How do I become an Airline Pilot?

An airline pilot has an extremely important job. They operate the aircraft, plus, they have the passenger’s and the crew member’s safety in their hands. Pilots are also responsible for pre-flight inspections which include checking hydraulic and engine systems. They must be trained to deal with potential flight problems, such as mechanical problems, crew dilemmas and difficult passengers. Wow…talk about responsibility!

Pilots are often overworked and deal with exhaustion, jet lag and inclement weather, not to mention the occasional bird strike. The journey to be a pilot can be tedious, so, prepare yourself mentally, as well as, physically. A potential pilot must have vision correctible to 20/20, have excellent hearing, as well as, pass a physical examination. Perhaps, all these requirements and responsibilities are why a pilot undergoes such extensive education and training.

The median salary of a pilot, according to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2015 was $117,920 per year. Of course, as with any profession, experience and location is a factor. World-wide travel is just a bonus!

Have you ever wondered if you have what it takes to pursue your dream of becoming an airline pilot? Here’s a few points to consider:

First, please consider the education required to be a pilot. A bachelor’s degree in aviation is mandatory. Most colleges and universities offer an aviation or aeronautics degree program – just be sure to verify that they are an accredited school and approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Required coursework entails aeronautical engineering, English, physics and extensive mathematic classes.

Before obtaining your pilots license, you must put in the time, meaning numerous hours of flight time experience, depending on the type of license you are working towards. Hours can be acquired through flight schools that are approved by the FAA or by the degree program in which you are enrolled. By hiring personal instructors, you may be able to obtain more in-depth training and, also, many students have joined the military to acquire their flying experience, which also makes them marketable prospective hires for major airlines when they exit their military service.

Next, you will need to obtain your licensure. Upon completion of your extensive flight experience, some of the hours being at night, you will be required to demonstrate your expert flying skills, pass a written exam and take an instrument flying rating exam.

So, you’ve completed your educational journey, put in your flight time and have received your pilot’s license. Congratulations, you’re ready to go to work – but you have no experience.  What should you do?  It is very common for new pilots to start their careers working with smaller commuter airlines or regional airports. This option will give you valuable on-the-job work experience to make your resume more attractive to larger airline companies. However, any position you acquire will demand physical, mental, and aptitude testing in addition to drug testing before they will put you in the air. Also, airline companies then will require that you attend 6-8 weeks of extensive training by the company that hires you. Typically, new employees are hired as co-pilots.

Once hired by a major airline, you will need to work your way up through the ranks. There are two positions, sometime three, in an airliner, depending on the type of aircraft. The Captain sits in the left seat with his co-pilot, called the First Officer, to his right. They alternate piloting responsibilities, while the Captain is still top dog in charge. Occasionally, a Flight Engineer, called a second officer, is on board to monitor the operating system while in flight. The Captain flies the plane with skill and precision, makes all major command decisions and is responsible for everyone’s safety. Your ultimate career goal should be to become the Captain of your aircraft, however, becoming the Captain requires years of experience and seniority.

If your childhood dream was to become a successful airline or commercial pilot, then stick with it; don’t let the rigorous process discourage you. It may be a long road, but the rewards will outweigh the hard work. To get you started on the career of your dreams, we’ve compiled a list of the Best Online Schools for Aviation and Aeronautics!