Being a pilot is a dream that many of us have had at one time or another. Flying around the world, defying gravity while traveling to exotic locations, who wouldn't want that? Even though it sounds exciting and potentially a no-brainer career path for the most adventurous souls, becoming a pilot takes some serious dedication. There are many steps all designed to provide the proper training experience a good pilot needs to be successful. Here are six steps to becoming a pilot.
Before you can earn a pilot's license, a minimum of 40 hours of flight experience must be logged by a pilot-in-training. The hours help potential pilots gain familiarity with the different dynamics and elements of aviation.
After the necessary flight hours have been logged, applicants 17 years or older can complete their Pilot’s Certificate. If they want to pursue a Commercial Certificate, they can do so after turning 18. A physical examination must be passed ensuring good vision, hearing and no physical impairments that might interfere with performance while flying. A written exam must be passed. After the flight requirements and written exam are completed, there is a practical test administered by the FAA to verify safe and adequate behavior and skills.
Once you have a pilot’s license you can advance in the commercial industry and fly for a living. Consider the following steps:
There are many degree programs available as an alternate route to the military or training at a flight school. Just like any other career, even though a degree may not be required to do the job, employers prefer and are looking for applicants with at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field. Majoring in aerospace engineering, mechanical engineering, physics or computer science provide a fantastic starting point for pilots. Liberal arts courses, as well as courses like aeronautical engineering, are great for those looking to be employed by a major airline.
Additional tests and licenses may be needed depending on the type of position. The are many different certifications offered by the FAA. Airlines may also require a psychological test.
Just like any other career, all pilots have to start somewhere, and major airlines companies are not going to hire a pilot with zero or little experience. Typically, a pilot who just earned their Commercial Certificate will look to become a Flight Instructor. Flight Instructors are allowed to log their flight time with students and are paid simultaneously. Most instructors transition to a commercial company such as a cargo carrier once they reach 1,200 hrs. Others continue instructing until they get 1,500 hrs to meet the airline requirement. (A qualifying degree will allow a pilot to work for an airline with 1,250 hrs). After reaching the minimum time requirement for the airlines, a pilot will begin working for a Regional Airline. They build mandatory jet time by working as co-pilots and work their way to become a Captain. After obtaining 1,000 hrs or more working for a Regional Airline, the pilot can look at joining a Major Airline.
Seniority is important as a pilot. Pilots at the first officer rank can advance to the rank of captain with the proper amount of experience. Opportunities may even exist for further advancements, such as director of operations or chief pilot.