What Are the Requirements to Be a Commercial Pilot?

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  • Written By: Bobby R. Goldsmith
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 22 February 2020
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There are several requirements to be a commercial pilot, though the requirements vary by jurisdiction. In the United States, the requirements to be a commercial pilot differ somewhat from the requirements of other countries but are mostly similar. A pilot in the US must have a certain number of classroom instruction hours, supervised flight hours under the direction of a certified flight instructor, a passing score on the FAA certification exams, and a considerable number of flight hours beyond the FAA minimum. The pilot must then apply for an FAA commercial license, which is issued upon satisfactory completion of several flight qualifications.

The requirements to be a commercial pilot are in addition to the requirements necessary to be a private pilot. Generally, any pilot who wants to fly commercially must go through the same flight instruction process that any pilot would. This includes attending an accredited flight school under the supervision of a flight instructor. There are many private pilot programs available in the United States, but a pilot who wants to acquire a commercial license only needs to focus on one type of training.


A prospective commercial pilot in the US should choose a flight school that either offers a commercial preparation program or instruction in instrumental flight. All commercial pilots must be able to fly a craft through instrumentation alone, regardless of the category of commerce or the type of aircraft that the pilot intends to fly commercially. The prospective pilot should also ensure that the flight school offers tailored instruction for the class of aircraft that he or she wishes to pilot. He will need to prove proficiency with that specific class of craft during an FAA examination.

All training received must be accurately logged, whether in the air or on the ground. A specific number of hours of ground training are required to qualify for the FAA exams. The number of ground training hours varies by the type of craft and the class of commerce that the candidate tests for. The student pilot's log book must be signed by any instructors and verified wherever necessary.

The FAA requires two types of exams for a commercial pilot's license. The first exam is a knowledge test that deals with the specifics of the class of craft the pilot will be flying as well as the rules and regulations of commercial flight related to the type of commerce the pilot will be engaged in. The second exam is a practical exam that tests the pilot's ability to operate the aircraft.



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