Receive the Training You Need to Become a Certified Flight Instructor

Flight Instructor CertificateHow to Become a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI)?

As you progress through your aviation career, you may consider earning your flight instructor certification. As a certificated flight instructor, you can build flight experience quickly to meet airline and corporate hiring minimums. Being a certified flight instructor is a challenging and rewarding career that utilizes all you have learned during your own flight training. Flight instructors aim to be role models of the aviation community, sharing knowledge and experience with their students, and for many people it is the first job in aviation that earns them a paycheck.

Why Should I Become a Certified Flight Instructor?

There are many reasons why pilots choose to become a CFI, with the most common reason being to gain experience and build flight time. Most jobs in aviation, especially commercial airline pilot jobs, require a certain amount of flight time to be eligible. Many candidates opt to teach flight training to students due to the fast-paced environment and the opportunity for steady gains in flight time hours. By teaching students how to safely and effectively operate aircraft, flight instructing also reinforces the knowledge you gained during your own flight training. Over time, flight instructors become very knowledgeable, skillfully polished pilots that are also privileged to train and endorse other pilots to take FAA practical tests.

How Long Does It Take to Earn a Flight Instructor Certificate?

While there is no specific time requirement to become a flight instructor, all flight instructors must obtain at least a commercial pilot license as part of their eligibility requirements. The commercial pilot license requires 250 hours of flight time as a pilot, with several associated sub-requirements. A pilot who plans to become a flight instructor is essentially preparing for the role from the first day they begin flight training, meeting the demands of each rating (essentially a milestone) along the way.

What Are the Different Types of Flight Instructor Certifications?

Further milestones may be met within the category of flight instructor, earning you different types of certifications:

What Is a Certified Flight Instructor's Salary?

Salary for flight instructors varies from state to state, is dependent on the company for which you work and can vary widely depending on your qualifications. While there are some companies that pay CFIs a yearly salary, most pay is earned as an hourly wage. Compensation at an hourly rate can also be payed at different rates for the different types of instruction you are providing. For example, one might earn a higher hourly rate for flights and a lower hourly rate for ground and simulator (AATD) instruction.

According to major online recruiting providers, CFI pay ranges from $15 per hour to $50 per hour and anywhere from $28,000 per year to upwards of $65,000 per year. With this type of pay structure, to earn the most as a certified flight instructor, it is important to have advanced sought after qualifications coupled with a consistent and plentiful pool of students from which to provide instruction.

CFI Hourly Pay Range
$15/hr - $50/hr
CFI Annual Salary Range
$28,000 - $65,000

Request More Information »

What Are the Eligibility Requirements to Become a CFI?

  • Be 18 years of age
  • Read, speak, write and understand the English language
  • Hold either a commercial pilot certificate or airline transport pilot certificate and an instrument rating
  • Have logged at least 250 hours of flight time
  • Hold a valid FAA 3rd Class Medical Cerificate (or higher)
  • Receive a logbook endorsement from an authorized instructor on the fundamentals of instructing
  • Pass a knowledge test on the aeronautical knowledge areas appropriate to the flight instructor rating sought

Reference 14 CFR §61.183 for the entire list of eligibility requirements.

Attend CFI Academy:

After earning your commercial pilot license, many pilots attend a flight instructor certificate program to learn the fundamentals of instructing and complete the appropriate FAA knowledge tests and practical test demonstrating the ability to teach an individual how to fly. ATP's Airline Career Pilot Program students attend CFI Academy for five weeks. It is designed to train you to become certificated flight instructors. Pilots will learn the fundamentals of instruction from ATP's senior instructor group and hone their ability to effectively teach other students how to safely and effectively operate an aircraft. Upon successful completion of CFI Academy, you will receive the FAA required logbook endorsement and FAA Knowledge Tests to earn your flight instructor certificate (with single-engine and instrument privileges).

CFI Renewal Requirements

Unlike other flight ratings, the flight instructor certificate must be renewed every twenty-four months. Flight instructors may find that whichever option is chosen, the flight instructor certification is a great privilege to have. It is recommended to never let it lapse, so you can continue to share in the joy of teaching others to fly throughout your long and rewarding aviation career.

There are many ways a flight instructor certificate can be renewed:

  • Complete an approved flight instructor refresher course (FIRC). ATP graduates receive this course for free through the ATP Alumni Association.
  • Flights instructors may opt to obtain an additional flight instructor certificate, or complete a practical test for one of the flight instructor certificates they have already obtained.
  • Endorse at least 5 students for a practical test with at least an 80 percent first-attempt pass rate, or meet certain requirements involving the regular evaluation of pilots, usually within an air carrier company.
  • An official U.S. Armed Forces military instructor pilot proficiency check is also an option.

Request More Information »

Fly with ATP Flight School Start Your Introductory Training Flight

Get Started »

Piper Archer flying above clouds

What is a Commercial Pilot License? Privileges, Requirements and Eligibility

A licensed commercial pilot may act as pilot-in-command of an aircraft for compensation or hire, as well as carry persons or property for compensation or hire. To put it another way, holding a commercial pilot license means you are legally allowed to get paid as a pilot.

