Depending on which branch of aviation you are in, you will need to obtain the respecti- ve certificate. In aviation, you need a certificate depending on what type of aircraft you want to fly and operate, for example, if you get your ground airplane pilot’s certificate, you cannot fly an aircraft that operates in water, such as an amphibian, helicopters, or crop dusting aircraft.
Each branch and each type of aircraft needs a different rating and certificate for you to be able to fly. If they are of the same class and ca- tegory, i.e. of similar size and shape, you will be able to fly with the same certificate, but you will have to receive a few hours of theoretical and practical instruction from an instructor who has experience in the aircraft you want to fly.
If the aircraft you wish to operate has a maxi- mum takeoff weight of 12,500 pounds you may receive a few hours of instruction and fly it, but if it exceeds this weight you must obtain a class and type rating for that specific aircraft at a fac- tory certified training center (simulator or aircraft training with flight instructor). For example:
A Cessna 152 weighs around 1600 pounds, when we talk about maximum takeoff weight, we are talking about the maximum weight cer- tified by the factory, and not the current weight of the aircraft. You can carry a passenger, a little fuel and not reach 1600 pounds, but even so, what counts is what the aircraft is certified for and not the current weight at the time of takeoff.
A Lear Jet 45 weighs around 21,500 pounds, in this case you will have to take theoretical and practical training (flight simulator) in order to ob- tain a class and type rating for this aircraft. This qualification can only be obtained from an air- craft manufacturer certified training center.
In short, the certificates you must obtain as a MINIMUM (and I’m not saying that this will get you a job), are the minimum certificates to be legally ready to start a job and accumulate com- mercial pilot experience.
The certificates and ratings you need as a minimum to be able to work as a professional airplane pilot go as follows:
1. Student Certificate
2. Private Airman’s Certificate
3. Instrument Enablement
4. Commercial Aviator Pilot Certificate
5. Qualification for Multi-Engine aircraft
You can then obtain others such as ATP, Crop dusting or Agricultural Certificates, etc.