Certified Flight Instructor | CFI

What is a Certified Flight Instructor?

A certified flight instructor (CFI) is an individual who teaches student aviators how to operate an aircraft. You can train other students as a CFI and provide flight reviews, proficiency checks, or insurance checks. This certificate enables you to become part of a more extensive network of aviators. It will help you expand your knowledge, flight, and abilities as an aviation professional while being paid for your services.

New commercial pilots pick this career to complete the flight hours needed to be full-fledged commercial airline pilots. This is a good career move, as you gain experience while you are getting paid at the same time.

Flight instructors are the source from which future pilots learn everything they need about different aspects of flight, such as taking care of an airplane and how instrumentation works. They do this by teaching others through a formal training process, and those who lead them do so while gaining valuable flight experience – which they can then use beyond just the classroom or their regular day-to-day flight.

What is a Flight Instructor Certificate?

A flight instructor certificate is needed to teach people how to fly an airplane. To get one, you must pass two required knowledge tests and have a commercial pilot’s license. The certificate lasts two years and can be renewed with Flight Instructor Refresher Course (FIRC).

With a flight instructor certificate, you can get paid to teach people how to fly. It’s a rewarding career, but it’s not easy! You have to work long hours, and it’s not uncommon to be tired at the end of the day. It might be best for someone who is a hard worker and doesn’t mind staying late!

Eligibility Criteria to become a Certified Flight Instructor

You must be at least 18 years of age and able to read and write in English. You will either need an Airline Transport Pilot certificate and an instrument rating or a commercial pilot certificate with 250 hours of flight time experience. You must receive a logbook endorsement from an authorized instructor on the fundamentals of instructing and hold a 3rd Class Medical Certificate (or higher) from FAA.

  • At least 18 years old by your “FAA Checkride.”
  • Be able to read, speak, write and understand English
  • Hold at least a Commercial Pilot Certificate
  • Hold an Instrument Rating
  • Must have logged at least 15 hours total flight time as a pilot in command in the aircraft category and class you wish to teach in
  • Have received “Spin Awareness” training from an authorized instructor
  • Exams Required for Certification
    • 2 Knowledge Tests (FOI and FIA)
      • Multiple choice exams administered by FAA-authorized facility
    • FAA Checkride
      • Oral Exam
      • Flight/Practical Exam

Why Should I Become a Certified Flight Instructor?

Becoming a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) may be one of the best aviation-career decisions you ever have to make. Many pilots have chosen this path because they like teaching and being around aviation, so it’s only natural that some of them might decide to work as a CFI to gain experience teaching and build flight time. Gaining a certain amount of flight time is vital when looking for jobs in aviation. You must prove you are experienced enough to fly an aircraft on your own and manage a flight. Airline pilot jobs, for example, usually require at least 1,500 hours.

Flight instructors are an essential part of the aviation community. They guide students through every step of getting their wings. When you become an instructor, you can promote your love for the skies and what life has in store by sharing your knowledge and experience with up-and-coming pilots. When you’re looking for a career that can help you connect with others who share the same passion for flying or just teach those who wish to learn how to take flight, be sure to check out flight instructor program as a potential option.

How many hours does it take to become a CFI?

You don’t have to have landed on the Moon as an astronaut for NASA to become a flight instructor. But you do need to obtain a commercial pilot license with 250 flight hours before becoming a flight instructor. Let’s talk about that for a moment.

To obtain your commercial pilot license, you must meet several associated sub-requirements, such as the written and flight test categories, consisting of 19 rated performance areas each. A pilot who plans to become a flight instructor is essentially preparing for the role from the moment he/she starts flight training.

What Are the Different Types of Flight Instructor Certifications?

If you’re currently a pilot, you can expand your options for different careers under the umbrella of being a flight instructor. With each new certification, you’ll unlock new possibilities in this field and opportunities to open doors of ground school that aren’t available at the lower credentials.

There are three types of flight instructor certificates: certified flight instructor (CFI), certified flight instructor-instrument (CFII), and multi-engine instructor (MEI).

    • Certified Flight Instructor (CFI): A flight instructor who teaches how to fly a single-engine aircraft
    • Certified Flight Instructor – Instrument (CFII): A flight instructor who teaches instrument flying
    • Multi-Engine Instructor (MEI): A flight instructor who teaches how to fly a multi-engine aircraft

There is also an entirely different option to become a CFI, the CFI-S

How much does a Certified Flight Instructor make?

Salary for flight instructors can vary from $20 to $40 per hour depending on the state in which you work and the company for which you work as a certificated flight instructor. The wage depends on your qualifications and experience, as there are not many certified flight instructors in the market who are approved. Hourly pay can be broken down into legal categories, such as a per-hour salary or an hourly wage for one’s type of instruction, for example, instructional time in the air, on the ground, or in a simulator (AATD). We do this to ensure that every instructor is fairly compensated.

