Navigating the Skies: A Guide to What to Do After Obtaining Your Instrument Rating

So, you’ve obtained your instrument rating and are now ready to take on the skies! But what’s next? The possibilities are endless, and the decision of what to do after obtaining your instrument rating can be overwhelming. Whether you want to pursue a career in aviation, travel the world, or simply enjoy the thrill of flying, this guide will provide you with valuable insights and tips on how to navigate the skies and make the most of your newfound freedom. From building your skills and knowledge to exploring different career paths, we’ll cover it all. So, buckle up and get ready to soar to new heights!

Congratulations on Obtaining Your Instrument Rating!

Celebrate Your Achievement

  • Share the news with friends and family
    • Post about it on social media
    • Send a personal message to those who have supported you throughout your journey
  • Treat yourself to a special meal or activity
    • Dine at a fancy restaurant
    • Take a scenic flight or hot air balloon ride
  • Reflect on your journey and the hard work you put in
    • Take time to appreciate the progress you’ve made
    • Consider how you can continue to grow and challenge yourself in the future

Keep Your Certification Up-to-Date

Maintaining your instrument rating is crucial to ensure that you remain proficient and safe as a pilot. Here are some tips to help you keep your certification up-to-date:

Complete the Required Recurrent Training Every 24 Months

To maintain your instrument rating, you must complete the required recurrent training every 24 months. This training includes both ground and flight instruction and is designed to ensure that you remain proficient in instrument flying techniques and procedures.

During the recurrent training, you will review the fundamental concepts of instrument flying, such as instrument scanning, navigation, and emergency procedures. You will also practice various instrument procedures, such as instrument approaches, departures, and holds.

It is important to note that the recurrent training requirements may vary depending on your specific rating and the type of aircraft you fly. Be sure to check the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations and guidelines to ensure that you meet the specific requirements for your rating.

Stay Current on Regulations and Procedures

Staying current on regulations and procedures is essential to ensure that you are up-to-date with the latest safety standards and requirements. The FAA publishes various guidelines and regulations that affect instrument pilots, including changes to the minimum equipment lists, approach procedures, and other rules.

To stay current, you should regularly review the FAA’s website and publications, such as the Federal Register and the Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing (ASIAS) database. You should also subscribe to relevant aviation newsletters and magazines to stay informed about the latest developments in the industry.

Additionally, you should be familiar with the requirements of the specific aircraft you fly, including the equipment, performance limitations, and operational procedures. The manufacturer’s manuals and service bulletins should be consulted regularly to ensure that you are up-to-date with any changes or updates.

Practice Regularly to Maintain Your Skills

Regular practice is essential to maintain your instrument flying skills. As with any skill, the more you practice, the better you become. It is recommended that you practice at least once a month to maintain your proficiency in instrument flying techniques and procedures.

During your practice sessions, you should focus on the areas where you need the most improvement. For example, if you struggle with instrument approaches, you should spend more time practicing these procedures.

You should also practice in a variety of weather conditions and environments to ensure that you are proficient in all types of instrument flying scenarios. This includes flying in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), such as clouds, fog, and rain, as well as flying at night or in challenging environments, such as mountainous terrain or high winds.

In summary, keeping your instrument rating up-to-date requires completing the required recurrent training every 24 months, staying current on regulations and procedures, and practicing regularly to maintain your skills. By following these tips, you can ensure that you remain proficient and safe as an instrument-rated pilot.

Explore New Opportunities

Key takeaway: After obtaining your instrument rating, it is important to keep your certification up-to-date by completing the required recurrent training every 24 months, staying current on regulations and procedures, and practicing regularly to maintain your skills. Additionally, consider exploring new opportunities such as pursuing a career in aviation or expanding your horizons by flying to new destinations, taking on more challenging instrument procedures, and participating in local flying events and competitions. Finally, enhance your skills by furthering your knowledge and investing in new technology, and build your network by connecting with other pilots and mentoring aspiring pilots.

