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Flying Instructor

Kaiwhakaako Waka Rererangi

Alternative titles for this job

Flying instructors teach people how to fly aeroplanes, helicopters or other aircraft.


New flying instructors usually earn

$39K-$70K per year

Experienced flying instructors usually earn

$70K-$100K per year

Source: Air Nelson, Aviation New Zealand, Marlborough Aero Club and Massey University School of Aviation, 2018.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as a flying instructor are good due to a shortage of workers.


Pay for flying instructors depends on experience, their employer, and the type of aircraft they operate.

  • C-category (entry-level) flying instructors usually earn between minimum wage 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: Air Nelson, Aviation New Zealand, Marlborough Aero Club and Massey University School of Aviation, 2018.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay 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-management skills
  • knowledge of civil aviation laws
  • skill in flight planning and navigation
  • an understanding of how weather can affect an aircraft.

Working conditions

Flying instructors:

  • 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 challenging due to rough weather, or working with learner pilots.

What's the job really like?

Andrew Sims

Andrew Sims

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."

Entry requirements

To become a flying instructor you need to have a Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) and an aeroplane or helicopter instructor rating.

To gain a CPL, you need to:

  • hold a Private Pilot Licence (PPL)
  • complete at least 200 hours flying 
  • pass a Class 1 medical exam, written exams, an English language test and a flying test
  • satisfy the Civil Aviation Authority's (CAA) fit and proper person requirements, for instanc e by showing you don’t have serious convictions.

You can get a CPL by completing either:

Secondary education

There are no specific secondary education requirements to become a flying instructor. However, NCEA Level 2 English, maths and physics is useful.

Personal requirements

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
  • able to show initiative and work unsupervised.

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.

Photo: Sarah Etchells

Sarah Etchells

Flying Instructor

Useful experience

Useful experience for flying instructors includes work:

  • teaching
  • with machinery
  • in customer service
  • in weather forecasting.

Physical requirements

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 need to pass 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 - execsec@flyingnz.co.nz - www.flyingnz.co.nz
0800 863 693 - intel@serviceiq.org.nz - www.serviceiq.org.nz
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Shortage of flying instructors

Flying instructors are in shortage due to:

  • increasing numbers of flying students
  • some instructors moving into pilot roles.

The shortage is expected to last until 2023.

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, such as Air New Zealand, also employ flying instructors.


  • Alexander, G, training and development chair, Aviation New Zealand, Careers Directorate – Tertiary Education Commission interview, February 2018.
  • Davies, S, chief flying instructor, Marlborough Aero Club, Careers Directorate – Tertiary Education Commission interview, February 2018.
  • Lukey, M, training manager pilots, Air Nelson, Careers Directorate – Tertiary Education Commission interview, February 2018.
  • MacGregor, B, executive officer, Aviation New Zealand, Careers Directorate – Tertiary Education Commission interview, February 2018.
  • Whyte, C, chief flight instructor, Massey University School of Aviation, Careers Directorate – Tertiary Education Commission interview, February 2018.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Flight instructors can progress 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.

Two men in the flight deck of a small aircraft

Flying instructors teach the principles of flight, navigation and weather

Last updated 20 April 2020