How To Get a Student Pilot Certificate

student pilot certificate

A student pilot being guided through flight by an instructor. [Credit: Unsplash]

The runway to becoming a pilot begins with learning how to fly an aircraft. Student pilots must be taught by an FAA certified flight instructor and before beginning flight lessons, student pilots must obtain their student pilot certificate. Learn what a student pilot is, what a student pilot does, and what the requirements are for becoming a student pilot, so you can obtain your own student pilot certificate and begin earning your private pilot’s license.  

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What Is a Student Pilot Certificate?

A student pilot certificate is a document issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as certified proof that you have met the eligibility requirements and passed all testing to become a student pilot, allowing you to fly with a certified flight instructor (CFI) as you work to earn your private pilot’s license. 

What Does a Student Pilot do?

A student pilot spends time studying books on general aviation, aircraft systems, and safety regulations. They also spend time logging flight hours with a certified flight instructor as they prepare for their first solo and solo cross country flights on their way to earning their recreational or private pilot’s license. 

What Are the Eligibility Requirements for a Student Pilot Certificate?

To obtain a Student Pilot Certificate you will file an Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) after meeting the following requirements --

  • Must be at least 16 years of age 
  • Be able to speak, write, and read English fluently 
  • Be able to obtain a medical certificate from the Aviation Medical Examiners (AME)

5 Steps to Get a Student Pilot Certificate

There are a few steps towards obtaining a student pilot certificate, which we will explain in detail. 

Step 1: Understand the Eligibility Requirements

Be sure to understand exactly what eligibility requirements exist to ensure you have the ability to meet them. Make sure that you can provide proof of age and you are at least 16 years old when applying for your student pilot certificate. You also want to make sure that you have no problems writing, speaking, and reading in the English language. Communication is a critical component in the aviation industry, so it is important to be fluent in English. Lastly, understanding the medical requirements and restrictions is important to ensure your eligibility. A 3rd class medical exam checks basic sight, lung, heart, hearing, etc. Mental disorders and substance abuse or dependency are disqualifying conditions.  

Step 2: Set up Your Account with IACRA

The Integrated Airman Certification Rating Application (IACRA) allows you to set up a personal account on their (FAA) website. Registration is required to file an application for your student pilot certificate, so you will need to visit their website and set up your account. 

Step 3: Fill Out Student Pilot Certificate Application

After registering your account with IACRA, you will follow the instructions as the site guides you through the application process for a student pilot certificate. 

Step 4: Obtain a Medical Certificate

A medical certificate must be obtained through the Aviation Medical Examiners (AME) office by meeting all requirements. You will search for FAA Medical Examiners in your area and schedule an appointment. Prior to your visit, you must complete an FAA application form . You will then undergo a basic physical through your FAA-approved AME office. 

Step 4: Start Your Flight Training

After meeting all of the eligibility requirements to obtain your student pilot certificate, you will choose a flight school to begin your ground training and in-flight training with a certified flight instructor (CFI). 

Student Pilots Are In High Demand! 

You know what steps are necessary to obtain your student pilot certificate, you understand the eligibility requirements, how to set up your account online, and how to obtain your medical certificate. The only thing left to do is to begin step one, now!! Get started on your path to becoming a pilot and order your subscription to FLYING Magazine today, so you are always in the know when it comes to your aviation career! 



When do I need a student pilot certificate?

You need a student pilot certificate before you can begin pilot training for the most basic level of licensing, a recreational or private pilot’s license.

How much is a commercial pilot's license?

A commercial pilot’s license can vary in cost depending on the flight school program, aircraft used for training, and the time it takes to complete all requirements. A commercial pilot’s license can range anywhere from $25,000 to $85,000 or more to obtain a commercial pilot’s license with all available certifications.

Does my student pilot certificate expire?

No. As of April 1, 2016 student pilot certificates no longer expire.

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