What is the job life of a DPE like?

Do3r17

New Member
Hello, I just started thinking about becoming a DPE and been looking at the requirements and such. I know its a lot of work and involves a bit of patience. But what I am curious about is what the job is like? Is it full time? Is it voluntary? If not how much are they payed? Can anybody under 30yrs old really expect to become a DPE? Anything else I should know?

I appreciate any info.
 

Stomp16

You mean Shennanigans?!?!
At anywhere from $300-$600 a pop for check-rides PLUS your salary, you're not sitting bad at all as a DPE. Back in 2003 and 2004 when my flight school had the most students ever enrolled one of our DPE's was doing 20-30 rides (at least) a month. Back then he was charging $300. He's charging even more now. In May it cost me $600 for my CFII-Initial and then in June it was $450 for my CFI add-on. Do the math and that's a pretty penny. There's a long waiting list to become a DPE. It's not one of those jobs you just set out to do. It's a job that usually comes to you by doing something else first.
 

Do3r17

New Member
At anywhere from $300-$600 a pop for check-rides PLUS your salary, you're not sitting bad at all as a DPE. Back in 2003 and 2004 when my flight school had the most students ever enrolled one of our DPE's was doing 20-30 rides (at least) a month. Back then he was charging $300. He's chatging even more now. In May it cost me $600 for my CFII-Initial and then in June it was $450 for my CFI add-on. Do the math and that's a pretty penny. There's a long waiting list to become a DPE. It's not one of those jobs you just set out to do. It's a job that usually comes to you by doing something else first.
Wait, are you telling me they keep that money? That doesn't seem right to me.
 

Stomp16

You mean Shennanigans?!?!
Wait, are you telling me they keep that money? That doesn't seem right to me.
Yes, the DPE's keep that money. Why wouldn't they? They get to set the prices they want to charge for the services they render. It's just like a freelance CFI keeping whatever money they charge an hour.

Did you type DPE but were thinking check airman?

BTW-That $600 and then $450 for the check-rides I took did not include aircraft rental fees. So, it was even more to take those rides. It's purely money in the pockets for the DPE's.
 

Sidious

Well-Known Member
Wait, are you telling me they keep that money? That doesn't seem right to me.

Truer words were never spoken :)

I took my CFII ride last month and it cost me 300 bucks. I guess I got a good deal lol. rrrrrrrright
 

v1valarob

Well-Known Member
Wait, are you telling me they keep that money? That doesn't seem right to me.
The reason they charge is because they can. If you want a checkride you can either find a DE and pay him whatever he wants to charge (technically they are supposed to charge the local average), or you can call up the FAA and get a free ride. Two reasons come to mind right away as to why generally people dont do this. One is because its the FAA, no one ever wants to deal with the FAA unless they have to. They will follow the PTS to the strickest. Also, the FAA follows their own schedule. If you called your FSDO today to setup a ride, you probably wouldnt get a date for weeks. However I know if I wanted a checkride tomorrow, I could call any number of DEs who would be willing to pick it up tomorrow.

As for becoming a DE, its political. There are certain things you must meet. You have to have so many hours, plus so many hours of dual given. Then you have to take the writtens, and then you can apply. Oklahoma keeps a stack of applications from applicants and lets say Washington DC FSDO needs more DEs because they just cant keep up with the demand. Well DC FSDO calls up Oklahoma and says "send me over the top 3 guys you have in my area." Then that FSDO takes his pick, however this isnt the way its always done.

My CFI DE said that he had his application in for awhile. Then one day he got to talking to a friend of his who worked at the San Diego FSDO (May not exist anymore) and mentioned that he was in the pile in Oak City. His buddy then called up Oak City and got him in to start examining in San Diego. The messed up part is that my DE wasnt even from San Diego, he was from Vegas. So like I said, its very political.

If you really want to be one, your going to have to start making friends at the FSDO. Get your name out there, play golf and go drink some wine and cheese with the feds. Also age I don't believe matters. Someone in another thread on here mentioned one time that they knew a DE who was under 30 years old.
 

v1valarob

Well-Known Member
Also, guys that DE in places near an ATP location make BANK! In Las Vegas, ATP has a white board up and one of the DEs comes in and puts up a 1 or 2 next to each day of the week. Thats how many checkrides he will do on that certain day. The CFIs in ATP just put up the students initials next to each day. When I was there each day had initials next to it. I would bet that he would do at least 8-10 checkrides a week. He also charged the most, $500. He also DOES NOT give you a break on re-checks.

Great guy though.. haha.
 

Do3r17

New Member
Ok, I see. Since the FAA does offer it I can see how they can keep the money. I just figured that they would only get a cut of it, and the FAA would get the rest.

Your response brings another question to mind. How secure is the job?
 

v1valarob

Well-Known Member
Ok, I see. Since the FAA does offer it I can see how they can keep the money. I just figured that they would only get a cut of it, and the FAA would get the rest.

Your response brings another question to mind. How secure is the job?
Well considering the job is based only around people who need checkrides, if it gets too expensive to fly, then of course checkrides will go down.

I dont think they can take away DE status from you in a FSDO area, once it has been granted. The FSDO doesnt pay you to sit around, only if you work. So it wouldnt matter to them if you where working or not.
 

germb747

Well-Known Member
Wait, are you telling me they keep that money? That doesn't seem right to me.
Why wouldn't they be able to keep the money? They're doing a job not a charity, you're purchasing their services, you agree to pay their rate, so why shouldn't they keep it?

