Flight Instructor

Flight instructors teach individuals how to fly commercial, personal or military aircraft. They work for airlines, the federal government, the United States military and as self-employed instructors. Flight instructors are expected to be experienced and a limited number of flight instructors are also qualified to be examiners.

By utilizing classes on the ground, flight simulators and dual controlled aircraft, flight instructors provide a comprehensive course of study for future pilots. It’s the role of the flight instructor to educate students about every aspect of the particular plane or helicopter, including tackling emergencies while flying and maintenance of the aircraft.

Flight instructors typically have the following responsibilities:

  • Interact directly with students
  • Plan and teach ground classes covering topics related to pre-flight, in-flight and post-flight
  • Teach students about safety regulations
  • Instruct and evaluate students as they utilize flight simulators
  • Insure that maintenance and safety measures are maintained prior to allowing students to ride in or fly an aircraft
  • Perform flight briefings
  • Provide useful feedback both on the ground and in the air to assist students
  • Determine whether a student is prepared to become a pilot
  • Help students prepare for licensing examinations.

Flight Instructor Degrees

While becoming a flight instructor does not necessarily require a degree, most airlines and other flight organizations require pilots to possess at least a two year degree, if not a bachelor’s degree according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Degrees in physics, aeronautical engineering, mathematics or even education could improve employment opportunities for flight instructors.

Flight instructors hold either a commercial or personal pilot’s license. Instructors seeking to work for airlines, the military or other organizations may be required to pass FAA examinations. Depending on their employer’s preferences, some flight instructors also have to pass physical exams.

Flight Instructor Salary*

The BLS notes that some pilots become flight instructors to earn additional income and to increase their own flight hours.

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics



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