There are a number of different certificates and ratings that you can obtain as a pilot. (A “certificate” is a broad category of pilot’s license, like Private, Commercial or Airline Transport Pilot. A “rating” adds new privileges to a certificate–for example, to fly an airplane with more than one engine, or to fly on instruments. ) The certificates and ratings you decide to get will depend on the kind of flying you’ll be doing and what additional skills you wish to acquire.
Working with the Alpine Flight Training instructors, you can earn these certificates and ratings:
- Private Pilot Certificate with Airplane Single-Engine Land (ASEL) rating: This is the first, and in some cases the only, certificate and rating earned by most pilots. The Private Pilot ASEL permits you to fly a single-engine airplane solo or with passengers, day or night, under visual flight rules (VFR)–meaning, in general, you need reasonably good in-flight visibility and must remain clear of clouds. As a Private Pilot, you may share the costs of your flying with your passengers, but you may not accept compensation for flying, or work as a pilot for a company that charges to carry passengers or cargo.
- Instrument Airplane Rating: The Instrument rating allows you to fly under instrument flight rules (IFR)–in particular, in conditions when you can’t see very much through the windows, as when in the clouds or in conditions of low visibility like fog or rain. Many pilots who want to advance their skills and expand their flying opportunities choose to add an Instrument rating at some time after earning their first pilot certificate.
- Commercial Pilot Certificate: Unlike a Private Pilot, a Commercial Pilot can legally fly and get paid for his or her services, and can work for company that carries passengers or cargo for hire. Thus, if you want to pursue a career in professional aviation, you’ll need to earn this certificate. However, many non-career pilots also decide to upgrade to the Commercial Pilot certificate because of the extra skills and proficiency that they gain in the process.
- Flight Instructor Certificate: In order to obtain a Flight Instructor Certificate, you must hold a Commercial Pilot Certificate, and you must successfully pass the Fundamentals of Instructing (FOI), and Flight Instructor FAA Knowledge Test and a Practical Test. The Practical Test consists of an oral examination and a flight test. Usually, to be able to obtain a job with an airline, corporate, or charter company, requires a lot more flight time and experience than the 200-300 hours of flight time gained while earning your ratings. One way to increase your flight time and experience is to become a Flight Instructor. Flight Instructors teach a various levels. They offer primary instruction for the Private Pilot Certificate as well as more advanced instruction for a Commercial Certificate, Instrument Rating, Multi-Engine Rating, and Airline Transport Pilot Certificate. When you are teaching your students, you can log those hours as your flight time, and get paid for those hours, while you work as a Flight Instructor. The job of Flight Instructor is considered a steppingstone to more lucrative positions. But some remain in the teaching field. If certain high standards are attained, they can qualify for the Federal Aviation Administrations (FAA) “Gold Seal”, which identifies them as a superior teacher.
- Instrument Instructor Rating: An instrument instructor rating adds to your flight instructor certificate the ability to train pilots for instrument ratings. Much of the training is similar to the pilot instrument rating however with greater emphasis on demonstrating and teaching the necessary instrument skills.
- Airline Transport Pilot Certificate: The Airline Transport Pilot Certificate (ATP) is the highest level of aircraft pilot rating — or license. Those certified as Airline Transport Pilots are authorized to act as pilot-in-command of a scheduled air carrier’s aircraft having a maximum gross weight over 12,500 pounds or having over 9 passenger seats.