Real Answers from Real Pilots

Employment Opportunities Outside of ATP

Hello all,

June I start with ATP in Phoenix, AZ. I am doing the 40hr Multi ACPP course. My question is in regard s to employment afterwards to build up the required 1500 hrs. I have heard good things about another flight school in PHX, CAE Oxford, which seems to have some superb benefits and pay for their instructors. It is based on salary, while I know ATP’s CFIs go by an hourly pay scale.

Also, it seems like there is more free time/weekends off working for schools outside ATP. I definitely want to hit the 1500 hr mark as quickly as possible. My end goal is still to absolutely be an airline pilot, but I definitely enjoy the teaching/learning aspect of aviation and am going to look for a comfortable environment to spend a few years.

All along my default thought has been to work as an ATP CFI, which I am by no means closed to, however, I know there are a multitude of time building options in that area of the country. Any suggestions on this? Thanks for all you guys do.

Jonah,

I did some research and it looks like CAE Oxford trains a large number of foreign students who are coming to the US to complete their training. I would do some research about that on the internet and see if that is something that you would be interested in doing or not.

ATP does offer weekends off, but many CFIs chose to fly on those days to build their flight time. You say that you want to get to the airlines quickly, but seem to want a fair amount of time off. Those two things are mutually exclusive. The harder you work as a CFI the quicker you will get to the airlines. I worked every day possible when I was instructing because I was laser focused on getting to the airlines as fast as I could.

Sure, there are plenty of different flight schools outside of ATP, just be sure to really do your research on them before making any commitments.

Chris

Jonah,

With all due respect I find your post a little confusing? You say “I definitely want to hit the 1500hr mark as quickly as possible” but you’re also interested in “more freetime/weekends off”? My friend you can’t have your cake and eat it too. There are MANY flight schools that offer a more relaxed schedule than ATPs. You could even work at your local FBO on weekends if you so chose. BUT, just remember sir, the pilot shortage is happening NOW. All indications are that it will continue but if something happens to slow things down in the industry and you’ve got 1200hrs when you could’ve had 1500 mos earlier and gotten hired that would kind of stink. The guys that got hired a WEEK after I did at ExpressJet got downgraded (and took a 50% paycut) while I got to keep my seat. One week can make a world of difference. Not telling you what to do but if you’ve decided to be an airline pilot I recommend getting there as quickly as possible.

Btw, if you’re not planning on instructing for ATP you might want to consider the 100hr program, unless you know the school you will be flying for does offer considerable multi time. Many carriers still have multi engine mins above 100hrs.

Adam

I guess I did phrase things funny. My goal is 1500 hours, but I am open to shopping around for other opportunities. I know that CAE instructors do build some really solid time. But at the end of the day, I am relocating from Cleveland to Phoenix, so the decision will come down to finances and benefits. Like I said, being an ATP CFI is something I am still thinking about, but as of now, it seems like the healthcare and overall salary/benefits is better at CAE. I still have a lot of homework to do, and I know that much can happen in 5 months. Thanks!

Jonah,

Listen the decision is obviously yours and you have to do what’s best for you. I also think it’s important to weigh all options and make an informed decision (which is what you’re doing). It’s just that I’ve been doing this a while and have seen some things. Just don’t want to see you get burned or say “I wish I had…”.

Adam

Jonah,

First sorry for the long post but as someone halfway through life, with a fiance, son and career and looking at putting it all on hold for a change I thought I could share a few tidbits that could help you think of the bigger picture.

Im just a fellow aspiring pilot here but I’m going to assume (I know you never assume) that you are part of the majority here and by that I mean under 25 with a long career ahead of you. I came across CAE back when I was looking at schools and here’s why I’ve decided to go with ATP as a student and most likely hour building CFI. ATP has a lot of reputable airlines that they work with and list. CAE has all of the international discount airlines with exception of RyanAir. The only “real” major is British Airways and even their links to be a “Speedbird” Future pilot through their program is not available and even today it still shows not available. Not sure why it’s not but that didn’t give me a lot of that warm and fuzzy feeling that us older people need to make a career change and put our families on hold for XX time. Also the Phoenix location hasn’t had a news update in 2 yrs and it’s very hard as a student to find info on their site for what programs they offer at Phoenix.

