- Last week I posed a question on Air Safety Institute’s Facebook page (yes, we have one) asking how much a CFI should be paid. The answers were fascinating. Here are a few:
- They should have a salary if at a school, not paid by the hour. They could start in the 30’s.
- Professional CFI’s should be paid what they are worth, 50K minimum.
- $60 per hour would have prohibited me from being able to afford flight school. Maybe in another geographical location, but not where I live.
- This is an industry dying for reform. Young pilots are taken advantage of because their need to fly pushes them to work for poverty wages. Good flight instructors deserve good pay.
- Demand for flight training is very price elastic–even raising CFI rates a little bit could have a noticeable effect on business. While making CFI pay commensurate with experience is an interesting idea, I’m not sure it’s practical. It creates an impression that the more experienced instructors are “better” than new ones. If I were a typical student faced with the choice of paying higher rates for a more senior instructor, it might make me think that paying less for the new guy is a bad, unsafe idea. If I’m price sensitive, that would discourage me from taking up flying altogether.
- I will add that compared to other job choices of the same responsibility level of a CFI, it’s an (even vastly) underpaid profession. The problem with CFI pay, and regional airline pilot pay for that matter, is that the market cannot and will not support much of an increase.
- Interesting debate that mirrors the wider debate about the value that we put on all kinds of education/educators.
There were many more comments but the general consensus seems to be that the CFI, not the school, should be receiving somewhere between $50-60 an hour and not necessarily as an hourly employee.
I overheard one flight school owner trying to sell a young CFI on the tremendous advantage of being a contractor – that all his expenses could be written off on his taxes. For most CFIs the deduction value is somewhat limited and the lack of benefits isn’t always a plus. As a CFI contractor years ago, however, I do have fond memories of getting the company fruitcake every Christmas from the flight school.
This is part of a much larger conversation relative to the value equation of GA training. So, are we getting the instruction we deserve? More importantly, what should change?