How to Become an Airline Pilot: the Ultimate Guide

I can see that you’re here because you’re eager to soar the vast, boundless skies as an airline pilot. Well, you’re in the right place because I’m here to be your navigator on this journey, helping you reach the heights you aspire to as a pilot.

Did you know that the average salary for an airline pilot is quite substantial, often surpassing $99,640 annually? 💰 That’s the kind of career that can truly take off 🚀, but it also comes with a great deal of responsibility.

I’m fortunate to know many airline pilots, and they’re achieving remarkable heights 🚀 in their careers. Together, let’s delve deep into the role of an airline pilot and the path to becoming a successful one. 👮‍♂️

I’m here to guide you every step of the way so you’ll have everything you need to become an accomplished airline pilot. Let’s embark on this incredible journey together. 👇

Questions you should ask yourself before starting your career as an airline pilot

So, you are deciding to pursue a career as an airline pilot? But are you aware of the amount of hard work and dedication you will require to become a successful airline pilot? 

I have listed a few questions that will help you decide your potential to begin your career in the field of aviation. 

  1. Do you love aircraft and the concept of flying an airline?
  2. Are you willing to possess the required aviation-based educational programs required to become an airline pilot?
  3. Do you have a strong memory, as you will need to be academically strong in subjects like mathematics and physics?
  4. Are you physically fit and have a good eyesight required to become an airline pilot?
  5. Becoming an airline pilot requires theoretical and on-site exposure. Are you comfortable investing the time and effort in pilot training? 
  6. Do you think you love working as an airline pilot for a lifetime? 

Who is an airline pilot?

Being an airline pilot is an esteemed and lucrative career path that is highly sought after. It is a profession that commands respect and offers substantial financial rewards. Due to the constant demand for airline pilots, pursuing a career in the aviation industry holds great promise. 

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for airline pilots is projected to grow by 4% by the year 2032. 

Aviators encompass various roles, such as navigators, flight engineers, and other aircrew members, as they actively participate in operating the navigation systems of aircraft.👩‍✈️

Within the aviation industry, an airline pilot is responsible for piloting aircraft to transport passengers or cargo between different destinations. These skilled professionals are hired by commercial airlines, corporations, or government entities. An airline pilot can choose to be self-employed or work under an individual’s employment. 

Captains, for instance, operate independently and provide private transportation services using small aircraft or private jets.

Aviation offers a diverse range of opportunities in both the public and private sectors, making it a multifaceted career field. 📝

Scope of an Airline Pilot in the Future

Pilots are highly trained and skilled individuals and have a long-term demand in the aviation field. The employment rate has shown a spike compared to other occupations. In the USA, there are around 16,000 job openings for airline pilots posted every year, on average. 

According to my research, the global pilot training market in the year 2022 was valued at $7.07 billion. In the next eight years, i.e., by the year 2030, the global pilot training market is expected to grow by $20.02 billion. Currently, the global training market size is $8.09 billion. 

During the COVID-19 outbreak, the aviation industry had slowed down. However, post-lockdown, the demand for pilots skyrocketed, leading to increased employment opportunities for airline pilots. 

Thus, with the expected employment growth of airline pilots in the future, as mentioned by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, you can expect a handful of opportunities in the future. 

Here are a few top-rated aviation agencies you should consider to work in the future. 

  • Delta Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Emirates
  • Easy Jet

How much can an airline pilot earn?

Based on The May 2021 Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, commercial pilots earn a yearly salary of approximately $99,640. Meanwhile, the median annual wage for airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers is reported at $202,180. 💰 

Alongside their annual earnings, pilots often enjoy comprehensive benefits such as company-provided health, life, and disability insurance, as well as retirement plans. 

These benefits tend to surpass what employees in other industries typically receive.

The aviation industry recognizes the value of its pilots and strives to provide attractive compensation packages to ensure their financial well-being and security.

Expert Skills Required to Become an Airline Pilot

  • Understanding navigation systems and charts across different routes
  • Proficiency in controlling and operating different types of aircraft with precision
  • Having effective communication and decision-making skills
  • Ability to understand and handle various emergencies 
  • Ability to adapt to changing weather conditions and unforeseen challenges
  • Proficiency in communicating with staff members and passengers in crises 

Responsibilities of an airline pilot

Airline pilots showcase their skills not only in piloting commercial aircraft but also in various aviation domains. In addition to flying planes, their responsibilities may encompass tasks before, during, and after flights.

Here are a few of the daily duties an airline pilot undertakes. ⤵️

Flight Plan

  • When making a flight plan, it’s important to take into account several variables, including the aircraft’s performance capabilities, the intended altitude, and the local weather. 
  • Guaranteeing a secure and easy voyage entails choosing the most practical route, taking into account airspace regulations, and calculating the amount of gasoline needed. 📈

Inspection of the aircraft

  • A complete inspection of the aircraft is necessary before every flight. 
  • This includes assessing the radars and navigation systems for good operation, checking the engines for any indications of damage or irregularities, and confirming the general airworthiness of the aircraft. 
  • Before departure, possible problems must be found and resolved. Therefore, close attention to detail is essential.✅

Cargo Management

  • It is essential for flight safety to make sure that the weight of the cargo stays within the aircraft’s permitted ranges. 
  • A safe and stable flight is made possible by proper weight distribution, respect for load limits, and prevention of balance and stability problems. 🧑‍💼

Contact with Air Traffic Control

  • It’s critical for a pilot to keep up good contact with air traffic control. 
  • Pilots speak with air traffic control before takeoff and during the flight to get permission, get weather updates, and guarantee safe separation from other planes.⛔ 
  • This continuous communication helps to ensure that takeoff, navigation, and landing processes are safe.

Fuel management

  • Making sure the airplane has a sufficient supply of fuel is crucial. 
  • It is ensured that the aircraft has enough fuel on board to make the whole voyage without experiencing any delays or diversions by calculating the necessary fuel based on the intended flight path, considering weather conditions, and allowing for any potential delays or diversions. ⛽

How to Become an Airline Pilot (Tips)

Oh, buckle up, my eager friend! Fear not, for I shall be your steadfast guide as we embark on this exhilarating quest to become an airline pilot. Get ready for a whirlwind of training, examinations, and the occasional turbulence-induced existential crisis.

Here’s a compass to navigate the bewildering path ahead. ⤵️

Achieve a bachelor’s degree approved by the FAA

  • When aspiring to become an airline pilot, many major airline companies require candidates to hold a bachelor’s degree in aviation or a related field. 
  • To pursue this career path, students commonly choose to attend an institution authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). 
  • These institutions offer aviation-focused coursework alongside pilot training, allowing students to earn a degree while receiving flight training. ✨

Acquire a private pilot license

  • To obtain a private pilot certificate or license, individuals must acquire knowledge of fundamental flight techniques, aircraft maneuvers, navigation, flight planning, and emergency procedures. 
  • This certification grants legal permission to operate an aircraft. Pilots who attain this certificate gain the ability to fly small aircraft independently. 📝

Obtain an instrument rating

  • When pursuing a career as an airline pilot, proficiency in reading and utilizing instruments becomes essential. 
  • After obtaining a basic pilot certificate, further training is required to acquire an instrument rating.📋 This certification equips pilots with the skills to navigate through various weather conditions and altitudes, relying on advanced instruments. 
  • It also focuses on enhancing communication and coordination with air traffic control and effectively operating within the National Airspace System.

Achieve a commercial pilot license

  • A commercial pilot license enables pilots to fly aircraft for compensation. 
  • With this license, pilots can explore diverse job opportunities such as search and rescue operations, passenger flights (such as tourism or corporate travel), and cargo transportation. 
  • Under this category, pilots undergo additional training to obtain ratings for different types of airplanes they wish to operate. For instance, they can add a multi-engine rating to their existing single-engine commercial pilot certificate. 🎫

Attain a flight instructor certificate

  • To gain valuable experience and accumulate flight hours, many pilots choose to become flight instructors. This allows them to earn a wage while logging flying hours. 
  • Most airlines require a minimum number of flight hours before considering candidates for the position of first officer. 💯 
  • Working as a flight instructor is a highly recommended path for swiftly accumulating the flight hours and practical experience necessary to pursue a career as an airline pilot.

Obtain a multi-engine rating

  • To operate the aircraft used by passenger airlines, pilots must acquire an additional rating in addition to their commercial license. 
  • This certification validates their ability to fly larger aircraft equipped with multiple engines. 
  • Training for this rating involves mastering the procedures to handle single-engine failures and effectively maneuvering these larger planes in all phases of flight. ✈️

Tips to improve your piloting career

An airline pilot’s career is an ongoing process of growth and improvement. By putting into practice the advice and recommendations offered in this article, you will be well-equipped to improve your piloting abilities and open the door to a fruitful and rewarding career in aviation. 

So, let’s start on this thrilling adventure together and reach new heights! ⤵️

Anticipate and Plan Ahead

  • Before taking to the skies, crafting a flight plan is a vital step in refining your skills as a pilot. It stands as a key element for any seasoned aviator contemplating their starting point. 
  • The significance of meticulous planning is ingrained in every student pilot, as it carries immense weight in real-world scenarios. 
  • However, reality often inundated pilots with a multitude of unexpected challenges.📝

Age is no barrier to learning

  • Becoming an aerodynamics expert is not an essential prerequisite, but acquiring some knowledge in this field can have a significant impact. 
  • Delving into the intricacies of flight mechanics, including understanding the underlying effects of the angle of attack, can provide a deeper understanding of your aircraft far beyond your initial expectations. 
  • While possessing the necessary skills to perform the job is commendable, comprehending the implications of control surface adjustments on the tail and wing’s camber will greatly enhance your job performance.📝

Refine Your Accuracy through Practice

  • Undoubtedly, one of the crucial measures for enhancing your piloting skills is to prioritize precision. 
  • This entails embracing advanced commercial pilot training techniques and maintaining an open mindset for continuous learning. 
  • Precision distinguishes between a pilot who can fly in the general vicinity of their intended manner and one who can precisely execute their intended flight plan.💪

Embrace Unfamiliar Territory

  • Venturing into new experiences is a vital aspect of personal growth as a pilot and plays a significant role in skill development. 
  • Whether you have never attempted it before or are relatively inexperienced, challenging yourself to land on a short or soft field provides an excellent opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and explore a different aviation environment. 🧑‍💼

Top piloting courses in the United States

If you aspire to become an airline pilot, exploring the best aviation degree programs can be a crucial step in honing your skills and launching your career.

In reputable colleges and universities across the United States, you’ll find top-tier aviation programs that provide comprehensive instruction, mentorship from industry experts, and a platform for aspiring pilots to cultivate their flying prowess. 

From renowned flight academies to recognized college programs, these educational pathways offer the necessary training and knowledge to set you on the path to success in the world of aviation. ⤵️

Private Pilot Certificate

  • The acquisition of a Private Pilot License (PPL), also known as a Private Pilot Certificate in the US, lays the groundwork for all subsequent aircraft pilot training.
  • With a PPL, individuals gain the authority to operate an airplane for personal purposes. 
  • This license grants aspiring pilots the fundamental knowledge and skills necessary to safely navigate the skies and embark on their aviation journey.

EASA Flight Instructor

  • The EASA FI(A) rating authorizes individuals to provide both ground and flight instruction for obtaining an EASA PPL(A) and class and type ratings for SEP airplanes. 
  • However, there are limitations to the privileges of this rating until certain criteria are fulfilled. 
  • These criteria include completing a minimum of 100 hours of flight instruction and supervising at least 25 student solo flights. 
  • Once these requirements are met and based on the recommendation of the supervising EASA FI(A), the restrictions on the rating will be lifted.

Vocational Professional Pilot Program

  • The Vocational Professional Pilot Program offered by the US Aviation Academy provides a fast-track route to kick-start your journey as an airline pilot. 
  • Even without any previous aviation experience, this program enables you to obtain a Commercial Multi-Engine pilot certification and an Instrument Rating in less than a year.
  • Exceptionally qualified students may even complete the program within a shorter time frame of just 7-9 months.

Course in Flight Training

  • Within 8-10 months, this course provides comprehensive flying training with a total of 200 hours. 
  • It encompasses a wide range of flight exercises, including both dual and solo sessions, general flying, circuit, and landing sorties. 
  • Additionally, the training covers instruments and cross-country flights, skill tests, route checks, and the acquisition of a night flying rating following the requirements set by the DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation).

Commercial Multi-Engine Certificate

  • A Multi-Engine Rating is a pilot certification that enables individuals to serve as the pilot-in-command (PIC) of aircraft equipped with more than one engine. 
  • This rating is an essential addition for aspiring pilots looking to progress toward airline careers or enhance their overall desirability in the aviation industry. 
  • By acquiring a Multi-Engine Rating, pilots expand their capabilities and increase their competitiveness in the dynamic aviation workforce.

Free Resources

I have found a few courses that will give you a kick-start to your pilot career. No wonder there are many paid courses available all over the internet. I have listed a few courses to help you learn some key fundamentals of becoming an airline pilot for free. 

Understanding Aircraft Marshalling Signals

What it offers: The course has everything that you need to learn as a pilot about ground signals, ramps, etc.

What you will learn: The course is packed with various helpful information that will help you learn about how marshaling signals are used on arrival and shutdown, some seldom-used signals, and a few risk management techniques and best practices that come in handy for an airline pilot. 

Understanding the Mach meter

What it offers: The Mach meter is used to record the aircraft’s true airspeed, and this course ensures that the Mach meter is understood easily. 

What you will learn: The course will help you to read the Mach meter correctly. You will be learning how to use the Mach meter efficiently at different altitudes and a lot more. 

Your First Flying Lesson

What it offers: The course will provide you with solid information in a very relaxed and enjoyable manner to make your learning experience more fun. 

What you will learn: The course will help you learn the basics of what is inside and outside of an airline. The course will show you the experience of flying and how thrilling it is to take off your first flight. This course is designed to give you a clear perspective for young aspiring pilots like you. 

Top piloting Schools in the World

If you possess a natural affinity for the skies and dream of becoming an airline pilot, your destiny might just be waiting for you.

