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A Pilot's Life, The Top Ramen Years?


27 members have voted

  1. 1. How long did it take you to get your first "livable" wage job as a pilot (i.e. you can get your own place, have a car, eat "real" food, quit you other job/s, etc..)?

    • within 1 year
    • 1-2 years
    • 2-3 years
    • 3-4 years
    • more than 4 years

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I saw an article once on the top ten best paying entry-level jobs. Helicopter pilot was on the list at $25/hr (obviously the author didn't know how entry-level pilots are paid)!


They are probably talking about when the instructor is actually flying maybe? Not all the time he spends on the ground etc, just flight time.

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I consult at a school where the CFIs are paid $45 per hour for ground and sim time.


I think flight time is the same.


One of our airplane schools here charges $70 per hour for flight or ground. I am not sure what the CFIs get from that fee.

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Standard flight instructor pay in my area is $15/hour. That said, most people around here are lucky if they have a job that pays above min/wage. I currently make almost twice that as a contracted mechanic, so going full time flight instructor will be a huge pay cut.


I fully expect to be doing this more as a hobby for the next 2+ years. My current non-flying job pays very well but is very demanding. I want to have a new car (paid for in cash) and a decent savings before I jump into flying full time, though I am confident I can get that full time job when I am ready. I have already figured I can make my mortgage and still feed my family on a flight instructors pay (as long as my wife keeps working too). I just won't be able to save money, so I want it saved ahead of time.


I would say, as long as you are at a busy school, flight instructor pay is very liveable, as long as you don't have expectations of eating out all the time, living in a posh place, or driving a beemer.

Edited by nightsta1ker
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  • 3 months later...

Every school and experience is different. I've heard of some instructor jobs paying as much as 20/hr and as little as 10. You could get on with a busy flight school and have your 1000 in a year or you may work at a slow school and it'll take you 5 years. It'll be tough sometimes and you'll learn a lot about yourself and how much you're willing to sacrifice to fly helicopters in the process

Edited by zippiesdrainage
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