Every licensed pilot has had at least one flight instructor, and many pilots carry stories and fond memories of their instructors throughout an entire career. Flight instructors therefore are easily the most influential of piloting professions, and yet often overlooked as a career choice. Do you enjoy helping others learn and achieve their goals? Do you love the idea of flying for a living but not the idea of being away from home all the time? A career as a professional flight instructor could be for you!
How to Learn
A Flight Instructor Rating issued by Transport Canada is necessary to work as a flight instructor in Canada. After obtaining a commercial pilot license (CPL), a further 25 hours of ground school, 30 hours of dual flight instruction, and successful completion of a flight test are required to obtain a class 4 instructor rating.
Flight instructors are regulated by Transport Canada into four classes. New flight instructors start as Class 4 and must be supervised by more senior instructors. Class 4 instructors may become Class 3 after meeting several practical requirements, including giving a minimum of 100 hours of flight instruction, and successfully recommending three or more students for flight tests. As flight instructors gain experience, they can progress through Class 2 and eventually Class 1. These experienced instructors can manage flight schools and other instructors as Chief Flying Instructors (CFIs), train other flight instructors, and become pilot examiners.
The current demand for pilots in airline and other operations has created unprecedented opportunities for would-be flight instructors. Flight schools across the country are typically eager to hire talented pilots who want to make a career out of teaching others.
Successful instructors can enjoy a wealth of career choices that include working at small rural flight schools, urban colleges and universities, type training organizations such as FlightSafety and CAE, and many others. Instructing experience is often looked at as an asset by other organizations because it adds adult education to a pilot’s skill-set. Far from being career limiting, instructing experience can be a ticket into coveted training positions at airlines and similar organizations, if desired.
Like many jobs, flight instructing takes some time and commitment to pay off. While class 1 instructors and pilot examiners can earn around $100,000 annually, depending on their employer and the location, class 4 instructors are typically paid by the instructional hour and earn on average about $20,000 – $30,000 per year.
Flight instructor ratings cost approximately $10,000. This is in addition to the cost of obtaining a Commercial Pilot License, which is a prerequisite.
Some flight schools may offer financial incentives for their promising students to become flight instructors and work at that school.
Need More Information?
Visit the Pilot Career Centre Canada for information about about flight training, how to choose a flight school and listing of schools across Canada.
The Government of Canada also offers guidance on how to select a flight school and the steps needed to start training.