Learn How To Become a Commercial Pilot (CPL License)!
Updated: Nov 6
Learning how to become a commercial pilot, is the obvious next step for many aspiring pilots. Being able to turn your flying passion into a full time job is a great way to support yourself financially. However, to get your Commercial Pilot License (CPL License) will take significant time and energy.
The purpose of this blog is to help pilots with taking the next step in their flying career, and learn the process of becoming certified as a commercial pilot!
What is a Commercial Pilot?
A commercial pilot is paid for operating an airplane for the purpose of transportation of passengers, mail and cargo. Additionally, they are know for having exceptional verbal communication, navigation skills, coordination, time management and ability to work under extreme pressure.
Commercial Pilots have a range of duties and responsibilities in the transportation industry across the globe, including the operation of domestic and international commercial flights.
Requirements to become a commercial pilot
A commercial pilot can travel all across the globe and receive an amazing income for it. However, to reach that point in your flying career it requires additional requirements that a private pilot license. First off, having the ability to work under pressure and have effective verbal communication are some of the key to becoming a successful commercial pilot.
In order to become a certified commercial pilot, you will need to follow the step-by-step requirements below:
Age requirement: 18 years old
One must be fluent in spoken and written English
Must be a high school graduate (No specific requirements as to what classes you have taken previously but strong background in science, math and geography plays a role)
Earn a private pilot license/ certificate issued by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
Clearing FAA medical certificate (like hearing, vision, mental health, cardiovascular requirements), 3rnd class or above
Steps to earn Commercial Pilot License (CPL)
Becoming a commercial pilot involves a systematic process despite the general accessibility of learning to fly a plane by taking part in an introductory discovery flight.
Here are the essential steps to pursue a commercial pilot career:
1. Get a Private Pilot Certificate
The first thing you need to become a commercial pilot is to obtain a private pilot certificate. This initial step demands comprehensive training in aviation fundamentals, laying the groundwork for handling more complex aircraft.
Typically, students start with single-engine planes and progress to larger, more intricate aircraft. Acquiring this certificate necessitates about 40 hours of training, split between 20 hours of instruction and 20 hours of solo flight. With costs ranging from $6,000 to $20,000.
2. Obtain an Instrument Rating
The subsequent milestone to get your CPL is securing an instrument rating. The instrument rating enables pilots to navigate aircraft under Instrument Flight Rules and operate in varied weather conditions. This stage requires training in meteorology and instrument flying techniques.
3. Accumulate Flight Hours
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) mandates specific flight hour requirements for a commercial pilot license, encompassing various flight experiences, from cross-country to night flights. Candidates need to maintain a detailed log book endorsed by a certified flight instructor to demonstrate proficiency.
4. Pass Written and Practical Exams
To acquire a commercial pilot license, candidates must excel in both a written and practical exam administered by the FAA. The written test includes 100 questions to be completed within three hours, with a passing grade set at 70%. The practical test evaluates aeronautical knowledge, flight skills, safety, and risk management.
5. Obtain a Commercial Pilot License
After meeting all FAA guidelines, the next step is obtaining a commercial pilot license. This license, costing around $20,000, grants the authority to receive payment for piloting services.
6. Pursue Additional Certifications (Optional)
For career advancement, individuals might pursue additional certifications. The Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate, requiring 1,500 hours of flight time, stands as a top-tier license. Acquiring a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) credential also opens avenues for teaching and potential employment opportunities. This process generally takes about six months and involves written and practical tests to showcase teaching aptitude.
Commercial Aircraft Pilot Training
Becoming a commercial pilot involves a rigorous training curriculum designed to equip aspiring pilots with the skills and knowledge necessary to operate aircraft professionally. This training covers a range of subjects, including aviation theory, flight operations, navigation, safety procedures, and decision-making in various scenarios.
