How To Become A Designated Pilot Examiner

Hey there, future aviators! Ever wondered about the folks who hold the keys to your flying dreams? They’re called Designated Pilot Examiners, or DPEs for short.

These are the guys and gals who’ll be sitting next to you during your check ride, making sure you’ve got what it takes to soar the skies.

They’re a crucial part of the aviation industry, ensuring that every pilot is up to snuff and ready to take on the wild blue yonder.

How Do You Become A Designated Pilot Examiner?

So, you’re all fired up and ready to take on the world as a DPE, huh? Well, before you can become a designated pilot examiner there are a few prerequisites you need to meet. Let’s break it down:

  • Age Requirement: Must be at least 23 years old, reflecting the necessary flight experience and maturity.
  • Flight Experience: A minimum of 2,000 hours of total pilot-in-command (PIC) time is needed to assess a pilot’s ability in various areas.
  • Instructional Experience: At least 500 hours of dual instruction given, emphasizing the importance of teaching skills in guiding other pilots.
  • Flight Instructor Certificate: Maintenance of a current flight instructor certificate, showing mastery in aviation instruction.
  • Medical Certificate: Must hold at least a third-class medical certificate, assuring good health for performing DPE duties.

Let’s take a closer look at each of the points listed above.

Age Requirement: The first box to tick off is age. You need to be at least 23 years old to become a DPE. Why 23, you ask? Well, it’s all about experience. By this age, you’ve had enough time to gain the necessary flight experience and maturity to handle the responsibilities that come with the role.

Flight Experience: Speaking of experience, you need to have at least 2,000 hours of total pilot-in-command (PIC) time. That’s a lot of hours in the cockpit, my friend. But remember, as a DPE, you’re not just assessing a pilot’s ability to fly; you’re evaluating their decision-making, their understanding of regulations, and their ability to handle unexpected situations. That requires a deep well of experience to draw from.

Instructional Experience: But it’s not just about flying; it’s about teaching, too. You need to have logged at least 500 hours of dual instruction given. This means you’ve spent a significant amount of time in the right seat, guiding other pilots, understanding their common mistakes, and learning how to effectively communicate complex aviation concepts.

Flight Instructor Certificate: To become a DPE, you need to maintain a current flight instructor certificate. This isn’t just a piece of paper; it’s proof that you’ve mastered the art of instruction and that you’ve got the knowledge and the skills to guide others on their journey to the skies.

Medical Certificate: Last but not least, you need to hold at least a third-class medical certificate. This ensures that you’re in good health and capable of performing the duties of a DPE. After all, the cockpit of a plane is no place for health issues.

What Is A Designated Pilot Examiner?

A Designated Pilot Examiner, often referred to as a DPE, is an individual authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to conduct examinations for pilot certificates and ratings. They are the gatekeepers of the skies, ensuring that every pilot meets the necessary standards of safety, knowledge, and skill.

DPEs play a critical role in the aviation industry. They are responsible for conducting practical tests, also known as check rides, for various pilot certificates and ratings. These range from private and commercial pilot licenses to instrument and multi-engine ratings.

But the role of a DPE extends beyond just conducting check rides. They are mentors, guides, and educators, helping to shape the next generation of pilots. They uphold the standards of safety and professionalism that define the world of aviation, ensuring that every pilot is not only capable of flying but understands the responsibility that comes with it.

The Application Process for Becoming a DPE

So, you’re 23, you’ve got the qualifications down pa, you’ve got those flight hours under your belt, and you’re ready to take on the world. What’s next? It’s time to apply, my friend.

First things first, you’ll need to head over to the FAA’s Designee Management System (DMS). This is where you’ll fill out your application. Think of it as your ticket to the big leagues. It’s your chance to show the FAA that you’ve got what it takes to be a DPE.

Now, I won’t sugarcoat it, the application process can be a bit of a waiting game. Once you’ve submitted your application, it goes into a pool with all the other hopefuls. And then you wait. But don’t worry, it’s not all out of your hands.

When the Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) needs a new DPE, they’ll dive into that pool and start reviewing applications. They’re looking for the best of the best, the cream of the crop. If your application catches their eye, you’ll be selected for the next step: the evaluation process.

The evaluation process is where the rubber meets the road. It’s where you’ll prove that you’re not just qualified on paper, but that you’ve got the skills, the knowledge, and the temperament to be a DPE. It’s a rigorous process, but if you’ve made it this far, I have no doubt you’re up for the challenge.

The Certification Process For DPEs

Alright, you’ve been selected. Now, the real adventure begins. It’s time for the certification process.

First up, you’ll have an interview with a Flight Safety Inspector (FSI). They’ll go through your qualifications, making sure you meet all the requirements. It’s your chance to show them that you’re ready for this.

Next, you’ll complete an online training course. This is an in-depth look at the role of a DPE, the FAA regulations you’ll need to enforce, and the standards you’ll need to uphold. You might also have to do a proficiency flight check with an FSI. This is where you’ll show off your flying skills, proving that you’re not just a great pilot, but a great instructor too.

