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How to Become an Airline Pilot

How to Become an Airline Pilot

To become a professional airline pilot, you must go a long and challenging way. The process involves many stages of certification and special flight training. You can apply for the pilot position on commercial or private airlines only after you get the necessary knowledge and skills and confirm your qualifications.

Suppose you are interested in the profession of a pilot. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what the requirements of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) the true professional must meet and consider step-by-step the instructions on how to become a pilot.

What an airline pilot does: essential duties+

A pilot’s primary job is safely transporting airplane passengers and crew members from one point on the globe to another. They are responsible for following the specified flight path, using special equipment, and controlling the basic parameters of the aircraft. Several people work in the cockpit: the crew commander (captain) and the deputy commander (first officer). They have to work as a team to make the flight as safe as possible. They keep the flight log and are in charge of an easy takeoff and a comfortable landing.

An airline pilot has to fly a multi-engine airplane. This profession requires specialized knowledge and skills. This person is responsible for operating the aircraft in all types of weather and must know how to respond to any problem during flight. Also, they constantly keep in touch with the dispatcher and use special radars to stay on track.

How to build a career as an airline pilot

If you want to become a qualified airline pilot, you should follow these steps to build a career:

No. 1: Get an FAA-approved bachelor’s degree

Many airlines require prospective pilots to have a bachelor’s degree in aviation or any related field to accept a candidate for a position. Suppose you want to become a full-fledged airline pilot. In that case, it is best to enroll early at an institution officially authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration to take an educational program related to that field. After you have obtained a bachelor’s degree, you may start preparing for a job search.

Your path may lead to the ultimate dream of becoming an airline pilot. In this situation, it is worth finding a college approved by the FAA that offers a complete aviation training program. These schools provide a full range of educational benefits, special courses, and, most importantly, flight hours to get the experience you need.

No. 2: Get Licensed

To become a private pilot, you must first learn basic flying techniques, have excellent knowledge of aircraft maneuvers, navigation, and route rules, and be prepared to act correctly in unexpected situations. Once you have an airplane pilot certificate, you can officially fly. Pilots with this document can take control of a small plane.

No. 3: Master the sophisticated tools for the job

To fly, you need to have specific knowledge. It applies in particular to special tools. After obtaining a basic private or airplane pilot certification, you need to learn how to operate the complex devices that allow you to introduce the aircraft in the sky at different heights and in various weather conditions. Certification in multiple instruments will enable pilots to master air traffic control and understand the basics of the national airspace system.

No. 4: Obtain an official commercial pilot’s license

You must obtain a commercial pilot’s license to carry passengers or cargo on an airplane and get paid for it. This document allows you to work in a search and rescue service, on passenger flights (tourist flights with airlines or charter flights), and transport various cargoes. In this situation, a pilot must independently pass an educational course on a particular aircraft type they plan to fly. For example, you can obtain a commercial pilot’s certificate to fly airplanes with different engines.

No. 5: Get certified as a flight instructor

Often, pilots become flight instructors to gain enough experience and accumulate flight hours. Pilots can combine instructing and direct work duties, earning good money. Many airlines set a minimum number of flight hours for a pilot to apply for a first-mate position. In this situation, being employed as a flight instructor is a great way to get the practice you need to qualify for an airline job.

No. 6: Get clearance to fly multi-engine aircraft

To become a passenger airplane pilot, you must be certified and licensed. During the certification process, a candidate must prove that they know how to fly a giant, multi-engine passenger aircraft. To be approved, not only do you need to be able to control the plane in different situations, but you also need to know what to do if one of the engines fails.

No. 7: Build up your flying hours

A qualified pilot must have a certain amount of flying experience. The FAA requires a minimum of 1,500 flight hours. You can gain this experience through a training program, working as an instructor, or taking a job as a commercial pilot.

No. 8: Obtain an airline pilot’s license

The ATP certificate is the highest license issued by the FAA. A pilot must have a minimum of 1,500 flight hours to obtain it. In addition, a pilot must also have PIC command experience and have logged hours flying at night and in certain conditions.

Furthermore, they must pass a complete physical examination to be certified. If a pilot wants to become a pilot in command, they give a first-class medical exam to become a deputy pilot and a second-class medical exam.