I have to agree with Chris and Adam when they say weigh your options and really look into things because trust me as it sucks later in life looking back as saying “I wish I had…” Make sure you look at everything not just pay but what they look like for future students, area, affiliates AND how much you’re projected to get flying time. As much as I loathe 1099 work ATP does have affiliates and reimbursement options, they appear to have a steady flow of students coming in so even though the pay may seem less the hours to get to the goal is there. In my opinion I’d rather get $5/hr and hitting FAA Max of 8hrs flying per 24hrs instead of $XX,XXX/year and only flying 500 hours a year. As far as healthcare benefits that they offer and I can’t stress this part enough that this is my opinion only and many might disagree but if you don’t have many medical issues you can always get a cheap healthcare plan for the catastrophic thing that can pop up randomly.

Side note: I don’t know if your asking this because Ryan Huber just came out saying he was changing and I know the comments are going crazy about CAE but if so take it with a grain of salt. He chose what was best for him not best for everyone and if you look at it this way 3 months later he’s still probably around the 225 TT you leave ATP with instead of instructing out there potientially hitting the 100hrs/month Yarden had out there really grinding at it.

Jonah,

I know quite a few people that graduated ATP and left for other flight schools all over the PHX area. Some went to CAE, some went to Transpac, a few went to Westwind, I even know a few that chose to go to smaller ‘mom and pop’ schools.

First of all I’ll say that they are all still instructing, so if your priority is to get to the airlines quickly your best bet is to stay with ATP. But with that said, some of them are very happy where they are, most other schools hire you as an employee with benefits and some even pay more than ATP. Not everybody wants to rush through just to build the hours and I respect that.

In the end it is up to you, but I suggest that you put that decision aside for now. You will learn a lot during your training in PHX and being there will help you gather more information that will help you decide when the time comes.

Yarden

I want to get hours as quickly as possible while also making the best available salary if that makes sense. I know all of you here have instructed for ATP and the salary is based on a lot of different variables. What would my average monthly income look like, assuming I am holding back some money for taxes? Let’s say I’m working an average amount, nothing insane. Just trying to get a VERY conservative figure (worst case scenario.) My loan payment will be almost 300 a month.

Jonah,

Check this thread out.

Also, not to brag or anything, but I made WAY more money than any of my buddies that went elsewhere because I chose to work a lot (which is not an option when you are paid salary). From what you are saying it doesn’t seem that you are planning on flying exaggerated hours like I did, but I just wanted to let you know that it is available if you choose to.

Yarden

Yarden,
Thanks for the reply. So playing out one of these scenarios, say I fly for 45hrs. and make $1141, then make $75 from the sim time and $45 from written tests. Total bi-weekly salary would be $1261 and per month would look like $2522, correct? I know there are various bonuses for successful student check rides. How does that factor in the equation? In terms of budgeting taxes, did you factor 25% or so and put it aside? Also, what would the 45hr. number look like in terms of work hours per week? Thanks again.

Jonah W.

Jonah,

Your numbers look correct. I would not count on any bonuses as some weeks your students will have check rides, other weeks they won’t, just treat it like found money and you can’t go wrong. If you set aside 25% of your pay for taxes that should be more than sufficient.

Chris

Jonah,

The $100 bonus for successful checkrides was removed when the new pay method came out. But there are other bonuses that you can get like $50 for an intro flight.

I used to make a lot of bonuses when I was doing solo and crew evaluations as a senior CFI. That’s when I was able to make $4-5k/mo.

I didn’t factor in any taxes into my calculations, that will be on you to make sure you put as much as you need aside. And I’d say that between 30-50 hours of flying, you will be actually working 10hr days during the week, give or take a few.

Yarden

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