Commercial or Cargo Pilot

On average how long does it take new trainees to gain the necessary training required to become commercial pilot with multi engine experience. thank you.


Hard to say. I don’t think that’s something that anyone has tracked. There are too many schools and they all have different syllabus timelines and each student’s performance within said programs is unique.

ATP’s program is condensed into 9 months. That includes all of the flight instructor ratings too. The flight instructor ratings are technically not required to be eligible for the airlines, but it provides pilots a way to work towards building the necessary amount of time to be eligible for the airlines.

See, it’s not as simple as obtaining a commercial and multi engine rating. The airlines require a minimum of 1500 hours total time, which includes other time, but that’s a separate conversation. The point is that after you have earned your commercial license you then need to find a way to build time until you reach 1500. If you were to go through ATP’s program and instruct for them thereafter, you’re looking at about 18mo-2 years.

Even if you opt out of the CFI certificate training, it would still take a minimum of 18 months because pilots are limited on the amount of time they can fly per day. 18 months really is the quickest that one can reasonably accumulate that much time.

Also, just to clarify, a commercial license is not the same as an Airline Transport License. I assume when you said “commercial” you meant ATP.

So, 18mo-2yrs, if you’re working hard. It could also take 4yrs or more depending on what program you choose and how you choose to build your time. If you’re interested in a specific flight program, the flight school typically advertises how long their program is. Some schools that follow up with their graduates also advertise how long it took them to get to an airline.



When you complete ATPs training program which is only 9mos you will be a Commercial pilot with MultiEngine experience. While there aren’t that many jobs (other than flight instructing) for low time pilots they do exist.

Now if you’re talking about flying for a Commercial Airline, that’s a different story. The FAA requires all airline pilots to have their Airline Transport Pilot license and that means 1500hrs. How long it takes to build that time can vary considerably. People have done it in a little over a year, for others it takes considerably more. The current pandemic definitely isn’t helping.



People use the term “commercial pilot” to mean “airline pilot”, but yet a commercial pilot is really just a FAA rating that you will earn along the way to becoming an airline pilot. Don’t feel bad, it is a common mistake and quite honestly, I use the term “commercial pilot” sometimes to describe my job, even though it is inaccurate.

If you are asking how long it takes to be an airline pilot, it generally takes about two years to build the necessary flight time to be eligible to be hired by the regional airlines and then several more years of experience building to get to the major airlines or to the large cargo airlines.