How to Renew Your CFI

Flight instructing is a rewarding experience for both you, the instructor, and your students—not only are you inspiring new pilots with aviation knowledge and abilities, but you’re constantly honing your own skills at the controls and in the books. Your CFI is one of the hardest ratings to earn—so once two years have passed, even if you don’t use it regularly, make sure you keep it renewed so you don’t lose your privileges. Here are several ways you can keep your CFI current and keep your students flying!

Ways to renew your certificate

A certified flight instructor rating expires every 24 calendar months—that means after the 24th month, you’re no longer legally allowed to instruct or sign off students for various check rides or tests. It is crucial to plan in advance to renew your certificate so you’re not rushing to complete paperwork in the last couple of days. Fortunately, there are several fairly convenient options for renewing your CFI:

  • Complete a Flight Instructor Refresher Course (FIRC). One of the most popular options is to complete a FIRC online. This guided online course is an easy and cost-effective way to renew your certificate on your own time. Several private vendors offer excellent deals on FIRCs as well. 
  • Maintain a high check ride pass rate. This is a great option if you’re currently working as a CFI. If 80% of your students have passed their check rides on their first attempt, the FAA will renew your CFI with no additional training required from you. 
  • Obtain a new instructor certificate. Looking to add a multi-engine instructor or instrument instructor certificate to your license? Not only will you be opening your student base to more advanced trainees, but you’ll automatically renew all your instructor certificates when you pass an instructor check ride. The 24-calendar month clock starts from when you pass that check ride, so you’ll be giving yourself another two years to renew your certificate. 
  • Become a check airman. If you find yourself working as a check airman in a 121 or 135 operation, then you need not worry about any of the options above. Simply prove to the FAA that you’ve regularly completed official evaluations on pilots at an air carrier, and your CFI rating will be renewed with little hassle. 

What happens if my certificate expires?

Did you lose track of time and forget to complete one of the renewal options? Maybe you instructed years ago and want to get back into the right seat again. Unfortunately, if 24 calendar months have passed since you obtained your certificate, your only option to renew your certificate is to take another instructor check ride with the FAA or with a designated pilot examiner. Basically, you’re starting from scratch as if you’d never held an instructor rating before. That is why it’s so crucial to renew your certificate before 24 months have passed. Make sure your hard work obtaining that certificate doesn’t go to waste!

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