How to Become a Pilot in Canada

April 3, 2022
What are the requirements to become a pilot in Canada?

If you want to become a pilot in Canada, you have a dream shared by many others. It is also probably easier than you think, but a little more expensive than you would want. In our article, we will look at the options for each pilot license: private pilot license, commercial pilot license, and airline pilot.

TKT Threshold Knowledge Test

To become an airline pilot in Canada, you must first progress through the private and commercial pilot licenses. These are more basic licenses which allow you to build the necessary experience and ratings to become an airline pilot in Canada. Alternatively, you may not want to become an airline pilot and want to learn how to fly an airplane to fly family around, shorten travel time between work projects, or own an aircraft instead of a boat. All of these are perfect reasons to become a pilot in Canada.

Here are the requirements to become a pilot in Canada, specifically the Private Pilot License; this will apply to all Canadian and International students.

Private Pilot License Requirements


Requirement: To become a pilot in Canada you must be at least 17 years old.

Option: You must be 17 by the end of your flight training, it is possible to begin at a younger age and spread out the length of training!

Aviation Medical

Requirement: To become a pilot, you will need to book an aviation medical and complete a category 3 medical. If you wish to later become a commercial or airline pilot, we highly suggest completing your Category 1 medical. More information here.

Option: This paper work can be lengthy so do it early in your training! Here, is where you can find a Canadian Aviation Medical Examiner near you.

Flight Training Experience

Requirement: To become a pilot, you must complete 45 hours of total flight time consisting of;

17 hours dual flight time including 3 hours of cross country flight time and 5 hours of instrument flight time.

12 hours solo flight time including 5 hours of cross country flight time.

*These are minimum requirements, more realistic flight times are 60 hours total flight time, 40 dual and 20 solo*

Option 1: Contact your local flight school and begin your flight training. It really is as easy as making a phone call or sending an email!

Option 2: Buy your own airplane and find an instructor at your local airport willing to train you. This is limited by a large financial payment up front and being able to find an instructor on your own.


Requirement: At the completion of your pilot training, you must pass a flight test with a Transport Canada Pilot Examiner to become a pilot in Canada.

Option: No worries, this is why you met the flight training experience requirement. Now, you just have to show what you learned! This test will by organized by your flight school.

become a pilot in canada
Flight Training Manual or FTM

Ground school

Requirement: Complete a minimum of 40 hours ground school including the following subject:

  • Air Regulations
  • Aerodynamics and theory of flight
  • Meteorology
  • Airframes, engines and aircraft systems
  • Flight instruments
  • Navigation
  • Flight operations
  • Human factors

Option: Sign up for our amazing and convenient online ground school, and complete the course at your own pace!


Requirement: All pilots must pass the Transport Canada PPAER written exam.

Option: No worries, This is what our premium ground school will prepare you for! Now, you just prove what you learned

These are all the requirements and how to meet each one to become a pilot in Canada.

Front cover of From the Ground Up. Used in flight training and pilot training across Canada.
FTGU – From the Ground Up

How to Become a Commercial Pilot in Canada

Once you have become a pilot in Canada by obtaining your Private Pilot license, it will be time to elevate your training and work towards becoming a commercial pilot. Following the issuance of your private pilot license, you must now build additional experience to have at least 200 hours of flight time. As part of your training towards being a commercial pilot, you will learn to fly at night, fly some flying procedures relating to flying in clouds, and learn the required knowledge to be a commercial pilot through an approved commercial pilot ground school, like ours.

You are required to do a written exam known as the CPAER exam, as well as a flight test with a Transport Canada pilot examiner. However, completing the bare minimum will not usually land you a job in aviation. Normally, pilots will seek additional qualifications by earning ratings which are added onto your license. If you want to become an airline pilot, it is recommended you incorporate some of these ratings into your commercial pilot license training. This helps make you more qualified and employable upon completing all of your licenses.

The most common ratings done to during commercial pilot license training are the night rating, the IFR rating, as well as the multi engine rating. By completing these ratings during your CPL training, you will spend more money in the short term, but be more employable upon completion of your CPL training.

Cost to Become a Pilot in Canada

Earning a private pilot license can cost between $18,000 and $20,000 + tax in 2024. The cost can go down by completing our Private Pilot Ground School. Our ground school will give you theoretical and practical knowledge which can be readily applied in flight training, thus lowering your cost of become a pilot in Canada.

To earn a Commercial Pilot License, students should budget anywhere from $50,000 to $75,000 if starting from scratch. The large variance is due to additional training some pilots may choose not to do.

In another article, we will talk about the career paths a commercial pilot may take if they want to go from their commercial pilot license to their airline transport pilot license. As there are a lot of options, there is a lot to talk about which warrants a separate blog post.


We’re always looking for new ideas on what to write about. If you have a question or suggestion for a future topic, please reach out to us at and one of our flight instructors will be in touch with you about your suggestion. We truly strive to be there for the general aviation community and getting your feedback on topics is really important. Without you, we cannot provide the high quality content to elevate our aviation industry.


How much does it cost to become a pilot in Canada?

To become a private pilot in Canada, it can cost anywhere from $18,000 to $20,000 plus tax. To become a Commercial pilot will vary depending on the ratings earned while training. It can be anywhere from $50,000 to $90,000.

Are pilots paid well in Canada?

Compared to American pilots, Canadian pilots are not well compensated. However, most airline pilots start at $80,000/year and can make over $400,000 a year by the end of their careers.

Are pilots in demand in Canada?

Pilots with experience are in demand in Canada, as well as pilots who are willing to accept substandard wages to fly.

What are the requirements to become a pilot in Canada?

To become an airline pilot in Canada, students must first earn their private pilot license. They will then earn additional ratings such as the night rating, instrument ratings, and multi engine ratings while working towards their Commercial pilot license. Once they have a CPL, they can get a job and build their hours until they qualify for an airline license.