How Long Does It Takes To Become A Commercial Pilot?

Choosing a profession as a commercial pilot is wise, but have you ever wondered how long it takes to become a commercial pilot?

One of the most common queries is how long it takes to become a pilot

The quick response? 

It takes over 13 months to go from zero to fully qualified commercial pilots with specialties like the instructor, multi-engine, etc. Some pilots finish their training more quickly than others; some take longer.

The time taken to obtain your certificate will depend on the same factors determining how much it will cost to learn to fly. The FAA has set the required flight hours to earn a certificate; a private pilot license requires a minimum of 40 flight times under section 61 of the Federal Aviation Regulations.

Commercial pilots receive compensation for performing various tasks such as aerial surveys, search and rescue, and flying as a commercial pilot, transporting individuals and goods.

After reading this article till the end, you will be able to learn how long does it takes to become a commercial pilot in airforce and how much does a pilot earn? We have done extensive research that will clear all of your concepts!

So, without wasting time, let’s get into it!

How Long Does It Takes To Become A Commercial Pilot

Table of Contents

How Long Does It Take To Become A Commercial Pilot? 

After earning their private pilot’s license, those choosing to pursue flying as a career will go to the following levels: earning their appropriate rating and their commercial pilot’s license. Depending on the route students select, this process could take 3 to 4 months following their PPL is finished, bringing the overall time to 7 to 10 months.

A different rule known as Section 141, which offers more FAA regulations, more strict scheduling, and more paperwork, is used by some institutions. The additional specifications enable them to lower the minimum number of hours for private pilot training to 35hrs. However, regardless of whether the school is accredited under Part 61 or Part 141, many feel that a private pilot’s average flight training duration is between 50 and 60 hours.

Others think the more realistic average is between 68 and 70 hours. The national average, according to Cessna, is 75 flight hours. These flight hours may be dispersed over several months up to a year or more. Moreover, according to Epic, a private pilot license typically requires three months of training.

A Commercial Pilot and an Airline Pilot are different; therefore, be aware of the distinctions. Although commercial pilots can also be airline pilots, having a CPL certification from the FAA allows you to be employed and compensated for flying. Additionally, an airline pilot will also require a rating and between 1000 and 1500 hours of flight time.

Commercial Pilot 

In contrast to a scheduled airliner, you fly for the compensation as a commercial pilot.

Job Possibilities

Jobs for commercially licensed pilots include flight instruction, jump flying, charter flying, air ambulance flying, agricultural flying, and banner towing. There are various hour requirements for several of these positions.

Requirements of Hours

In general, pilots must log 250 flight hours for part 61 training and 190 hours for part 141 training to obtain their commercial license, while some occupations may require more time, just as mentioned below:

  • To obtain their flight instructor credential, pilots must complete 10 to 25 hours of training.
  • Depending on the aircraft, charter pilots must have at least 500 hours.
  • Air ambulance pilots might need 500 hours of training or more.

Jobs duties of commercial pilots

Although the most familiar image of the commercial pilot is one who flies passengers, most people don’t realize that there are other, even different, vocations in this field. Pilots that fly for companies like UPS and FedEx are considered commercial pilots, for instance. Corporate piloting and flying for nonprofits like Angel Flight are two other commercial pilot vocations, and some others are mentioned below:

As an Instructor Pilot

Teaching students to fly is the responsibility of a flight instructor. You will instruct aspiring pilots in this position as they progress through their flying training.

As a Jump Pilot

Operating skydiving planes are jump pilots. This employment can be both demanding and rewarding for people interested in flying skydivers.

As a Charter Pilot

A charter pilot flies passengers who have paid for their tickets for a charter airline. These pilots frequently operate smaller, shorter-range aircraft.

As an Air Ambulance Pilot

Pilots of air ambulances fly patients or organs between places for medical operations. Many pilots in this position are on call during their shift.

As an Agriculture Pilot

Agricultural pilots carry out agriculture-related tasks. Some tasks they will concentrate on include planting seeds, crop dusting, and hauling feed.

As a Banner Towing Pilot

You’ll fly brief missions pulling flags as a banner towing pilot. This entails flying slowly and low to highlight the banner you’re towing, whether it’s for marketing or another reason.

Requirements for Becoming a Commercial Pilot

As you may expect, a commercial pilot needs a far higher level of education and training. Professional flying is possible for commercial pilots. Despite the high cost of pilot training, this example demonstrates the value of a Professional Flight bachelor’s degree. If you have developed bad habits or lack information, it can take longer for you to receive your license.

A commercial airline pilot certificate must meet high requirements. 

