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Educational Guide On Becoming An Airline Pilot

Educational Guide On Becoming An Airline PilotWhen flying is all you want to do, learning to fly is all on your agenda. Although you don’t need a student pilot certificate to take flying lessons, you do need one before you can fly solo. Student pilot certificate’s eligibility requirements are as follows:

  1. You are at least 16 years old. If you plan to pilot a glider or balloon, you must be at least 14 years old.
  2. You can read, speak, and understand English
  3. You hold at least a current third-class medical certificate. If you plan to pilot a glider or balloon, you only have to certify that you have no medical defect that would make you unable to pilot a glider or balloon.

You get a student pilot certificate by submitting a request to FAA inspector or an FAA-designated pilot examiner. an FAA-authorized aviation medical examiner will issue you a combined medical certificate and Student Pilot Certificate after you complete your physical examination. Applicants who fail to meet certain requirements or who have physical disabilities which might limit, but not prevent, their acting as pilots, should contact the nearest FAA office. Locate An Aviation Medical Examiner

Physical and Background Qualifications

Candidates must pass a physical exam demonstrating that they are in good health and without any physical limitations that could impair their performance. While commercial pilots must pass a physical exam every year, airline pilots must pass one every six months. A pilot’s vision does not have to be naturally perfect, but must be correctable to 20/20 with glasses or contacts. Airlines conduct a 10-year FBI background check along with driving record checks, drug tests and credit checks for all pilot applicants. Any felony convictions will disqualify you, as will any evidence of drug or alcohol abuse.

Personal Qualities

Pilots must be capable of quick reaction time and be able to make decisions rapidly under pressure. Many life-threatening emergencies can occur without warning, and pilots must be able to respond immediately and appropriately while remaining calm and in control. In addition, pilots must be detail-oriented, as they are required to simultaneously monitor many controls and systems. As pilots must work closely with their flight crew, air traffic controllers and flight dispatchers, the ability to work within a team is also an important quality.

Education and Training

Once you complete your first flight lesson, you are considered a Student Pilot. A typical pilot looking to get hired by the airlines will usually get the following certificates and ratting in the order listed below.

To begin flying, not even a high school diploma is necessary. The FAA does require people to read, write and speak English, though. Flight school, military training or private lessons give beginners their initial flight education. People wanting to fly recreationally can end their education here, graduating from student to recreational pilot by passing the test for a recreational certificate. Most pilots continue on, since the recreational certificate has many restrictions, including no passengers, no night flights and no ability to earn money for flight services.

Traditionally, the vast majority of pilots received their education and training through military service, because civilian flight schools could not begin to match the level of extensive training and flight hours provided by the military. Today, with decreasing numbers of people joining the armed forces, an increasing number of pilots are coming out of civilian flight schools, including colleges and universities that have been certified by the Federal Aviation Administration. Most airlines now require a bachelor’s degree. Although the degree can be in any subject, airlines generally prefer coursework in aviation, mathematics, physics, aeronautical engineering and English. The cost of civilian training can be prohibitive. The amount of flight school sufficient to obtain a commercial pilot’s license can cost up to $80,000; this is in addition to the cost of earning a bachelor’s degree. In Europe, airlines train and educate candidates who have little or no flying experience to become qualified airline pilots in exchange for a multiple-year employment commitment. This is called “ab initio” training and, while being considered for future implementation in the United States, it is not widely available in North America.


All pilots whose job requires that they transport people or cargo are required to have a commercial pilot’s license and an instrument rating. To be eligible to take the licensing exam, pilots must be at least 18 years of age and have logged 250 hours of flight time. The licensing exam is a written test on FAA regulations, safety procedures and navigation techniques. After the written exam, pilots must undergo a flight test with an FAA-designated examiner to demonstrate their flying skills. Instrument rating is a test to show that pilots can fly during periods of low visibility using instrument readings alone. Instrument rating consists of accumulating 40 hours of instrument flight experience, a written exam and practical demonstration before an examiner. Source

Airline and Commercial Pilots

Airline and commercial pilots fly and navigate airplanes, helicopters, and other aircraft. Airline pilots fly for airlines that transport people and cargo on a fixed schedule. Commercial pilots fly aircraft for other reasons, such as charter flights, rescue operations, firefighting, aerial photography, and aerial application, also known as crop dusting.

Airline Pilot Pay

Median annual wages, May 2012
Airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers -$114,200
Airline and commercial pilots -$98,410
Commercial pilots -$73,280

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics

The median annual wage for airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers was $114,200 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $66,970, and the top 10 percent earned more than $187,200.
According to the Air Line Pilots Association, International, most airline pilots begin their careers earning about $20,000 per year. Wages increase each year until the pilot accumulates the experience and seniority needed to become a captain. The average captain at a regional airline earns about $55,000 per year, while the average captain at a major airline earns about $135,000 per year.

In addition, airline pilots receive an expense allowance, or “per diem,” for every hour they are away from home, and they may earn extra pay for international flights. Airline pilots also are eligible for health insurance and retirement benefits, and their immediate families usually are entitled to free or reduced-fare flights.
The median annual wage for commercial pilots was $73,280 in May 2012.The lowest 10 percent earned less than $38,520, and the top 10 percent earned more than $134,990. source

Why Choose Aviator Flight School For Your Pilot Training
  • Licensed by the State of Florida Commission For Independent Education License #4155
  • Aviator Flight Training Academy is a Division of Aviator College of Aeronautical Science & Technology, which is licensed by the State of Florida Commission for Independent Education and Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.
  • 27 Years in the Flight Training Industry
  • To date, Aviator has trained over 5000 pilots for the commercial airline industry
  • Only School Offering 200 Hours of Multi-Engine Time
  • Aviator is the only flight school that has a full 200 hours of multi-engine time included in our program
  • No Flight Training Devices (Simulators)
  • FTDs are not used towards your flight time for any ratings
  • Approved by the Federal Department of Education to offer Title IV Loans
  • Aviator has the ability to offer students federal funding on approved accredited programs
  • Job Placement Assistance with Regional Airlines
  • Aviator offers job placement assistance for our graduates
  • “A” Rating with United States Better Business Bureau
  • Classroom Environment – All classes taught in our educational center, NOT online
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