What is the job market and pay like for CFIs? This week I spoke with a local Houston Texas-based “independent” Certified Flight Instructor (CFI). Even though the trend in general aviation is a declining active pilot population he repeats what I’ve heard other CFIs saying, “I’m as busy as I want to be.”
Last year, he booked 1,000 flight hours. His typical flight instruction is 1.5-hours billable, which covers a 1-hour flight with pre and post flight instruction. He schedules flight instruction in 2-hour blocks. As one would expect, he said, there are more non-billable hours spent in preparation or with weather delays.
In 1998, while working a full-time job in retail, he began part-time flight instruction. During 12 years of part-time flight instruction his network of contacts grew, and two years ago, he left his job to teach flight instruction full-time. He differentiated himself from others by focusing on Light Sport Aviation instruction; however, that only represents one-third of his instruction time. The larger balance is still a traditional combination of private pilot, instrument and Cirrus training.
His rates are as follows: light sport $50 hour, Private Pilot License or Instrument $60 hour, and CCIP qualified Cirrus training at $75 hour.
He commented on local FBO charges, noting typical instruction rates are in the $50 – $60 range, and that CFIs received $22.75 per flight hour and minimum wage when not flying. He said, these fees were from several years ago and FBO rates recently went up.
General Aviation needs committed CFIs and if you’re serious I’d suggest three steps:
1. Interview local CFIs to better understand your market
2. Create a personal brand and differentiate your flight instruction services
3. Build a referral network beyond the local FBO
Challenge Question: What tools will you use to expand your general aviation network connections?
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