There are two routes to becoming a commercial airline pilot: the military route and the civilian route. Each has distinct advantages and disadvantages which should be considered when pursuing a career in commercial aviation. Would-be pilots should also be aware that commercial airline pilots need a lot of training, which often involves a very large investment of cash, and that employment in commercial aviation is quite varied. Some pilots make top salaries flying internationally for major airlines, while others struggle to make due on local commuter routes.
Becoming a commercial airline pilot through the military route involves joining the Air Force, qualifying as a pilot there, and committing to a set number of years of service as a pilot. In addition to working as a pilot, military pilots are also called upon to perform military duties, and military experience should not be viewed as simply a stepping stone in the path to becoming a commercial airline pilot. After a pilot's military service is over, he or she can apply to work for commercial airlines, relying on flight experience and earned certifications to get a foot in the door.
People who choose to go the civilian route to become a commercial airline pilot are encouraged to consider going to college to get a degree, which does not necessarily have to pertain to aviation. While getting a basic degree, the would-be pilot can attend flight school or enroll at a vocational school which trains pilots. Ultimately, the goal is to earn a commercial pilot certificate, which requires 250 flight hours and ground school training
. At the end of training, pilots can take a check-ride, a sort of driving test of the skies, in order to be certified.
Below you will find an overview of a pilot job, flight training
, aviation degree and educations, and salary.
Airline pilots have a glamorous job, piloting large aircraft loaded with passengers all around the world. It takes a lot of training just to get licensed to fly these aircraft, let alone get hired by a major airline. Airlines have good and bad times and pilots are frequently laid off. Once a pilot builds some seniority and stability, the financial rewards can be great. Pilots
have a tremendous amount of responsibility and must make critical decisions in seconds, as the US Airways crash on the Hudson River illustrates.
An airline pilot's job description is to safely fly an airliner, but a pilot does much more than just fly. A typical day may start with the pilot using computer skills to check weather and flight plans. The plane must be pre-flighted and all aircraft logs reviewed. When ready, the pilot will oversee the push-back and then taxi to the runaway. While flying, in addition to monitoring aircraft systems, the pilot must communicate with the FAA and the company. Pilots may work long hours and strange shifts, often being away from home for several days.
Having a college degree is important when applying for positions. Although not strictly required, airlines like American Airlines prefer a college degree or equivalent
. Since many pilots are former military officers, they will all have college degrees. Without a degree, your application may stay buried below more qualified applicants. The degree does not have to be an aviation related field of study. Many pilots have degrees in fields ranging from law to engineering.
Civilian pilots must go through rigorous flight training before they are finally rated for airliners. To fly large aircraft, a pilot must have an Airline Transport Pilot rating, or ATP ticket. In addition to having achieved all the lower ratings, there is also a requirement for total flying time and for time as Pilot-in-Command. Airlines favor former military pilots because of the quality training they receive. Once hired, pilots will receive extensive training for the aircraft they will fly and frequent recurrent training for the life of their career.
The pay a pilot receives is based on many variables. Seniority, type of aircraft flown and whether the pilot is a Captain or First Officer all affect the pay level. The hours that a pilot may fly is regulated by the FAA. Most pilots will fly between 75 to 80 hours a month. Starting out, a 1-year seniority pilot flying regional small narrow-body aircraft can expect a range from $21 to $41 per hour. The same pilot flying narrow-body aircraft can expect anywhere from $30 to $75 per hour. The highest paying position will be piloting wide-body aircraft. The 1-year seniority pilot will earn from $30 to $75 per hour. But after 10-years seniority, this pilot can expect $99 to $235 per hour.
Career Advancement Opportunities
Flying wide-body aircraft on over-seas routes is the pinnacle for airline pilots. Because of the flying time restraints mandated by the FAA, an over-seas pilot can reach his maximum flying time relatively quick, leaving him with more time off in that month. There are other jobs besides being a line pilot. There are pilots that conduct flight-testing after major maintenance. Some pilots conduct recurrent training and checkouts. Other pilots may choose to go into management, supervising pilot operations. Source
Flight Training in Florida
For more than 31 years Aviator
has been the leader in multi-engine flight training. We have provided over 5000 professional pilots to the airline industry, both nationally and worldwide, through our Professional Pilot Flight Training Programs
. Our FAA-certified Part 141 approved flight programs provide students with the skills and experience demanded by today’s commercial aviation industry. Aviator is accredited by the ACCSC (Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges).
Our Professional Pilot Program is set in a flight training, structured environment to ensure the student receives the knowledge that is required to be a professional pilot. This program is from 0 hours to over 250 hours, of which 200 hours will be multi-engine time. The program includes Private Pilot Single Engine through the Multi-Engine Flight Instructor Certificate. Cross Country flying is coast-to-coast, if desired.
When you choose Aviator, all flight training is logged in aircraft. Our Flight Training Devices (FTDs) are used for ground training purposes only. NO FTDs (SIMULATORS) ARE USED FOR FLIGHT TIME TOWARDS YOUR RATINGS!
This “hands-on” approach provides the best flight training environment for pilots of the future. We encourage training in actual instrument conditions. Flying at the Aviator is 24 hours-a-day, rain or shine. Aviator flight training programs offer more actual multi-engine time than any other school in the country. Our fleet of multi-engine aircraft are equipped with GPS and are being converted to EFIS Systems (Glass Cockpits). Come and take a tour
and see the Aviator difference.