Possible to make a living as a CFI or even a Sport CFI?

Finally, a place for sport pilot instructors and/or wannabees to talk about instructing.

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N918KT
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Possible to make a living as a CFI or even a Sport CFI?

Postby N918KT » Sat Feb 21, 2015 10:40 am

This question is for all the CFIs and Sport Pilot CFIs out there. Is it possible to make a living out of working as a CFI or maybe even a Sport Pilot CFI? Or is this more of a hobby or side job that one does instead of making this their main career? There are a few times where I thought that maybe one day if I obtained my Sport Pilot Certificate, I could continue to flight train for a Sport Pilot CFI and work for a flight school specializing in sport pilot training as a Sport Pilot CFI (or at least at a flight school with sport pilot training).

3Dreaming
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Re: Possible to make a living as a CFI or even a Sport CFI?

Postby 3Dreaming » Sat Feb 21, 2015 3:19 pm

The CFI's who can make a living out of only instructing are few and far between, if in fact they do exist.

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drseti
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Re: Possible to make a living as a CFI or even a Sport CFI?

Postby drseti » Sun Feb 22, 2015 6:52 am

I have to agree with Tom. Those of us CFIs who do make a living in aviation do so by combining instruction with maintenance, engineering, consulting, or aircraft sales. For a financial overview of what the realities are, feel free to download my flight school's latest Annual Report from:
<http://avsport.org/docs/report2014.pdf>
The opinions posted are those of one CFI, and do not necessarily represent the FAA or its lawyers.
Prof H Paul Shuch
PhD CFII DPE LSRM-A/GL/WS/PPC iRMT
AvSport LLC, KLHV
fly@AvSport.org
AvSport.org
facebook.com/SportFlying
SportPilotExaminer.US

N918KT
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Re: Possible to make a living as a CFI or even a Sport CFI?

Postby N918KT » Sun Feb 22, 2015 11:42 am

drseti wrote:I have to agree with Tom. Those of us CFIs who do make a living in aviation do so by combining instruction with maintenance, engineering, consulting, or aircraft sales. For a financial overview of what the realities are, feel free to download my flight school's latest Annual Report from:
<http://avsport.org/docs/report2014.pdf>


I see. So usually just instructing isn't enough to make a living but combining with other aviation activities it may be possible. But does that mean usually owning your own aviation business if you combine several aviation activities to make a living?

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drseti
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Re: Possible to make a living as a CFI or even a Sport CFI?

Postby drseti » Sun Feb 22, 2015 12:19 pm

Pretty much so. You can't really make much of a living instructing for someone else, as you'd be competing with all those bright future jet jockeys who are trying to use their CFI ticket to build up cheap hours towards their airline career.
The opinions posted are those of one CFI, and do not necessarily represent the FAA or its lawyers.
Prof H Paul Shuch
PhD CFII DPE LSRM-A/GL/WS/PPC iRMT
AvSport LLC, KLHV
fly@AvSport.org
AvSport.org
facebook.com/SportFlying
SportPilotExaminer.US

Flocker
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Re: Possible to make a living as a CFI or even a Sport CFI?

Postby Flocker » Sun Feb 22, 2015 12:54 pm

A 1-hour lesson at the flight school I trained at is billed as follows:

C-162 = $124.00
Tax = $8.68
Fuel surcharge = $5.35
CFI = $55.00
Total = $193.03

Just curious, how much would the CFI get to keep (on average)?

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drseti
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Re: Possible to make a living as a CFI or even a Sport CFI?

Postby drseti » Sun Feb 22, 2015 1:20 pm

My adjunct instructors get 90% of the CFI fee; I retain 10% for overhead. But, mine is an atypical case; many schools keep up to half.
The opinions posted are those of one CFI, and do not necessarily represent the FAA or its lawyers.
Prof H Paul Shuch
PhD CFII DPE LSRM-A/GL/WS/PPC iRMT
AvSport LLC, KLHV
fly@AvSport.org
AvSport.org
facebook.com/SportFlying
SportPilotExaminer.US

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drseti
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Re: Possible to make a living as a CFI or even a Sport CFI?

Postby drseti » Sun Feb 22, 2015 1:23 pm

Interesting numbers, Flocker. My prices are lower; I suspect you're in a higher cost of living area (or perhaps I'm not charging enough!)
The opinions posted are those of one CFI, and do not necessarily represent the FAA or its lawyers.
Prof H Paul Shuch
PhD CFII DPE LSRM-A/GL/WS/PPC iRMT
AvSport LLC, KLHV
fly@AvSport.org
AvSport.org
facebook.com/SportFlying
SportPilotExaminer.US

N918KT
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Re: Possible to make a living as a CFI or even a Sport CFI?

Postby N918KT » Sun Feb 22, 2015 1:29 pm

Paul, just wondering, are there flight schools where CFIs are paid by hourly wage like any other typical hourly wage job or is it usually flight schools just pay CFIs half the instruction rate? Sorry if this is a stupid question, but what would be the typical hourly wage for a CFI at a flight school if the CFI is being paid by hourly wage?

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drseti
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Re: Possible to make a living as a CFI or even a Sport CFI?

