12 Low Time Pilot Jobs – Less Than 500 Hours


12 Low Time Pilot Jobs for pilots with Less than 500 Hours

Aviation Jobs

You’ve just earned your commercial license, now what?

There are many ways to monetize your latest license! In order to be resourceful, it’s pertinent that you are aware of all the options, you can use to earn money while flying.

Here’s a List of What We Suggest!

1) Survey Pilot

Survey pilots are a great entry into the world of commercial aviation. These pilots do long calculated flights generally taking pictures of the land underneath. You can often recognize survey pilots in the air by their usual tracking patterns in the sky.

Onboard there are computers to guide the pilot, assisting in a perfect pattern to map the ground underneath. These resources are used by real estate professionals, municipalities, and infrastructure to assist with planning.

Becoming a survey pilot is a coveted experience and a great way to earn a lot of hours!

2) Banner Tow Pilot

Banner tow pilots are coveted aviation jobs for pilots with low hours. Banner tow operations are low/slow flying operations as banners need to be low enough for visibility and slow enough for reading.

Banner tow pilots often fly long legs which can count for valuable cross-country flights. Not to mention, the views are often times amazing as banner tow operations usually operate over the coastal areas where they can attract more eyes.

Of course, in order to be a banner tow pilot, it’s important to learn how they attach the banner as you need to be able to stomach the harsh procedure. Check out the video to see the operation in action!

It’s important for us to note the downsides. Many banner tow pilots are underpaid because they are usually derived from younger / newer commercial pilots. A lot of banner tow operations use older aircraft which have a much higher failure rate. This often results in pilots ditching on the beach with a varying rate of injury.

Before choosing this route make sure you do your due diligence on the company you choose to work with.

3) Charter Pilot

A charter pilot is a highly coveted job in the industry. While low-time pilot jobs in chartering are a challenge, it is not impossible and it may be an excellent experience boost to get to a major airline.

Generally speaking, when talking charter, you are looking at a Part 135 operation that will allow you to fly commercially with an undefined schedule. For some pilots, this may be seen as a negative, since generally speaking,

135 pilots are usually on-call operations. Some pilots are called late in the night or early in the morning for emergency flights and operations, they may not have planned for. In addition, some pilots may find the lack of seniority structure harmful for their greater career.

There are a lot of factors when it comes to charter operations that you should consider before taking up the mantle. However, this is a great way to earn experience, especially if you can create the right connections and network to get this highly coveted position.

4) Tourism / Sight Seeing Pilot

Tourism from the skies is on the rise, especially in the warmer seasons. If you live in a tourist location, becoming a sightseeing / Tourism pilot should be on your list.

Depending on your location you can rake in a lot of money for short 15–30-minute flights around a hot spot area. Locations that do really well with this option are California, New York, Arizona, Florida, and other tourist locations that offer amazing views.

Depending on demand, pilots can often earn upwards of $150 for a short flight around a populated area. Of course, just like some other options on this list, a massive downside is that you will be shorting yourself of the experience gained from long cross-country planning.

Sights, while beautiful may start to seem repetitive and can often become mundane when flying in the same area. You may become more complacent which is never a good thing.

However, seeing the joys on your passengers’ faces will never get old. This is something you may have to consider in the long term.

5) Skydive Pilot

This pilot job is one of the most coveted, the skydive pilot. Not only do you get to run multiple flights throughout the day, but you will also be able to bring joy to many.

Skydive pilots have one of the coolest jobs in the sky, flying legs up to 14,000 ft, diving back down to do it all over again. The only downside is that with a job like this you will often find yourself with hundreds of logbook entries with little flight time, this does not give a pilot valuable flight experience only found in cruise portions. Regardless, it is still a great option for new commercial pilots as these jobs require little time.

Often, the aircraft flown are turbo-prop aircraft that can reach the required jump heights efficiently. For a young pilot, this is a great opportunity as it offers exposure to turbo-prop aircraft in a short amount of time.

Civil Air Patrol

Now we must disclaimer, the civil air patrol is not a *paid opportunity however we are including it in our list because it’s a valid way to gain experience and flight hours for free!

Depending on your ranking and involvement, there are many opportunities within the civil air patrol to gain hours.

