Commercial Pilot Career without teaching?

I'm a Commercial Pilot with about 350 hours and would like to land my first job soon. However most of the jobs are for CFI's and I feel I don't have it in me to teach people. I don't consider myself a teacher and I enjoy doing mostly introvert type of work anyway. I have some money saved for this summer to increase my prospects, and I was thinking about getting IFR current so as to get ready for the Aerial Survey season which starts around October for most states. My career goals would be flying for a small cargo company like FedEx Feeder. I would also like flying for a private rich client or maybe even Single Pilot Ambulence work. Are there opportunities for people like me or should I consider another career?

8 Answers

  • 5 years ago
    Best Answer

    I never got the CFI/CFII, and while I can't say it wouldn't have opened some doors for me, my career still worked out fine without it.

    As soon as I earned my CPL, I did two things: First I got on a fishing boat for the summer, worked my butt off, and made lots of money. Second, when I came back I paid for my multi rating, and I bought over 100 hours of time in both singles and twins. Mind you, the cost to rent back then was nearly half what it is for what some places charge nowadays. But then again, what you might earn working a fishing job or oil field job today will also be more, adjusted for inflation. I had only 50 hours more than you do now when I landed my first job as a skydive pilot. Didn't make much, but I started logging those hours fast, and I had a LOT more fun than watching a student pilot drive me around the pattern for months or years on end. Once I had 600 hours I took my skydive flying to bigger drop zones where they flew turboprops like Twin Otters, King Airs, and Caravans. Do you think a CFI gets to log time in aircraft like that? No way... he's still sputtering around in C-152s and C-172s.

    After two seasons as a skydive pilot I found a Part 135 VFR operation, and they were known to hire pilots right at the minimum required 500 total hours. With the demand for pilots the way it is right now, I'd say you'd have no problem doing the same. After a couple seasons flying Part 135, I walked into a corporate job.

    So if you don't want to teach, then you can certainly do it other ways. You have enough time right now that you could certainly get an aerial survey job, or a skydiving job, or a banner tow job. I WOULD recommend you get that instrument rating now however, especially if aerial surveying starts in October where you're at. I find it curious however... aerial surveying relies mostly on VFR and I always saw more jobs posted in spring and summer. Another reason I'd get the instrument rating now is that some of the Part 135 VFR carriers, while certified to fly only in VMC, still required an instrument rating. We flew in conditions not a whole lot better than VFR minimums, and frequently got special VFR clearances. You want that rating in case you ever find yourself stuck in the soup.

    As for Fedex feeders and air ambulance such as MedStar, you're not going to get those jobs without at least 1200 hours total, plus all the other Part 135 IFR minimums. Forget those for now. Just bang on as many Part 91 doors as you can for those VFR jobs, get you IFR, then bang on all the Part 135 VFR doors once you have 500 hours.

    Good luck. BTW you want to register on, and register on their forums too. Lots of up to date career info. is another good website for job info.

    Source(s): ATP, Citation Captain and F/O, Part 135 corporate.
  • 5 years ago

    You cannot perform most jobs such as aerial survey, feeder cargo, or air ambulance work until you have logged AT LEAST 500 hours so that you can qualify under Part 135 Air Taxi regulations. and that is for VFR-only operations. For IFR operations (i.e. cargo & air ambulance) you would require at least 1,200 hours total time. For a 350 hour pilot, unless you have connections and can land a Part 91 copilot job with somebody, your choices are limited to instructing, towing banners, towing gliders, flying skydivers or aerial application (Ag) work. All of those would require additional training. And, to top it all off, even if you met the legal requirements, the experience requirements mandated by the insurance policies of many aviation companies will prevent you from being hired. On that note, the FedEx feeders such as Empire Airways require at least a couple thousand hours just to fly C-208 Caravans. All-in-all, the flying biz isn't too kind to introverts. I'd look into another career and fly for fun.

  • 5 years ago

    Less than some 700 or 800 hours will make it very hard in USA for you to qualify for FAR Part 135 Air Taxi charter operations - Most pilots start as CFI as the easiest way to acquire flight time -

    You do not want to teach...? - It just will be harder for you to qualify for other pilot positions - I do hire pilots seasonally (summer) for banner tow (and glider tow) but I prefer they have 100 hours minimum taildragger time and at least 500 hours total flight time - That is an insurance requirement - Pays very little - I call it a part-time job -

    I seriously doubt there are many opportunities for pilots with less than 1,000 hours, for operations such as VFR Medevac (single pilot) or FedEx feeders - The major problem is that there are a high number of candidates with 250 to 1,000 hours flight experience for few open positions such as a "rich client" - The "rich clients" like to hire pilots with ATP and 2,000 hours... (maybe...?) -

    Is the other career McDonald's hamburger sales...?

    Source(s): Retired airline pilot
  • JetDoc
    Lv 7
    5 years ago

    If you want to fly FedEx feeders, then two of the largest companies in that business are Empire Airlines in Hayden, Idaho, and Mountain Air Cargo in Kinston, NC. Both of these companies operate more than 50 single and twin engine aircraft in freight operations. I suggest you contact those companies and see what your chances are...

    • Johnny5 years agoReport

      Well within 2 years I do see myself in position for these great companies. I am still low time, most of them are looking for 1200-1500 tt.

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  • 5 years ago

    Teaching can be a tough way to accumulate hours. On the other hand, very often the teacher learns from the student. A student may make an unexpected dangerous maneuver that the teacher may otherwise get to experience.

  • 5 years ago

    flight instruction isn't a bad way to build hours. it's not the only way. maybe you should try getting your ppl first (which you need anyway) and having another look at your options?

    as a professional pilot you will need to work with others. again, flight instruction isn't a bad way to build cockpit skills.

    whatever you do, make the hours count. flying circuits and flying back and forth to the next town doesn't count.

  • 5 years ago

    You will regret not to be qualified as CFIA and CFII.

    Spending 2 years as instructor is not the end of the world.

    I had to do it too, to reach the magic 1,500 hrs and pass the ATPL.

    Source(s): 767 captain
  • 5 years ago

    Get your instrument rating and then head for Alaska.

    • Sorry Sparky, but it doesn't work that way. A minimum of 500 hours is legally required for all charter flying and most companies require at least 1000 hours AND some Alaska time or equivalent to be insurable.

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