All the Joy is gone


New Member
Ok so I've been a CFI for about a year now (at a good 141) and I'm starting to question if it's all really worth it. I love flying but I see myself 10 years from now working as a CFI for $13,000 a year and just making it by, or working for some charter or regional away from home 33 days a month and still making $13,000 a year. Somebody please tell me it's worth it, I love to fly but at some point the work put in and the payout have to be equal or at least come close to each other. I guess what I'm trying to figure out is when do you throw in the towel and say enough is enough. I was always a glass half full type of guy but it's hard to be positive when the glass is empty or when you don't even have a glass.

It's worth it, its a process not an event. We all went through what you are experiencing. Hang in there.

Are you always this discouraged, or is it sparked by something else (like recent bad wx - no flying, etc..)?

I've been a CFI for just about a year also. Lately its been raining a lot and I see my logbook pages not filling as quickly as I would like, and this kinda gives me time to get bummed out also. What I do to combat it is work on things like FAA writtens, etc.. or all I got to do is walk into Barnes and Noble and take one look at the computer books section (my last life was in technoloogy) and I instantly realize what a thankful year its been.
It's just been a bad few weeks, silly (stupid) students and not much reward for a lot of work. I like to think there's still some hope.
Just remember that you get out of it exactly what you put into it. I agree CFIs should be paid more money however the pay has always been and probably always will be substandard. Im blessed to have a good CFI job where I can do other things to keep the cash flowing. Maybe you can teach some ground schools or simulator labs if you work at a busy flight school. I have a few students plus teach a few classes and that keeps the income at a level where I dont have to worry about where food comes from. Just keep as positive attitude as you can, if your worried about not making a lot of money then this probably isnt the career for you. The monetary reward doesnt come til much later in your career. The true reward of the profession is being able to do something you love.
Stick with it man, you'll find something. I had an absolute miserable summer of instructing. I had an ornery boss, I spent 60 hrs. a week at the airport, and only flew 15-20 of them. I made peanuts. The weather sucked. The airplanes broke. Students tried to kill me. One f-ed up an airplane with a runway light. The list goes on....BUT:

If I had quit my instructing gig when things really got bad, there is no way I would be doing what I am now. I stuck it out, made the best of it, and something better came along. Just think, you probably only need one more summer of it before you'll have enough hours to start looking elsewhere.

P.S.- I'm going to be doing some skiing up in your neck o' the woods in a few weeks. A bunch of us got a great deal on some condos and theres still room- PM me if you're interested! (And you know its a great deal if my poor ass can afford it!)
I think anyone who doesn't question their sanity as they go through this process (as C650 pointed out) is lying, to themselves or others, and or is probably too stupid to really be flying in the first place.

Anything worth doing is never easy.

And if you think you wouldn't feel the same way at some other job you'd be fooling yourself. Starting print journalists average about $12,000 - $18,000 a year and don't break $30k for about 10 years. A friend of mine got hired to work for the Chicago Tribune and was paid $13,000/yr. Try living in Dowtown Chicago on 13k!
It's just been a bad few weeks, silly (stupid) students and not much reward for a lot of work. I like to think there's still some hope.

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As hard as it may be, try maintain a positive attitude.
I am not pointing the finger at you, but if you think/feel that your students are stupid, that could eventually show through in your training of them which could make matters worse.
Some students really are stupid, though!

If you feel like you're running in to a brick wall with a student, get one of your fellow CFIs (who probably has a bit different teaching style than you do) to fly with him/her. Amazing what a new perspective can do to get through to somebody.

I only had one student that nobody could get through to ... he kept showing up but wasn't getting any better. The FAA yanked his medical before I had to sit him down and have the "this just ain't the thing for you" talk ... turns out he had multiple sclerosis (in remission) and a history of alcoholism, in addition to being on a couple of non-approved meds. The unbelieveable thing was that the local doc approved him, and his medical didn't get pulled until about two months later, when the paperwork hit OKC!

I think everybody goes through CFI burnout ... I know I did. To make matters worse, right about the time I was ready to move on (I was within two weeks of interviewing at two different regionals) 9/11 happened and I was stuck instructing even longer! Had it not been for the good fortune of a corporate flying job falling in my lap, I'd probably still be a CFI two years later! I know it's tough ... but just keep plugging away, try to have as much fun as you can, and spend your days off pumping out resumes ... best therapy there is!

