CFI pay structure fairness?

Discussion in 'Pilot Training' started by rookie1255, Oct 26, 2019.

  1. rookie1255

    rookie1255 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    What is fair pay for a CFI by a flight school? For example, a flight school says they're charging $60 an hour for an instructor's time and $130 for an airplane, but turns around and pays an instructor $40 an hour for flight time.

    1. Is this deceiving the customer since they think they're paying the instructor $60 an hour?

    2. Flight schools have overhead and all, but is it fair for them to take a cut of ground time? For example, charge students $60 for 1 on 1 ground training but then pay the instructor $40/hour for ground instruction they log with said student.

    3. Now the flip side. Would it be ok for an instructor to meet with a flight student on their own free time, and get paid $60 an hour, or would this be stealing from/defrauding one's employer?

    Just curious as to what folks' opinions are as far as moral/legal obligations, what employers vs employees are entitled to, and what's really fair. I'm sure some will say it's whatever you can get away with without your employer finding out, or it's whatever the employer says and if you don't like it then you have the freedom to go work somewhere else. But if there are other aspects or factors to consider I'd like to hear them. Thanks.
     
  2. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Cleared for Takeoff

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    It’s all about what the market will dictate. Supply and demand.
     
  3. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Is it deceiving the customer for retailers to take a markup? I don't see an issue here.

    Would you rather have all of the school's expenses prorated and itemized on each bill? That would seem like overkill.
     
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  4. dmspilot

    dmspilot En-Route

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    Generally the airplanes themselves lose money. The instructor cut makes up for it. They're also typically providing the instructors a customer base and infrastructure as far as an office, billing/scheduling, customer service staff, etc.
     
  5. aftCG

    aftCG Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Back when I was instructing for a living my employer charged $56/hr for instruction. We instructors were paid on a sliding scale from $12-20/hr, with the high end being for those who billed the most hours.
    In my case I leaned the ropes quickly enough to bill more time than anyone, and never made $20/hr.

    Eventually some of my students wondered aloud why I didn't get a plane and work as an independent, which I did. I charged $40/hr in the air and $25/hr on the ground and felt like I was doing much better than getting $12-15/hr.

    A flight school will FLIP OUT if you use their planes for instruction. Their planes get beat up, the insurance won't cover you for it, etc. They're in business to have students

    The exception is for places that WANT independent, non-emplyees. They rent the planes and the instructors bring their own students and bill separately.
     
  6. James331

    James331 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Depends.

    If I’m going to instruct I get $50hr cash or trade, normally I freelance but anything shy of that and I’m not going to CFI for you.

    I don’t think anyone thinks the CFI gets the full rate anymore than the waitress and cook splits your entire bill when you go out to eat.
     
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  7. Will Kumley

    Will Kumley Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Not uncommon and happens in other training areas as well. As a motorcycle instructor I would teach with one other ridercoach. Between the two of us our employer would pay us roughly $500 for a weekend of training a Basic Riders Course. The class had 12 students, each paying $150 for the class + $25 for the registration. So in essence the school was taking in $2,100 for a full class of students while paying the instructors less than a quarter of that. Was it annoying? Sure.

    But I also understood that the school had already secured a location large enough for the class, classroom, paperwork, bikes to include the maintenance on them, insurance, etc... I didn't consider that job to be one that would pay my bills and was a fun way for me to keep fresh tires on my bike and maintenance completed. I did help the cause a little more by taking care of the maintenance on the training bikes as well and got paid additional money for that but it had its headaches as well since the state actually controlled all the bikes and would gladly swipe bikes I meticulously maintained and replace them with what I considered subpar bikes. It kept me busy but it took over a large chunk of my free time and turned into a job I didn't enjoy as much. Originally the site manager asked me to take care of the bikes because we were struggling to get good bikes from the state that would operate as advertised. Once he realized the state was trading junk for our good bikes he changed the locks on the trailer where we stored bikes and told them any bike swaps had to be approved by him for a valid reason and he had to be there as they would grab what they wanted if he wasn't present.
     
  8. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    The large club that I belong to is sort of in between. The instructors have to be members and approved by the club, but they are paid directly by each student.
     
  9. James331

    James331 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    I was able to work those deals out with a few flight schools that didn’t tailor to independent CFIs, they knew I brought my own students, I was more experienced than their CFIs and easily on insurance and they still billed out the plane just the same sans CFI.
     
