10 BEST THINGS ABOUT BEING AN AIRLINE PILOT

10 BEST THINGS ABOUT BEING AN AIRLINE PILOT

Being an airline pilot is probably one of the best jobs in the world. Responsible for commanding commercial flights, flying passengers to long or short-haul destinations, and an office above the clouds traveling the globe. 

Below are our top 10 reasons why becoming a commercial pilot is a rewarding career:

1. Who doesn’t love to travel?

Travelling is one of the major perks of this career. Being an airline pilot means you have opportunities to travel - and get paid to do it!

With all the different routes that pilots travel, every working day means taking off in one country only to land in another - potentially to a country you haven’t explored yet.

Depending on your schedule you might end up staying overnight or longer, giving you the opportunity to explore new cities and experience different cultures.

2. You can’t beat the view

Not many people in the world can say they have an office in the clouds. Most airline pilots say it’s a view they never grow tired of. From thunderstorms in distant clouds to never-ending blue sky, it’s easy to see why.

3. Travel discounts for family and friends

Being an airline pilot, it is likely you will have access to discounted (and sometimes free) plane tickets for family and friends, which means good deals on great vacations. Some airlines may ask friends and family to pay charges and taxes, but this is likely to be the extent of what your loved ones will have to pay - in some cases, you can even upgrade to business or first class!

And in addition to airfare, a number of hotels provide discounted prices as well!

4. Career focus

If you’re looking for a job with major job satisfaction, you’ve found it. Commanding a plane filled with passengers and getting them safely from A to B is as satisfying as it gets. One of the major benefits of being a pilot is you can expect a hugely rewarding career; from taking your first solo flight, completing your first landing, flying to a new destination to overcoming challenges, every day is rewarding as a pilot in the cockpit.

5. Work stays at work

No one likes taking their work home with them, and aside from studying for annual tests, pilots leave their work on the plane. There’s nothing to take home once you finish your day and close that cockpit door.

6. Flexible working

Flexible working has always been a major advantage of being a pilot. It's not your typical 9-5, Monday to Friday job. 

7. Challenge yourself

Being a pilot means constantly learning. With so many flights departing airports every single day, no two flights are ever the same - even when you’re a pilot. Each day can bring a new challenge, which not only keeps things exciting but also encourages you to become a better pilot.

8. Meet new people

As a pilot, you will constantly have the opportunity to meet new people. From your flight crew to passengers, to residents of the cities you visit, you’ll be introduced to people and cultures you may not have otherwise had the opportunity to become acquainted with.

9. Salary and health benefits

Aviation is a rewarding career that offers personal and career growth opportunities. Pilots earn competitive salaries with opportunities to further their careers in the cockpit or broaden their career path into aviation management.

10. Do what you love

Most importantly, becoming a pilot allows you to do what you love. And as the saying goes; ‘if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.’

How to Become a Commercial Airline Pilot

If you are a student who wants to study aviation, you might have several possible careers in mind. One of these career paths might be that of a commercial airline pilot. Working as a commercial airline pilot is a fascinating and rewarding career, and many people who study aviation intend eventually to become one. There are several steps that you will need to go through before becoming a commercial airline pilot, however.

Certificates and Ratings

In order to become a commercial airline pilot, there are several certificates and ratings that you will need. The first thing you will need is a private pilot license, which will allow you to fly on your own, but does not allow you to receive payment for flying.

Commercial pilot certificate

Next, you will need a commercial pilot certificate, which allows you to receive payment for your flight services. You earn this certificate by passing commercial pilot ground school and logging at least 250 flight hours, with allotted time dedicated to certain conditions and maneuvers. After you have passed your written ground school test and logged your hours, you will need to pass a check-ride. This is a lot like the driving test required in order to receive a driver’s license; in the check-ride, a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) examiner will ask you to plan a flight, quiz you on aviation matters, and then accompany you on a flight. Like with a driving test, you will be asked to execute certain maneuvers and your examiner will direct your flying throughout the flight. After the test, if everything goes well, you will be issued a commercial pilot’s certificate.

Medical certificate

Additionally, in order to become a commercial airline pilot, you will need an up-to-date first- or second-class medical certificate. To receive this, an Aviation Medical Examiner will need to verify that you meet the health and fitness requirements to be a pilot. As a commercial airline pilot, you will be subject to these examinations throughout your career; captains need to pass a physical exam once every six months, and other commercial airline pilots need to pass an exam every year. If a health problem is discovered, you could be out of a job.

Instrument Rating

You will also need to get an instrument rating in order to fly with low visibility (in adverse weather and in clouds). You receive this rating by passing instrument ground school, logging a specified number of instrument flight hours (flying without visibility), and passing an instrument rating check-ride.

Multi-Engine Rating

Next, you will need a multi-engine rating. This will allow you to fly planes with multiple engines, which is most likely what you will fly as a commercial airline pilot. To receive this rating, you will need to take some lessons and mass a multi-engine check-ride.

Airline Transport Pilot Certificate

At one point or another, most commercial airline pilots also get an airline transport pilot certificate. This is the highest pilot certificate and allows you to be the pilot in commend (captain) of a large commercial aircraft. For this certificate, you will need to pass a written test, have a first-class medical certificate, be a high school graduate, and have logged 1,500 flight hours, including 250 hours as the pilot in command.

Career Paths

There are two major career paths to being hired as an airline pilot: civilian or military. Each path has its own advantages and disadvantages:

Civilian

The civilian path offers two options: college or flight school. While there is no college requirement to be a pilot, college shows that you are trainable and can succeed in a challenging curriculum—both of which are necessary traits in a commercial airline pilot. You might choose to attend a college that offers a two- or four-year degree along with flight training towards the various flight certificates you will need. This way, you will graduate with most—if not all—of the ratings and certificates you will need, as well as some flight experience.

Civilian flight training is very expensive. Basic flying lessons start at about $80 an hour, and you will need at least 250 hours before you receive your commercial rating. It also costs a great deal to rent airplanes for instruction.

Military

Another option for becoming a commercial airline pilot is to receive your training through the military. You will need to commit to a set number of years in the military after one year of pilot training (in the Air Force, this is a ten-year commitment). You will need to meet other requirements, such as college coursework, good health, and adequate physical abilities. There is no guaranteeing that you will pass the military flight training on the service’s rigid time schedule, or that you will be able to fly a specific airplane. You will, however, receive the best training in the equipment that an airline pilot would fly.

You must be prepared for military life, however; it is not a commitment to take on lightly. You will be required to follow orders, risk bodily harm, and use lethal weapons. If you are not prepared for this, the military is probably not the best path for you.

Flight Experience

After you are certified, you will need more experience and flight hours before an airline will hire you. Your level of experience is based on the number and complexity of the aircraft you’ve flown, the quantity and complexity of the flying you did (jet or propeller, day or night, local or cross-country, flying with or without visibility, etc.), and which crew positions you’ve had. If you chose the military path, you will likely have quite a lot of flight experience before leaving the military. A civilian pilot might work as a flight instructor, then move on to a charter company in order to gain the experience he or she needs in order to become a commercial airline pilot.

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