According to online providers, certified flight instructor pay ranges from $28,000 to upwards of $65,000 yearly. With such a broad spectrum in which you could potentially operate within your local market, obtaining qualifications that are sought after in this line of work and maintaining a good pool of new and current customers for which you can offer instruction.

Is it worth becoming a flight instructor?

When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”

Leonardo DaVinci

There are many different ways to use your skills as a pilot. Some pilots leverage the job’s flexibility to further their interests by becoming instructors. In contrast, others follow a more practical path, become professionals, and help others clear the practical pilot test. The most common idea of a career in flying is that of an Airline Pilot; however, many pilots, following their dreams and choosing instead to be flight instructors, decide also to obtain their instructor certificate.

We have listed ten reasons why becoming a flight instructor is worth it.

It can be a stepping stone to becoming a commercial airline pilot.

The most common reason people become flight instructors is to gain experience in flight, and if you want to gain experience, you must have some academy where you can take a practical test of your x-plane flight training. Working in this capacity can help pilots acquire the large number of flight hours needed to become commercial airline pilots, and they always want to search for certified flights. Commercial airlines require a lot of flight experience before even considering interviewing a pilot candidate. Many post-secondary students use their free time to build up their resumes while going to college.

You can start your flight school (once you get certified!).

As a flight instructor, there are several options for progress outside of working for an educational institution or opening up one’s own business. For those who enjoy independence and freedom in their careers and want perfect flight, this is an enticing choice of pursuit. It is almost your flight instructor’s instrument. You can also enhance your instrument pilot rating with this course. Please be advised that, like other flight instructors, you may have access to opportunities and resources that others might not be able to tap into because no one will know your profession better than you. With hope and skill, one’s business could become very successful.

You’ll experience how rewarding teaching is.

Any experienced teacher or instructor knows what it feels like to see a student learn something they’ve been trying to teach. And this is no different for instructors with flight students. Knowing what you know has helped others achieve something gives flight instructors an indescribable sense of satisfaction and fulfillment because your goal as a licensed instructor is to see your students soar! When you’re asked what they love most about their job, the first answer that flight instructors give is the thrill of passing on their knowledge and skills to students who will, in turn, be able to take their passion for flying to even greater heights.

Working as a flight instructor will make your heart race!

As a flight instructor, you are responsible for educating and training people on how to operate an aircraft safely. This is not meant to be an easy task. A lot goes into learning how to fly, from taking off and landing a flight to learning about weather patterns and instrumentation and airspace rules and regulations. As a flight instructor, you will find your days busy but also fun and social – all while gaining experience similar to being a pilot working towards your ratings.

Flight Instructor jobs are in demand.

Flight instructors are currently in great demand and are expected to stay that way for many years. This is due to legislation introduced by the US government about pilots needing to renew their licenses more often, and airlines have increased due to business aviation. One of these changes is expected to be a shortage of pilots which means that flight instructors are constantly being hired by airlines faster than they can be replaced.

Flight Instructors are highly respected, just like at flight school.

Some may treat you differently, but it’s good to be in a position where you are looked up to. The critical question here is: why become a flight instructor? To answer that, consider the excitement and respect that being one entails! Telling others you’re a flight instructor will bring on an engaging conversation, and people will want to know more about the career and potentially become an ATP.

Flight Instructors meet a lot of people.

As a flight instructor, it’s important to remember that you’re not just teaching someone how to fly. You are inspiring them to go out into the world in a way that most people never experience a flight before. You will meet both local and international students, and based on your teaching, they will become pilots themselves, or they may start another business venture associated with aviation.

Flight Instructors get a competitive salary. What can you do as a flight instructor refresher?

As with all businesses in today’s economy, aviation faces a lot of competition from new technologies and companies. Over the past few years, stability and compensation for full-time flight instructors have been relatively limited as flight instructor refresher. However, we’ve seen a shift this year. With the current shortage of certified flight instructors that can handle the increased number of requests for lessons and training across the country, pay for this position is rapidly rising. To survive in the industry, you must enhance your skills and complete your first flight instructor course. All you need to do is work appropriately as an instructor with adequate compensation and benefits of flight, and you will be pretty successful in this position.

Flight instructors are getting paid to fly with a commercial pilot license.

The most important and rewarding reason to become a flight instructor is you get the opportunity to have an occupation doing what you love – which in this case, is flying! Many people wouldn’t even pursue a pilot’s license if they didn’t love flying, so the fact that you can make a living by doing something that brings you so much joy is something not many people are lucky enough to have.

Earn your Certified Flight Instructor Certificate at Santa Monica Flyers!

“Man must rise above the Earth—to the top of the atmosphere and beyond—for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives.”


Santa Monica Flyers offers training to help you become a certified flight instructor. Become the person who gives the flight classes and teaches the students. You’ll have a great time at the airport, meet some fantastic people and learn to build a new career – flying! The CFI certificate will make you more marketable and open to these new career opportunities. We can help you become a CFI in just seven weeks! Contact us, and let’s take you to the next level of your aviation learning!


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