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Never too old to be a CFINever too old to be a CFI

According to an AARP/Roper survey, it’s estimated that about eight in 10 seniors plan to work at some time during their traditional retirement years. Thirty percent of these “silver collar” employees are expected to work part-time, merely for their own enjoyment, social interaction, and the feeling they are contributing to a productive and honorable enterprise. Of course, about 25 percent of retirees who are still recovering from devastating stock market losses or simply haven’t saved enough for retirement are working for economic reasons.

These 50-plus workers upend many stereotypes of being has-beens; in many cases, their skills and experience are preferred over younger workers, especially when their diverse work experiences can benefit your school. Hiring a retired airline or corporate pilot will lend a level of expertise that will impress your students and attract some of the most serious ones who view experienced pilots as potential mentors for their future career goals.�

Alternately, hiring a retired worker from an entirely different field of expertise, such as marketing or accounting, can greatly benefit your school by eliminating the need to pay for expert advice and services. This is also an angle that can help with recruiting the right people. Instead of waiting for someone to walk through the door and offer their services, approach commercial-rated pilots you know who may be looking to retire soon or who have time to take on a student or two. You may even offer to pay for their CFI, as one school in South Carolina did.

Instructors who became a pilot at some point in their life for the love of aviation and hobby are usually very enthusiastic and overjoyed at making aviation their second career. Take Dan Skoda, who was formerly the president of Marshall Fields; with more than 30 years of experience in the corporate world he is now enjoying a career as a CFI.

Some schools and training facilities, from small, five-person operations to larger corporations such as FlightSafety, are aggressively seeking older workers because they are blessed with skills and assets that can only come from years of training and working knowledge.

Since many seniors don't have to work, they can afford to be picky about employment opportunities. Many are attracted to flexible working arrangements, including part-time and seasonal work, which is generally a perfect fit for flight schools. Additionally, it is of utmost importance to offer adequate time off and mutual respect from supervisors. �

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