Most pilots will first start working on the Private Pilot Certificate. This certificate will allow you to travel throughout North America with passengers in numerous light aircraft.
Like most ratings, it takes time, money, and commitment to obtain. Primarily the number of hours a student puts into training before obtaining their first certificate is dependent upon the frequency of training, and their commitment to studying materials before showing up at the airport.
The most common question asked is “How many hours will it take for me to get my license?” And the most common answer is “40 hours.” I tell people that they should plan to continue to fly after they get their license, so to not think of getting the license as the end-all-be-all. There is nothing wrong with taking a little extra time getting your certificate, as long as you are improving or gaining experiences that will be useful when you continue to fly on your own.
The FAA requires a minimum of 40 hours of flying (at least 10 hours of solo), a written test, and finally a practical exam for this rating. While some people certainly do complete near the minimum of 40 hours, there are many tasks that should be mastered within that 40 hours. The national average is between 55-65 hours for a private pilot certificate. If you wish to get yourself nearer to the 40 hour mark, then you should resolve to fly frequently throughout your training (2-3 times per week) and study as much as possible. If you do get done in 40 hours, you should probably expect that you may want a little additional training after the fact, or a checkout in other aircraft, etc..
Obtaining a Private Pilot Certificate is well within the ability of almost anyone with the desire. There is no reward for completing within a set number of hours, additionally the ultimate goal is to have safe, knowledgeable and confident pilots out there flying after they get their certificate.