The civil air patrol participates in nationwide drills, search and rescue operations, and introductory flights for cadets. This gives you invaluable volunteer experience and at the same time fills your logbook.

We highly suggest joining the Civil Air Patrol because you are passionate about their mission first.

7) Missions Pilot

A lot of missions’ pilots are volunteer opportunities for nonprofit organizations overseas. However, there are a few options that do provide compensation for pilots seeking hours.

Usually, these operations involve carrying mail or supplies to remote locations that may be tough to reach by land.

These pilots are essential in these regions as they are often the lifeline of a remote community. This type of experience develops a lot of skill, quickly, as lots of landing zones and areas are obscured. Usually, these opportunities are not always out in the open and may require networking to find the right position.

Mission pilot

8) Last-Mile Delivery / Sales Pilot

Aircraft are oftentimes few and far between. When someone looks to purchase a new aircraft, they can often find themselves looking at aircraft which are miles away from their home territory.

This dilemma commands a specialized delivery/sales pilot who is willing to fly an aircraft to an owner. More often this type of job requires over 500 hours and a pilot who has experience in various types.

However, with the right connections, a pilot with less than 500 hours can find themselves in the fortunate position of being a delivery pilot. Depending on the make and model you can become a valuable asset to any aircraft dealer.

If the dealer specializes in smaller aircraft types, this may be the perfect fit for you. This job gives pilots the perfect exposure to many different aircraft, conditions, and scenarios which helps develop experience.

9) Pipeline / Powerline Patrol

Pipeline/powerline patrol is another lucrative opportunity in the aviation space. We know most pilots reading this are flying fixed-wing aircraft, however, this industry is catered towards helicopter pilots.

If you are a commercial helicopter pilot with low hours and great networking skills you may find yourself in this avenue of aviation. Pipeline / Powerline patrol operators are essentially surveyed pilots who cater to the needs of big oil/power companies.

Here you can shuttle employees to locations that are hard to reach with challenging landing spots. Often times can be reserved for more experienced pilots.

However, if you are ambitious enough and make the right connections you can find yourself in one of these positions.

Powerline patrol

10) Traffic Watch Pilot

Have you ever wondered how your GPS system updates traffic so effectively? Well, this is partially because of the great eyes in the sky! A traffic watch pilot is fairly self-explanatory, a pilot who flys to gather information about traffic in a local area.

There are so many purposes for gathering this information, infrastructure, gathering road statistics, live information, or news information. Traffic watch pilots have an important job, as they help gather the information that helps municipalities know where to invest in road infrastructure.

This is a great opportunity to enhance your flying/tracking skills.

11) Glider Tow Pilot

On the relative risk scale becoming a glider tow pilot is a great/safe way to gain hours with your new commercial license.

Glider tow operations are essentially powered aircraft towing a non-powered aircraft to a certain altitude. The Aircraft are connected via a detachable cable on the rear of the powered aircraft.

Just like a skydive pilot this job won’t allow you to truly practice your cross-country skills. However, you will gain tons of landing experience as legs are usually short and allow for a lot of controlled takeoff practice.

The most common method pilots use to gain hours and earn money is through the Certified Flight Instructor path.

Now, this isn’t exactly the most cost-effective method since you will have to get your CFI license to even participate in this category. However, this is the method we recommend the most, to all pilots, regardless of where you want your aviation career to end up.

Why? Because CFI pilots not only have the opportunity to earn money but the opportunity to gain valuable knowledge in mastering the art of aviation.

We have found that pilots who get their CFI license are more likely to pass routine airline checks and tests. This has been reported first hand by chief flight instructors working at major airlines in the US.

To become a greater, well-rounded pilot, we beseech those who read to truly consider this path to the cockpit.

The Bottom Line

There are many ways to start earning money with low hours as we have shown here. Take advantage of your new commercial license and live your dreams, being paid to do what you love.

Now even though we have only listed 15, there are much more secret/lucrative opportunities out there for pilots. So we always advise to network, network, network, because you never know who needs a pilot for an operation.

Knowing the right people can get you into interesting cockpits. Either way, the traditional route or an alternative, there are many options for new pilots seeking opportunities.

Hopefully, this encourages every pilot to know that you don’t need 1500 hours to start earning some cash.

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