Here’s How CFI and Your Industry Is Working for You

Become a CFI-I or MEI
Some aviators immediately press on to become a “double-I”, which is a Certified Flight Instructor Instrument certificate (CFII). This allows flight instructors to train students in earning their instrument rating. An instrument rating is often the first advanced work a pilot takes on after earning his or her private certificate. It allows the pilot greater latitude in the weather in which he or she can operate. Obtaining an instrument rating is usually a must for pilots who wish to fly professionally. Those who fly on an amateur basis find much greater freedom in holding an instrument rating.

Since the instrument rating is a popular step for both professionals as well as amateurs, flight instructors with authority from the FAA to guide the educational process are usually in high demand. Many flight schools prefer this qualification when hiring new flight instructors. Before the current pilot shortage, the CFI was often a requirement for new hires.

Less prevalent in flight schools is the Multiengine Instructor Certificate (MEI). This enables flight instructors to conduct training for pilots seeing a multiengine certificate. Because multiengine aircraft tend to be more expensive to operate, earning this certificate can require some financial planning. However, aiming for the MEI good for pilots eager to expand their skills as an instructor and who would like to instruct many types of aircraft. One great advantage of having an MEI is the instructor’s ability to log multiengine time while earning money to do so, which is a critical career advantage.

Find a Flight School Job or Go Independent
With a worldwide pilot shortage, jobs as flight instructors are much easier to find than a few years ago. Some flight instructors are interested in pursuing specialized training in a specific brand of aircraft like Cessna, Cirrus, seaplanes, light sport, etc. Some pilots prefer to become flight instructors as a permanent career while others do so in retirement after many years of flying commercial or military aircraft wither way just pursue your passion. Other flight instructors take on students as side work, either because they work in adjacent aviation positions, such as air traffic control, or to supplement income in non-aviation work.

Flight instructing is also an option for pilots who have lost medical clearance for other aviation work; a flight instructor may give training without a medical certificate if the other pilot is authorized to operate as pilot in command. Flight instructors are authorized to give flight reviews in aircraft for which they are not authorized to be pilot in command.

Moreover, this flexibility allows many pilots to share knowledge and experience in the cockpit who might otherwise find themselves behind a desk. The majority of flight instructors, however, are early-career pilots seeking to build minimum time requirements for airline or commercial work.

Some flight instructors are freelance; they do not work for a flight school and contract directly with their clients. These CFIs are free to set their own schedules and choose where, when, and with whom to work. They must pay their own flight instructor liability insurance and find their own students. This option offers the greatest freedom to a CFI, but also all the risks that self-employment carries.

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