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What is a Commercial Pilot?


A commercial pilot license, or certificate, is a type of pilot license that allows someone to operate an aircraft for compensation.



A licensed commercial pilot may act as pilot-in-command of an aircraft for compensation or hire, as well as carry persons or property for compensation or hire. To put another way, holding a commercial pilot license means you are legally allowed to get paid as a pilot.

What Does a Commercial Pilot do?


Commercial pilots are paid to fly as a pilot, transporting cargo and passengers, as well as perform other operations such as aerial surveying and search and rescue. Learn about the commercial pilot salaries.

What is the Difference Between Commercial Pilots and Airline Pilots?


Airline pilots operate regularly scheduled passenger flights. To fly as an airline pilot, you must have an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate, which is the highest pilot license the FAA issues. However, all pilots must first start by earning their private pilot license and then their commercial pilot license, before they can attain an ATP certificate.



In order to be eligible for an FAA commercial pilot license, a person must be at least 18 years of age; and be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language.

Reference 14 CFR §61.123 for the entire list of eligibility requirements.



To earn a commercial pilot license, a pilot must:

  • Hold a private pilot license.

  • Receive the following logbook endorsements from an instructor:

    • Logbook endorsement to take the aeronautical knowledge test.

    • Logbook endorsement to take the practical test.

  • Pass the following tests:

    • Commercial pilot knowledge test (often referred to as a 'written' and abbreviated CAX).

    • Commercial pilot practical test (also known as a 'checkride').

Reference 14 CFR §61.123 for a complete listing of all requirements.

Aeronautical Experience

According to federal regulations, you must meet the following aeronautical flight experience requirements to earn a commercial pilot license.

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