Is CFI the only viable option to build to ATP?

I’m a PP ASEL working toward my instrument and strongly considering changing careers from engineering to aviation. I’m 23.

One question from me is: is the only way to get the hours for ATP Certification by being a CFI? Are there any other common or viable ways to do so?


There are many ways to build the time. Most people instruct simply because it’s a great way to build not only time but experience AND the availability of jobs. While there are other opportunities they can be hard to come by as there aren’t that many and ALOT of low time guys (like yourself) are vying for them. There’s banner tow, forest service, crop-dusting, traffic watch, light cargo and the list goes on. Know that in order to GET paid vs paying for time you will need to get your Commercial license. If you aspirations are for the airlines or corporate you will also obviously need your Multi-engine rating.



Don’t be so quick to discount flight instructing. I wasn’t sure that I would like it and actually ended up really enjoying it. I learned so much and got to meet a lot of great people. Keep your mind open to it.


I understand. I was actually a teaching assistant and tutor in college and consider myself a great teacher. I just wanted to know what else was out there in case I wanted to get some variety in my hours. Or move to another part of the country for a once in a lifetime 1 year+ (from Chicago area).


The best variety of flying is to instruct with multi engine, single engine,
and instrument ratings. If you do any other kind of low time commercial
flying, you will most likely get stuck doing the same kind of flying every
day. Then when you have your 1500 hours, you’ll be scrambling for more
night and instrument time.