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How do I become a ground instructor?

Posted by on October 14, 2008 75 Comments Category : Flight Instructor Blog Tags : ,

Rob wrote me and asked, in essense, “What do I have to do to become a ground instructor?”

Maybe it’s the economy and people are looking to utilize their skills sets but I am glad that so many people are thinking about instructing! Whether it is ground or flight instruction, general aviation needs you!

First off, there are three levels of a ground instructor certificate.  (You can reference 14 CFR 61.215)

1) Basic (BGI)– A basic ground instructor can provide the required knowledge training for a sport pilot, recreational or private pilot.  You can also accomplish the knowledge portion of the flight review test and recommend someone to take the knowledge tests (written) for one of those certificates.

2) Instrument (IGI) – An instrument ground instructor is able to provide the required knowledge training for a pilot applicant seeking a instrument rating.  Similarly to the BGI, you are also able to recommend someone for the instrument written exam.

2) Advanced Ground Instructor (AGI) – A advanced ground instructor certificate can provide the required knowledge training for any certificate issued under part 61.  That means, private, commercial, airline transport pilot, etc.

A ground instructor certificate does not require you to be a pilot or to have any other pilot experience (although it helps).  I have had quite a few instructors, both at FlightSafety and at the regional airline I worked at, who were not pilots, but had obtained their AGI.  To be honest, they were some of the best ground instructors I have ever had.

If you are a pilot, a ground instructor certificate is a completely separate certificate.  It will even be seperate from your flight instructor certificate.  A ground instructor certificate has no expiration although you can’t instruct unless within the precedding 12 months you have served as a ground instructor for 3 months or you receive an endorsement from another ground instructor or CFI that you are proficient (14 CFR 61.217).

In order to become a ground instructor you have to take the FOI (fundamentals of instruction) written test and the appropriate knowledge test either BGI, IGI, or AGI.   No oral exam is required! The best way to prepare for the knowledge test is to use a study guide like the one provided by Gleim:

Gleim Flight/Ground Instructor Written Exam Guide – The easiest, fastest, and least expensive means of passing the FAA Flight Instructor – Airplane (FIA) knowledge test

Once you pass the test(s), you can walk into your local FSDO (with an appointment), present your completed FOI and knowledge tests and walk out with a temporary airmen certificate for either a BGI, IGI or AGI.  That’s it!

Good luck with your FOI and AGI tests and have fun instructing and teach your students to always…

Fly Safe!


  1. Tim on Nov 19, 2012

    Earlier I read that in order to become an AGI and a CFI you are only required to take the FOI once. My question is if that one time is only good for two years or if it remains credible indefinitely.

  2. MAO on Nov 29, 2012


    Your FOI test results, alone, are only good for 24 months. Once you receive a CFI or a GI, you would not need to take the FOI test again.

  3. Brian on Dec 28, 2012

    A curiosity question of mine. To be a ground instructor, is a commercial certificate required? Or to be an IGI, is an instrument rating required? Just curiosity questions. I was curious because you are not being paid to fly so the commercial may not be required. Thanks!

  4. le on Mar 07, 2013

    I am an IGI. I took the AGI several years ago have a currant certified teacher certificate. Do I need to retake the AGI since I did not go to the FSDO to get the certificate? or can I do that now?

  5. Dany cala on Nov 24, 2013

    I’m already a cfi, and would like to get my ground instructor certificate. What test do I have to take?? Thanks in advance

  6. Esteban Oquendo on Jan 21, 2014

    I’m already a cfi, and would like to get my ground instructor certificate. What test do I have to take?? Thanks in advance

  7. David on Mar 24, 2014

    @ Dany and Esteban

    As you are already a CFI, the only thing necessary to become a ground instructor is to pass the required knowledge test (AGI or BGI). Then take that test and your certificate to the FSDO to apply for a GI license

  8. JJ on Apr 13, 2014

    Hope y’all doing just fine. Currently I’m a holder of A Commercial Pilot Certificate ME/SE land instrument airplane, also I have in my possession an Aircraft Dispatcher Certificate. Recently I was thinking to step it up just a bit and obtain my AGI and was looking at 14 CFR 61.215 and understood that I only have to give couple of written exams “FOI and AGI” and that will qualify me for an AGI Certificate , I’m I right?. Are there any other requirements that I have neglected?. Moreover, in order to become an AGI do I have to obtain my BGI then IGI or I just can go ahead and apply for an AGI . My interpretation from the above, the AGI have the same privileges as the BGI and IGI, correct me if I’m wrong please!!

    Appreciate it flyers, y’all fly safe.

  9. Peter on Aug 22, 2014

    The AGI carries the privileges of the BGI (Sport, recreational, and private), plus the ability to provide ground instruction to all other certificates (Commercial, ATP) but DOES NOT include Instrument Ground Instruction. The IGI is separate from the BGI and AGI. IMHO, the BGI is a waste. The AGI is only an extra 20 questions! Both the AGI and IGI are recommended, as they never expire (although they do have currency requirements) and they don’t require a medical. You never know when you might be in a position to use them.

    Finally the tests are rather redundant. For instance, the AGI test is basically the same test as the FIA. Might as well take both in the same day. Same thing for the FII and IGI (and actually the original instrument exam too). Same lengths, and same question banks.

  10. Reece on Sep 05, 2014

    I have a current CFI and CFII. As a ground school instructor can I teach an ATP ground school? I have a BGI. What if there is no sign off needed at the end of the class?


