Commercial Pilot Requirements Frequently asked questions about how to become a commercial airline pilot.
Steps to Become an Airline Pilot What are the steps required to become a commercial pilot?
Earn Private Pilot Certificate
The first step in becoming a commercial pilot is to earn a Private Pilot certificate. Starting in a single-engine plane, this stage of training focuses on the fundamentals and sets the foundation for more advanced certificates and ratings.
Add Instrument Rating
After becoming a private pilot, the next step is to earn an instrument rating which allows a pilot to fly under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) and in all kinds of weather.
Earn Commercial Pilot Certificate
Next is earning a Commercial Pilot certificate. Pilots must meet specific experience requirements and fly to a higher standard in order to become commercial pilots, which ultimately allows them to legally be paid to fly.
Earn Flight Instructor Certificate
Once the commercial pilot requirements are satisfied, obtain a Flight Instructor certificate. Becoming a certificated flight instructor (CFI) allows pilots to earn a living flying, while they earn the flight experience required by airlines.
Add Multi-Engine Rating
To fly large passenger airliners, pilots must add multi-engine privileges to their pilot commercial certificate. Adding a multi-engine rating to the Commercial Pilot certificate is the final step before building experience to meet hiring minimums.
Flight instruct to gain the type of quality and relevant flight experience necessary to satisfy the requirements of the Airline Transport Pilot certificate, which commercial pilots are required to hold and includes a minimum of 1,500 hours total flight time.
Commercial Pilot Job
Upon meeting the requirements of the Airline Transport Pilot certificate, you are eligible to fly for an airline and will meet the hiring minimums of most regional commercial airline pilot jobs. ATP's Airline Career Pilot Program can take you from zero time to airline pilot job in about two years. View the training timeline »
If your career goal is to fly for American Airlines, learn about how to participate in the cadet program and become a pilot for American Airlines.