You have to be:

  • Aged 18 or older
  • Possess an inferior FAA medical certificate
  • Possess a private pilot’s license
  • Be able to speak English well
  • Pass the training and accumulate the required hours for the single- or multi-engine land class rating
  • Between 150 and 250 hours of flight time
  • Passing a 100-question written test in aeronautics
  • Pass the FAA flight and oral exams given by an authorized check instructor, FAA inspector, or other designated examiner

This license does not allow you to fly passengers for hire, but you can be compensated for flying. You can use a plane for cargo, aerial photography, crop dusting, or other purposes.

How many years to become a pilot in the USA

Becoming a commercial airline pilot may take months or even years of rigorous training, including written tests and flight simulations. There are ways to expedite obtaining a commercial pilot’s license and start flying more quickly. You can become certified in as little as 14 months with the right flying school.

Path to Pilot Certification

To become a commercial airline pilot, you must complete several steps. To begin with, you must obtain a medical clearance for a safe flight. Hearing, balance, vision, and heart health are all examined during this physical. While it is not required to take this exam before beginning your training, doing so can assist you in avoiding spending hours preparing just to discover that you should have an ailment that would restrict you from flying.

Starting ground training comes next after receiving your medical clearance. Learning about navigation, instrumentation, weather, aviation procedures, and vocabulary are all part of this classroom instruction. The  Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the US and European Aviation Safety Agency EASA in Europe or another relevant agency in whatever jurisdiction you want to fly in will administer a written test to student pilots. This is frequently described as the most challenging and intense part of commercial flight training.

After meeting your prerequisites and passing your exam, you can proceed to in-air training. If you are getting trained in the US, you will require 1,500 flight hours, but if you finish your practice in Europe, you will just need 200 flying hours. Before learning to fly on your own, you will train with a flight instructor. In the later stages, students would also practice in a simulator to replicate the larger aircraft, such as an Airbus, where the expense of flying is too high to train pupils.

How To Become A Commercial Pilot?

Take all the necessary steps to get on the road towards becoming a pilot. Don’t worry if you have no prior flying experience; that’s how all pilots start. We’ll go over each step you need to take with you.

Look Into Aviation Schools.

Find a flying school that meets your demands and has a good reputation among its graduates as it is a significant step, so you want to choose wisely. There’s more to do when you apply and get accepted.

Obtain Your Health Certificate.

All aspiring pilots are required to pass an Aeromedical Examiner third class FAA medical examination (AME). A class 1 medical certificate is required if you want to become a commercial airline pilot.

Obtain your FAA Learner Pilot License.

This seals the deal as it is something you must apply for through IACRA to fly alongside your instructor.

Start Attending Ground School.

The practical knowledge you’ll need to know while flying and planning flights is taught in private pilot ground school.

Start Your Flight Lessons

You’ll begin training in aircraft and stimulators while working with a licensed flying instructor (CFI) in ground school. As you complete your pilot training, this enables you to transform your knowledge into abilities.

Clear the Written Exam

The FAA Private Pilot Knowledge Test measures your understanding of aviation in aerodynamics, weather, flight instruments, etc. It is also referred to as the “written” test by student pilots.

How You Obtain A Commercial Pilot License

Pilots who possess the FAA Commercial Pilot Certification are eligible to receive pay for operating an aircraft.  It is a CPL or Commercial Pilot License in other countries (CPL). In contrast, the Private Pilot certification is intended for leisure use. Additionally, the PPL only enables the licensed pilot to split the flight’s expense. Having a CPL is key to being paid for your services as an aviation pilot.

The FAA stipulates that to qualify for the Commercial Pilot Multi-Engine Land Certificate; students must log a minimum of 65 total flight hours. Additionally, the Single-Engine Basic Certificate calls for 18 hours of training. According to the FAA, the Single-Engine additional Rating requires a minimum of 10 hours of training.

Privileges Of Being A Commercial Pilot

We’ll start with the exciting part first: the privileges. Your commercial pilot’s license gives you the following powers:

Transporting people or things for pay or hire

This is one of the key reasons you initially obtained your commercial license. Whether you are transporting goods or people, you may now bill for your piloting services.

Participate in pilot in command duties for pay or hire

You can charge for your flying services as a first captain and a pilot in command.

Fly on a “dry lease” or perform pilot duties for pay.

You may charge for your service on board an aircraft someone else provides.

Take private jet flights.

Understanding the distinction between “common carriage” and “private carriage” is crucial because while the former is legal without a business operating certificate, the latter is not.

