If your goal is to fly for the airlines or sit in the left seat as a charter pilot, you will need an ATP certificate.  The ATP certificate is the highest rating a pilot can achieve, and requires extensive flight time.  There are various paths to the ATP certificate, not all of which require 1,500 hours of total flight time.  For example, U.S. military pilots may be eligible for the ATP certificate with only 750 hours of total flight time, and individuals with an Associate's degree in an aviation major may be eligible for the ATP certificate with only 1,250 hours of total flight time.

ATP certificates are issued for a particular class of airplane (e.g., multi-engine).  Once the ATP certificate is earned, a pilot will still need to obtain a type rating to fly an aircraft with a gross weight greater than 12,500 pounds, and/or to fly a turbojet aircraft.

When you have completed your training and the written exam, you will take the ATP practical exam with a FAA Designated Examiner.

Air Transport Pilot Certificate

Minimum Requirements*

Air Transport Pilot Age23
Relevant Airplane Class Time (hrs)50
Total Flight Time (hrs)1500
Cross-Country Flight Time (hrs)500
Night Flight Time (hrs)100
Instrument Training (hrs)75
Written ExamYes
FAA CheckrideYes

*You may require additional training to meet ACS standards.  Experience and/or other qualifications may be substituted for some requirements.