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7 Jobs For Pilots With Less Than 500 Hours

Breaking the 500 hour mark is tough for newly minted commercial pilots. Here are some ways to do it.

1) Skydive Jump Pilot

At 325 hours, Jeremiah Johnson was hired to fly as a skydive jump pilot in Colorado. If you're looking for a job that's filled with excited passengers, look no further than skydiving.

Click Here to take a look at dozens of jump pilot job openings.

2) Privately Owned Aircraft (Part 91)

If you hold a commercial pilot certificate and instrument rating, there are a lot of job opportunities out there. James Lightbody was hired a few months ago at 21 years old and 400 hours TT (total time) after seeing an advertisement pinned to a local FBO board. He was typed rated as an SIC and is flying right seat in a Hawker 800 today. His new job has taken him from the Cayman Island to Halifax, Canada.

If you're flying from the right-seat, learn the regulations on logging flight time in "single pilot certified" airplanes.


3) Air Tours

Derek Pasiewicz was hired at 18 years old and just over 250 hours to fly helicopter air tours in St. Augustine, Florida.

If you're interested in finding a job as a tour pilot, look for companies located around the beach, or scenic areas like the Grand Canyon.

4) Certified Flight Instructor (CFI)

You can get hired at dozens of flight schools around the country with a brand new CFI certificate and zero hours of dual given. Flight schools have a desperate need for instructors, and with growing competition, pay rates have increased substantially.


5) Banner Towing

Banner towing requires a special kind of pilot, someone that's willing to spend up to 8 hours a day flying low and slow around the same routes over and over. But if you want to build 1,000 hours in a year like Haley Howard, this might be the job for you.

If you're looking for a tow pilot job this summer, this opening was posted yesterday (4/11/2018).

6) Aircraft Ferry Pilot

This one is pretty self explanatory. Low-hour pilots can find positions delivering aircraft all over the country, and even internationally. The more "unique" experience you have, the better. There's an endless supply of pilots familiar with the C172, but much fewer with dozens of tailwheel or seaplane hours.

Check out Full Throttle Aviation for an example of a privately-owned ferry business that employs pilots with a wide range of flight experience.

Jim Raeder

7) Charter Pilot (Part 135)

Ranging from cargo to scheduled passenger service, there's dozens of opportunities for pilots who want to build experience at a Part 135 Air Carrier. Many companies have travel benefits and jumpseat privileges, allowing you to sit in the cockpit of larger airlines. If you're flying from the right-seat, learn the regulations on logging flight time in "single pilot certified" airplanes.

Here are a few Part 135 Air Carriers that have hired First Officers at or below 500 hours:

Don't Meet The Minimums? Apply Anyway!

Breaking 500 hours is a huge milestone for job opportunities. Once you get past that point, it gets a lot easier to secure an entry level position as a professional pilot.

Many listings require at least 500 hours TT, but that doesn't mean you can't apply with less experience. In many cases, minimum requirements are just a preference set by the company, and aren't dictated by federal regulations.


What other jobs are there for pilots with less than 500 hours of flight time? Share your ideas in the comments below.

Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and an Embraer 145 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota in 2018, holds a PIC Type Rating for Cessna Citation Jets (CE-525), and is a former pilot for Mokulele Airlines. He's the author of articles, quizzes and lists on Boldmethod every week. You can reach Swayne at, and follow his flying adventures on his YouTube Channel.

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