No. 9: Get an interview for a pilot position

You may qualify for a position with a big airline if you meet all the current FAA requirements. Career paths at airlines are often based on seniority. In other words, to become an airline captain, you must first have worked for a minimum of 2 years with the company.

What is the salary of airline pilots?

The amount of a pilot’s salary depends on a variety of factors: the scale of the airline, experience, and aircraft they will be flying. Salary is calculated based on hours flown, with a maximum of 1,000 hours per year. Wages are calculated on an hourly basis. On average, the first officer gets $53,325 a year. At the same time, a captain receives slightly more, $55,362 annually.

A pilot’s salary includes not only a base salary but also additional perks:

  • official health insurance;
  • free flights on the airline’s flights;
  • paid vacation;
  • discounts on tickets.

Benefits may apply not only to employees but also to a pilot’s family members and friends.

Do pilots work in what work environment, schedule, conditions, and responsibilities?

Pilot spend most of their working hours in a small cockpit of an airplane with 1-2 crew members. Working hours depend on the specific flight, its duration, and how many flights are on the schedule. Airline pilots work from a particular place called a base, flying to different parts of the world. These professionals have a somewhat irregular schedule because they often fly at night, on holidays, and at weekends.

A pilot must demonstrate leadership qualities, regardless of whether they are the captain or the first mate. This person is responsible for the flight and the safety of passengers and crew members. They must make a lightning-fast decision if an emergency arises during the flight.

An airline pilot must love to travel since this job involves flying within the country and around the world. Pilots should not just enjoy flying but also enjoy operating the aircraft. This position in an airline allows you to see almost the entire world.

How to build a truly successful career as a pilot: the optimal path

To become a professional airline pilot, you can take advantage of various educational programs. If you are interested in building a career as an airline pilot, here are four options:

No. 1: Complete flight school training

You can receive introductory flight and navigation training at Part 61 or Part 141 flight schools approved by the FAA. These schools provide students with somewhat flexible training programs that vary in workload and schedule. The most flexible training methods are found at Part 61 flight schools, while Part 141 offers a more rigorous and well-regulated educational process.

No. 2: Graduate from an aviation college and earn a bachelor’s degree

An FAA-approved aviation college offers a complete educational program to earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. The curriculum provides excellent hands-on training, mastering aircraft mechanics, piloting, and more.

No. 3: Take a cadet course at an academy

Aviation academies also graduate airline pilots. Often, these institutions work with certain airlines, offering graduates further employment. But it would help if you understood that you would not become a pilot immediately after training; you will first have to work in lower positions in the airline or a subsidiary company.

No. 4: Service in the Army

It is also possible to become a pilot through service in the military. The U.S. military has many units that train military pilots. For example, an extensive pilot training program can be found with the Marines. It is also possible to serve in the Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and Navy with flight training.

Pilots who receive special military training in the military gain other helpful tactical experience and learn how to respond to any emergencies that may arise during flight appropriately. Airlines quite highly rate pilot candidates who have served in the military.

Which is better: commercial pilot or airline pilot

Often a career as an airline pilot begins specifically in the commercial field. You can accumulate a certain number of flight hours during this job by working as a flight instructor or charter flight pilot. A commercial pilot differs from an airline pilot in that each performs different types of services. An airline pilot is an employee of a regional company, while a commercial pilot transports cargo or passengers and performs surveys and other work tasks. A pilot with a commercial pilot license must have sufficient flight hours and some training to obtain an ATP airline pilot license.


We also conclude with some of the most common questions about this profession and the answers to them:

How long will it take to become a pilot?

Numerous programs imply getting a flying certificate to master the profession in 2 years. But it is worth considering that to become a pilot, you need a certain amount of practical experience and a set number of flying hours to apply for a job with an airline.

Is there an age limit to get an official license?

Someone who is at least 23 can obtain an airline pilot certificate (ATP). However, a restricted airline pilot certificate (R-ATP) can be obtained at 21. It requires an aviation degree from an FAA-approved college, special flight training, or military pilot experience.

Are there specific vision quality requirements for a pilot?

An airline pilot does not have to have perfect vision. If their vision is poor, they must use corrective lenses to achieve a normal 20/20 acuity.

Date: 26 October 2022
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