  10. MrAnderson

    MrAnderson Pre-Flight

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    Remember employers have to pay FICA taxes, insurance and cover their overhead, and their money is not free....
     
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  11. rk911

    rk911 Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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  12. RussR

    RussR Pattern Altitude

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    As to the issue of "outside" instruction, here is my take on the morality/ethics of it.

    If the flight school marketed to and found the student for me, then it is inappropriate for me to go "behind the school's back" and charge the student directly for time at Starbucks.

    If, however, I was the one who brought the student to the school via my own advertising or word-of-mouth, then I have no qualms about this at all. They wouldn't even have the student if it weren't for me.

    Those are obviously my opinions. Any given school, if they found out, may see it differently. For me, when I taught at a local school, almost all of my students were in the second category.
     
  13. Sinistar

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    I don't think any CFI working for a flight school is going to get anywhere close to $40/hr of the $60/hr charged. More like $15-$20.

    I think anyone going in knows the CFI isn't getting the whole cut but they probably think its more fair such as your example of $40. When I found out my cfi was getting $15hr out of $65hr total I did think it sucked. So we tried a bit of flying outside the FBO for cash. But once I moved the plane away from the field we had nowhere to park to meet and he didnt want to drive 40miles to instruct. So for your #3 if the airport is pretty secured with respect to ramp parking options or may not be possible.
     
  14. dtuuri

    dtuuri En-Route

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    I'll see your flip and raise you one flip: If your hypothetical private student kills three passengers in an over-loaded plane the day after he gets his license, should the CFI who gave the training off-base be responsible for the school's legal fees to defend against a claim that the school did not adequately cover weight and balance during training?
     
  15. weilke

    weilke Touchdown! Greaser!

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    No.
    and
    None of your business.

    The overhead doesn't go away just because the prop isn't turning. Airport still wants their rent, HVAC guy still wants to get paid, front desk girl still wants a paycheck.

    No, that would not be ok and yes I would fire such an instructor if he diverted the flight schools customers into his side business.
     
  16. bobmrg

    bobmrg En-Route PoA Supporter

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    'twas ever thus. Live with it.

    Bob
     
  17. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Final Approach

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    Better yet, start a flight school and pay the instructors the percentage you think they should get. ;)
     
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  18. Sinistar

    Sinistar En-Route

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    Like 25%?
     
  19. 455 Bravo Uniform

    455 Bravo Uniform En-Route

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    Have you ever heard of consulting businesses and law firms? Their employees are being billed to you typically on an hourly basis. They don’t get the amounts that are billed. Same exact thing.
     
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  20. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    It is posts like these that make me think we should add Macroeconomics to the CFI curriculum.

    I'm used to seeing CFIs get 1/3 to 1/2 of the posted rate to cover the enormous overhead of rent and insurance a flight school incurs. The current pilot hiring frenzy has allowed your rate to be 2/3. Please, cry foul, unionize, demonize, or whatever else you feel like doing, and hope that the current frenzy continues, lest you be the first one out the door when the merry-go-round stops. You are in a temporary position of advantage in the market. People will remember how you acted with this advantage, and will wait to do you a bad turn if you over-step. The pilot community is a small one that values integrity.

    Stealing clients from your employer is scummy and would be grounds for termination in nearly every profession I'm aware of.
     
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  21. TCABM

    TCABM Pattern Altitude

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    Did you walk uphill both ways, barefoot in the snow, too?

    Most people regardless of the profession, education, or certifications don’t know or understand costs associated with a paid employee, and macro-econ won’t change that.
     
  22. James331

    James331 Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Dude they are building time for that 787 job they’ll get any day now, maybe I should charge them $20hr, I mean they’ll be making millions in no time lol
     
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  23. Sinistar

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    I can just see it now. A kid needs hours. All along he's been paying at least $225/hr for instruction and $140/hr for rental to build hours. So he gets his CFI (all at $225/hr). Then he shows up for work. Gets assigned his first student.

    Then the most bizarre bill arrives. They have lowered the Students rental price by $15/hr to entice new students and make it easier to get started. And they bill the new CFI $15/hr to make up the difference :eek: The flight school knows the CFI still needs hours and is probably just as willing to pay only $15/hr as earn $15/hr.
     
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  24. CharlieD3

    CharlieD3 Cleared for Takeoff

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    Going back to the original question... If you hire a plumbing company, electrical contractor, etc. They charge by the hour. The licensed plumber working for them does not get paid what the company charges.

