How to Apply for Gold Seal Instructor: Your Guide to Achieving Aviation Teaching Excellence Today!

How to Apply for Gold Seal Instructor Certification


For pilots with a passion for teaching, becoming a Gold Seal Flight Instructor is the next step to take their aviation career to the next level. The Gold Seal Flight Instructor Certification is the highest standard in flight instruction in the United States. Only those who have demonstrated a superior level of knowledge, expertise, skill, and professionalism in their teaching are awarded this prestigious certificate. In this article, we’ll look at the process of how to become a Gold Seal Instructor and the benefits and challenges that come along with it.

What is a Gold Seal Instructor?

A Gold Seal Flight Instructor is an aviation professional who has demonstrated excellence in all areas of flight instruction, including safety, aircraft systems, navigation, aerodynamics, airmanship, communication skills, risk management, and more. The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Gold Seal Flight Instructor program allows instructors to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in their field.

Eligibility Requirements for Gold Seal Flight Instructor Certificate

Pilot Certificate

To be eligible for the Gold Seal Instructor Certificate, an instructor must have a commercial pilot certificate with an instrument rating. The only exception is for glider instructors who do not need an instrument rating. The certification can also be achieved with an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate, which certifies the instructor to be pilot-in-command (captain) of aircraft weighing more than 12,500 lbs. (5,600 kg).

Ground Instructor Certificate

An instructor must hold a ground instructor certificate with an instrument ground instructor or advanced ground instructor rating. An instrument ground instructor rating enables the instructor to teach the ground segment of an instrument rating course. On the other hand, an advanced ground instructor rating allows the instructor to teach the ground segment of many other special pilot and instructor training courses such as commercial pilot, multi-engine, and CFI refresher courses.

Instruction Requirements

Within 24 months of seeking a Gold Seal Flight Instructor certificate, an instructor must have trained and recommended at least 10 applicants for a practical test, out of which at least eight must have passed on their first attempt. They must also have conducted a minimum of 20 practical tests as a designated pilot examiner or conducted a minimum of 20 graduation tests as chief instructor of a Title 14 CFR Part 141-approved pilot school course. The FAA considers two practical tests conducted by the instructor as being equivalent to one applicant trained and recommended for a practical test.

How to Apply for Gold Seal Instructor Certificate

The FAA Orders 8700.1, General Aviation Operations Inspector’s Handbook, and 8710.3C, Pilot Examiner’s Handbook, are crucial documents that contain instructions on how to apply for a Gold Seal Instructor certificate. They provide the required guidelines and regulations needed when applying for the certificate.

Eligibility Criteria for Gold Seal Instructor Certification

To become a Gold Seal Instructor, an applicant must be at least 18 years of age and must meet the qualification criteria that the FAA has established, including:

  • A minimum of 16 years of experience as a flight instructor
  • A minimum of 2,000 hours of flight time
  • A minimum of 1,000 hours of flight instruction time
  • A minimum of 250 hours of instrument instruction time

Application Process for Gold Seal Instructor Certificate

To apply for a Gold Seal Instructor Certificate, a candidate must follow these steps:

  1. Submit FAA Form 8710-13: Complete and sign FAA Form 8710-13, known as the Application for FAA Airmen Certificate form. It can be completed and filed online via the Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) system, or manually by mailing a hard copy to the FAA.
  2. Complete Required Coursework: Aspiring instructors must complete courses related to Flight Instructor Refresher Course (FIRC), Professionalism and Ethics, Teaching to the FAA Practical Test Standards, and Practical Risk Management or Management of Risk. You can enroll in one of the FAA-recognized Gold Seal Instructor programs to complete these courses.
  3. Pass the Gold Seal Instructor Evaluation: The evaluation comprises two parts: a ground evaluation to assess knowledge and competency in training, and a flight evaluation to assess proficiency in teaching and piloting. An FAA Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) conducts the evaluation of aspiring Gold Seal Instructors.

Benefits and Challenges of Gold Seal Instructor Certification


  • Higher earnings: Gold Seal Instructors generally command a higher pay rate than other flight instructors.
  • Professional recognition and respect: You will earn a high degree of respect within the aviation community as a professional and knowledgeable instructor.
  • Better job opportunities: Employers prefer Gold Seal Instructors because they know that these instructors have exceptional teaching and evaluating skills.
  • Personal development: The certification program ensures that the instructor stays current with the latest aviation-related technology and regulatory changes.


  • The certification process is rigorous and challenging, with stringent eligibility requirements and examination standards.
  • Continuity training requirements: Once certified, Gold Seal Instructors have to maintain the certification by continually engaging in recurrent training.
  • Personal liability: Gold Seal Instructors are held to higher standards, and any mistake on their part could lead to legal and financial repercussions.


Becoming a Gold Seal Flight Instructor is a significant achievement for any pilot looking to take their aviation career to the next level. The certification is associated with a high level of knowledge, expertise, professionalism, and recognition. However, it requires significant dedication, commitment, and hard work to get the certification.


1. What is a Gold Seal Flight Instructor Certification?

It is the highest standard of flight instruction certification in the United States. It is awarded to instructors who have demonstrated exceptional skills, knowledge, and professionalism in their teaching and training of students.

2. How long does the Gold Seal Flight Instructor Certification process take?

The certification process can take anywhere from a few months to a year, depending on the individual’s experience, training, and other factors.

3. Are there any age requirements for obtaining the Gold Seal Instructor Certificate?

Yes, applicants must be at least 18 years old.

4. Can Gold Seal Instructor Certification be revoked?

Yes, the FAA can revoke the certification if the instructor fails to meet the qualification and renewal requirements or engages in illegal or unethical conduct.

5. Where can I find Gold Seal Instructor Course Providers?

Check with the FAA, the National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI), and other aviation associations for FAA-recognized Gold Seal Instructor courses and programs.


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