How to Become a Pilot - Learning to fly in the Piper Archer

How to Become a Pilot

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Here are the steps you take to become a pilot:

  1. Step 1

    1. Research Pilot Schools

    The first step to become a private or commercial pilot is to research your flight training options. Learn and compare available programs offered by flight schools, and pick the best match for your aviation goals.

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  2. Step 2

    2. Take an Admissions Flight

    Successfully completing an Admissions Flight is required before enrolling in a pilot training program. This flight lesson will help you see first-hand the training, aircraft, and quality of instruction a flight school will offer you. It is also a great way to get a better sense of what it's like to fly from behind the controls.

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  3. Step 3

    3. Apply for FAA Medical Certificate

    Pilots must meet basic medical requirements to fly. If you want to fly professionally, you must meet higher medical standards than recreational pilots and should apply for a first class medical certificate through an Aeromedical Examiner (AME).

  4. Step 4

    4. Apply for FAA Student Pilot Certificate

    Apply for a student pilot certificate through the FAA's Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) website (your flight instructor can help with this). While you don't need a student pilot certificate to start flying lessons, you will need it to fly solo during your training.

  5. Step 5

    5. Start Flight Training Lessons

    Start taking flight training lessons and begin working towards obtaining the aeronautical knowledge and pilot training experience requirements needed to become a private pilot.

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  6. Step 6

    6. Pass Private Pilot Knowledge Test

    During your private pilot flight training, you will need to take and pass the computer-based FAA private pilot knowledge test. To be eligible for the test, you must receive an endorsement from your flight instructor.

  7. Step 7

    7. Pass Private Pilot Practical Exam

    The final step in earning your FAA private pilot certificate is to take a practical exam with a Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE). This exam consists of both an oral and a flight portion, and once completed you will be a private pilot.

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Qualify for a FREE Admissions Flight

Apply for Financing! »

Piper Archer flying above clouds

How Long Does it Take to Become a Pilot?

Outlined here is how long it will take you to become a pilot in the fast track, accelerated Airline Career Pilot Program — ATP's complete pilot training solution. For additional information, view How long does it take to become a pilot? and the Airline Career Pilot Program training timeline.

Starting from Zero Time Starting with Credit for Private
Private Pilot 3 Months
Commercial Pilot 3 Months 3 Months
Certified Flight Instructor 2 Months 2 Months
Total Duration 9 Months 6 Months

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How Much Does it Cost to Become a Commercial Pilot?

Learn more about how much it costs to become a commercial pilot and what you can expect to pay for flight school.

How Much Does Pilot Training Cost »

What are the Flight Training Requirements to Become a Pilot?

Below is an outline of the FAA's pilot eligibility requirements and what is required to become a pilot. See also the Airline Career Pilot Program admission requirements.

Private Pilot Commercial Pilot Airline Transport Pilot
Language Be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language.
Age 17 18 21
Total Flight Time 40 Hours 250 Hours 1,500 Hours
Tests & Exams Knowledge Test & Practical Exam Knowledge Test & Practical Exam ATP CTP, Knowledge Test, & Practical Exam

How to Become an Airline Pilot ATP's Airline Career Pilot Program Explained

Training to Become a Pilot at ATP

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