Path to become a CFI

I’m 16 right now, and would like to (eventually, hopefully) become a pilot for a major airline. I have been informed that the best way to get the 1500 hours required for your Airline Pilot Certification is by doing them as a flight instructor. It is in pursuit of this end that I find myself here.

What is the practical path to getting a job as a flight instructor? I have a rough idea of the certifications and ratings and whatnot required, but I don’t know how to start this, I don’t know how relevant a college degree is, etc.

Any help is appreciated. Thanks.


While you will want a degree to make yourself more attractive to a Major, you won’t need one to flight instruct.

As for getting a flight instructor position, it’s not unlike getting hired for any other job. You need to meet the requirements (Commercial Pilot license with CFI rating) and then interview and sell yourself to a perspective employer (in this case a flight school). Many flight schools like to hire former students as they have some insight to who you are (how you did in training and your work ethic). This is one of the advantages of training with ATP.

Since ATP is the largest flight school in the country (with over 70 locations) there’s pretty much always a need vs your local flight school who probably does not have the same demand.



There are many different flight schools out there that all, more or less, offer training for the same certificates. It is your job to do research on the schools that interest you to decide which school best suits your goals.

When I was in the research stage, I found ATP’s website and was blown away by them. I remember thinking that what they claim to offer was too good to be true. However, having gone through it myself, and now having seen thousands of others every year, there is no catch.

My goal was to become a professional pilot as fast as possible and I did just that thanks to them.

Like I said, every other flight school offers training for the same certificates, but no one does it better. Take some time figuring out what it is specifically that you aspire to achieve and that should help lead you to the school that is right for you.


ATP sounds great, but I can’t do it (at the moment), because I am in school. Is it feasible to do ground school while in high school, then do ATP (or something similar) afterwards?


It’s possible but kind of pointless. The program is set and you wouldn’t save any time or money doing so. Further ground school without flight training lacks context. You’re young and can’t fly for an airline till you’re 21. Relax you’ve got time.