How to become an Aviation Ground Instructor
Teaching ground school for future and current pilots can be a very rewarding experience. When you start teaching the required material, you begin to realize just how well you truly understand the material. A good instructor doesn't know all the answers, but is open and honest about what they know and
are willing to do their best to find out the answer and explain to the students how they can find the answer themselves. The ground instructor certificate allows you to start teaching some of the pilot material before you get the Flight Instructor certificate. This is a great way to prepare lesson plans and hone your teaching skills if you want to become a CFI. Officially, you do not even need a pilot certificate to get a ground instructor certificate; however, you may lose some credibility if your students find out you aren't even a pilot. With that said though, there are many great ground instructors out there that have never flown, so don't immediately discredit them.
In order to get a ground instructor certificate you must take at least two exams. The Fundamentals of Instructing (FOI) exam, and the exam appropriate
to the rating desired. The exams generally cost about $150 each. These exams can be taken at a "Computer Assisted Testing Service (CATS)" Center or a "LaserGrade Computer Testing" Center.
You do not need an endorsement to take these exams the first time; however, if you fail, you will need an endorsement for retests.
A list of these centers can be found here:
If you have taken one of these and have an updated price figure, please let me know!
Once you complete the required exams, you must call your local FSDO to make an appointment to take them your score reports with an application for the certificate.
Below you will find some of the basic FARs relating to Ground Instructors. These are from 14 CFR Part 61 Subpart I
- You must be at least 18 years old.
- You must be able to read, write, speak and understand the English language.
- Pass a “Fundamentals of Instructing (FOI)” exam. (Not required if you already
hold a ground instructor certificate, flight instructor certificate, a current teachers
certificate authorizing you to teach at the 7th grade or higher, or are currently
employed as a teacher at an accredited college or university)
- Pass the appropriate knowledge test for the instructor rating sought.
(Basic Ground Instructor (BGI), Advanced Ground Instructor (AGI), and
Instrument Ground Instructor (IGI))
Basic Ground Instructor - 14 CFR Part 61.215 (a)
A person who holds a basic ground instructor rating is authorized to provide—
- Ground training in the aeronautical knowledge areas required for the issuance of a
sport pilot certificate, recreational pilot certificate, private pilot certificate, or
associated ratings under this part;
- Ground training required for a sport pilot, recreational pilot, and private pilot
flight review; and
- A recommendation for a knowledge test required for the issuance of a sport pilot
certificate, recreational pilot certificate, or private pilot certificate issued under this part.
Advanced Ground Instructor - 14 CFR Part 61.215 (b)
A person who holds an advanced ground instructor rating is authorized to provide—
- Ground training in aeronautical knowledge areas required for the issuance of any certificate or rating under this part;
- Ground training required for any flight review; and
- A recommendation for a knowledge test required for the issuance of any certificate under this part.
Instrument Ground Instructor - 14 CFR Part 61.215 (c)
A person who holds an instrument ground instructor rating is authorized to provide:
- Ground training in the aeronautical knowledge areas required for the issuance for an instrument rating under this part;
- Ground training required for an instrument proficiency check; and
- A recommendation for a knowledge test required for the issuance of an instrument rating under this part.
A person who holds a ground instructor certificate is authorized, within the limitations
of the ratings on the ground instructor certificate, to endorse the logbook or other training
record of a person to whom the holder has provided the training or recommendation specified
in the above privileges.
Ground Instructor Recent Experience Requirements (14 CFR Part 61.217)
The holder of a ground instructor certificate may not perform the duties of a ground instructor unless the person can show that one of the following occurred during the preceding 12 calendar months:
- Employment or activity as a ground instructor giving pilot, flight instructor, or ground instructor training;
- Employment or activity as a flight instructor giving pilot, flight instructor, or ground instructor ground or flight training;
- Completion of an approved flight instructor refresher course and receipt of a graduation certificate for that course; or
- An endorsement from an authorized instructor certifying that the person has demonstrated knowledge in the subject areas prescribed under §61.213(a)(3) and (a)(4), as appropriate.