Postby drseti » Sun Feb 22, 2015 1:45 pm

The possibilities are all over the map; there is no industry standard. Some FBOs pay their CFIs a flat rate per student, or per lesson. Some pay a percentage of the hourly instructor rate the student pays. Some pay for flight time only, others for both flight and ground instruction given. Some instructors are full-time salaried employees, but those normally have other duties (as mechanics, managers, charter pilots, line boys, etc.) when not instructing. It's highly variable, and sometimes negotiable.

Anyone looking for a job with an FBO should ask to first see a copy of the company's policy manual, which should outline conditions of employment. The fact that most FBOs don't have a formal, written policy manual speaks volumes about the nature of this industry.
The opinions posted are those of one CFI, and do not necessarily represent the FAA or its lawyers.
Prof H Paul Shuch
PhD CFII DPE LSRM-A/GL/WS/PPC iRMT
AvSport LLC, KLHV
fly@AvSport.org
AvSport.org
facebook.com/SportFlying
SportPilotExaminer.US

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Re: Possible to make a living as a CFI or even a Sport CFI?

Postby Wm.Ince » Sun Feb 22, 2015 1:59 pm

drseti wrote:The possibilities are all over the map; there is no industry standard. Some FBOs pay their CFIs a flat rate per student, or per lesson. Some pay a percentage of the hourly instructor rate the student pays. Some pay for flight time only, others for both flight and ground instruction given. Some instructors are full-time salaried employees, but those normally have other duties (as mechanics, managers, charter pilots, line boys, etc.) when not instructing. It's highly variable, and sometimes negotiable.

Anyone looking for a job with an FBO should ask to first see a copy of the company's policy manual, which should outline conditions of employment. The fact that most FBOs don't have a formal, written policy manual speaks volumes about the nature of this industry.

Paul,

Are you hiring any CFI's at your school?
At your school, what qualifications do your require?
Bill Ince
CTSW
Retired Heavy Equipment Operator

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drseti
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Re: Possible to make a living as a CFI or even a Sport CFI?

Postby drseti » Sun Feb 22, 2015 2:12 pm

Bill, I'm taking on part-time independent contractors at this time. Commercial/Instrument and Subpart H CFI ratings required (but no medical required, as we're using LSA). Applicant must go through a 5-hour transition checkout with me - my time is free, but the applicant pays Hobbs time for the acft. Details in my Policy Manual, online.
The opinions posted are those of one CFI, and do not necessarily represent the FAA or its lawyers.
Prof H Paul Shuch
PhD CFII DPE LSRM-A/GL/WS/PPC iRMT
AvSport LLC, KLHV
fly@AvSport.org
AvSport.org
facebook.com/SportFlying
SportPilotExaminer.US

Wm.Ince
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Re: Possible to make a living as a CFI or even a Sport CFI?

Postby Wm.Ince » Sun Feb 22, 2015 2:27 pm

drseti wrote:Bill, I'm taking on part-time independent contractors at this time. Commercial/Instrument and Subpart H CFI ratings required (but no medical required, as we're using LSA). Applicant must go through a 5-hour transition checkout with me - my time is free, but the applicant pays Hobbs time for the acft. Details in my Policy Manual, online.
Thanks for the prompt reply, Paul. :)
Bill Ince
CTSW
Retired Heavy Equipment Operator

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deltafox
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Re: Possible to make a living as a CFI or even a Sport CFI?

Postby deltafox » Sun Feb 22, 2015 6:33 pm

I just started to instruct again in July 2014. I focus on LSA but have also done some Private Pilot/Commercial teaching, as well as Flight Reviews. It is my "grand experiment" to see if Light Sport can draw enough students to make a school successful. Paul has done it. Chesapeake Sport has done it. A few others have done it so I'm convinced it is possible.

I fly out of an airport with another school that uses a C172. We often refer clients back and forth to each other depending on the client's needs. We have a good relationship.

I charge $50 per lesson for me. Includes preflight brief, flight time, and post-flight brief. I also include video analysis and post the lesson on a secure website for the client to replay as often as he wants. I charge $100 per hour (Hobbs) for Sally. I do not teach a ground school.

I am pleased with the experiment so far, but Spring weather should validate my efforts. (or point me in a different direction.)
Dave

Jack Tyler
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Re: Possible to make a living as a CFI or even a Sport CFI?

Postby Jack Tyler » Mon Feb 23, 2015 8:41 am

" It is my "grand experiment" to see if Light Sport can draw enough students to make a school successful. Paul has done it. Chesapeake Sport has done it. "

For N918KT, Dave and anyone else following this thread with similar goals, be sure to accept Paul's invitation and read his annual reports. I didn't read his 2014 report, but the earlier ones clearly document the bottom line, dollars/hour revenue (actually, cents/hour). Yes, he's "done it" but just be clear about the level of effort, the experience base he draws on, and the level of professionalism involved - I think it's the exception rather than the rule - for the financial return it provides.

Paul, wouldn't you agree that - while you have developed many facets to your business and so it's revenue stream - AvSport still qualifies as an 'avocation without a vacation', as they say? Personally, I don't think you've missed many opportunities, from hosting the local news team to teaching seminars gratis at shows. Wouldn't you agree that the only significant variable that remains missing for AvSport is its location? One wonders what you'd be seeing if you were 20 miles outside Orlando!
Jack
Flying in/out KBZN, Bozeman MT in a Grumman Tiger
Do you fly for recreational purposes? Please visit http://www.theraf.org


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