So, what is a Master Instructor?  What is a Gold Seal Instructor?

The  Master Instructor and Gold Seal Instructor designations are both industry means of noting those instructors who instructing skills make them stand out among their peers.

The "Gold Seal" designation is awarded by the FAA.  To gain this distinction, a certified flight instructor must:

1. Also hold a ground school certificate with advanced instructor or instrument ground school rating; and

2. Within the past 24 months must have trained and recommended at least 10 applicants for a practical test, at least 8 of whom passed their test on the first attempt; or must hold a Master Instructor Designation.

The "Master" designation is awarded by the the Flight Instructor community, either by the National Association of Flight Instructors, or by the Master Instructor Continuing Education Program.  Requirements of the two organizations vary slightly, but in general they both state that a Master Instructor is one who, in the previous two years:

1. Has provided at least 250 hours of teaching;

2. Has provided 30 hours of community service to the aviation community;

3. Has spent at least 30 hours creating media material, such as magazine articles, books, webcasts;

4. Has completed at least 30 hours of of continuing education:

5. Has participated in at least 30 hours of aviation activities such as fly-ins or other aviation gatherings.

One other difference between the two designation is that the Gold Seal designation is good for life.  Once awarded, the requirements need never be met again.  The Master designation, on the other hand, is only good for two years.  To maintain the distinction, a flight instructor must reapply and meet the same requirements every 24 months.

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updated March 10, 2018

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