How To Become A Flight Instructor

Do you want to become a flight instructor? Then this post is for you. Being a flight instructor is a very rewarding career and you may consider earning a certification in it as you progress with your aviation career. 

As a Certified Flight Instructor(CFI) you can build flight time and experience quickly to meet airline and corporate hiring minimums. 

Yes, you may be shocked but most flight instructors are rather new pilots. Then you may wonder, should I not be taught how to fly by someone with a little more experience in flight? 

The Roman philosopher Seneca said, ‘While we teach, we learn’. This statement is noteworthy. It has been found that teaching or passing knowledge we have recently gained to someone else solidifies that knowledge in our own minds.  

However, becoming a flight instructor is no easy task as it requires some deliberate effort and there are certain criteria you must meet to become a certified one.

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Reasons Why You Should Become A Flight Instructor

How To Become A Flight Instructor

There are quite a number of reasons why you should become a Certified Flight Instructor. Some of them are;

  1. To Gain Experience And Build Flight Time

To be eligible or qualified for most jobs in aviation, especially commercial airline pilot jobs, you require a certain amount of flight time. 

  1. To Solidify The Knowledge You’ve Gained 

As a flight instructor, teaching students how to safely and effectively operate aircraft reinforces the knowledge you gained during your own flight training. Flight instructors become very knowledgeable and skilled over time. They are also privileged to train and endorse other pilots to take FAA practical tests.

Types of Flight Instructor Certifications

There are three types of flight instructor certifications;

1. Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) 

The Certified Flight Instructor is a certificate issued by Federal Aviation Administration(FAA)  under the Federal Aviation Regulations(FAR). 

To get this certification, the applicant must have received training, passed two written exams, passed a practical exam, have a certain number of flight hours, and hold a commercial pilot certificate. 

Also, a holder of this certification can be a flight instructor for only single-engine piston-powered aircraft. 

2. Certified Flight Instructor – Instrument (CFII)

With the Certified Flight Instructor – Instrument you can teach instrument students (instrument flying) and also perform Instrument Proficiency Checks (IPCs) which is the recurrent training that instrument pilots need. 

3. Multi-Engine Instructor (MEI) 

The Multi-Engine Instructor (MEI) Certification qualifies you as a flight instructor of a multi-engine aircraft. You can fly as Pilot-In Command (PIC)  of any aircraft with more than one engine. For an aspiring pilot wanting to advance to the airlines and pilots wanting to increase their overall marketability, it is a necessary pilot certification. 

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Requirements For Becoming A Certified Flight Instructor (CFI)

How To Become A Flight Instructor

There are certain requirements you must meet to become a certified flight instructor. You must

  1. Have logged at least 250 hours total time( or 190 Part 141)
  2. Have a valid FAA 3RD Class Medical Certificate (or higher) 
  3. Hold a Commercial Pilot Certificate or ATP(ASEL or AMEL) with Instrument Rating

Below are the requirements if you are pursuing a CFI Sport;

  1. 10 hours of cross-country flight time in airplane category
  2. 15 hours of flight time as PIC in airplane category that is Light-Sport aircraft
  3. 25 hours of cross-country flight time
  4. 50 hours of flight time in airplane category
  5. 100 hours of flight time as PIC of a powered aircraft

If you meet these criteria, the next step is to attend a CFI academy. A sound CFI academy will teach you how to teach others and will provide you with a strong teaching foundation to build on. 

How Long Does It Take To Become A Certified Flight Instructor?

On the accelerated path, it takes about four months, and on the standard path, 6 months. This time frame assumes that you complete all three of your CFI ratings which include Certified Flight Instructor, Certified Flight Instructor – Instrument, and Multi-Engine Instructor.  

However, it’s important to note that all flight instructors must at least obtain a Commercial Pilot Licence as part of their qualification requirements. The license requires about 250 hours of flight time with several associated sub-requirements. 

What this means in essence is that your preparation for the role as a flight instructor starts from the first day you begin flight training, meeting the demands of each rating along the way.

How Much Does A Certified Flight Instructor Earn?

Salaries for flight instructors vary and this variation is dependent on a number of factors. 

  1. The State you work in
  2. The company you work for
  3. Your qualifications.

While some companies pay Certified Flight Instructors yearly, some others pay hourly. Payment at an hourly rate can also be made at different rates depending on the type of instruction you are providing. For instance, you might earn a higher hourly rate for flights and a lower hourly rate for ground and simulator instruction (AATD). 

According to some major online recruiting providers, a Certified Flight Instructor’s pay ranges from $15 per hour to %50 per hour and $28,000 per year to $65,000 per year. 

If you want to earn the most as a Certified Flight Instructor, its necessary that you have advanced sought-after qualifications and a large number of consistent students to which you teach or provide instruction. 


Becoming a flight instructor has so many benefits. Asides from that it helps you gain experience and build flight time, it helps you develop some soft skills, boosts your resume, and help you become a better pilot in general.

I hope this article has been of help to you, kindly drop any questions or comments in the section below.

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