Becoming a flight instructor is one of the most challenging -- and rewarding -- experiences in aviation. It's not easy, but you'll become a far better pilot by teaching others. It's often said that new flight instructors learn more about aviation by teaching their first few students than they did in all the hundreds of hours before earning their CFI ratings.
To earn your initial CFI rating (which allows you to train pilots for their private and commercial certificates, but not for their instrument ratings,) you'll need a commercial pilot's license appropriate to the class of aircraft (single or multi-engine,) plus an instrument rating. It is possible to earn your initial CFI rating in a multi-engine aircraft (assuming you're already multi-engine rated), but nearly all instructors earn their CFI single-engine rating first, because it's much less expensive than multi-engine training. After your initial CFI, you can upgrade your CFI ticket by becoming a CFI-multiengine (abbreviated as MEI or CFI-ME). If you want to train students for their instrument ratings, you'll need to add the CFI-Instrument Airplane rating (abbreviated as CFII).
To put it in plain English, the initial CFI-single engine rating allows you to train students for their private and commercial certificates. The CFI-Instrument Airplane (CFII) rating allows you to train students for their instrument ratings, while the CFI-Airplane multiengine rating (MEI) allows you to train students for all certificates in multi-engine aircraft, including the ATP rating.
For your CFII rating, you can train in our Cutlass, Cessna 172s, Cessna 172SPs, or Cessna 182s. And our Beech Duchess makes an ideal training platform for your CFI-Multiengine rating. Contact us to learn more.
We've also provided a helpful FAQ (below.)
Why get the CFI rating?
If you love to fly -- and you like the idea of getting paid to teach others to fly -- then you should consider becoming a CFI. It's difficult, but it's also rewarding. If you're set on an airline career, becoming a CFI is usually the only cost-effective way to build the 1,000 to 1,500 hours of flight time that you'll need to be considered for a commuter airline job. Even if you have no desire to fly for the airlines, you can still instruct part-time (on the weekends and weekday evenings) while maintaining a regular 9-5 job. You can instruct as much or as little as you like. It's up to you.
Is it safe?
By the time you get to this stage, you'll already be a highly-skilled pilot. Your CFI training will sharpen those skills even further. It'll make you a much better pilot, because you'll learn how to teach others to fly. And that requires a truly thorough understanding of aviation. By the time you've earned your initial CFI rating, you won't be asking questions such as "Is it safe?". You'll be the one answering those questions
How difficult is it?
The flight portion of the CFI practical test is more than just a repeat of the commercial flight test., While the maneuvers are the same, you'll have to fly from the right seat while explaining how the maneuvers are performed. The FAA Inspector riding with you will also fly the airplane, and you'll have to critique his/her performance. (The initial CFI is the only checkride that requires you to fly with an FAA Inspector, rather than a Designated Examiner.)
The oral portion of the CFI practical test is exhaustive. Expect to spend 3 to 5 hours answering some very detailed questions. You'll have to teach a few topics to the Inspector, which will allow him or her to judge your ability to teach.
The advanced CFI ratings (CFI--Instrument Airplane and CFI--Airplane Multiengine) are
similar to the initial CFI, but are usually less stressful. (By the time you get to that point,
you'll probably have a few hundred hours' of teaching experience, and you'll have taken
plenty of checkrides.)
How long will it take?
Assuming you have a commercial certificate with an instrument rating, training for the CFI certificate can be accomplished in 15--20 hours of flight time. Your preparation
for the oral exam, however, will take more time. Expect to spend about 75 to 100 hours doing self-study in preparation for the CFI oral exam.
How much flight experience do I need?
To take the initial CFI checkride, you must hold at least a commercial pilot certificate with an instrument rating. That means you'll need a minimum of 250 hours of flight time.
How much will it cost?
We offer a discounted training package for your initial CFI rating. Click here to learn more.
Can I get a student loan to finance my flight training?
Sure! We offer discounted student loans through Sallie Mae Financial, one of the largest lenders in the United States. You can finance part or all of your training costs, and choose from various repayment options. To learn more, click here.
Do I have to attend ground school?
As with any rating or certificate, no formal ground school is required. However, there are two written tests required for the initial CFI (as opposed to one test for all other certificates and ratings.) Most of your ground work will be self-study, as you develop lesson plans for your future students and prepare for the oral part of the practical test.
What do the exams for the CFI ratings involve?
For your initial CFI, you'll need to take two computerized written tests. The CFI-Instrument requires one written test, but the CFI-Multiengine doesn't require an additional written test (unless you're taking the CFI-Multiengine without first having obtained your initial CFI
rating.) We provide certified testing services through CATS, a nationwide testing provider. Your oral exam will last about 3--4 hours, and will cover topics listed on the FAA Practical
Test Standards (PTS.) Your flight test will take about 2 hours, and will cover the maneuvers and procedures listed in the PTS.
What can I do with a CFI rating?
You can teach people to fly! Your initial CFI-Airplane Single-Engine rating allows you to train students for the private, commercial, and ATP-Single Engine certificates. You can also
conduct ground instruction. When you earn the CFI-Instrument Airplane (CFII) rating, you can train students for their instrument ratings. And when you earn the CFI-Airplane Multiengine (MEI) rating, you can train students for their private and commercial multi-engine add-on ratings, as well as the ATP--Airplane Multiengine certificate.