I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask this question, and I'm sure that some of the answers will depend on the country, so I apologise if this is "too local" or "off topic".

I'm considering getting a Private Pilot's License. Ideally it will be for both recreational use and also to make money.

I've read that there are some limitations on how you can make money as a Pilot with only a PPL. But some of the things I've read a pretty vague and open to interpretation.

What kind of jobs/careers can you get with a PPL?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ You cannot be paid if you've just a PPL. You need a CPL to be compensated. For a CPL, you need Instrument Rating too, otherwise you can only fly as VFR. $\endgroup$
    – Farhan
    Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 17:38
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ "Private pilots license" and "to make money" are incompatible. $\endgroup$
    – casey
    Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 19:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Farhan - Australia; As of Sept 1, no longer required to hold an Instrument rating, as Junior Grade 3's can no longer do BIF or NVFR Training. $\endgroup$
    – James Ham
    Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 20:52
  • $\begingroup$ @merge delete - In future, if you could specify which country you are looking at as part of your question, this will help narrow down the answer to the appropriate law. :) $\endgroup$
    – James Ham
    Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 20:55
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @mergedelete - on this SE, it's required.. otherwise every thread with EASA or FAA tagged in it would be closed. The difference with this SE is we are talking about variations in law depending on Country. $\endgroup$
    – James Ham
    Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 21:20

3 Answers 3


If you are talking about Europe (EASA) Doc 1178 states at PPL privileges:

a) The privileges of the holder of a PPL(A) are to act without remuneration as PIC or co-pilot on aeroplanes or TMGs engaged in non-commercial operations.

(b) Notwithstanding the paragraph above, the holder of a PPL(A) with instructor or examiner privileges may receive remuneration for:

(1) the provision of flight instruction for the LAPL(A) or PPL(A);

(2) the conduct of skill tests and proficiency checks for these licences;

(3) the training, testing and checking for the ratings or certificates attached to this licence.

Bottom line you could make money with PPL by being a flight instructor or a flight examiner. A side effect would be also accumulation of flight hours that would permit you to continue with a course for commercial pilot.

  • $\begingroup$ thanks for the answer. That sounds very similar to what I've read for Australia (where I live), too. You know those guys that write words in the sky with the smoke? Can you charge for that with just a PPL? $\endgroup$
    – jay_t55
    Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 17:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @mergedelete That's called Skywriting. $\endgroup$
    – Farhan
    Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 17:40
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @mergedelete: I never thought about it. Probably it is considered aerial work (the same category with agriculture flight, firefighting, etc), operations that you cannot perform with PPL. But, again, I'm not 100% sure about this. $\endgroup$
    – Emil
    Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 17:43
  • $\begingroup$ The EASA PPL also allows a PPL to be reimbursed for flying expenses provided that the flying is not necessary for the job. So if someone had an job that requires travel and the company paid flying expenses as part of that travel there's no issue. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 18:56
  • $\begingroup$ @GdD That's interesting to note because that is specifically NOT allowed for FAA private pilots. Other passengers may split the cost of flying the aircraft with the pilot, but the pilot must personally pay at least his share of the costs, IIRC. $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 19:01

For the U.S., career options for someone with a private pilot certificate can be summed up as "stuff that doesn't involve flying an aircraft." It is illegal to be paid for your services as a pilot in the U.S. without a commercial pilot certificate. The flight instruction exemption mentioned above for Europe does not apply in the U.S. All CFIs in the U.S. are required to have a Commercial Pilot Certificate first. Also, for airplanes or other powered-lift aircraft, the CFI must also have an instrument rating in the U.S.

One exception to note is that private pilots in the U.S. may operate an aircraft for the furtherance of a business provided that they are not being paid for flying the aircraft. So, you could, for instance, fly yourself on a business trip if you have a PPL.

Source for CFI requirements: 14 CFR 61.183


For Australia, you are extremely confined as to what you can do with a PPL to earn money. Skywriting as people have mentioned, will probably mean you lose your license here. What you can do according to CAR 2.7 (Civil Aviation Regulation) is essentially;

  • Crop Dusting on a person's property using their aircraft (only on their property)
    (You would also require an Agricultural Rating for this)
  • Transporting the owner of the aircraft

Now, here's where you can work within the rules. According to the definition of the CAR, you can logically fly charter flights as private if you are transporting the owner of the aircraft. What if the aircraft is owned by a company? Logically, anyone who works for that company is considered an owner, or goods reasonable similar to property of the owner.

Now, take everything I've said here, take with a grain of salt as I am not a CASA lawyer (Thank god), and as a disclaimer, nothing that I have said here can be taken as an exact interpretation of the law or anything reasonably similar.

But, have a read of that CAR, and you will possibly find avenues to follow, or just bite the bullet, go to a VET Fee Help approved school and do your CPL?

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answer James. WTH??? YOU CAN GET FEE HELP? IM SO DOWN! (but I need to sleep first) $\endgroup$
    – jay_t55
    Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 20:53
  • $\begingroup$ Yep, sure can.. I did mine at Hunter Valley Aviation in Cessnock (part of Basair) under VET Fee Help. $\endgroup$
    – James Ham
    Commented Aug 25, 2014 at 20:58
  • $\begingroup$ just because you can transport the owner of an aircraft doesn't mean you can get paid for doing so... More likely you're allowed to fly aircraft owned by a company with company staff as passengers, as long as you're not being paid for doing so. $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 11:16
  • $\begingroup$ @jwenting - by Australian law, you can get paid to fly the owner and/or property considered as such, as long as the conditions fall within CAR 2.7. $\endgroup$
    – James Ham
    Commented Aug 26, 2014 at 20:55

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .