Airlines pilots may be paid more but there are other pilot jobs that can be more fulfilling or more fun. Check out these great pilot jobs you should consider!
Many people dream of being a pilot but are not necessarily interested in working for a commercial airline. In other cases, a new pilot might have difficulty breaking into the industry. Luckily, there are many other pilot jobs available outside of the major airlines.
It is true that pilot salaries tend to be higher at commercial airlines. But pay isn't the only consideration when choosing a job.
For instance, many pilots opt not to work for airlines to get more flexibility. Or, they may prefer flying smaller jets.
In any case, it's always best to explore all the options available before making a choice. Let's take a closer look at employment options for pilots outside of major airlines.
The Pros and Cons of Airline Pilot Jobs
First, let's look at some of the benefits and drawbacks of working for an airline. Understanding these features can help you determine which pilot jobs are best for you.
First, the pros. Most airlines are fairly large companies, which means that they are able to offer competitive benefits packages. In addition to health insurance and paid time off, many airline pilots get travel vouchers for their friends and family.
That said, many pilots feel that once they choose an airline to work for, that they must stay with it. This is because airline pilots are evaluated based on seniority. If a seasoned pilot moves to another airline, they may lose their seniority, and must essentially start over.
Another negative feature of working for a commercial airline is the uncertainty of the industry. For instance, airlines suffered great financial losses after 9/11. They are only just starting to recover.
Not to mention, many customers who fly on airlines do so for tourism. In a recession, trimming vacation expenses is often the first move folks make to save money.
Other Options for Pilot Jobs
Looking at some of the negatives of flying for a commercial airline, it's easy to see why some pilots opt not to go this route. Here are some of the other jobs that these pilots take.
Many large companies hire pilots to fly their executives and other employees. The benefits with these jobs vary from corporation to corporation. At some companies, corporate pilots can make more money than they would at a major airline.
One of the drawbacks of working as a corporate pilot is a lack of consistent schedule. The pilot is typically on call and must be ready to fly to wherever the company needs to send its employees. This can lead to a tiring and unpredictable schedule.
Another draw back of corporate pilot jobs is that they tend to not be advertised. This means that pilots must work their connections and professional networks to get one of these jobs.
Several departments of the United States Government depend on regular air travel to do their jobs. In many cases, they contract their own pilots, rather than going through a commercial airline.
With these jobs, the pilot is a full-time government employee. This means that these jobs tend to come with generous health insurance and retirement benefits. The tradeoff is that the salary is lower than what you could make at a private company.
These jobs also tend to have a typical 40-hour work week. This can be a positive or negative, depending on your preferences. Some pilots prefer this consistency, while others like the excitement of a varying schedule.
Teaching the next generation of pilots isn't just for folks nearing retirement. These are great pilot jobs for anyone who likes working directly with people and has a heart for teaching.
Being a flight instructor is one of the few jobs that allows a pilot to work with smaller airplanes. Also, instructors tend to make their own schedule, which makes for flexibility.
That said, anyone who has taught a person how to drive a car can anticipate what some of the negatives of this job would be. Riding with flight students will definitely make for some bumpy rides. For that reason, this is definitely not a job for the impatient or the faint of heart.
There are many small companies that offer flights to tourists. For instance, there are pilots who fly planes for skydiving trips. In other cases, a pilot may give aerial tours of a particular scenic region.
If you enjoy working with people, flying for tourism could be a good option for you. These jobs are less common and are usually restricted to certain geographic areas.
If you are a mission-oriented person, you may enjoy flying for a charitable organization. For instance, these pilots may fly patients who are in need of medical attention and are not able to fly on a commercial airline.
In some cases, these positions are not paid. Even so, they can be a good way to earn flight hours needed for a certification.
Determining What Certification You Need
The pilot career you're interested in will dictate what kind of certification you need. There are different levels of pilot certifications that will qualify you for different jobs.
This is the easiest certification for a pilot to obtain. For that reason, it only grants holders permission to fly smaller aircraft at low altitudes.
While this license has restrictions, it also only requires 20 hours of training time. This makes it a good option if you're still deciding if pilot jobs are right for you.
A commercial pilot's license is required to be compensated for flying. So, whether you want to fly for a company or the government, you need at least a commercial pilot's license.
Commercial pilots must meet certain federal regulatory standards to obtain their licenses. Also, they may be required to pass a medical examination.
Airline Transport Pilot
An airport transport certification is necessary for anyone who wants to fly for a commercial airline.
This is the most difficult certification to obtain. Typically, a pilot must log at least 1,500 hours to qualify for this certification.
Have you worked pilot jobs outside of commercial airlines? Which were your favorites? Let us know in the comments!
If you're thinking of being a commercial pilot, it's a fun and rewarding career. Here are 10 things you should know (hint: one of them doesn't involve airplanes)!
With the incredible opportunities awaiting you, it's time to take a closer look at becoming a private pilot.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that over 5000 full-time pilot jobs will be added through 2024, making this a healthy job-growth industry. And this doesn't even include the many contract jobs available. It also doesn't include job opening due to the ongoing need to replace retiring pilots.