Finally, you’ll head off to Oklahoma City for a five-day initial pilot examiner standardization seminar. This is where you’ll really get into the nitty-gritty of what a DPE does. You’ll learn how to conduct a check ride, how to evaluate a pilot’s performance, and all the administrative duties you’ll be responsible for. The certification process is a wild ride, but it’s one worth taking. You got this!

What Is The Role Of The Designated Pilot Examiner?

Well, let me tell you, the role of the designated pilot examiner it’s a role that’s as exciting as it is important. DPEs are the gatekeepers of the skies, the ones who ensure that every pilot is ready to take on the challenges of flight.

In the simplest terms, a DPE is an individual who has been authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to conduct examinations for pilot certificates and ratings. They’re the ones who sit next to you during your check ride, evaluating your skills, your knowledge, and your decision-making. They’re the ones who decide if you’re ready to earn your wings.

But being a DPE is about more than just conducting check rides. It’s about being a mentor, a guide, a beacon for those who dream of flight. DPEs play a crucial role in shaping the next generation of pilots. They’re the ones who ensure that every pilot not only knows how to fly but understands the responsibility that comes with it. They’re the ones who uphold the standards of safety and professionalism that define the world of aviation. So, the next time you see a DPE, give them a nod of respect. They’ve earned it.

How Many Checkrides Can a DPE Do?

There must be a balance when determining how many checkrides a DPE can conduct. On one hand, the FAA wants to ensure that there are enough DPEs to meet the demand for checkrides. On the other hand, they want to make sure that each checkride is conducted thoroughly and without rush.

The FAA has set a limit of two checkrides per day for each DPE. This ensures that every pilot is evaluated fairly and thoroughly, maintaining the high standards of safety and professionalism that define the world of aviation. It’s all about quality over quantity.

Designated Pilot Examiner Salary

As a DPE, you’re essentially running your own business. You set your own fees for the checkrides you conduct. These fees can vary depending on the type of checkride, the region, and the market demand.

A DPE might charge anywhere from $500 to $1000 per checkride. This fee is meant to cover their time, expertise, and any travel expenses they might incur. It’s important to note that DPEs are not salaried employees of the FAA. They’re independent contractors, which means their income is directly tied to the number of checkrides they conduct.

However, being a DPE isn’t just about the money. It’s about contributing to the future of aviation, shaping the next generation of pilots. The financial rewards are certainly a perk, but the real reward comes from the work itself. So, if you’re considering becoming a DPE, remember that it’s not just a job, it’s a calling. It’s about passion, dedication, and a love for aviation.

Tips and Tricks for Passing the DPE Exam

Embarking on the journey to ace the DPE exam, are we? Let’s get one thing straight – preparation is your best ally. The cornerstone of your preparation should be the Airmen Certification Standards (ACS). This document is the holy grail for both DPEs and flight instructors during checkrides. It’s your roadmap to success, outlining everything you’ll be evaluated on. So, dive into it, absorb it, and make it your second nature.

Another crucial tip is to understand the practical test standards. These standards outline the skills and knowledge you need to demonstrate during your checkride. Make sure you’re comfortable with all the maneuvers you’ll be asked to perform and understand the theory behind them.

Lastly, remember that the DPE is not your enemy. They’re there to ensure you’re ready to take on the responsibilities of a pilot, not to trick you or catch you out. If you’re unsure about something during the checkride, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. The DPE is there to help you succeed, so use them as a resource.


How long does it take to become a DPE?

The process to become a DPE can vary greatly depending on several factors, including your current qualifications, the speed of the application process, and the availability of the required training. Generally, it can take anywhere from a few months to a year or more. It’s important to remember that becoming a DPE is a significant commitment and requires a high level of expertise and experience.

Can a DPE conduct checkrides for all types of pilot certificates and ratings?

Not necessarily. A DPE is authorized to conduct checkrides for specific certificates and ratings based on their own qualifications and the needs of the FAA. For example, a DPE who is an experienced helicopter pilot may be authorized to conduct checkrides for helicopter ratings, but not for airplane ratings.

Do DPEs work for the FAA?

While DPEs are authorized by the FAA to conduct checkrides, they are not FAA employees. DPEs are independent contractors who set their own schedules and fees. However, they must adhere to FAA regulations and standards when conducting checkrides and are subject to oversight by the FAA.

How do you become a DPE for the FAA?

Becoming a Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) for the FAA involves several steps. First, you must hold a valid pilot license and meet the flight time requirements. Next, you need to show proof of passing all FAA exams and demonstrate industry experience. Then, submit an application to the FAA and undergo an evaluation process. If selected, you’ll receive training from the FAA before receiving your DPE designation.

How much does an FAA DPE make?

FAA Designated Pilot Examiners (DPE) aren’t salaried employees of the FAA. Instead, they earn money per examination, with fees typically ranging from $500 to $1000 depending on the type of exam and location. Thus, DPE income can vary significantly based on workload and demand.

How many designated pilot examiners are in the US?

Approximately, there are several hundred Designated Pilot Examiners (DPEs) across the U.S, considering the scale of its aviation industry. For an accurate count, please refer to the official resources provided by the FAA.