Real Answers from Real Pilots

Qualifications to be a Flight Instructor

My greeting to mentors,
My name is Huy and I’m a sophomore BS Electrical at Boise State University. My goal is to finish my degree then get into flight school. My question is what does it take to become a flight instructor or what qualifications are they looking at flight instructor? I’m a bit hesitated when it comes to teach other English since it’s not my native language. I’m currently doing Teaching Assistant at my school and I’m planning to do this for awhile to gain my teaching skill, which I thought it would be helpful for me when I become flight instructor. What do you think of it?

Thank you for time.

Hello Huy,

First and foremost you obviously need to have the required licenses and ratings to legal perform the duties of a flight instructor. That means at a minimum you must have your CPL (Commercial Pilot License), your Instrument Rating and your CFI rating (Certified Flight Instructor). Keep in mind to posses any pilot’s license you must be English language proficient as this is a requirement around the World. I have known a few instructors who’s English is shall we say “rough”. Obviously being able to communicate with your students is critical so I applaud your efforts to improve your skills. As with most things you’ll improve with time and practice. I also find those who are most critical of their language skills are often better than they perceive.

Adam

2 Likes

Thank you for your reply. I’ve been listening to “liveATC”-great apps :slight_smile: I found them speak very fast sometimes that I could barely understand them. I could see why English proficiency is so important in for this job since miscommunication could cause disaster.

My question:

  1. How proficient do I have to be? Airport is a busy place with people from all over the world, so you must have exposed with different accents and dialects.

2.How is the English at airport environment out there and at flight school like ?

Huy,

It’s good that you’re exploring and getting an idea of what to expect. to your questions:

  1. I think you answered this yourself. You need to be proficient enough to understand what the controllers and all the other airplanes are saying. You’re not a pilot so I wouldn’t expect you to understand all the phraseology but again you should be able understand what’s being said. To get a better Idea, there are many sample tests you can take online (just Google ICAO English tests). Keep in mind there is usually no test required unless when you’re going for your license the FAA examiner questions your proficiency.

  2. Not sure exactly what you mean? Again English is required at every airport around the world and the majority of pilots and controllers are very competent. Occasionally you’ll hear someone on the radio struggling (particularly in Asia) but that’s not the norm. As far as flight school goes obviously here in the US the majority of students and instructors are native born and native speaking. There are also many foreign pilots and some naturally do better than others. As I said if it’s a concern, which it seems to be, I encourage you to do what you’re doing, study and practice the language as much as possible.

Adam