You Can Become a Pilot — Here's Your Next Step

Get started today and gain access to following free resources:

  • Discover Financing Options
  • Introductory Training Flight Online Lesson
  • Online Training Modules
  • Information Pack by Mail

Request More Information »

Related FAQs Airline Career Pilot Program

What are the eligibility requirements for becoming an airline pilot?
How do I become a pilot?
How do I become a pilot for United Airlines?
How do I become a pilot for American Airlines?
Do I need a college degree to be a pilot?
How long does it take to become a pilot?
How long does it take to become a commercial airline pilot?
What is airline seniority?
What is a regional airline pilot's salary?
How much does it cost to become a commercial pilot?
What pilot training programs are available?
What is a student pilot certificate?
What is a private pilot license?
What is a commercial pilot license?
How to become a certified flight instructor (CFI)?
How to earn your ATP certificate?
How much do airline pilots make?
What is the current airline pilot hiring outlook?
What are the effects of COVID-19 on the airline industry?
What are the eligibility requirements for becoming an airline pilot?

Summary of educational, medical, legal, certification and qualification requirements to become a commercial pilot and fly for major and regional airlines.

What are the eligibility requirements for becoming an airline pilot? »
How do I become a pilot?

You can become a pilot. Learn how to become a pilot and get your pilot license, including requirements, eligibility, how long it takes, and cost.

How do I become a pilot? »
How do I become a pilot for United Airlines®?

ATP Flight School is the nation’s leader in airline-oriented flight training and has partnered with United to provide ATP students the fastest path to a successful pilot career with United. Learn more about United AviateSM.

How do I become a pilot for United Airlines? »
How do I become a pilot for American Airlines?

Accelerated pilot cadet program, offering a proven path to a pilot career at American Airlines.

How do I become a pilot for American Airlines? »
Do I need a college degree to be a pilot?

The answer to this question is both ‘Yes’ and ‘No’. Learn more about what the college education requirements are to become an airline pilot.

Do I need a college degree to be a pilot? »
How long does it take to become a pilot?

It takes 3 months to become a private pilot. In about 2 years, you can become a commercial airline pilot. Learn how you can become a pilot with ATP Flight School.

How long does it take to become a pilot? »
How long does it take to become a commercial airline pilot?

Enroll in accelerated flight training with ATP and go from zero experience to a commercial airline pilot, with 1500 hours, in about 2 years. Learn how you can become an airline pilot with ATP Flight School.

How long does it take to become a commercial airline pilot? »
What is airline seniority?

Airlines operate on a seniority-based system. Learn what this means for your career and why getting to the airlines first is important.

Airline seniority explained »
What is a regional airline pilot's salary?

The shortage of pilots qualified to fly for the airlines is causing regional airlines to offer signing bonuses, tuition reimbursement, and other incentives. Learn more about how much you will earn as a pilot.

Compare First-Year Pay at Each Regional Airline »
How much does it cost to become a commercial pilot?

ATP provides up-front, fixed-cost pricing in a way that differentiates us from most other flight schools and academies. With over 30 years of experience, ATP designs our flight training programs with enough flight time for the vast majority of students to be successful.

How much does it cost to become a commercial pilot? »
What pilot training programs are available?

Complete list of aviation courses, flight training, and career pilot programs offered by ATP Flight School.

What pilot training programs are available? »
What is a student pilot certificate?

The student pilot certificate is a requirement in order to fly a powered aircraft by yourself, known as “soloing” in aviation.

What is a student pilot certificate? »
What is a private pilot license?

A Private Pilot License (PPL) is the first major milestone on the road to a career as a pilot. Learn about the private pilot license; including privileges, requirements, eligibilty, and how to earn your private pilot license.

What is a private pilot license? »
What is a commercial pilot license?

Learn all about a commercial pilot license, including privileges, requirements, eligibilty, and how to earn this pilot license.

What is a commercial pilot license? »
How to become a certified flight instructor (CFI)?

Learn all about earning your flight instructor certification, including privileges, requirements, eligibilty, and salary information.

How to become a certified flight instructor? »

Learn all about earning your flight instructor certification, including privileges, requirements, eligibilty, and salary information.

How to become a certified flight instructor? »
How to earn your ATP certificate?

An ATP certification will also open a wide array of pilot job opportunities with various corporate and private air carriers. Learn more about the Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) Certification, such as, eligibility requirements and flight experience requirements.

How to Earn Your ATP Certificate? »
How much do airline pilots make?

Flying can be a very rewarding career, both financially and in terms of job satisfaction. Pilots undertake intensive training to develop a highly unique skill set. As a result, commercial pilots are paid well.

What is a commercial pilot’s salary? »
What is the current airline pilot hiring outlook?

Commercial airline pilot job career information; airline pilot hiring, pilot salary, retirement numbers, military pilot population reduction and the overall upcoming pilot shortage discussion.

What is the current airline pilot hiring outlook? »
What are the effects of COVID-19 on the airline industry?

Long-term pilot career outlook in response to COVID-19, including long term hiring trends, projections, retirements, and the effects of postponing flight training.

What are the effects of COVID-19 on the airline industry? »