About Pilot Rise - 6 Steps to Become an Airline Pilot

This page explains the steps to become an airline pilot. If you just want to fly for fun, you can stop at becoming a Private Pilot, but we recommend getting your Instrument Rating.

For each license you pursue, you will learn skills and knowledge needed to pass any tests. Each license requires a written test. After taking the written test and completing training, you will take a test called a checkride. The examiner first asks you questions on the ground, then once you pass the oral part, you go flying and show the examiner you know how to fly. It is very practical, and it is not difficult at all once we prepare you.

Michael in CRJ - Steps to Become an Airline Pilot

NOTICE: The prices and costs shown are for how long training normally takes. It is very unusual for someone to complete training at the absolute minimum amount of training, but costs can be reduced by studying and training often to achieve this goal. The vise versa is also true; it is possible to spend more if you spread out training a lot or do not study what you learn.

Private Pilot

A Private Pilot license is the first license you should go for. You can technically become a Recreational Pilot or Sport Pilot, but they are not needed to become an airline pilot.

This license lets you fly about anywhere as long as you stay away from the clouds. You can fly friends, fly for charities, explore the skies freely.

A Private Pilot cannot fly for any form of compensation or hire.

To get this license, you must meet the following requirements:

  • At least 16 years old to get a student solo license to fly on your own
  • At least 17 years old to get this license
  • Read, speak, and understand English
  • Obtain a 3rd class Medical.

During training, you will learn everything you need to know how to fly by yourself. Once your instructor sees you are ready, you will be signed off to fly solo (by yourself). Your training will continue and you can practice flying on your own as well. Once you are ready, you’ll take a test called a checkride showing an examiner you know all the important skills and knowledge.

Costs & Flight Hours

$8,400 – $12,000

A Private Pilot must have 40 hours of flight time, but it can take longer depending on several factors.

The cost depends largely on how much time you spend studying and how often you fly.

Sign Up For Private Pilot Training

If you want to learn to fly, call us at 817-755-5652 or sign up here.
You won’t pay a thing until you fly!

Instrument Rating

An Instrument Rating enables a Private Pilot to fly into the clouds and follow procedures just like the airlines. This is often refereed to as the Golden Ticket as you no longer have to cancel trips due to basic clouds.

To get this license, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Hold a Private Pilot License
  • Read, speak and understand English

We strongly recommend that ALL pilots continue training until getting this rating.

Costs & Flight Hours

$7,000 – $10,000

To get your Instrument Rating, you must obtain 40 hours practicing instrument flight (either in clouds or simulated with a view limiting device), and you must have 50 hours of cross country hours. Cross countries are flight between two airports which are further than 50 nautical miles apart (58 miles).

This cost can be reduced by studying, flying more often, training on a simulator, and getting more cross country time as a Private Pilot while building up hours.

Commercial Pilot

Be careful not to mistake this as a license to fly for airlines; that comes later. This license lets you fly for hire in different ways such as:

  • Crop dusting
  • Pipeline patrol
  • Aerial photography
  • Flying someone in their own airplane
  • Ferry aircraft

This license still does not allow you to use your own airplane to carry passengers or cargo for money. It is possible for you to apply for an “on-demand-certificate” to do so, but it is very complicated to do so. You would likely be better off flying for someone who already has done the complicated parts or become a flight instructor.

To get this license, you must meet the following requirements:

  • At least 18 years old
  • Speak, read, and understand English
  • Hold a Private Pilot License
  • Hold at least a 3rd class medical (2nd class is required to use commercial privileges)

Costs & Flight Hours

A Commercial Pilot needs 250 hours of flight experience. At this point, each person will have a different level of experience, so it is impossible to say how much it will cost for you.

Once you get close to 250 hours, it generally costs someone $5,000 – $7,000 in additional training and preparation for the checkride.

Multi-engine License

This does not need to be acquired in any particular order, but most people get it after their Commercial License. If you get it as a Private Pilot, you will have to take an additional test to get it as a Commercial License or after becoming a Flight Instructor.

This add-on license allows you to fly airplanes with more than one engine.

You don’t need to complete this certificate until you’re approaching the airline minimum of 1,500 hours. That said, it’s often more cost-effective to choose a school that specializes in multi-engine training, as they tend to offer more competitive rates.

Costs & Flight Hours

$3,000 – $7,000

If you already have your Commercial License, there are no additional hours you need to get this add-on.

Flight Instructor

You do not need to get this License at all. Most get this License to build flight hours while getting paid. If you do so, be sure to put the student first as you will be molding new pilots.

Most people describe this certificate as the hardest one to acquire.

There are three common instructor ratings pilots pursue:

  • Certified Flight Instructor Airplane (teach in single engine airplanes)
  • Certified Flight Instructor Instrument (teach instrument flight)
  • Multi-Engine Instructor (teach in multi engine airplanes)

Each rating requires a different checkride.

To become a flight instructor, you must meet the following requirements:

  • At least 18 years old
  • Hold a Commercial Pilot License
  • Read, speak, and understand English
  • Hold valid 3rd class medical

Costs & Flight Hours

$3,000 – $5,000

The costs for this are kind of a toss-up. Most of the training is spent learning how to teach people rather than just flying. Some people may need a lot more training than others based on home study, experience, and how often they fly.

Airline Transport Pilot

This is the license where you can get hired for an airline!


  • At least 21 years old for a restricted license
  • At least 23 years old for the full license
  • Hold a Commercial Pilot License
  • Have an instrument rating
  • Read, speak, and understand English
  • Have 1,500 flight hours (with some exceptions for having a degree in aviation)
  • Be of good moral character
  • Hold at least a 3rd class medical (1st class needed to fly for an airline)

Once you get here, it will be extremely easy to find a job with the current pilot shortage.

Costs & Flight Hours

To get your ATP license, you must have 1,500 flight hours (with a few exceptions).

Due to the different routes people take to get here, there is no way to calculate the cost of this license for you. Some people work as a flight instructor until they have enough hours, others work as a commercial pilot as a crop duster, some pay for each flight hour up to 1,500.

We will help you through the process to get you here!

Ready to become an airline pilot?

We offer 30-minute discovery flights to see how you like flying! It’s only $149. You can schedule online, it only takes 5 minutes. Or give us a call or text at 817-755-5652.

Contact us and become a student


We Fly Everyday!

6am - 11pm

Get Directions

628 Aviator Dr. Fort Worth, TX 76179

Get In Touch

Contact Us

By submitting this form you agree to opt in for texting, calls, and emails. You may opt out at any time.

Upon submission, please allow a few hours for our reply. By submitting, you consent to our communications. You may opt-out anytime.