Pilot Career: From Dream to Reality

For the first time in 30 years, becoming a professional pilot is within the reach of people who once only dreamed of it. We’re in a time of skyrocketing demand for pilots, and the number of aviation jobs grows daily. The sky is calling, and if a pilot career has been your dream, now is the time to act.

Step 1: Complete Flight School Training

Individuals interested in a pilot career will first need to determine what type of aircraft they want to fly. The FAA offers several types of pilot's licenses. It includes a private pilot, recreational pilot, and sports pilot.

Aspiring aircraft pilots need to attend an FAA-certified flight school or take private lessons from an FAA-certified instructor. These programs may be found at flight training schools, community colleges, and technical schools.

Step 2: Earn a Private Pilot's License

Along with a minimum amount of flight hours, students need to demonstrate skills and knowledge to their flight instructor before they may earn an FAA private pilot's license.

To earn a private pilot's license, individuals must be at least 17 years old. Private glider pilots or free flight balloon operators must be at least 16. An FAA medical certificate is required. Aspiring pilots must pass a written exam and complete at least 40 hours of flight training. Half of this training must be with a flight instructor. Also, at least 10 hours must be in solo flight time. A practical flight test is also required.

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Step 3: Earn a Commercial Pilot's License

In order to obtain a commercial pilot's license, applicants must be at least 18 years old. They must pass a physical exam that involves a vision test, as well as have logbook endorsements from an authorized instructor to verify their level of experience. Also, they must be able to demonstrate aeronautical knowledge. Once pilots have obtained their license, they must pass regular physical screenings. Also practical flight tests in order to keep the status of the license up-to-date.

Step 4: Building Hours and Experience

Obtaining pilot certificates is rarely enough for a person to be hired as a commercial pilot. Most commercial pilot jobs, including airline and corporate pilot jobs, require a minimum number of hours just to apply. It’s not uncommon for a person to earn a commercial pilot certificate and still not have enough qualifications to apply for an airline job.

Step 5: Seek Employment

For many, training is the easy part. Finding a job after you’ve accomplished a pilot training program can be a challenge. Opportunities for pilots today are better than ever before. And they are only going to increase in the future.

Many airline companies require pilots to take physical, psychological and aptitude tests. Once hired, pilots are required to undergo an additional 6-8 weeks of training, including at least 25 hours of flight time. Most new hires are brought on as co-pilots. It's also not uncommon for some pilots to start their career at small commuter or regional airlines.