How Long Does It Take To Become a Flight Instructor?
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Have you received a commercial pilot rating and want to further your aviation career? Becoming a certified flight instructor (CFI) might be your best next step. It’s an excellent way to do what you love while teaching students to fly.
Before diving into the CFI career path, you may wonder, “How long does it take to become a flight instructor?” While the answer depends on a few factors, you’ll likely need at least 250 flight hours to qualify. Below, we cover a few things you’ll need to know about becoming a certified flight instructor in Arizona.
Certified Flight Instructor Requirements
Getting a flight instructor certificate is no small task. It requires hundreds of hours of learning about different types of planes (multi-engine aircraft, rocket-powered aircraft, etc.) and honing your skills. Not only will you need to know how to fly for a major airline, but you’ll also need to teach flying techniques to student pilots.
Every pilot must meet certain requirements before pursuing a flight instructor certificate. This certification is only available to the following:
- Pilots with at least 250 total flight hours per the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Part 61 (or 190 total hours of flight time per Part 141)
- Pilots with a commercial pilot certificate or airline transport pilot (ATP) certification with an instrument rating
- Pilots with an FAA medical certificate (at least third-class)
Once you satisfy these requirements, you’re ready to pursue flight time as a flight instructor. Credentials like a commercial pilot license show that you know your stuff and would be a good candidate for a teaching role. However, you’ll need to complete additional training to get there.
CFI Academy vs. One-on-one Training
When it comes to formal CFI training, you have a couple of options. First, you can attend a CFI academy from the same flight schools that offer a student pilot license. Or, you could get one-on-one training time. Both routes are viable, but many pilots prefer attending an academy.
Why choose a CFI academy? These academies offer the top-level education and ground instruction you need to advance your pilot career. A whole classroom of prospective flight instructors can keep you accountable and push you to your highest potential.
One-on-one flight instruction might seem more convenient, but it’s often more expensive and takes longer than a CFI academy program. In addition, you won’t get the motivation and encouragement from other students.
What To Expect From CFI Academies
The same flight school that helped you get your private pilot license might have a CFI academy. These academies provide more formal education than an internship and more hands-on experience than a typical graduate degree program. Instructors create and present material to give you well-rounded, in-depth flight training.
You can expect to spend part of the day in the classroom. The rest you’ll spend flying a plane, putting those lecture hours to use. Daily schedules may vary depending on which academy you attend and how many new students attend.
During the in-class period, you’ll learn about the best teaching methods and how to adapt your material to different students seeking a private pilot license. You’ll also read through FAA guidelines and practice teaching to students with zero experience for the student pilot certificate.
Tips for Success at Your CFI Academy
Becoming a certificated flight instructor hinges on how you perform in the CFI academy. If you apply yourself and perform well, you can expect to receive your certification. If you sluff off and don’t take the training seriously, you’ll likely waste time and money.
Sure, some people with a commercial pilot license might possess the natural talent to succeed at everything with minimal effort. But if you want to stand out from the crowd during flight training, you’ll need to do the following:
- Study hard and regularly: Becoming a commercial airline pilot takes hard work and dedication. Studying regularly is the best way to ensure that you’ll be ready for the checkride.
- Work with someone else: Practicing with a fellow airline pilot is an excellent tip for success. Other pilots can help you stay on track, double-check your work, and see your lesson plans from another perspective.
How To Get Ready for Your Checkride
You’ve heard the old saying that practice makes perfect. It’s true for getting a private pilot certificate and becoming an FAA-certified flight instructor (CFI). By practicing again and again, you will put yourself in the best position to pass the checkride.
Checkride day is often stressful and nerve-wracking. However, your flight school will have taught you everything you need to know to pass it. Practice your checkride, take notes on how to improve, and you’ll be in great shape.
Become a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) With Leopard Aviation
Now that you know “how long does it take to become a flight instructor?” it’s time to get started! At Leopard Aviation, our expert pilot instructors and top-quality resources will help with obtaining your CFI rating or renewing your CFI certificate. Call us at (480) 372-8967 to learn more about the best flight school in Scottsdale and Mesa, AZ.