Most DPEs have "been around the block" a few times; a number of them are senior airline captains who do the DPE thing on the side. It seems like more of a "by invitation only" job; there has to be a demand in the local FSDO area. For example, there may be sufficient PPL examiners in the area, but if you bring seaplane credentials to the table and there is a need for an ASES examiner, then you just might be given an authorization. And as a DPE, you do have to take regular checkrides with the feds.

BTW, my only checkride with the feds was my CFI initial; in 1999 it was the only way to do it. The checkride was conducted freely and fairly, for whatever that's worth. I don't know whether or not they'd even offer to give a PPL ride.
 

P&H

Well-Known Member
I don't mean any offense, but have you ever taken a checkride before? Why did you think they only took cash?
 

Do3r17

New Member
I don't mean any offense, but have you ever taken a checkride before? Why did you think they only took cash?
No, I have a check ride coming up, and no offense taking. I don't know, I guess I just figured they would be on a salary or something. I makes a lot more sense to me now though.
 

Stomp16

You mean Shennanigans?!?!
No, I have a check ride coming up, and no offense taking. I don't know, I guess I just figured they would be on a salary or something. I makes a lot more sense to me now though.
The DPE's are freelance and charge what they can get away with.
 

NickH

Uber Driver
My CFII checkride was $100. I'd sent a few students to that DPE so not only did he know I was doing something right as an instructor, but he'd made money out of me, and he knew I'd send him more. It was easily the smoothest checkride I've done!
 

aloft

New Member
I dont think they can take away DE status from you in a FSDO area, once it has been granted.
Oh yes they can! I learned that the DE who busted me on my initial commercial had been previously called onto the carpet for being a Santa Claus, he'd had a string of over 200 passes and zero failures, which the FSDO suspected was B.S. They made him re-take the DPE course in Oak City and were actively monitoring his pass/fail rate. Then along I come, an applicant NOT from his cash cow flight school, and from out of town, so I'm pretty sure he was looking for the slightest excuse to bust me, just to keep the FSDO happy. (Most of the above was confirmed by the FSDO after I heard the story from another DE, and called to complain about the dude.)

My CFII checkride was $100. I'd sent a few students to that DPE so not only did he know I was doing something right as an instructor, but he'd made money out of me, and he knew I'd send him more. It was easily the smoothest checkride I've done!
And that's the real problem. The DEs make a killing, and it turns into a "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" situation, which corrupts the process.

The fees some of these guys charge is outrageous, and you just know a large percentage of it goes unreported. Somebody ought to clue the IRS into this, and make a 1099 part of the exchange.
 

Do3r17

New Member
Well considering the job is based only around people who need checkrides, if it gets too expensive to fly, then of course checkrides will go down.

I dont think they can take away DE status from you in a FSDO area, once it has been granted. The FSDO doesnt pay you to sit around, only if you work. So it wouldnt matter to them if you where working or not.
Regarding that second part, if i remember correctly, their trying to shut down numerous FSDO's that had less than 25test last year. AOPA didn't like this because it eliminates potential growth or something like that. I cant remember and I deleted the email.
 

Stomp16

You mean Shennanigans?!?!
Regarding that second part, if i remember correctly, their trying to shut down numerous FSDO's that had less than 25test last year. AOPA didn't like this because it eliminates potential growth or something like that. I cant remember and I deleted the email.
The testing centers are what's being shut down, not FSDO's.

SMALL KNOWLEDGE TESTING CENTERS LOSE CERTIFICATION

Under a new FAA policy, roughly 120 CATS and LaserGrade testing facilities
across the country have lost their knowledge test administration privileges
because they gave fewer than 25 tests last year. AOPA has requested that the
FAA reverse its policy and immediately reinstate the testing centers'
privileges. "AOPA is very concerned that this FAA policy punishes existing
testing providers and does not support the ongoing industry effort to grow
the pilot population," wrote Rob Hackman, AOPA senior director of regulatory
affairs, to the FAA. The FAA's policy actually presents a barrier to students
pursuing their pilot certificate--a barrier that would only exacerbate the
current decline in new student starts. Read more on AOPA Online.
 

Stomp16

You mean Shennanigans?!?!
And that's the real problem. The DEs make a killing, and it turns into a "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" situation, which corrupts the process.

The fees some of these guys charge is outrageous, and you just know a large percentage of it goes unreported. Somebody ought to clue the IRS into this, and make a 1099 part of the exchange.
Exactly! As you said aloft, it is outrageous what some charge. It seems like as long as you pay them in cash, they sign a certificate no matter how good or bad the applicant is.

Also, one DPE at our school had his privileges taken away from doing CFI initials back when you could go with a DPE for the initial. His pass rate was too high so they told him no more.
 

v1valarob

Well-Known Member
Oh yes they can! I learned that the DE who busted me on my initial commercial had been previously called onto the carpet for being a Santa Claus, he'd had a string of over 200 passes and zero failures, which the FSDO suspected was B.S. They made him re-take the DPE course in Oak City and were actively monitoring his pass/fail rate. Then along I come, an applicant NOT from his cash cow flight school, and from out of town, so I'm pretty sure he was looking for the slightest excuse to bust me, just to keep the FSDO happy. (Most of the above was confirmed by the FSDO after I heard the story from another DE, and called to complain about the dude.
I meant they wont just take it away for no reason. Of course if the DE isnt actually doing his job correctly then they can take it away. I mean that if the local area isnt getting any PPL rides, they wont say "hey, we can fire 2 of our 5 DEs." They just wont grant anymore DE status until the need arises.
 
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