Kaiwhakaako Waka Rererangi
This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
Flying instructors teach people how to fly aeroplanes, helicopters or other aircraft.
Mid-level flying instructors usually earn
$33K-$70K per year
Senior flying instructors usually earn
$70K-$100K per year
Source: Christchurch, Marlborough and Wellington Aero Clubs, 2016.
Pay for flying instructors depends on experience, their employer, the aircraft they operate, their knowledge of different flying techniques, and the number of hours of instruction they've done.
- C-category (entry-level) flying instructors usually earn between $18 and $30 an hour and typically work part time.
- B-category (mid-level) instructors usually earn between minimum wage and $70,000 a year.
- A-category (senior) instructors usually earn between $70,000 and $100,000.
Flying instructors are usually paid by the number of hours they spend in the air. They may also be paid a retainer. Larger organisations have more students and tend to pay higher salaries.
Source: Christchurch, Marlborough and Wellington Aero Clubs, 2016.
- PAYE.net.nz website – use this calculator to convert pay and salary information
- Employment New Zealand website - information about minimum wage rates
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the figures and diagrams in our job information)
What you will do
Flying instructors may do some or all of the following:
- teach the principles of flight, navigation and weather
- prepare training programmes
- teach students how to handle aircraft and how to fly during the day, at night and by using navigational instruments
- teach and follow aviation rules
- do preflight checks on aircraft
- test students' skills and knowledge
- teach qualified pilots about new types of equipment or different aircraft.
Skills and knowledge
Flying instructors need to have:
- excellent flying skills
- knowledge of the technical and theoretical aspects of flying, including how aircraft fly and aircraft technology
- teaching skills
- risk mangement skills
- knowledge of civil aviation rules and laws
- skill in flight planning and navigation
- an understanding of how weather can affect an aircraft.
- may work full time, part time or on a casual basis
- may work long or irregular hours, including evenings and weekends, and may be on call, depending on when students want lessons
- work in classrooms and training aircraft
- work in conditions that can be uncomfortable due to rough weather, or challenging due to working with learner pilots.
What's the job really like?
Chief Flying Instructor
Can you describe a typical day as a flying instructor?
"Firstly I check the operations of the day, then check the weather for potential risks.
"I supervise the junior instructors or ensure they are supervised, happy and have everything they require for training. I do pre-flight checks with instructor students and renewal flights for anyone who wants to get their pilot licence renewed."
What are the challenges of the job?
"One of the biggest things – especially in Wellington – is weather. You have to assess the weather to ensure it is safe enough for everyone to fly.
"Also dealing with all the different personalities that come through the door, and keeping everyone happy with the training they've received can be challenging."
What is the best part of the job?
"First of all I get to fly planes, and as the chief flying instructor, I get to train those who do specialist flying as well. Plus I get to see a lot of interesting things from the air."
What advice do you have for aspiring flying instructors?
"If you want to become a flying instructor you need to have persistence, be hungry for the job, and have a passion for it. Initially it can be difficult, but if you work hard enough you'll get to where you're aiming for."
The first step to becoming a flying instructor is to get your Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL).
After receiving your CPL, you need to study for an aeroplane or helicopter instructor rating. To receive an entry-level, C-category flying instructor rating, you must have:
- 100 hours of indirect supervision flight time (where an A- or B-category flying instructor is present) or have held a CPL for a minimum of six months
- a pass score on an approved instructional techniques course
- at least 25 hours of dual flight instructor training through an approved flight training programme
- a pass score on a flight instructor rating test, which includes oral and practical testing.
- How to get a Commercial Pilot Licence for flying helicopters
- How to get a Commercial Pilot Licence for flying aeroplanes
- Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand website - information on aeroplane or helicopter flight instructor licences and ratings (PDF - 170KB)
To get your Commercial Pilot Licence (before becoming a flying instructor) you usually require NCEA Level 2 with English and maths.
Flying instructors need to be:
- supportive, patient and positive
- excellent communicators with good people skills
- outgoing and friendly
- able to think logically
- able to follow procedures and act responsibly
- good at making decisions under pressure.
People don't get things first-off – you need to be very patient with them and understanding, but you also need to know what your own limits are.
Useful experience for flying instructors includes:
- work with machinery
- work in meteorology.
Flying instructors need to have good hearing and eyesight (with or without corrective lenses), and good reflexes and co-ordination.
Flying instructors must also have a good level of fitness and health. They must undergo a medical exam every year if under 40, and every six months if 40 or older.
Find out more about training
- Aviation New Zealand
- (04) 472 2707 - www.aia.org.nz
- Flying New Zealand
- 0800 422 635 - www.flyingnz.co.nz
- 0800 863 693 - www.serviceiq.org.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Entry-level flying instructor vacancies common, but competition high
C-category (entry-level) flying instructor positions frequently become available because people only tend to stay in the role for a year or two. This is because pilots often use the job as a way to log more flying hours, which is useful if they want to later apply for commercial pilot jobs.
Although flying instructor vacancies are common, competition for them is high.
Chances of getting work best at the flight school where you train
Most flying schools prefer to hire former students as flying instructors because they know their students' abilities and skills. Some schools only hire former students.
When you are deciding on a flight training programme, ask schools about job opportunities and whether they have an ongoing need for flying instructors.
Low turnover among chief flying instructors
Chief flying instructors tend to stay in the job for a long time, so vacancies at this level are limited. When vacancies do arise, they are often filled by internal candidates.
Flying instructors work for a variety of organisations
Flying instructors work at aero clubs, flying schools, and for the New Zealand Defence Force. Some major airlines also employ flying instructors.
- Davies, S, chief flying instructor, Marlborough Aero club, Careers New Zealand interview, May 2016.
- Kriechbaum, C, manager institute partner relationships, Air New Zealand Aviation Institute, Careers New Zealand interview, April 2016.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2006-2014 Occupational Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2015.
- Nicholson, J, acting chief executive, Aviation New Zealand, Careers New Zealand interview, April 2016.
- Sims, A, chief flying instructor, Wellington Aero Club, Careers New Zealand interview, April 2016.
Progression and specialisations
After getting a Commercial Pilot Licence and instructor rating, and completing six months and 100 hours of flight time in direct supervision, you may begin working as a C-category flying instructor.
You can then progress to:
- B-Category – for this category you need to have 500 hours of flight time, of which 250 must be instructional time, in aeroplanes or helicopters (which takes two to three years), and you must pass the required flight test
- A-Category – for this category you need to have 1,250 hours of flight time, of which 750 must be instructional time, and you must pass the required flight test. A-category flying instructors also need management skills, as they typically oversee other instructors and the flight school/club's training programme
- airline, D- or E-Category – flying instructors in this category instruct qualified pilots to fly specialist aircraft.
Flying instructors often go on to work as charter or commercial pilots once they have gained enough flying hours.
Flying instructors usually specialise in teaching people either to fly aeroplanes or helicopters. They may also specialise in teaching people to fly particular types of aircraft such as propeller, jet, light or large commercial aircraft. They can also specialise in teaching agricultural flying.
Last updated 15 March 2018