Consider a Career in Aviation

If you have obtained your instrument rating, you may be wondering what to do next. One option to consider is pursuing a career in aviation. There are many job opportunities available in this field, and obtaining your instrument rating can be a valuable asset in your job search.

One option is to look into working for a flight school or aviation company. These organizations often hire pilots with instrument ratings to teach others how to fly. You can discuss job opportunities with these organizations and see if they have any openings for which you would be a good fit.

Another option is to become a certified flight instructor. This requires additional training and certification, but it can be a rewarding career path for those who enjoy teaching others how to fly. Many flight schools and aviation companies hire certified flight instructors, so this can be a good option for those looking for a long-term career in the field.

Finally, you may want to research airlines that offer paid instrument training. Some airlines offer training programs for pilots who are still in the process of obtaining their ratings. This can be a great way to gain experience and build your resume while also earning a living.

Expand Your Horizons

As a pilot with an instrument rating, you have opened up a world of possibilities for yourself. With this newfound freedom, it’s time to start exploring new opportunities and pushing your limits. Here are some ways to expand your horizons:

Consider flying to new destinations

One of the best ways to expand your horizons as a pilot is to consider flying to new destinations. This could mean exploring new parts of your own country or venturing across borders to explore other countries. Flying to new destinations not only allows you to see new sights and experience new cultures, but it also challenges you to navigate unfamiliar airspace and airports.

Take on more challenging instrument procedures

Another way to expand your horizons is to take on more challenging instrument procedures. This could mean flying in more complex weather conditions, such as thunderstorms or heavy turbulence, or practicing advanced instrument procedures like flying solely by reference to instruments. By pushing yourself to take on more challenging procedures, you can improve your skills and become a more confident and capable pilot.

Participate in local flying events and competitions

Participating in local flying events and competitions is another great way to expand your horizons as a pilot. These events can range from simple fly-ins and airshows to more complex competitions like aerobatics or navigation challenges. By participating in these events, you can challenge yourself to improve your skills, meet other pilots, and learn from experienced professionals in the industry.

Enhance Your Skills

Further Your Knowledge

As an instrument-rated pilot, there are numerous ways to further your knowledge and enhance your skills. Here are some suggestions:

  • Take advanced instrument training courses: Consider taking advanced instrument training courses that cover more complex topics such as instrument approach procedures, advanced instrument scanning techniques, and human factors in instrument flying. These courses can help you develop advanced skills and improve your decision-making abilities.
  • Attend seminars or workshops on aviation topics: Attending seminars or workshops on aviation topics can be a great way to learn from experts in the field and stay up-to-date on the latest developments in aviation technology and safety. Topics might include weather interpretation, aircraft systems, or advanced emergency procedures.
  • Read books or articles on instrument flying: Reading books or articles on instrument flying can help you deepen your understanding of the principles and techniques involved in instrument flying. You can also learn from the experiences of other pilots and gain insights into best practices for flying in instrument conditions. Some recommended books include “Instrument Flying Handbook” by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and “The Instrument Flight Manual” by Mark A. Buehn.

Invest in New Technology

As an instrument-rated pilot, it is important to continuously enhance your skills and stay up-to-date with the latest technology. By investing in new technology, you can improve your accuracy and efficiency in the cockpit. Here are some ways to get started:

  • Stay up-to-date with the latest avionics and instruments: As technology continues to advance, it is important to stay informed about the latest avionics and instruments available for instrument pilots. This includes learning about new GPS systems, flight management computers, and electronic flight instruments.
  • Explore new apps or software for instrument pilots: There are a variety of apps and software programs available for instrument pilots that can help with navigation, weather forecasting, and flight planning. Consider exploring different options to find the ones that work best for you.
  • Consider investing in a glass cockpit aircraft: A glass cockpit aircraft is equipped with electronic displays and instruments instead of traditional analog gauges. This technology can improve visibility, reduce clutter, and provide more accurate information. Consider researching glass cockpit aircraft options and weighing the benefits and drawbacks before making a purchase.

