with a love of flying and you've got the makings of a flight instructor career. As with any other teaching occupation, there is a "thrill" in the process of imparting knowledge to someone, a pleasure and responsibility in the knowledge that another person's competence to launch themselves into the sky and safely return lies in your hands and in your brain.
If you're interested in teaching flying, there are hundreds of reputable programs, like those at Institute of Aviation at Parkland College, around the country that can help you complete the necessary licenses. These licenses could be for a private pilot, commercial pilot, flight instructor, and graduate with an Associate's Degree in something like Aviation Science at the same time.
The bottom line
Obviously, the first thing you need before seriously considering a flight instructor career is a love of flying. We've mentioned a few additional reasons in the preceding paragraphs and, to be sure, there are even more unmentioned good financial and social reasons to head down that path. Ultimately, only you can decide whether or not to take the plunge and dedicate yourself to teaching the next generation of pilots how to successfully ply their trade.