  11. John Parkin on Sep 15, 2014

    I am a licensed Aircraft Dispatcher that is interested in teaching Dispatcher Ground School. Am I required to take BGI and AGI knowledge tests? Thanks in advance

  12. Mark Barnard on Oct 01, 2014

    I have a CFII/MEI that has expired. I wish to obtain my AGI certificate.

    What exams must I take?

    Thanks for your help.

  13. marcus pradel on Nov 03, 2014

    I took the AGI & IGI written exams a few years ago at the same time as my Commercial and Instrument ratings, but never followed up with the FOI test.

    Did those 2 GI exams expire @ 24 months? or can I complete the sequence anytime?

  14. AMANDA on Dec 05, 2014


    I passed the FOI 2 years ago, so I know that by now that has expired. I passed the IGI in May 2013. I am now preparing for the CFII checkride. Do I need to do the FOI again, or will the IGI suffice (I never put it to use, and have not worked as a ground instructor).

    Also, if I do need to do the FOI again, is it possible to bypass this under part 61.183 (e) 2., using my British teaching qualification ( I worked for several years as a teacher in England), or do only teaching qualifications earned in the US meet this requirement?

    Thank you.

  15. Richard on Feb 01, 2015

    Just to answer a couple of questions–Brian, you don’t need anything else to be a GI. Theoretically one could have never seen an aircraft and still get the certificate. So all you need is what Paul said above, pass the FOI (or show you did it by having a CFI), plus any 1 of the 3 tests. Just do the paperwork applying for the certificate before the tests expire.

    Personally I got the AGI after my private sel–the test was like doing a cross-country in a multiengine airplane, but that was 43 years ago. Then I got the IGI, which was tough since I never earned an instrument rating. Possible to do, though. Never used them as such, but had fun, learned a lot and the background helped when getting my commercial glider.

    Amanda, I’m not sure about a UK teaching licence (to use the proper spelling). My bet is that it won’t work. FAR Part 61, Subpart I, is for GI certification and only says a person is exempt from the FOI if he or she:

    Holds a teacher’s certificate issued by a State, county, city, or municipality that authorizes the person to teach at an educational level of the 7th grade or higher; or is employed as a teacher at an accredited college or university.

    So take the FOI over and grab the IGI while the test is still good.

  16. Patrick on Apr 19, 2015

    I am studying to take the FIA. I have heard that I should (using ASA prepware) just study the Ground Instructor question bank, as that is the same question bank that the FIA questions come from? So is it true that if I study for the Ground Instructor exam I will also be studying for the FIA as well? My main test is the FIA, but if I can also take the AGI and simply study for the Ground Instructor question bank for both exams that would be great.

  17. chuck gibbs on May 08, 2015

    I am a retired airlines pilot (6 years ago), check-airman on the B-737, type rated in the 727, and CE-500 also. I have a CFI, not current. I would like to get an AGI and teach part time. I’ve had significant health issues not allowing me to acquire any medical certificate. In order to get the AGI all I need is to pass the written test, correct?

  18. Dusty on May 21, 2015

    Can an AGI or BGI teach Simulator lessons? Do they offer any other privileges that is not specifically listed in 14 CFR 61.215 as it is not very specific with its description of privileges.

  19. Doug on Feb 16, 2016

    I’m an IT Professional (everything computers) and an Instructor at a Technical College. I am also an aviation nut. Raised with it…my father was an Aviation Chief in the Navy and Aviation has always been part of my life.
    I just learned about being a Ground Instructor and I am interested in becoming one. I have no licenses or ratings but will now be diligent to earn them.
    Ideally…I’d like to be an Instructor at an airline. Entry Level of course. I’ve seen many ads for airline GI’s.
    How realistic is this? Is it possible to be a GI with an airline with no ratings or certifications? I do have several Computer Industry Certifications and a ton of drive.

  20. Marty W on May 24, 2016

    I am a retired CFI and no longer current (since 2012). I am considering getting back to aviation and getting a AGI.

    1. Do I need a FOI test again?
    2. Is the CFI/A written test the same as a AGI written test (doesn’t matter how many questions)?


  21. Marty W on May 26, 2016

    Marty W on May 24, 2016
    I am a retired CFI and no longer current (since 2012). I am considering getting back to aviation and getting a AGI.
    1. Do I need a FOI test again?
    2. Is the CFI/A written test the same as a AGI written test (doesn’t matter how many questions)?

  22. PAras on Jun 30, 2016

    i am a ground instructor aprroved by DGCA in India.
    Now if i want this ground instructor certificate acc to FAA rules, then
    1. How should I proceed
    2. Do I need to give FOI test.

  23. Firas on Aug 01, 2016

    I hope someone talks about obtaining FAA AGI for foreigners, i.e, I just want the license ,,, I can’t work in the states.

  24. Evangelos on Oct 01, 2016

    I have an expired FAA CFI-II-MEI since 1989.
    I am considering to be an FAA AGI and IGI.
    Do I need to take any written test?
    or no need since I have already an expired CFI -II- MEI.

  25. The Flying Shrink on Nov 25, 2016

    I am preparing for the AGI and IGI tests as part of my preparation to CFI. Since I am a professor at an accredited university, 61.213 states I do not need to take the FOI exam. But unlike someone who has a state-issued teaching certificate, I do not have any type of certificate I can produce to prove this. Does anyone know what documentation is acceptable?

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