Explore this very rewarding career as we look at 10 things you need to know about breaking into this industry.
1. You're Going Back to School
Let's cast the glamor and adventure aside for a moment.
Get geared up to go back to school. If you haven't gotten your license yet, you'll be hitting the books, watching educational videos, taking notes and doing practical application exercises.
And yes, there will be tests, including but not limited to, FAA Recreational and Private Pilot Exam.
Most of your training will likely happen on the ground, in a classroom setting. What you learn here will allow you to excel once you're in the cockpit.
2. You'll Learn A New Language or Two
Hope you're good with learning new languages. Pilots must be able to communicate effectively with other pilots and ground control.
There's ZERO room for error.
The first language you'll learn is "radio talk" like:
- Wilco = I will comply
- Roger = I received and understand your last transmission
- Affirmative = Yes
Radio talk isn't difficult to learn. But learning to use it consistently without slipping into "normal speech" can be a challenge.
Like all languages, it will be accompanied by guidelines for usage like:
- Listen before you transmit
- Think out what you're going to say before you begin
- Be alert regarding potential failed transmission
By learning to effectively use this new language, you can keep yourself and others safe.
Second, you'll learn to read Textual Weather.
An alphanumeric code will inform you about weather conditions in your area. You'll learn to quickly decipher this code.
Two common textual weather coding systems are METAR or PIREP. PIREP is a log of the actual conditions that your aircraft encountered during flight. METAR is a weather report that you'll receive hourly or half-hourly
3. Aerodynamics Will Become More Than An Abstract Concept
If you're not a physicist, chances are that aerodynamics is more of an abstract concept to you. You probably know that certain shapes and angles create "drag" on something like a car. But you may never have had the opportunity to really experience drag in the real world.
You'll develop an intimate knowledge of how aerodynamics works.
You'll make adjustments to "go with the flow" to reduce:
- Fuel consumption
- Wear and tear
Through this, you'll find the right glide speed to maximize your resources. And this is only the beginning of understanding how your machines work.
4. Get Ready for the Regulations
You'll need to familiarize yourself with hundreds of FAA regulations.
As with any laws, not knowing isn't an excuse for not doing.Regulations help keep you and others safe in air spaces both domestic and abroad.
Some of these laws can seem confusing or even contradictory. But by working with a great instructor, you'll learn what you need to know to comply.
Regulations are one of those things you'll learn in the classroom before ever entering the plane. As a student, you're held to the same standards as a fully licensed pilot when it comes to following regulations.
5. You'll Eat Sleep and Dream Aerospace Systems
Aerospace systems are a complex network of aerospace sections. Within these systems, you'll apply certain weather minimums at various altitudes. These minimums will change depending on day or night.
As you study, you'll learn these systems by heart. They'll become such a part of you that you'll likely think about them randomly and they may even haunt your dreams.
But ultimately, you'll learn to love them as they'll impact your decisions for the better.
6. Flying Is Nothing Like Driving a Car
You get behind the wheel of a car, turn the ignition, step on the brake, look behind you, put it in reverse and slowly release the brake.
If you drive an automatic, that's all you really need to know to back a car out. If you're like most people today, you may not even get past changing your oil and repairing a flat when it comes to maintaining your car.
But as a private pilot, you must know your craft on a deep level. You'll know:
- How a plane works
- The mechanisms involved in flying
- What can go wrong
- How to compensate when things go wrong
- How to take it apart and put it back together
- How to repair damage
You'll get hands on with an airplane.
7. There's Power in Numbers
As a private pilot, joining flying clubs can help you save on services and maintenance. These clubs can negotiate lower rates on supplies. They can spread out certain costs among many people to help you save on ownership and operations.
Other flying clubs give you exclusive access to job listings and content to help you get the most out of your license.
8. Training's Expensive But There Are Ways To Save
Working with a "bad" instructor will make your training take longer and you'll undoubtedly feel frustrated. You may not learn things that you need to know. The whole process will take longer and cost you more.
Find an instructor who has taught many successfully. This individual will have a clear plan and method to teaching.
Fly often. The more frequently you fly, the faster you'll learn. You'll be ready for your exam in no time.
Use a simulator. With a simulator, you can get immediate feedback on your actions versus trying to remember what you did when someone provides delayed feedback.
9. You Have To Be Eligible
Basically, to get a private pilot license, you need to be:
- 17 or older
- able to read, speak and understand English fluently
- Complete Training
- Pass your exam
To work as a private pilot you may need to meet additional requirements like hours flying, previous employment, etc.
10. There Are Tons of Ways To Use Your Private Pilot License
The most important thing that you need to know about becoming a private pilot is just how many ways that you can be one. Some great opportunities for private pilots include:
- Becoming a tour guide
- Working charter flights
- Mastering your region to build demand for your service
- Learning acrobatics to be involved in shows
- Building your own planes ...before flying them of course
- Restoring classic planes
- Exploring "uncharted" territories from the sky
- Transporting the sick
- Saving lives with search and rescue
Becoming a private pilot is hard work. But it gives you the opportunity to enter many rewarding career paths, make great pay and work for yourself on a contract basis or as a corporate employee.
