Aug 23, 2021
Many people pursuing a career in flying have their sights firmly set on becoming an airline pilot, but that’s not the only career option available. If you have your Commercial Pilot’s Licence (CPL), you can choose to complete your C Cat Flight Instructor Rating and become a qualified flight instructor.
What Does A Flight Instructor Do?
Flight instructors are responsible for teaching students how to fly in various settings using methods that include classroom education, simulators and in-flight training. Here are some examples of what a flight instructor does:
- Prepare and teach aviation rules and theory
- Carry out and teach pre-flight checks on aircraft
- Teach students how to fly an aeroplane using its controls and instruments
- Test students’ skills, knowledge and abilities
- Report on student progress
- Conduct training flights
How Do You Become A Flight Instructor?
Want to know what it takes to be a flight instructor? Here are some answers to frequently asked questions.
How Many Hours Does It Take To Become A Flight Instructor?
To become a flight instructor, you will need a minimum of 200 hours of flying time.
What Are The Requirements For Becoming A Flight Instructor?
- Commercial Pilots Licence (CPL)
- Flight Instructor Rating (C Category)
What Are Some Useful Skills And Experience For Flying Instructors?
- Mechanically minded
- Good communication
- Understanding of weather forecasts
- Safety focused
- Planning and navigation skills
- An Instrument Rating
Where Can You Get Your Instructor Rating?
Flight training schools and some aero clubs offer the Flight Instructor Rating (C Category) as a standalone rating, or you can complete the requirements as part of either of the following qualifications:
- New Zealand Diploma in Aviation Aeroplane (Level 6) with strands in airline preparation and flight instruction.
- Massey University’s Bachelor of Aviation
What Does A C-Cat Instructor Rating Include?
- Flight Instructional techniques (theory)
- Practical instructional techniques
- Aerodynamics and principles of flight (theory)
- In-flight exercises, including pre and post flight briefings
- Practical Flight instruction (at least 25 hours dual, and 1 hour spin instruction)
- Legislation and Meteorology (theory)
For more information on the skills and knowledge flight instructors need, and what they teach, there is a great resource here on the CAA website – The Flight Instructor Guide.
Top 10 Benefits Of Becoming A Flight Instructor
Is becoming a flight instructor worth it? Yes, it definitely is! Let’s take a look at the top 10 benefits of becoming a flight instructor.
1. Getting Paid To Fly!
You get paid to do what you love. That pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it? Everyone dreams of being able to get paid to do what they love and becoming an instructor gives pilots that option. Your love of flying will be fulfilled every day, and you will be helping others learn to love it too! How much do flight instructors earn? It may surprise you to know that the entry-level pay is similar to that of an airline pilot just starting out with minimum experience. The pay bracket varies from country to country and is dependent on experience and ratings; as a loose guide flight instructor salaries in New Zealand range from $70,000 to $100,000 per year.
2. More Variety In Your Day
Working airline jobs or in other professional pilot, roles can very quickly become routine. Flight instructors enjoy a wide variety of day to day flying opportunities and have the ability to train in all sorts of terrain and conditions. Instructing is challenging and requires high levels of technical and practical flying skills to ensure you are teaching your students best practice. No two days are the same!
3. Building Up Your Hours Faster (And Cheaper)
One of the most common reasons pilots train to become instructors is to build up their hours. This is because the number of hours required to enter the airline industry can be a little daunting, particularly when it comes to funding these hours. When starting out, working as a flight instructor is an excellent way to build up your hours without the financial drain. Plus, you get to kick start your career by adding to your resume and making you more attractive to future employers.
4. Rising To The Challenge!
Many career pilots will tell you that taking the initial Flight Instructor Rating was among the most challenging certifications they earned. While it is often used as a stepping stone to further employment, an Instructor Rating hones and refines your flying skills to a whole new level. Completing the rating is very rewarding in itself.
5. Naturally Becoming A Better Pilot
Pilots are constantly learning, refining and expanding on their skills with every flight. While you are teaching others, you are simultaneously working on your own strengths and weaknesses. You learn and grow as a pilot together with your students and become a better pilot for it! As a flight instructor, you need to be constantly on your toes – you certainly won’t ever be bored!
6. Better Work/Life Balance
If you love flying but aren’t committed to the sometimes nomadic lifestyle of an airline pilot, a career as a Flight Instructor typically offers a much more consistent schedule, as well as the benefit of staying put in your town/city/country of choice. This means your schedule is more traditional, and you will be able to head home every night and avoid spending long periods of time away from family and friends.
7. It’s Rewarding!
Sharing your knowledge with others and helping them achieve their goals and aspirations is very rewarding. Not only do you get to meet different people every day, you also get to make an impact on their lives and really connect with them through personal motivation and the exhilaration of overcoming challenges. Teaching is also an excellent skill to add to your resume regardless of where your aviation career takes you.
8. Meeting Lots Of New People
Flight training schools bring together aviation enthusiasts worldwide, which means being around new students and aviation professionals every day. Meeting these like-minded people allows you to appreciate different cultures, backgrounds, and experiences, achieving both personal and professional growth.
9. Being In High Demand
While the after effects of the worldwide COVID pandemic temporarily put a damper on the aviation industry, airlines are going to need plenty of pilots to get the industry up and running at its former levels again and often flight instructors are the first to be poached! Therefore new instructors will be in high demand in the coming years.
10. Boosting Your Career
Training as a Flight Instructor shows future employers you have patience, understanding, skill and the ability to work well with others. Specifically, this means you are ahead on the list when looking to move on to working as a commercial airline pilot. Working as a commercial airline pilot is probably the most sought-after position in aviation, and airlines are always looking for pilots who have a good amount of experience; working as an instructor helps you gain the experience needed to achieve this goal.
Flight Instructor Career Pathways
Having completed your Instructor Rating C Category (C Cat), and once you have enough hours, you can progress towards obtaining a B Cat Instructor Rating. This enables you to train pilots on multi-engine aircraft under instrument flight rules and includes aerobatic flight. From there, you can eventually progress to an A Cat Instructor Rating, where you can become a flight examiner. Many experienced flight instructors also go on to become airline pilots as airline recruiters value their skills and experience.
Does becoming a pilot excite you? Southern Wings can help you become a Flight Instructor today! Our professional pilot training programs offer graduates quality flight training pathways with the added bonus of the reputation of being an Air NZ Preferred Flight Training School (FTO). So if you want to take your training even further, contact us today to enrol!