    Does this not make sense.
     
  25. sarangan

    sarangan Line Up and Wait

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    If the overhead is a concern, get an independent flight instructor. Around here, the typical rate is $30-40/hr, and many just charge for the time they are in the cockpit. But you are not going to have a receptionist, free coffee, dry erase boards and people wearing epaulets. Your pre and post flight briefing will be done while standing next to the airplane in cold weather.
     
  26. Clip4

    Clip4 Final Approach

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    That is not the market today.
     
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  27. Salty

    Salty Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    It’s not the students job to decide if the instructor is getting a fair deal. It’s the instructors job to negotiate a fair wage. It’s the students job to decide if the rate he is being charged is fair or not.

    of course, for some reason if you are a waitress or an Uber driver, some people don’t agree with the above and instead think that the customers should decide they aren’t getting paid enough and tip them. Makes no sense, but it lets the customer think they are generous and caring, and the employer can pretend his service is cheaper than it really is.
     
  28. Clip4

    Clip4 Final Approach

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    It may not be the students job, but a moral person doesn’t do business with companies they believe are not compensating their employees properly. $40 an hour is properly compensated.
     
  29. Sinistar

    Sinistar En-Route

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    I recently spoke to my first CFII and he never broke $15/hr and the customer rate was bumped up to $70/hr. As I understand it, the other place on the field is charging $85/hr for CFI time and I dont think they get over $30/hr. So in both cases, FBO's both with 141 options, nice buildings, several planes, handle jets, etc they are pulling about 25%. Hopefully it's better in other places.
     
  30. Jamie Kirk

    Jamie Kirk Line Up and Wait

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    It’s called being a business, I expect any business to make a profit off of whatever item or service they offer.

    My IA came to me for my my first annual and said he marks prices for parts up 5%, since he front the money and they revere them and handles it all and I had no problem with that. I run a business, NOTHING is free.
     
  31. Ryanb

    Ryanb Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    Of course, but Aviation is also known for price gouging to the extreme. It’s only getting worse!
     
  32. Clip4

    Clip4 Final Approach

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    Today the average CFI rate at a Part 61 school is ~$25, for a part 141 in a community college / university ~$33.
     
  33. Salty

    Salty Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    It’s immoral to decide for someone else what you think they should earn, when you are neither the employer or employee.
     
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  34. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

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    Perhaps in some locales it isn’t but I expect $20/hr give or take a little is pretty average for employers to pay a CFI.
     
  35. Clip4

    Clip4 Final Approach

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    Feel free to do a nationwide Indeed search. The schools wanting a CFI today at less than $25 are either in the sticks or just praying some one will take the job.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2019
  36. Palmpilot

    Palmpilot Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Triple that or quadruple it for the SF Bay area.
     
  37. Landing Fees

    Landing Fees Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Why are we even talking about this?
     
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  38. airheadpenguin

    airheadpenguin Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Like with any professional service the company arranging the work has overhead and also profits from their work marketing.

    If you take this away from the realm of flight instructing to

    *Auto mechanics
    *Plumbers
    *Lawyers in group practice not partners
    *IT professional services

    You'll find that there is always a split between the billed hourly rate and the pay to the employee. Some people decide that they are willing to put in the effort and capital to build a business and go out on their own. They also find that they don't get to "keep" the $50/hour or whatever instead they find their billable hours vs total hours makes the spread significantly lower.

    Ask yourself what would it take to attract and retain students. How many hours of your time would go into it that you can't charge for? What marketing costs would you have?

    Sent from my Pixel 3 XL using Tapatalk
     
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  39. EppyGA

    EppyGA Touchdown! Greaser!

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    This would be a good exercise for the OP. Go put together a business plan for a flight school. Find out what office space on the airport proper is going to cost, cost of insurance, costs of airplanes (owned, leased or leaseback), cost of fuel 100 hour inspections, salary for yourself as the owner, then figure out how many hours you might expect to book a month and see what hourly rates you'll need to charge to get the overhead you need to make all of those payments. Cost of office space needs to include electric, water, internet, etc. I'm sure I've left some stuff and others can fill in the list. You might learn a lot.
     
  40. mondtster

    mondtster En-Route

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    You reinforced my point. Much of the country is “in the sticks” and people want flight instructors there too. Given the current environment it is harder to fill those jobs but I’m not seeing a lack of instructors willing to work for $20 or less locally.