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Airline Pilot License and RatingsWhich License and Ratings Will You Need?
By Kyle Garrett
To begin earning your airline pilot license and ratings in the USA, you'll need to to be at least 18 years old (although you can earn your private pilot's license at 17, you must be 18 to posses a commercial pilot license) and get at least a third class FAA medical certificate. First, you'll earn your private pilot license and instrument rating, then move on to multi-engine training and earn your commercial pilot license. Depending on the airline you fly for, you may or may not need an airline transport pilot license to be a first officer, but you'll most likely need to earn a type rating for the aircraft being flown in service. To become a captain, or get a pilot job at a major airline, you'll need to posses an airline transport pilot license, so you'll probably end up earning that privilege as well.
List of Licenses and Ratings
Airline pilots, depending on the airline, usually hold the following licenses, ratings, and certificates:
- Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Medical First Class - Certificate
- Private Pilot - License
- Commercial Pilot - License
- Airline Transport Pilot - License (not required by all airlines yet)
- Instrument Pilot - Rating
- Multi-Engine - Rating
- Type Rating - Rating specific to the type of aircraft being flown
Airline Pilot Tests
In order to earn any FAA airman license, you'll need to pass a written examination, oral examination, and a practical (check ride) test with an FAA designated flight examiner. FAA ratings can also include all three of these testing steps, but don't always require all three, as in the multi-engine rating, which only requires an oral examination and check ride. Type ratings require specific training to a certain model or family of aircraft and systems and a check ride, usually taken in an approved flight simulator. Read more about airline pilot training and what you can expect.