How to become a Commercial Pilot

The US aviation industry is experiencing a significant pilot shortage, creating a demand for commercial pilots. Becoming a commercial pilot requires significant time, dedication, and financial investment. Research reputable flight schools and consider the financial aspects of training. Pilots also face physical and mental demands and work irregular hours. Despite the challenges, becoming a pilot is a rewarding and fulfilling career choice.

Checklist to first steps

Choose Flight School

Research reputable flight schools in your area and consider factors such as curriculum, instructor qualifications, and success rates before selecting a program that meets your needs.

Start Ground School

Ground school is the classroom portion of pilot training where you’ll learn the fundamentals of aviation, including aerodynamics, navigation, weather, and regulations.

Start Flight Lessons

Flight lessons typically begin with learning the basics of operating an aircraft, including takeoff, climb, cruise, descent, and landing. As you progress, you’ll learn advanced maneuvers and procedures.

FAA Exams

After obtaining your private pilot license, you can begin working towards your commercial pilot certification by completing additional flight hours and passing exams.


The final step in obtaining your pilot’s license is the checkride, which is a practical exam that includes a flight test and an oral exam. This exam is conducted by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) examiner and is designed to ensure that you have the skills and knowledge necessary to operate an aircraft safely.

What is the difference between an airline and commercial pilot?

There is a major difference between an airline pilot and a commercial pilot. An airline pilot is employed by, and flies for an airline. They fly passengers to their destination on fixed flight routes with a strict schedule that must be followed. All of the aircraft used for this purpose are registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

On the other hand, a commercial pilot can fly for any number of different companies or organizations. This includes charter aircraft operators, private corporations, government agencies and even medical facilities like air ambulance services. The purpose of these flights is usually to transport cargo or personnel from one location to another.

While both pilots need to have the same qualifications and must pass the same FAA examinations, there are some key differences in the training and experience needed to be an airline or commercial pilot.
For example, airline pilots require more specialized knowledge and experience when it comes to navigation and air traffic control due to the complexity of flight schedules and routes.

Commercial pilots, on the other hand, need to be more familiar with different types of aircraft and engines as well as techniques for flying in various weather conditions. They must also have a strong knowledge of navigation systems and aerial maps so they can plan out efficient and safe routes for their cargo or passengers.

Both airline and commercial pilots must maintain a valid FAA medical certificate in order to fly, but the requirements are different for each. Airline pilots need to have a First Class Medical Certificate while commercial pilots can possess a Second Class Medical Certificate.

Overall, the main difference between an airline pilot and commercial pilot is the purpose of their flights. Airline pilots are responsible for transporting passengers while commercial pilots typically fly cargo or personnel between two locations. The training and experience an airline pilot needs build on top of the Commercial certificate. Airline pilots require a high level of skill and knowledge due to the complexity of their responsibilities.

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How long does it take to become a pilot?

Becoming a pilot requires a significant amount of time and dedication. The amount of time it takes to become a pilot depends on several factors, including the type of pilot you want to become and the training program you choose.

Earning a Private Pilot License (PPL)

typically requires a minimum of 40 hours of flight time, including solo flight time. However the US average is 73 hours. This can take anywhere from a few months to a year or more, depending on your schedule and the weather conditions in your area.

Instrument Rating (IFR)

The duration to obtain an instrument rating for a pilot can vary based on several factors, including the individual’s commitment and availability. On average, it takes around 3 to 6 months to complete the training. This time frame includes ground school studies, flight training, and passing the necessary exams. The process involves learning instrument flying techniques, navigation, meteorology, and understanding air traffic control procedures. Additionally, accumulating a specific number of flight hours is required, typically around 40 to 50 hours of cross-country flight time. The actual timeline can be influenced by personal proficiency, training frequency, and the flight school’s scheduling flexibility.

Commercial Pilot License (CPL)

The time required to obtain a commercial pilot license varies depending on various factors such as individual dedication, availability, and training structure. On average, it takes between 9 to 18 months to complete the training. This duration encompasses ground school studies, flight training, building flight experience, and passing the necessary exams. The process involves learning advanced aviation topics, honing flight skills, and gaining knowledge in areas like navigation, meteorology, and aircraft systems. Accumulating flight hours is a significant aspect, with
Most schools requiring total of 250 hours for a commercial pilot license. Wayman Aviation Academy has a FAA approved reduced commercial course of 52 hours, part of a total 170 hours program. The timeframe may also be influenced by personal proficiency, training frequency, and the flight school’s program structure.

