Is CFI instructor required?

Hello. I have a question but am also looking for any helpful advice.
I am a 23 y/o Army nurse. Long story short, I’ve always wanted to be a pilot but unfortunately received false information that eventually led me into a career I did not want to be in. Nevertheless, I will serve my 4 year active duty obligation to the Army that will end in 2023. I plan to attain my PPL during my Army obligation at a local flight school. Once my obligation is up in 2023, my plan would be to attend ATP for the 6 months. My question is- is it required to be a CFI? Or are there other job opportunities available in order to continue accruing the necessary flight hours? My husband is also in the Army and will be for quite some time. I would be concerned having to live away from him working as a CFI if I could not receive a job in my area.

I’m open to any advice for paths to becoming a commercial airline pilot anyone may have considering my situation!
Thank you.


Flight instructing is not required, it’s simply the most common route people take to build time. There are other jobs for low time pilots, but depending on your area they may be few and far between. I did banner towing but if you don’t live near a beach there probably isn’t much of that. Same goes for traffic watch. If you’re in a very rural area that might not be an option. People flight instruct simply because most areas have small airports and most small airports have flight schools. If there’s other opportunities in your area by all means take them.


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Just to add a little more to Adam’s response, flight instructing is the not only most common form of time building, it’s the best. Teaching forces you to continue learning and refine your pilot skills. Becoming a CFI, CFII and MEI is even better as all three of those instructor ratings will groom you to become the ideal candidate for the airlines.

If you are unable or unwilling to obtain your CFI certs, or unable to find work as a CFI near your husband, I would suggest looking for another flying job that involves both VFR and IFR flying. Jobs like banner towing, traffic watch, jump pilot, or aerial photography don’t meet that requirement, but I wouldn’t pass up an opportunity if that’s all you can find. I would recommend finding a part 91 or 135 operator (cargo or charter) that offers a more comprehensive flight experience. You may need to work your way up to those types of jobs as they are more competitive and operate more complex aircraft, but that line of work is far superior in terms of career progression than the VMC restricted operations.



No, being a CFI is not required. That being said, the vast majority of civilian pilots have been CFIs as it is by far the best way to build your flight time. Jobs like banner towing, sky divers, etc, will build your time, but will not teach you nearly as much as flight instructing. Being able to explain a concept to somebody else is really the best way to learn and understand information yourself.

But no, it is not necessary. Either way, I would recommend getting the flight instructor licenses just in case y9ou have a desire to sue them some day.