yea I have had one student who couldnt get through either. He just didnt have good judgement and he couldnt multi task either. He flew with me, failed 5 end of course checks with different instructors, had 2 other instructors before me and no one could get the poor guy thorough. I tried my best, the others before me and after me tried their best but it just didnt work. Part of his problem was if he was doing a manuever he would get off on his alt by 200-300 feet everytime, then he would focus too much on his altitude and make a horrible ground ref or steep turn. The list goes on but the guy just couldnt do it. He finally gave up at about 95-100 hours and decided on a new career path. There was also the time when he left for a X/C at 11am that should have taken 4 hours at the most yet didnt get back here til sunset when I had made him sign a statement saying that he wouldnt fly after sunset. He just didnt make good decisions, he also tried to brave a snow storm once then he came right back through it thinking if he made it through once he could do it again. The CFI that signed him off to go on that X/C was furious because he had planned a way different route around the W/X but decided he wanted to take a "shortcut". The guy was an accident waiting to happen basically. Im just glad the endorsements i gave him have long since expired !
Its time to start doing something else when you envision yourself doing something else. Por ejemple- despite the hard times, hard work, random "difficult" students, I still would rather be in an airplane or around an airport than sitting in an office (albeit probably making $50-$75k) pushing paper, writing emails, fighting expressway traffic, etc etc.

If you quit for the wrong reasons you'll regret it. Yeah, like many others (and maybe more so), I've had my own doubts and worries from time to time but the above still definately applies to me.

Just my personal sunshine at 10:40 on a cold night in a small apartment.
Nobody said CFI'ing was gonna be a cake walk. I can understand that its frustrating when youre "giving it your all" and it's still hard to make ends meat. But don't stop instructing because of it! Hang in there bud, something better is bound to come along.
Plus, at this stage of the game, we're over half way there to that airline job (or whatever you're hoping for). You came this far, don't give up now.
I knew I'd get some encouragement here, thanks. After 3 decent flights today I think I've managed to find the bright side of instructing again, I just hope it will last though the winter.
I remember after my first year of being a CFI, I pretty much panicked.

Most of the guys I knew weren't moving on and I looked at some of my friends in San Jose where I was instructing landing six figure jobs with the dot.coms, taking vacations and having a grand time.

Meanwhile I was borrowing money from my parents to purchase headset speakers from Radio Shack because my cheap-assed pair of Softcom's broke down again and I couldn't afford new ones.

I was living with my uncle 40 miles north in Dublin and hating every bit of it because he was a misogynistic prick and I really didn't see how I was going to get out of the situation because I couldn't afford an apartment by myself, wasn't making much money at all and slowly going nuts.

So I guess I decided to refocus all of that negative energy into getting ahead in my career and most of the things that I did to keep myself sane and move my career forward are scattered throughout the website, but it works. Here I am fat, dumb and happy starting my 6th anniversary at Delta next month and I know exactly how you feel -- almost like it was yesterday.

I don't want to sound like Tony Robbins or some other 6'8 dork with an infomercial, but channel that energy towards moving up and out in your career.

Download some "Godsmack" (notably "I Stand Alone") and crank it in your car in the mornings.

It cures all ills.

But kick a$$, get mad, move up and out.
Want hype? You want this playlist...

1. Limp Bizkit - Pollution (3:52)
2. Limp Bizkit - Trust? (4:59)
3. Limp Bizkit - I'm Broke (3:59)
4. The Left - I For The I (3:46)
5. Deftones (adrenaline 09) Engine no.9 (3:24)
6. Deftones - Headup (5:12)
7. Snot - my balls, your chin (2:57)
8. Slipknot - surfacing (3:37)
9. Slipknot - Liberate (0:57)
10. Eminem - Lose Yourself (5:31)

I love Limp Bizkit, but I hate the second and third albums. Trust? and I'm Broke were the only two decent songs on the album. You can't beat Deftones or Snot, and Slipknot is pretty angry. I'm not a huge Eminem fan, but I'm digging on that one song of his. It's good hype when heading to a drum corp audition.

It's all about getting angry and throwing it at whatever is trying to hold you down. Speaking of which, I'm gonna go write a final exam paper on Marx...


John Herreshoff
Dude no wonder you have brain damage. LOL!

Please don't tell me you drive around in a lowered Honda with Thrusters in the back seat booming out your neighborhood as well!
Me? *looks around*

I drive a 1995 Plymouth Voyager (read as: minivan). She's tipping the scales just the other side of 170,000 miles. I'm not really into bassy music. I like a good clean accuratly reproduced sound to come out of my speakers, not just tons of bass.

Lowered Honda? Probably not in my future. Chevy Silverado with a lift kit on it? Oh yeah baby. I'm anti-getting stuck in Michigan snow storms, so I'm all about getting something with so much low end torque you can scale medium sized buildings with it.

What can I say, I'm a redneck metal head...
Eminem? Metal? HARDLY!

Maybe I'm old but to me Metal is Ozzie, Dokken, Black Sabbath, ACDC, etc.

That stuff is rap.