Multi Engine Rating

The duration to acquire a Multi Engine Rating for a pilot depends on various factors, including the individual’s commitment, availability, and prior experience. On average, it takes around 1 to 3 months to complete the training. This timeframe involves both ground instruction and flight training, which focus on multi-engine aircraft systems, performance, and handling characteristics. Pilots are required to log a minimum number of flight hours, typically around 10 to 25 hours of multi-engine flight time. The actual timeline can be affected by factors such as scheduling, proficiency, and the training program’s structure. Additionally, pilots with previous experience or a strong foundation in aviation may complete the rating in a shorter duration.

Once you’ve earned your PPL, you can begin working towards earning your Instrument Rating. This rating allows you to fly in conditions where visibility is limited, such as in clouds or fog. To earn your Instrument Rating, you’ll need to complete additional flight hours and pass a written exam and a practical exam. This can take several months to a year or more, depending on your schedule and the complexity of the training program.

After completing your Commercial License, you can begin working towards obtaining an airline job. The requirements for airline jobs vary depending on the airline, but typically include a certain amount of flight time and specific certifications. The time it takes to obtain an airline job can vary widely depending on factors such as the demand for pilots and your qualifications.

In summary, the time it takes to become a pilot depends on several factors, including the type of pilot you want to become and the training program you choose. Earning a Commercial certificate and Instrument Rating can take anywhere from a few months to a year or more, and obtaining an airline job can take several years depending on your qualifications and the demand for pilots in the industry.

How much does it cost to become a pilot?

The price varies depending on the course or program you want. Contact the admissions team and share what your goals are including aviation experience you already have. For example; are you interested in full professional pilot, private pilot, or a multi engine course?

Explore 5 min video to understanding how to become commercial pilot

Frequently Asked Questions

What Educational Background is Required to Become a Pilot?
To become a pilot, a high school diploma or equivalent is typically necessary as a minimum educational requirement. However, pursuing further education, such as a College Degree in aviation, can provide more in-depth knowledge and better career prospects.
Is There an Age Requirement for Pilot Training?
Yes, to begin pilot training, you must be at least 16 years old to solo an aircraft and 17 years old to obtain a Private Pilot License (PPL). For a Commercial Pilot License (CPL), the minimum age is 18.
What Medical Certifications are Needed?
Aspiring pilots must pass a medical examination to receive a medical certificate. There are three classes of medical certificates, each with different requirements and privileges. A first-class medical certificate is required for airline pilots.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Pilot?
The duration of pilot training can vary. Obtaining a Private Pilot License can take a few months, while preparing for a Commercial Pilot License might take up to two years, depending on the training schedule and the individual’s pace.
What Skills are Important for a Pilot?
Important skills for pilots include strong communication, problem-solving, attention to detail, and the ability to remain calm under pressure. Leadership and teamwork are also crucial as pilots often work closely with co-pilots and cabin crew.
Do I Need to Speak English to Become a Pilot?
Yes, English proficiency is essential for pilots, as it is the international language of aviation. All pilots flying on international routes must be able to speak, read, write, and understand English proficiently.
Can I Train to be a Pilot if I Wear Glasses?
Yes, wearing glasses does not disqualify you from becoming a pilot, as long as your vision can be corrected to 20/20 with eyewear or contact lenses.
What Are the Costs Associated with Pilot Training?
The costs of pilot training can vary widely depending on the flight school and the type of license you are pursuing. It’s important to consider not only the tuition fees but also additional costs for books, supplies, and examiner fees.
How Can Wayman Aviation School Help Me Become a Pilot?
Wayman Aviation School offers comprehensive pilot training programs, from Private Pilot Licenses to Commercial Pilot Licenses and beyond. Our experienced instructors, state-of-the-art facilities, and a strong focus on safety prepare students for successful careers in aviation.