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Pilot LicenseWhich License and Ratings Will You Need?
By Kyle Garrett
To become a commercial pilot in the United States, you need to be at least 18 years old (although you can earn your private pilot's license at 17, you must be 18 or older to get your commercial pilot license) and get at least a third class FAA medical certificate. The medical certificate ensures that you are in good overall health, have good vision (corrected or uncorrected is okay) and don't have any disabilities which could affect your ability to fly, although the FAA may grant a waiver for individual cases. Learn about commercial pilot jobs.
List of Licenses and Ratings
Commercial pilots typically hold some or all of the following licenses, ratings, and certificates, depending on the operation:
- Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Medical First Class - Certificate
- Private Pilot - License
- Commercial Pilot - License
- Instrument Pilot - Rating
- Multi-Engine - Rating
- Type Rating - Rating specific to the type of aircraft being flown, if necessary
The Road to a Commercial Pilot License
The first license you earn is private pilot. Next, most people get their instrument rating, and then go on to the commercial pilot license. Some operations don't require an instrument rating. However, possessing the rating is always beneficial both for piloting skills and getting jobs. If you'll be flying multi-engine aircraft (and you probably will), you'll need to earn a multi-engine rating, and, if flying larger aircraft (over 12,500 pounds gross weight) or turbo jet aircraft, you'll also need a type rating for that specific model or family of aircraft. Many companies offer type rating training specifically for this purpose. Get more information on commercial pilot training.