Sign up for exclusive content and job listings and start getting the most out of your pilot license today.
Are you interested in becoming a flight instructor? We're giving you everything you need to know about a career in flight instruction. Click here.
A flight instructor is a certified individual who specializes in teaching people to fly aircraft, whether it be airplanes or helicopters. Some flight instructors will specialize in a particular category.
These can be things such as propeller, light aircraft, jet, or commercial aircraft.
Pilots may choose to become a flight instructor for a multitude of reasons. It may be a job long dreamed of. It may be a means of getting hours in the process of becoming a commercial pilot or airline pilot.
It may be the chance to make some money from a much-loved hobby.
A forecasted shortage of pilots in the industry has made the job of an instructor in high demand.
So what do you need to know?
Flight Instructor Certifications
Flight instructor certifications issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are made of the Certified Flight Instructor Certificate (CFI) and the secondary add-on qualification, Certified Flight Instructor - Instrument (CFII or CFI-I).
The primary CFI certification requires a check ride with a FAA examiner. The secondary add-on certification can be issued by any designated examiner.
The basic requirements for applying to become certified as an instructor by the FAA are as follows:
- A minimum age of 18 years
- Ability to speak, read, write, and understand the English language
- Currently hold a commercial pilot certificate or an airline transport pilot (ATP) certification
Hold A Valid Medical Certificate
If you already hold a commercial pilot certificate you will already have an aviation medical certificate.
A flight instructor is not required to hold a medical certificate if they will not be acting as pilot in command or as a required crewmember.
However, if you choose not to act as pilot in command, you are only able to accept students who have that designation. It makes sense to obtain the necessary 3rd class medical or higher certification.
It pays to keep in mind that a flight instructor is first and foremost a teacher. You will be required to work with students of all personality types.
An instructor needs patience, good communication skills, and the ability to guide others on their learning journey.
Be aware that you made be required to adjust your teaching technique to fit the needs of individual students.
You also have to complete two written exams in the process of becoming certified as an instructor. The first is the Fundamentals of Instruction (FOI) Exam. The second is the FAA Certified Flight Instructor Knowledge Exam.
The FOI Exam focuses on the teaching process. It covers such subjects as learning, effective teaching, and training techniques.
Note: If you already hold a 7th grade or higher teacher's certificate, or you teach at an accredited college or university, it is not necessary to sit the FOI Exam.
The Knowledge Exam will test your overall knowledge of aircraft and flying. It could include recreational, commercial, and private aircraft topics. Questions may also cover instrument, multi-engine, and high-performance categories.
All good teachers know the importance of a lesson plan. The lesson plan outlines topics to be covered and the course of instruction for the lesson period.
Resources which can be useful include printed drawings, charts, and diagrams, as well as advisory circulars and FAA safety briefings.
Your lesson plan should include all requirements in the FAA Practical Test Standards (PTS) for each topic covered.
Be prepared. A kit of pre-printed or gathered materials will save you time in the long run.
Practice Makes Perfect
The initial part of your CFI training will involve review. You'll be given the opportunity to practice to ensure you meet PTS standards. You will also need to be current with operations and FARS (Fatal Accident Reporting Systems) within your local area.
A large percentage of your CFI training will have you sitting in the seat and acting as an instructor to an experienced instructor.
This training will ensure you have the necessary experience to work with students.
You will be expected to evaluate your "student." You will need to give helpful guidance and explain methods and reasoning. The instruction will include ground training such as briefing and debriefing.
You will be required to demonstrate all maneuvers in line with regulations. It is helpful to take these practice flights with different instructors. You may be able to utilize these techniques with your own students.
These practice training flights are an essential lead up to your check flight with an examiner. Make sure to take your lesson plans and conduct the lesson as if you were already "on the job".
The Check Ride
The end of the process is, of course, the check ride. Once you've completed all the steps and your instructor believes you are ready for the examination, you will be signed off for your check ride.
The check ride will follow much the same guidelines as your practice flights. However, this time your examiner will be in the instructor's seat. You will be assessed on everything you were teaching during the practice runs.
Be aware - the check ride can be grueling and challenging. Some instructors have been required to complete multi-day check rides. This means they fly for of 16 hours or more before passing.
Your examiner will want to cover all details. Some choose to spend a significant amount of time on the ground before moving on to the flight portion of the exam.
This is a very real test.
Act professionally, dress appropriately, and demonstrate to your instructor what kind of instructor you'll be once you are certified.
The internet offers a wealth of knowledge for pilots and instructors. The more you know, the more you can share.
The Find A Pilot blog is an excellent source of information about the airline industry and covers topics ranging from Can Judgement Be Taught? to Lessons Learned in a Bad Situation.
A flight instructor has an important role in making the skies a safe and enjoyable place to be. And for the person who loves to be airborne, it is the ideal career path.