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What’s Next? Steps to Take After You Obtain a Private Pilot’s License

Congratulations – you’ve obtained your private pilot license! This is a big step in your life, because now you have the freedom to fly almost anywhere you please. While this is a fine place to stop for some pilots, many choose to further their education and  immerse themselves in the exciting lifestyle of a pilot, with goals of flying higher, farther and faster. By qualifying for more certificates and ratings, you can rise as a pilot in the world of aviation and expand your skill set, ability and experience.


Here are three additional certifications that you should pursue after you obtain a pilot certificate.


Get an Instrument Rating

This is the most common next step after obtaining a private pilot’s license, and will give you the skills needed to fly in low-visibility conditions. This is crucial for any pilot that is thinking of pursuing a level higher than private, as it qualifies you to fly under instrument flight rules (IFR). You’ll go through training under a qualified certified flight instrument instructor (CFII), who will teach you the proper procedures to legally and safely operate a properly equipped aircraft in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC). This means that you have to rely on instruments to fly in low-visibility conditions. You’ll also receive additional instruction in various types of weather—even inside clouds! Additionally, all flights operating in Class A airspace or flying above 18,000 feet must be conducted under IFR. An instrument rating is also required when operating under Special Visual Flight Rules (SVFR) at night.


The instrument rating requirements, as specified in 14 CFR 61.65, are summarized here:

A person who applies for an instrument rating must:

  • Hold at least a current private pilot certificate or be concurrently applying for a private pilot certificate with an airplane, helicopter, or powered-lift rating appropriate to the instrument rating sought.
  • Be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language.


You must have logged the following:

  • At least 50 hours of cross-country flight time as pilot in command. At least 10 of these hours must be in airplanes for an instrument-airplane rating.
  • A total of 40 hours of actual or simulated instrument time on the areas of operation listed in 61.65(c).
  • At least 15 hours of instrument flight training from an authorized instructor in the aircraft category for the instrument rating sought.


 Complete a Commercial Certificate


Whether you’re planning on becoming a professional pilot or not, a commercial certificate is still a good achievement to strive toward. Commercial pilots can be cargo pilots, tour pilots, backcountry pilots, flight instructors, ferry pilots, glider tow pilots and more – essentially, a commercial pilot license permits you to act as a pilot of an aircraft and be paid for your work. In a lot of ways, commercial flight school is similar to pilot flight school, where the skills you have are fine-tuned. In fact, you do a lot of the same activities while working on your commercial license that you do for the private, just more precise and consistent. Many people also choose to use the same aircraft for the commercial pilot certificate that they completed their private pilot certificate in. The main difference is that for the commercial certificate, students need to acquire 10 hours of flight time in a high-performance aircraft, though some choose to do the entire training in a high-performance aircraft.


Beyond that, to obtain a commercial pilot’s license, here are the other main requirements you need to meet:


  • Meet basic qualifications – be at least 18 years old, be able to read, speak, write and understand English, and hold at least a private pilot certificate.
  • Get a 2nd-class medical certificate – you’ll need to upgrade to a 2nd-class medical certificate to utilize your commercial pilot privileges.
  • Fly at least 250 hours – including 100 hours of pilot-in-command time and 50 hours of cross-country flight. Also, you’ll need at least 10 hours of instrument training and 10 hours in a complex aircraft.
  • Take the FAA Written Exam –  although similar in many ways to the private pilot test, this exam is more difficult and covers added areas pertaining to commercial aviation.
  • Pass a checkride – the margin for error on the commercial checkride is much more narrow than on the private checkride, so be prepared.


Achieve a Multi-Engine Rating

A multi-engine rating allows a pilot to operate as pilot-in-command of an aircraft that has at least two engines. This rating will give you the ability to experience the remarkable improvement in aircraft performance, capability, increased speed, power and rate of climb of a different type of aircraft. Multi-engine airplanes are complex machines. While they are very safe when controlled by a trained pilot, they can be dangerous with a novice at the controls. For example, if one of the engines fails, asymmetric thrust can cause the airplane to yaw severely. Much of your training will focus on what to do during emergency scenarios such as these. In terms of training, most flight school and insurance companies have a minimum flight time for the multi-engine rating, usually somewhere between 5 to 15 hours of dual instruction. To qualify for this rating, you must meet the requirements found in FAR 61.63(c).


Do you want to expand your skills as an aviator? Get in touch with our team of certified flight instructors at Inflight Pilot Training today!


Inflight is a leading pilot training company serving the Twin Cities and surrounding areas. With a reputable training program and extensive roster of highly skilled, certified flight instructors, it’s our goal to help you achieve the rating or certification you want. We can help you reach your goals – get in touch with our team of flight instructors to find out more.

For additional information on Inflight training programs, contact us today or call (952) 698-3000.