Answer to a question submitted at

Gary writes:

Subject: Requirements for CFI

I'm interested in pursuing a pilot career. I'm aware of the certificates and ratings required. My question is at what point after obtaining my private pilots license can I take a CFI course and begin accruing hours while obtaining my other requirements.

I ask this as I thought I would need my private pilot, instrument, and at least my commercial prior to taking CFI courses and being qualified to instruct. A friend has recently said otherwise. Can you please clarify?

Answer -

Gary: Good question.

Yes, you must hold a commercial pilot certificate before you can apply for a flight instructor certificate. Your pilot certificate must contain the ratings you seek to have on your instructor certificate. For instance, if you are applying for an instructor certificate with an "Airplane Single Engine" rating, then your pilot certificate must contain either an "Airplane Single Engine Land" or "Airplane Single Engine Sea" rating.

And yes, you must have your instrument rating before you can apply for a flight instructor certificate. (The only exception would be if you were applying for a CFI certificate with a glider or gyroplane rating only - these don't require an instrument rating).

For more information, you need to read through FAR part 61, specifically:

Flight Instructor: paragraphs 61.181 through 61.187
Commercial Pilot: paragraphs 616.121 through 61.129
Instrument Rating: paragraph 61.65

I have posted a link to FAR part 61 on my web site at and suggest using this to download the latest version of FAR 61 unless you have a recent FAR/AIM book.

Good luck and write again if you have further questions!