I just got the easiest certificate I’ll probably ever get as a pilot…
A few days ago, I moseyed into the Baltimore FSDO and got them to issue me an Advanced Ground Instructor (AGI) certificate. That means I’m officially an aviation instructor. Sort of.
The ground instructor certificate comes in three flavors: Basic, Instrument, and Advanced. The AGI lets you provide knowledge training and knowledge test endorsements for any certificate issued under part 61: sport, recreational, private, commercial, ATP, etc. (AGIs can’t provide instrument sign-offs — they also need the instrument rating on their ground instructor certificate for that.)
An AGI can also provide the hour of ground training required for a flight review.
I said before it’s the easiest certificate I’ve ever gotten — the only requirements are to pass two written tests: the Fundamentals of Instructing (FOI) and Advanced Ground Instructor. I already needed the FOI exam to become a flight instructor, and the AGI written is almost identical to the CFI written, so I was able to take it the same day as the CFI written without studying anything new.
All I had to do was call up the Baltimore FSDO and schedule a time to bring my test results in and get a new Temporary Airman Certificate.
You may be wondering why a flight instructor student would bother becoming an AGI. After all, the AGI can’t do anything that a CFI can’t do. Fact is, there actually are some good reasons you might want to consider doing the same thing…
Read on for the list.
1. Real World Teaching Experience
As an AGI, you can pursue real world teaching experience. Many flight schools hire ground instructors to teach ground school classes — after all, that’s something that many CFIs don’t want to do. I don’t exactly have time to try and find a ground instructor job, but I’ve got a couple of friends who are pursuing new certificates. One wants to earn his commercial, and another is thinking about starting on a private pilot certificate this year.
As an AGI, I can actually act as an instructor and help them get ready for the written tests — including the endorsements required for those two tests. As a CFI student, that’s a hugely valuable experience that I wouldn’t be able to provide in any “official” capacity without being an AGI.
Most importantly of all, that real experience as an instructor will help immensely when it comes time for the CFI checkride. Speaking of which…
2. An Easier CFI Checkride?
I’ve heard from some people that being an AGI can actually make the CFI checkride easier. That’s because apparently some inspectors and examiners choose to skip over FOI material if a CFI candidate already holds an AGI. That’s not necessarily regulatory — having an AGI doesn’t give you a free pass on FOI material — but anything that tips the odds in my favor on the toughest checkride I’ll ever take is worth it.
And if you’re lucky enough to actually use your ground instructor certificate with real students, then you’re guaranteed to have a leg up during your CFI checkride.
3. Locked in FOI Test Results
When you take a knowledge test, the clock starts ticking. You have 2 years to take your checkride, otherwise you get to take that written test again…
And even though I plan on taking the CFI checkride in the next six months or so, we all know that life sometimes gets in the way. By getting an AGI certificate, I was able to lock-in my FOI test results.
4. Gold Seal Instructor
To earn a gold seal on your CFI certificate, you need to also have an AGI or IGI (among other things).
5. Something to Show For All Your Work So Far
This is a big one. By the time you take the CFI written tests, you’ve probably already put a lot of work into becoming a flight instructor… but you also probably still have a while to go before you’re done with everything else for the checkride (like creating lesson plans, for example). Getting an AGI gives you something tangible to show for your efforts while you keep working toward that CFI certificate.
6. Never expires
Unlike a CFI certificate, which much be renewed every 2 years, the AGI never expires (although there are some recency of instructing experience requirements). That means, if you let your CFI expire, you can still provide ground instruction with minimal effort to get “current” again.
Can you think of any other benefits of earning an AGI? Post ’em in the comments below!
Postscript: Turns out, the FAA inspector who was assigned to issue my AGI certificate was once-upon-a-time my primary flight instructor’s own primary CFI. Small world!