This article here explains the differences between the privileges and limitations of a FAA Flight Instructor and a FAA Ground Instructor Certificate, and 10 reasons why you should get your Advanced Ground Instructor (AGI) certificate along with your CFI initial certificate.
Flight Instructor Certificate
A flight instructor certificate is needed when one needs to teach another pilot applicant the flight maneuvers (flight training) or the aeronautical knowledge (ground training) for the issue of a pilot certificate. In other words, a Flight Instructor certificate holder is authorized to teach both the flight and the ground portion of a pilot training course.
Ground Instructor Certificate
A ground instructor certificate is needed when one needs to teach in a pilot training course only the ground portion of the course, i.e. aeronautical knowledge portion only. No flight training at all, period.
If I can teach both the flight and the ground portion of a pilot training course with a CFI certificate, then why do I need to have a separate ground instructor certificate?
I have always recommended that when you are working on getting your CFI certificate, might as well get your ground instructor certificate as well. It’s just a matter of taking one extra written exam (knowledge exam), which is about $100 extra cost and that is it! Here are TEN reasons why I recommend it:
- Adds extra credentials to your professional pilot CV. One extra FAA certificate in the list of your pilot qualifications looks better, and reflects better authority, professionalism, and dedication towards your profession.
- Does not have any expiration date. CFI certificate expires every 24 calendar months. And many a times, during your career progress you may not be able to renew it in time. The reasons are as varied as one can imagine. Too busy flying for the airline, too busy getting marital life together, was out of country, completely forgot, medical reasons….and so on. If you have a ground instructor certificate, you can still teach the ground portion while you are working towards getting your CFI certificate renewed.
- Does not need a medical certificate. Foresightedness is wisdom. And planning for the old age, or simply the rough times is a smart thing to do. Imagine if there is ever a time where you are not able to renew your pilot certificate (yes, CFI certificate does not require a medical, but a pilot certificate does, and the CFI certificate is only valid when accompanied by a pilot certificate) due to medical reasons, you may not be able to exercise the privileges of your CFI certificate, but the ground instructor certificate will still be valid.
- Is required for a gold seal instructor award. If you ever want to qualify for the FAA gold seal instructor (who wouldn’t) award, then a ground instructor certificate is a requirement, and not an option.
- Reduces liability and risk. In today’s world we have to think and manage the liability issues as well. Right now you may be young with no assets and probably with thousands of dollars worth student loans. But things are not going to stay the same throughout your life. Down the road, if you ever teach someone just the ground portion of the training, use your ground instructor certificate (especially when signing off the FAA written exams) for the signoffs and endorsements. In case anything ever comes back to haunt you, it will be your ground instructor certificate at the risk of being suspended or revoked by the FAA, and not your CFI certificate.
- NAFI Master CFI and Master Ground Instructor. NAFI recognizes both the flight instructor and the ground instructor as Master Instructors. When you are working on getting one, might as well get the other too. In most cases, if planned ahead of time, you should be able to qualify for both with not much extra effort. Now you could be a dual Master Instructor! Imagine that!
- Simulator Instructor job requires IGI. Simulator based training is getting more and more mainstream way of training pilots nowadays. To the point, that even the basic training of the pilots is shifting towards heavier usage of the simulators. And there are many jobs available, from basic to type rating instructors which can be yours, and here again for the reasons mentioned in # 5 above, you can use your Instrument Ground Instructor (IGI) certificate, and spare your CFI from unnecessary exposure.
- It’s easier to get it now than later. Let’s say you did not get your AGI certificate now, and later on down your career path you decide, or are forced by one of the circumstances stated above to get one; at that time it won’t be simply a matter of extra $100 expense. You will have to sit and review the entire FIA / AGI FAA question bank all over again to get prepared.
- It’s cheap, easy and effortless. When you take your knowledge exam for the CFI course (the FIA – Flight Instructor Airplane), at the same time (and right after the FIA exam) take your Advanced Ground Instructor (AGI) exam as well. No extra preparation is required (same question bank). Just pay the CATS or LaserGrade testing center extra $100 or so for the extra exam and that’s it. And take the results of the FOI and AGI to the local FAA FSDO and get your Advanced Ground Instructor certificate.
- Doesn’t require any other pilot certificate. To be a ground instructor, there is no eligibility requirement to hold any pilot certificate. That means, you can be a ground instructor even before you get your student pilot certificate. So, if you have a passion for aviation, and want to master the art of learning and then teaching aviation, and possibly even get yourself an employment (and source of funding) in aviation industry, you may want to become a ground instructor.