Real Answers from Real Pilots

CFI Pay, working part time

Hey y’all. I’m currently a senior in college and plan on starting ATP in September, after I graduate and work over the summer. I am moving back in with my parents so I don’t have as many expenses while training.

I already have student loans and ATP is another large chunk of money. I know that I won’t be able to work while in the program but wanted to ask what the pay was like as a CFI at ATP. I saw on another thread that someone said it was mid 20s. Has anyone had experience working as a CFI outside of ATP, where the pay may be higher? If not, has anyone had experience working another job at the same time? I know that a CFI is a full time job but I would be looking into working nights at a part time job as well. I know it would be exhausting but I’m pretty used to that (college athlete working 20+ hours a week while also taking a full course load). I’m just worried I won’t be able to afford my undergrad student loans at the same time as paying loans from flight school.

Thanks!

Claire,

The average as I understand it is in the mid-$20k at ATP. Depending on your area there may be higher paying positions out there but know no one is getting rich flight instructing. The other thing to keep in mind is the amount of hours you’ll build every month. ATPs instructors average about 75 per month (with some going up to 100). Assuming you need to build approx 1250hrs to get hired at a Regional (the 250 from training +1250=1500) if you’re lonly building say 50hrs/mos at your local flight school that means it’ll take you over 2yrs to build the time vs 17-18mos at 75hrs/mos. That 6mos savings can translate to a fair amount of seniority. Just something to consider.

What I’d really like to address is your desire to work while instructing full-time and your statement “I know it would be exhausting but I’m pretty used to that”. While you don’t know it yet, you need to understand the words exhausted and flying don’t go well together. Being tired in a classroom is a very different thing than being tired in the cockpit sitting next to a new student. While people don’t really like to talk about it, there is a certain amount of risk involved in flying. Bad day in class means your fail a test. Bad day flying means your picture ends up on the 6 o’clock news with lots of people crying saying “she was so young”. I’m really not trying to be dramatic and I understand your desire to get out of debt but when it comes to aviation there are far greater concerns. End of sermon :slight_smile:

Adam

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Claire,

It would be worth checking out jobs at other flight schools to see what was being offered, but I think you will find that the pay is relatively the same across the board.

As for working while you are an ATP instructor, this is against ATP policy and generally a bad idea. Being a flight instructor means that you really need to be on your game, every minute of every flight. Working a side job will prevent that from happening. I get that it is tough to make ends meet as a CFI, I have been there myself. What I can tell you is that it gets better with time and that the payoff in the end is worth it.

Chris

Thanks for y’alls responses. My only worry is that I’ll be paying about 600 a month from my undergrad loans and some more for my car payment, gas, insurance, etc. I listened to a podcast about someone who instructed outside of ATP and that’s why I was curious about it. Thanks!

Claire,

Welcome to the forums, to answer your first question regarding CFI pay, we average at $25.50/flight hour. All this information is readily available on the ATP website. I reference this near the end of my reply as a concern for your further questions about paying bills etc.

Being a flight instructor is a lot of responsibility, you will need to retain a professional attitude and be self-driven daily to ensure you’re providing the best instruction to the student’s integrity. There will be times that you need to breathe and rest, it’s your responsibility to ensure that every flight is being conducted in a safe environment, but also in the student’s best interest. Yes…you can instruct outside of ATP, but not all of my friends who instruct elsewhere are happy because “of the pay.” In fact, they don’t have the opportunities as those that instruct at ATP. If you find yourself as an instructor for ATP, you are given a lot of opportunities to get tuition reimbursement and earn a bit more than the “average” CFI; information like this can be found right on ATP’s website or click here. For example, SkyWest is currently doing a $17,500 tuition reimbursement once you hit 500 hours TT as an instructor at ATP, they pay $17.50 on top of ATP per flight hour which practically ‘doubles’ your pay as an instructor at ATP. For the concern of not being able to make payments, by putting in the work, looking forward and trusting the process you will see the rewards. I highly recommend taking a look at the ATP partnerships that exist, our admin team does a fantastic job at maintaining our best interest as ATP alumni.

I’ve seen an average of 70 hours per month, I’ve also seen 90 - 100 hours plus a month depending on how much is desired as a CFI at ATP. A lot of instructors don’t like to fly on the weekends, and it hurts their hours…they’re removing potentially 8 days from their flying potential…it adds up. I am a full-time instructor, I desire to fly 7 days a week, if possible. I also take adequate time to myself to recover and prepare for upcoming lessons. It is doable, I’ve seen around 500 hours of dual instruction in 2021 since hiring at ATP in the late spring.

Happy Holidays!

Brady

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Brady,

Thank you for your response! I am definitely willing to put in the work and be available as much as possible. I did not find that on the website so I’m glad you pointed that out. I know that overall the training is worth it and I’ve always wanted to be a pilot (extra bonus since it’s the dream job). I plan on moving out of my parents house once I am a CFI because I don’t really want to live with them 2+ years after college, and my area is not very large in the aviation industry.

Happy Holidays and Safe Travels,
Claire

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