It took an entire study to figure out that CFIs aren't paid enough?
Next, they'll uncover shocking news that the regional airlines and most other entry level flying jobs don't pay squat either.
It's no so much that they're underpaid, but that they don't fly enough hours to make ends meet!
I've worked at FBO's and independently, and at an academy. NONE of those paid CLOSE to what is being portrayed in this article. High of $35hr for independent, which you are very effective if you can bill 23-30hrs in a 6 day week, and $17-22 per hour for academies and FBO's where you're doing great if you can earn $2,500 in a month. Less than $50 an hour? Duh.
I began my journey into professional aviation in 2001. I was 29 and it was a second career for me. The first full two years were spent as a full-time CFI. My average gross income as a CFI was $12K each year, less than one-fifth from the career I left. My first employer, a well-known national provider of flight training, billed customers $60-70/hr for our services yet paid us CFI's only $11-14/hr of that. While the ratio of billing vs. compensation improved with my second and third employers, most instructors I knew, including myself, had to work second jobs just to survive.
I believe CFI compensation WILL be addressed in the not-too-distant future, one way or another. Unless enough forward-thinking exists to finally bring CFI compensation to an appropriate level that will attract talented new instructors, flight training providers will be looking head-on at a real crisis for CFI services. In the later, the market will determine the compensation necessary to attract and retain flight instructors, as is the case with most labor...and I do not imagine most flight schools will like the outcome.
I'm sure all those CFI's paying money to NAFI feel that this study was money well spent, and will be more excited to pay their dues next year. #sarcasm
$50/hour? Perhaps a few guys teaching ATP students and refresher courses in the latest full-motion simulators might get that rate, but the overwhelming majority of instructors are paid the minimum rate by flight schools. That certainly was the case for me.
In the mid-1970s I worded up north in mining jobs, making enough $$$ to pay for my private, commercial, IFR and instructor's ratings. I instructed for nearly three years, needing a second job driving an airport shuttle in the colder months to make ends meet.
The longer I stuck with it the more seniority I got at the school, which led to more lucrative hours, teaching commercial, IFR and multi-engine ratings in piston twins. The dollar stretched a lot farther than it does today. Rents were a lot more reasonable, especially if you had a roommate or two to share costs with. The airport shuttle job was mostly from November to April, when there weren't as as many students.
From May to October I flew my ass off. I was flying and logging1350 hours a year, about a third of that IFR and multi-engine PIC hours, all for free. Granted, the situation for me in the 70s was different than it is today. There were enough people looking to learn to fly in the 1970s that pulling in 30 hours in five or six long days in the warmer months was possible. Airplanes were WAY less expensive to rent so more people learned to fly. I didn't have my earning power eroded for a generation by stagnant wages.
Eventually I found a job that didn't pay much better, second pilot/baggage handler and in a DeHavilland Twin Otter on floats, operating from harbour to harbour in BC. It was 13 hour days, about 8 air hours/day, lousy weather for six months a year, but it was turbine time, the kind of experience the airlines were looking for.
Over time I got good contacts in the industry, one eventually steering me toward a nicer gig co-piloting Beech King Airs and Merlin IIs. Eighteen months later I made right seat in a Dash 8-200, flying regional hops in western Canada. My last 25 years were in 737s and Dc-10s for CPAir, flying longer regional hops all around western Canada, the last 18 in the left seat. I was lucky and only got furloughed out a couple of times for short periods. Made enough money to buy a decent house, a couple vehicles and raise a family. Had I given up when I was young because of poor wages at the flight school, my lucrative job flying jets never would have happened.
If I had a burning desire for an aviation career today I'd start as early as possible, get as many ratings as I could afford and then look seriously into a military career. A couple of terms flying turbine military equipment where they provide the training, plus the discipline that military life teaches, is a terrific foundation from which to find a not quite a good airline job. Or captaining a corp jet, moving VIPS around in style.
I get that it's tougher today, with fewer people looking to fly, but it still boils down to this: how bad do you want it? If you really want to get the better flying jobs, you have to put in your time like everybody else. Nobody is just going to hand it to you because you're a nice guy.
I loved teaching, but to make any money you have to burn yourself out. I instructed in the early 90s and my rates was $14 an hour. Had to live with my parents...
It's a tough business. I wish there were more options to build experience. It's not an optimal situation for either party involved. I would rather see folks teach part time, but do it with a passion. May second career types.