One important thing to note when it comes to recent experience is that, taking the exams and getting the certificate isn't enough to say you are "current". See General Note 5 below for more information. You may not have needed an endorsement to take the written exams, you will need an endorsement stating you are proficient in those knowledge areas.
Ground Instructor Study Material
The main study materials should be the FAR/AIM, the appropriate FAA Handbooks, and test preparation guides. I am a big fan of GLEIM test preparation products and recommend them for everyone
Fundamentals of Instructing
The FAA-H-8083-9A Handbook is the "Aviation Instructor's Handbook". This should be your main reference book and study book. This is available for free online at:
FAA-H-8083-9A - Aviation Instructor's Handbook
To help prepare for the Fundamentals of Instructing (FOI) exam, the following GLEIM book is a great study guide.
Basic Ground Instructor and Advanced Ground Instructor
The main study materials for the Basic Ground Instructor (BGI) or Advanced Ground Instructor (AGI) ratings should also be from the FAR/AIM and the appropriate FAA Handbooks.
The FAA-H-8083-25A Handbook is the "Pilots Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge" and is available for free at:
FAA-H-8083-25A - Pilots Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge
The FAA-H-8083-3A Handbook is the "Airplane Flying Handbook" and is available for free at:
FAA-H-8083-3A - Airplane Flying Handbook
To help prepare for the Basic Ground Instructor (BGI) or Advanced Ground Instructor (AGI) exam, the following GLEIM book is a great study guide.
Instrument Ground Instructor
The main study materials for the Instrument Ground Instructor (IGI) ratings should also be from the FAR/AIM and the appropriate FAA Handbooks.
The FAA-H-8083-15B Handbook is the "Instrument Flying Handbook" and is available for free at:
FAA-H-8083-15B - Instrument Flying Handbook
The "Instrument Procedures Handbook" is also available for free at:
Instrument Procedures Handbook
To help prepare for the Instrument Ground Instructor (IGI), the following GLEIM book is a great study guide.
TSA Security Awareness Training
As a ground instructor, 49 CFR Part 1552.21(b) defines a "flight school employee" as a flight instructor or ground instructor certificated under 14 CFR part 61, 141, or 142; a chief instructor certificated under 14 CFR part 141.
This means you are required to complete a "Security Awareness Training". This training lasts 1 year.
For more information, go to the following page on the TSA Security Awareness Training or the above linked regulation.
- An Advanced Ground Instructor has more privileges than a Basic Ground Instructor.
The Basic Ground Instructor rating is not required to be an Advanced Ground Instructor.
Both exams pull from the same question bank. The only difference is the Advanced Ground
Instructor exam is 100 questions while the Basic Ground Instructor exam is 80 questions.
Both exams have a 2.5-hour time limit.
- Previous editions of the FAR/AIM stated that an Advanced Ground Instructor may provide
ground training for “any certificate or rating issued under this part”. This does not mean
an Instrument Rating. An Advanced Ground instructor is not authorized to give an exam
recommendation for an instrument rating.
- An endorsement is not required to take the FOI, BGI, AGI, or IGI the first time.
If any of those exams are failed on the first attempt, an endorsement from an authorized
instructor will be required for the future attempts.
- A ground instructor is not allowed to give training in a flight simulator regardless of ground instructor ratings held.
Chief Counsel Interpretation - Gatlin
- A first time – recently certified ground instructor is not considered “recent”. Although endorsements are not required
to take ground instructor related exams, an endorsement from an authorized instructor certifying that you are proficient in
those knowledge exam areas is still required for initial recent experience requirements.
Chief Counsel Interpretation - Metzinger
- An Instrument Ground Instructor is not an “authorized instructor” when it comes to doing an Instrument Proficiency Check.
Chief Counsel Interpretation - Griffith
- Although some exams may be exactly the same question wise (such as the Flight Instructor Airplane, or Flight Instructor Instrument/Instrument Rating Airplane) they may NOT substitute
for the AGI or IGI.