Limitations Of A Commercial Pilot

As commercial pilots, we know our rights and have various suggestions for generating cash. Let’s now talk about the restrictions:

Passenger flight restrictions for non-instrument ratings

There are several restrictions on the kinds of passenger flights that commercial pilots with no instrument rating are permitted to do. You cannot transport passengers for hire more than 50 nautical miles from the point of departure without an instrument rating. Additionally, it is prohibited to transport anyone after dark. 

Medical certificate type

Technically, a 3rd class medical qualifies you for a commercial pilot certificate. The catch is that you cannot fly for hire with a third-class medical certificate. This means that to use all of your commercial license’s rights and earn money while flying, you must possess a second or 1st-grade medical certificate.

Working for a charter company without a license

If you’re thinking about flying for someone else’s charter operation, make sure to check them out and make sure they have a valid license. Calling your local FSDO ( Flight Standards District Office) and asking about the charter service issue is the most reliable way to do this. Many unauthorized charter companies are operating, and you don’t want to endanger your license by pursuing them.

Providing both pilot and aircraft services

Offering your aircraft and services for hire is one of the simplest restrictions to violate. “Putting out” is the term used to describe this as reaching your hand and pleading for payment for your service and plane. The phrase “wet lease” is also used to describe a scenario in which the same individual or business provides both the aircraft and the pilot. Holding out includes participating in everyday transport operations.

Aviation Sector More Careers

With the introduction of new low-cost airlines, airline expansions, and rising travel demand, the aviation sector is expanding quickly. However, enrollment in pilot training programs has remained constant, leading experts to predict an unmet need for trained pilots. The recent pandemic has caused a slowdown in the aviation sector. Still, there has always been a demand for both commercial and leisure travel, so the industry has rapidly recovered following any significant slowdown in the past.

After completing your training and receiving your license, you might pursue various career choices even though most pilots qualify to become commercial pilots. Because so many new airlines are sprouting up over the world, commercial pilots have historically been in high demand.

Pilots can also find employment as first responders, putting out fires from the air, transporting accident victims to hospitals by air, and carrying out high-altitude rescues.

You can also begin a job as a flight instructor once you have your pilot’s license. You can make a living instructing aspiring pilots with your own business or at more established training facilities if you have the necessary number of flight hours, experience, and qualifications.

How Long Does It Take To Become A Private Pilot?

The average length of training is six to twelve months, with a least forty hours of flight time. You must first become a certified private pilot before receiving your commercial pilot certificate. Private pilots gain experience flying without a copilot by learning to control a single-engine aircraft as it is not a license for a specific profession.

An FAA supervisor will judge all applicants during a practical examination that consists of an oral portion and a flight portion to acquire a private pilot certificate. Before applying the practical test, instructors will need to train the candidate and make sure they meet all requirements for aeronautical experience. Students must pass a written knowledge test before taking the practical exam. To be qualified, applicants should be at least 17 years old on the day of the practical test. Additionally, they must be capable of reading, writing, speaking, and comprehending English.

Frequently Answered Questions

Q: How long does it take to become a Pilot Captain?

We’ll establish an average range of 5–12 yrs from the first officer to captain for a large airline. Some officers wait decades to become captains, whereas others can upgrade in only a few years.

Q: How many years to become a pilot in USA?

A bachelor’s degree in professional flight should be obtained in 3–4 years, which is the ideal amount of time to become a pilot. It is preferable to delay beginning your adventure until you are enrolled in an accredited school in the USA because receiving a degree is also excellent for consistency of training.

Q: Is it hard to become a pilot?

Yet somehow, a commercial pilot has to complete extensive coursework, training, and flying hours before being certified. Being a commercial pilot demands a lot of commitment, hard work, and devotion, but it may be a fulfilling career option for anybody who likes to travel and appreciates a struggle.

Q: How many months does it take to become a pilot?

To become a pilot and obtain your private pilot license, takes two months.

Q: How much does a pilot earn?

Commercial pilots make an average of $93,300 annually, which was the median yearly salary in May 2020. Flight engineers, copilots, and pilots in the airline industry make an average of $160,970 a year. Pilots participate in the company’s retirement, health, and life insurance programs in addition to their yearly pay. These benefits frequently go above and beyond what workers in related fields receive.


We hope that after reading this guide, you will be able to estimate how long it takes to qualify as a commercial pilot. We conducted a thorough investigation and developed a comprehensive career roadmap and guide to help you through the entire process. The minimum amount of flight training is 110 hours, while the minimum amount of total flight training for a private pilot is 40 hours. A private pilot certificate is a necessary prerequisite for obtaining a commercial pilot license. Hence, you need first get your private pilot’s license and the length of the training depends on your preferences and availability.

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