The curriculum typically consists of both classroom instruction and practical flight training. Specific skills and competencies required for a commercial pilot include:
Aeronautical Knowledge: Understanding aircraft systems, aerodynamics, weather patterns, and navigation principles.
Decision-making and Critical Thinking: Assessing situations and making informed decisions, especially in challenging or emergency scenarios.
Communication Skills: Effectively communicating with air traffic control and passengers.
Situational Awareness: Maintaining awareness of the aircraft's position, surroundings, and potential hazards.
Technical Proficiency: Mastery of the aircraft's controls, instruments, and systems.
Practical Experience and Flight Hours
Practical flying experience is crucial for aspiring commercial pilots. Accumulating the necessary flight hours is not only a regulatory requirement but also provides invaluable hands-on experience in various flying conditions and scenarios.
Ways to accumulate flight hours include:
Flight School Programs: Enrolling in flight schools where structured training programs offer flight hours and experiences under the supervision of certified instructors.
Solo Flights: As pilots gain proficiency, they conduct solo flights to practice their skills and accumulate flight hours.
Specialized Training: Obtaining experience in different types of aircraft, weather conditions, and navigation scenarios to broaden skills and knowledge.
Internships or Entry-Level Positions: Seeking opportunities to work in entry-level positions within the aviation industry to gain additional flight hours.
The more diverse the flight experiences, the better prepared a pilot will be to handle a range of situations and challenges.
Examinations and Licensing Process
The process of obtaining a commercial pilot license involves both written and practical examinations administered by the aviation regulatory authority, such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States.
Details about the written and practical tests include:
Written Test: Consists of multiple-choice questions covering various topics such as regulations, navigation, weather, and aircraft systems. Preparation involves studying from official manuals, practice tests, and additional study materials.
Practical Test: Involves a check ride where an examiner evaluates the candidate's flying skills, decision-making, and adherence to safety protocols. Candidates must demonstrate proficiency in flight maneuvers and responses to various flight scenarios.
Preparation tips and strategies for these exams may involve consistent study, practice exams, and thorough review of the specific topics outlined in the test guidelines. Additionally, seeking guidance from experienced instructors or mentors can provide valuable insights and preparation strategies for success in these tests.
Best Ways to Become a Commercial Pilot
There are various pathways to becoming a commercial pilot, each offering distinct advantages and considerations that cater to different preferences, circumstances, and career aspirations.
Here are several routes aspiring pilots commonly take:
1. Flight School
Attending a dedicated flight school is one of the most popular paths for aspiring commercial pilots. These institutions offer structured training programs that cover both theoretical knowledge and practical flight experience. Many flight schools provide certifications and licenses that align with industry standards, preparing students for a career as a commercial pilot.
SOCAL Flight Training is a flight school in San Diego, that offers an array of training programs to get you prepared for your commercial pilot certification in California.
2. Military Experience
Joining the military and becoming a pilot through military service is another avenue for aspiring commercial pilots. Military training programs offer a robust education in aviation, often allowing pilots to gain significant flight hours and experience in a wide range of aircraft.
3. Individual Training
Some individuals opt for self-paced training by working with certified flight instructors (such as Ivan Cibrian from SOCAL!) independently or through local flying clubs. They gradually accumulate flight hours and certifications without formal enrollment in a dedicated flight school program.
Choosing the right pathway to become a commercial pilot often depends on an individual's resources, preferences, and career goals. Each route offers unique advantages and considerations, and it's essential to consider these factors before embarking on the journey toward a career in commercial aviation.
Key Takeaways: Learn What It Takes to Be a Commercial Pilot
The responsibility of becoming a commercial pilot comes with a combination of essential skills and requirements. The process of earning CPL involves passing FAA tests and the minimum number of flight hours.
The Aviation sector has a promising prospect for career advancement and growth yet, the demand for pilots can fluctuate time and again, so it is vital to stay updated with accurate industry trends and networks. With the right tips and strategies, you can prepare yourself to pass the assessment to become one of the best commercial pilots.