Build Your Network

Connect with Other Pilots

As a newly minted instrument rated pilot, it is important to build your network of fellow aviators. Connecting with other pilots can provide valuable opportunities for learning, sharing experiences, and making valuable connections within the aviation industry. Here are some ways to connect with other pilots:

  • Join aviation clubs or organizations: Local aviation clubs and organizations offer a great way to meet other pilots and build your network. These clubs often host regular meetings, fly-ins, and social events that provide opportunities to connect with other aviators. Additionally, many clubs offer educational and training opportunities, such as seminars and workshops, that can help you further your knowledge and skills as a pilot.
  • Attend local flying events and meetups: Flying events and meetups are a great way to connect with other pilots in your area. These events often feature guest speakers, workshops, and networking opportunities, and provide a chance to meet other aviators and learn about their experiences. Check with your local airport or aviation organization to find out about upcoming events in your area.
  • Connect with other pilots on social media: Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter offer a great way to connect with other pilots and build your network. Join aviation-related groups and follow aviation influencers and organizations to stay up-to-date on industry news and trends. Additionally, you can use social media to share your own experiences and connect with other aviators who share your interests.

Mentor Others

  • Offer to teach or mentor aspiring pilots
    • Volunteer at a local flight school or community organization
    • Share your knowledge and experience with others
    • Give back to the aviation community
  • Stay involved in the aviation community
    • Attend industry events and conferences
    • Join aviation clubs and organizations
    • Network with other professionals in the field
  • Keep learning and expanding your knowledge
    • Pursue additional certifications or ratings
    • Stay up-to-date on industry developments and regulations
    • Continuously improve your skills and expertise.

Final Thoughts

After obtaining your instrument rating, it is important to remember to always prioritize safety in your flying. This means always being aware of your surroundings, following all rules and regulations, and being prepared for any potential hazards.

In addition to prioritizing safety, it is also important to stay flexible and open to new opportunities. As you gain more experience and skills, you may find that you are interested in pursuing different areas of aviation, such as flying for a specific company or branch of the military. Being open to these opportunities can help you grow as a pilot and take your career to new heights.

Finally, remember to enjoy the freedom and adventure of instrument flying. This is a unique and exciting aspect of aviation, and being able to fly in instrument conditions can open up a whole new world of possibilities. Embrace the challenge and the reward of obtaining your instrument rating, and continue to push yourself to be the best pilot you can be.


1. What is an instrument rating?

An instrument rating is an additional certification that a pilot can obtain, which allows them to fly under instrument flight rules (IFR) and in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) without the need for visual reference to the ground. This means that the pilot can fly using only the instruments in the cockpit and the information provided by the flight instruments.

2. What are the benefits of having an instrument rating?

Having an instrument rating opens up many opportunities for pilots, both in terms of the types of aircraft they can fly and the types of missions they can undertake. With an instrument rating, pilots can fly in a wider range of weather conditions, and they can also fly at night. This can make them more valuable to potential employers, such as airlines or charter companies.

3. What are the requirements for obtaining an instrument rating?

To obtain an instrument rating, a pilot must first hold a commercial pilot’s license and have completed a certain number of hours of flight time, typically around 250 hours. They must also pass a written exam and a practical test, which includes flying under instrument conditions and using the instruments in the cockpit to navigate and fly the aircraft.

4. How long does it take to obtain an instrument rating?

The amount of time it takes to obtain an instrument rating can vary depending on the individual pilot’s experience and availability for training. Typically, it takes several weeks to a few months to complete the required training and testing.

5. What can I do after obtaining my instrument rating?

After obtaining your instrument rating, there are many options available to you. You can seek employment with an airline or charter company, or you can start your own business as a pilot. You can also use your instrument rating to fly for personal or recreational purposes, such as flying for business or for pleasure. Some pilots also use their instrument rating to pursue careers in other fields, such as flight instruction or aviation maintenance.

Getting My Instrument Rating From Start to Finish

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