Do you remember being sixteen and getting your driver’s license? Suddenly, you were free. You weren’t dependent on your parents to go anywhere. You didn’t have to beg for rides from your friends. A car meant you didn’t have to be bored ever again!
Well, maybe it wasn’t quite that great, but it seemed like it at first, didn’t it?
Having a pilot’s license is even better than that! Having a pilot’s license means being able to fly an airplane, a hot air balloon, a dirigible, or any other aircraft. Why would you ever be bored?!
There are many ways to make a living as a pilot, even if you don’t work for a commercial airline. There are lots of hobbies and competitions revolving around aviation. You are now specially qualified to try things most people never have the opportunity to consider. Here are some things you can try, now that you are licensed.
Commercial pilots generally begin at a salary of around $35K annually. Senior pilots make much more (closer to $200K). Advancement is supposed to happen fairly quickly once you have been flying for a while. Some people do not like working for a commercial airline, however, because of the demanding hours required.
Flight instructors usually work part-time, making $20-30 per hour. This is a good second job that could help offset the cost of getting your license and buying a plane. If you think you might want to consider this, make sure to make a good impression on your instructor! If you are a star pupil, the school you train at may be willing to offer you a position.
Having a pilot’s license opens the door to several small businesses. Just like any other business, it may take a while to become profitable, so you may want to use it as supplemental income at the beginning. Also, keep in mind that private pilots don’t generally make enough money to be rich. If that is your goal, commercial airlines are a better bet. As long as you understand that, there are several business ideas that would put your pilot’s license to use.
A commercial license isn’t required to take a couple of passengers on a local air tour. As long as you are qualified to take passengers, you can do this. Market this idea to people for special occasions, such as birthdays, anniversaries, or other landmark occasions. Some people may be interested just because they have never been on an airplane. It is relatively easy to set up a website and to advertise locally without spending a lot of money.
Airplanes for crop dusting are either specially built or are specially converted planes or helicopters. These aircraft may also be used as water bombers for wildfires. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2016, crop duster pilots made an average of $70,000 annually.
Local advertisers and people wishing to make a big statement may look to skywriting as an option. The market for this service isn’t very large, though, so it would likely never be more than supplemental income.
Some air shows are designated for special purposed (government, armed forces, etc.), but often they are privately funded and commercial, employing pilots to show off tricks and stunts for the public.
It is very expensive to start your own air show, so you may want to consider flying for someone else’s show first. If you enjoy it and get some experience, you may consider starting your own show later.
There are competitions for almost every element of flying, from speed to air maneuvers, to tricks. Decide which elements you enjoy the most, then find a competition that you are comfortable with.
Some pilots acquire sponsors and compete in air shows as professionals. After you have competed several times, and perhaps made a name for yourself in the air show circuit, you may be able to convince a corporation to sponsor your entry fees, maintenance, and fuel in exchange for advertising.
Besides using your new license to make some extra money, you can use it in other ways. Research has shown that air travel is safer than driving, so you can feel good about using your license when you take trips. It is also much faster, making it easy to take a longer trip in a shorter period of time.
And of course, the best thing of all to do with a pilot’s license: show off to your friends and make them jealous! They will all wish they could fly like you.