There have been a few articles published lately on CFI professionalism and what it means. Some describe professionalism as adhering to the adage to do what is right even when no one is watching. Others describe professionalism using the methods of interacting with clients (or learners), dress, demeanor and pre-meeting preparation.
I’m going to use a different track and say that professionalism is continually trying to place your self at the top of your chosen field. Often I run across fellow CFIs and during informal discussions find that they belong to neither professional CFI organization (NAFI or SAFE) or if they have chosen to join one of the organizations they rarely take advantage of the professional services that the organization offers. Rarely do they participate in the WINGS program and seldom do they promote any of the benefits of the information found on FAASafety.gov.
Many individuals seem to get their Flight Instructor Certification and then wander off into the Eat, Fly, Sleep, Repeat circle, never taking the time to look up and see what is happening around them in their profession. Their emphasis is finding students and flying with them. I rarely see the CFIs at local FAA Safety Seminars, neither in-person nor online unless the presentation is sponsored by their employer. Nor do they participate in the local EAA Chapter’’s IMC Club or VMC Club sessions.
Could it be that these CFI’s have already learned everything they need to know and have mastered the best way to present their vast knowledge to their learners? Or is it that these individuals are using the instructor position only as that stepping stone to the airline high life with no intention of attaining the status of ‘professional’ flight instructor.
Being a professional anything isn’t about whether or not you are being paid for your services nor whether or not it is your sole source of income. Professionalism is an attitude, a way of life. When you posses it all those other descriptors that people use to define the term will come naturally.