About the Commercial Pilot License

To become a commercial pilot, the next step in your flight training is the Commercial Pilot License. When you have this pilot license, you are now eligible to start working as a pilot. The training focuses on more advanced flight training and preparation to become a professional pilot.

The Commercial Pilot License allows you to fly professionally. You will be able to fly in Big Jet air planes, but not as a captain. In order to reach the status of Captain for a major airline, you must obtain the Airline Transport Pilot License.

As you can see, becoming a commercial pilot is not that complicating when you break it down into simple steps. Go to flight school, get your training, get your licensing, and start working. These are the most basic steps to begin working.

Of course, it is not that simple in terms of money and time constraints. Flight school is expensive and many people are forced to halt their classes before they can get their licensing. It is important to plan ahead exactly how much it will cost you, and if you will be able to budget a payment plan until you get your Commercial Pilot License and begin working.

Requirements to become a commercial pilot


  • You must be at least 18 years old.

Medical Requirements

  • You must have a Class 1 Medical Certificate valid for a commercial pilot license

Ground School Requirements

  • You must complete 80 hours of private pilot ground school instruction on the subjects of:

-          Canadian Aviation Regulations

-          Aerodynamics and Theory of Flight

-          Meteorology

-          Airframes, Engines and Systems

-          Flight Instruments

-          Radio and Electronic Theory

-          Navigation

-          Flight Operations

-          Licensing Requirements

-          Human Factors, Pilot Decision-making

To pass the written test exam for the commercial pilot license, you must achieve a minimum score of 60%. In addition, you must also achieve a minimum score of 60% in each of the following subjects: Air Law, Navigation, Meteorology, and Aeronautics.

Flying Requirements

  • You must have completed at least 200 hours of flying time, which must include 100 hours as pilot-in-command and 20 hours of cross-country flight as pilot-in-command.
  • After you get your private pilot license, you must have completed 65 hours of commercial pilot training which includes 35 hours of dual instruction with a certified flight instructor, 5 hours of night time flying, 5 hours of cross-country flying. Included in the 5 hours of night time flying must be at least 2 hours of night-time cross-country flight time. Of the 65 hours, you must include a minimum of 20 hours of additional instrument flying, where up to 10 of these hours may be performed on an approved flight simulator.

These requirements may be a little confusing to understand. It basically means that overall, you must have logged at least 200 hours of flying that includes 100 hours of pilot in command and 20 hours of cross-country flying as pilot in command. This would include every flight you have flown since the day you started flying.

The 65 hours refer to the number of hours you must receive training for the commercial pilot license specifically.

  • You must successfully pass a flight test as pilot-in-command within 12 months since the date of application for the commercial pilot license.

You must successfully pass a flight test as pilot-in-command within 12 months since the date of application for the private pilot license.

License Requirements

To be eligible to take the commercial pilot license exam, you must have logged at least 250 hours of flying time. Again, you will need a letter of recommendation from a qualified flight instructor to take the exam. This exam involves more advanced skill and theory, and will be comprised of a written and flight exam. The minimum passing grade is 70%.


Getting Your Commercial Pilot License from a Traditional Flight School


Besides the fact that you simply need more hours flying and more training time for this license, there is another reason that the cost of a Commercial Pilot’s License is so high. When you are studying for the Commercial Pilot’s License, you also need to add-on ratings to your license. The actual cost of the pilot license alone is approximately $10,000. However, to work as a pilot you need to be able to fly in any conditions. Add in the cost of ratings such as the Instrument Rating (~$7,000) and the Multi-Engine Rating (~$5,000), and the costs will add up quickly.


Starting Work – Your First Pilot Job

When you enter the work force with your brand-new Commercial Pilot License, your first job will most likely be an entry-level position as an instructor at a flight school or as grounds-control.

Grounds-control work refers to non-flying positions such as baggage and loading cargo. Many people get discouraged or disappointed that their first job after getting their license was not a flying position. Understand that it is completely normal and all part of your career growth process. In fact, most captains you see on major airlines today started out working in grounds-control. Without any previous experience in the field of flight and aviation, it is common to start out at the very bottom.

The salary will be fairly low when you are just starting out in these positions. It could be anywhere between $15,000 – $25,000 a year, depending on the job and location. It could be that you are only able to find part-time work. If you get discouraged by the low starting salary, remember that it only gets better from here. Every pilot pays his dues in these first few years. To be a pilot, it is one of the necessary steps you must take in your career.

After 4-5 Years of Flying Experience

After working for a few years as a commercial pilot, you will have gained sufficient working experience. You will find that you are starting to move up in rank and seniority at your present work, or that it is easier to find jobs as a full-time pilot.

Some of these pilot jobs can include positions as an air-taxi pilot, charter pilot, and corporate pilot. You might even find a job as a pilot for a regional airline.

Working at a regional airline will speed up the path to becoming a captain for a major airline because the major airlines usually recruit pilots from regional airlines.

Once you reach these positions, the pay is much better. You could earn an average income of about $30,000-$50,000 a year. You will find that the pay jumps quite quickly after a few years.