However, it’s not merely about soaring through clouds; it requires years of dedication and hard work to master the art of piloting. 

To embark on your journey, here’s a compilation of the top 5 aviation schools worldwide where you can acquire the knowledge and skills needed to excel in the field of aviation. ⤵️

Singapore Flying College

  • Established in 1988, this aviation institution based in Singapore has gained recognition for providing comprehensive flight training to pilots associated with the Singapore Airlines Group. Their training curriculum encompasses both basic and advanced levels. 
  • The college boasts a training fleet consisting of five Cessna C172 single-engine aircraft located in Seletar, along with 16 Cessna C172 single-engine aircraft equipped with Garmin avionics.
  • Regarded as one of the world’s top pilot schools, the institution has trained over 1900 cadets who have subsequently worked for the Singapore Airlines Group.

Ardmore Flying School

  • For international students seeking flight training, Ardmore Flying School presents a viable option. 
  • Situated in New Zealand, this flying school offers various training programs, including the Level 5 Flight Training Program, Level 6 Airline Preparation Program, and Flight Instruction Program.
  • Students enrolled at Ardmore Flying School have the opportunity to fly twice per month while pursuing their training. Aspiring commercial pilots can opt for either the Level 5 or Level 6 course to progress towards their career goals.

Sunrise Aviation Flight School

  • Sunrise Aviation aligns its airplane training courses with the criteria set by the DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation). 
  • Students who choose to enroll in DGCA-approved programs are required to fulfill 250 hours of instruction, including 200 hours of flight training.
  • To address the choice of aircraft for instruction, Sunrise Aviation offers the DGCA-authorized Piper Seneca PA34. 
  • As a result, prospective students interested in enrolling in Sunrise Aviation courses can do so through the India coordinator. Upon completion of this flight program, students have the opportunity to pursue careers as commercial pilots.

Purdue University’s College of Aviation

  • Purdue Aviation College, renowned globally as one of the premier pilot schools, holds a significant historical connection as the alma mater of Neil Armstrong, the first person to set foot on the moon. 
  • Purdue University’s aviation program has earned the distinction of being labeled the “Cradle of Astronauts” by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Within the Purdue College of Technology, aspiring aviators can pursue various aeronautical degree programs. 
  • These encompass disciplines such as professional flight technology, air traffic control, aeronautical engineering technology, and aviation management, catering to a diverse range of students interested in the field of aviation.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Aviation College 

  • This esteemed aviation college, often hailed as the “Harvard of the Skies,” boasts a more extensive alumni network than any other aviation institution. 
  • Its long-standing history as the oldest and largest educational establishment offering aviation courses contributes to its notable reputation and the significant number of successful graduates it has produced.

Where to find piloting opportunities online?

Are you an aspiring airline pilot searching for exciting flying opportunities? Look no further! In the digital age, the internet has become a powerful tool for pilots to discover a diverse array of aviation possibilities and connect with industry professionals worldwide. 

This guide will assist you in navigating the online realm and finding the perfect flying opportunities that align with your goals and aspirations, whether you’re just starting or aiming to expand your pilot resume. ⤵️

  • shares similarities with as a job search platform. While browsing through the site, there is a possibility of coming across pilot job listings amidst various advertisements and unrelated postings. 
  • It is important to be mindful of military pilot positions that entail a commitment to the military. 
  • These postings often do not explicitly mention the military commitment upfront, potentially leading to time wasted if one does not desire or meet the qualifications for a military flying career.

  • is widely recognized as a dominant force among job search platforms, making it a reliable option to explore. 
  • However, when it comes to aviation jobs, particularly flying positions, the availability may be somewhat limited. 
  • Users might need to sift through advertisements and work-at-home job listings that may not be relevant to their search. Nevertheless, Monster can be a valuable tool, especially for individuals open to relocation.

  • is an alternative job site that requires monthly or yearly fees for accessing and applying to job listings. 
  • The platform prides itself on providing a wide range of job postings, catering to pilots at various experience levels, from low-time to high-time. 
  • It is particularly beneficial for pilots seeking global career opportunities, including those in cargo operations. The website appears to aggregate information from diverse sources.

  • is a widely recognized website that attracts a significant following from defense companies. 
  • This platform is known for featuring a substantial number of job listings tailored specifically for test pilots and military veterans. 
  • Additionally, it offers a range of non-pilot career opportunities that are worth exploring for individuals interested in the aviation industry.

Key takeaways

The prospect of beginning a career as an airline pilot may seem intimidating, but with effort and determination, anything is possible. I will say give it your all, aim for greatness, and grasp all opportunities, including job interviews, that come your way. 

Who knows, with dedication and hard effort, you could just fly like the illustrious Charles Lindbergh and become the next aviation icon! 😁

Still, have any doubts? Drop your questions down in the comment section below, and we will ensure they get answered. All the best:)

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