Do you dream of being a pilot? We'll show how!

So, did you get inspired to become a pilot after reading interesting facts about airline pilots? If you’ve been dreaming about drifting the friendly skies, not as a passenger of an airline plane, but as the captain of the vessel itself, you have to know your dream could come true within a year. The main conditions of becoming a pilot are to possess specific skills and knowledge plus practice in this field.

If the last can be achieved by enrolling in pilot courses, the first is that what you have to think about beforehand. The skills required by the majority of airlines include great communication with others. Consequently, active listening and strong speaking skills are a must. Besides the mentioned, a future pilot has to have quick problem detection, critical situation endurance, and prompt solution identification skills.  One more thing an aspiring pilot must possess is time management skills. Are you one of these? If you have identified yourself with the skills specified above, you should go get that pilot certification!

We have made a list of described in detail steps to become a pilot, as well as a commercial pilot and, eventually, an airline pilot. Follow them and see if you are ready to start this incredible journey.

Step 1: You need to get a bachelor's degree

Though a college degree is not required, BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) states that future pilots have to have a bachelor's degree, regardless of the major they got. However, a bachelor’s degree in aircraft operations, aeronautical engineering, aviation, or a related field is considered a benefit. The only requirement is to prove high knowledge in physics, mathematics, and English by completing courses in these fields.  

The academies or schools to become a pilot you may attend should be approved by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). In addition to that, you may enroll in a student club. This will allow you to expand your connections, learn about the industry, and find a job after you graduate from the school or academy.

Step 2: Attend pilot courses and get the required flight experience

Before gaining enough experience to become a commercial pilot, thus, make piloting your job, you should attend a school where you’ll learn to be a pilot. Therefore, you need to follow the below steps:

1. Find what flight school suits you the best.

Research the web to find a prominent school with positive ratings and feedback from those who graduated it. This is a significant step, thus, consider checking various options before enrolling. After you get accepted, move on to the next step.

2. Get your medical certificate.

Before even starting the study, you will be required to obtain a Class 1 Medical Certificate. For that, you'll have to pass a medical examination managed by an FAA-certified Aviation Medical Examiner (AME). This is a requirement for becoming a commercial pilot.

3. Get your FAA Student Pilot certificate.

To get a student pilot certificate that will prove you have gained the necessary experience to move to the next step, you have to be at least 16 years old. Make sure to practice a lot with your flight instructor. We advise you to take flight lessons two to three times a week to gradually gain experience. Also, to get the certificate, you’ll have to apply through IACRA.

4. Start the Ground School classes.

After getting the student pilot certificate, you can pass onto the private pilot courses. You’ll have to be 17 years old or more, and have 35 to 40 hours completed of flying time, that you took on your student pilot course.

5. Succeed in your flight lessons.

Practice, practice, practice. You have to practice a lot on an actual plane, as well as in a simulator, and you’ll be able to apply your knowledge in your practice. You’ll have a certified flight instructor (CFI) by your side, who will guide you throughout the entire education process.

6. Pass the "written" Exam

When you have finished the lessons, you’d have to pass a test known as The FAA Private Pilot Knowledge Test, or else named the “written.” Through this test, you will prove your knowledge in fields such as flight instruments, aerodynamics, weather, and others.

7. Pass the checkride.

To prove you can maneuver a plane, you’d also have to pass the FAA Private Pilot Practical Exam, named the checkride. After this, you are named as a certified private pilot. It is to be noted that the entire course will take you about 3 months.

Step 3: Obtain the License

After you’ve got the Private Pilot License (PPL), you can move onto getting the commercial pilot license (CPL). To get the FAA license, you must be at least 18 years old and must log a minimum of 250 hours of flight time (100 hours of PIC (pilot-in-command) and 50 hours cross-country).

Just like in the previous step, you’d have to pass several tests to get your license. So, you’ll have to gain Instrument Ratings after you attend the Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) course for 2 months. During it, you'll learn how to maneuver the vessel in low visibility weather using flight instruments.

Besides that, you’d have to get your written and checkride tests again, to prove you have gained the required knowledge to be a commercial pilot. You’d also want to earn a Multi-engine rating, that will allow you to operate a multi-engine aircraft. The course takes 3 months in total.

Step 4: Gain experience by working

When you know already how to become a commercial pilot and get the licensure for it, you can get a job in this field, gain the experience and do it for a living. Cargo pilots, pilots for charity organizations, corporate pilots, pilots for government or military pilots are considered commercial pilots. It’s good to note that almost all companies that hire commercial pilots would require you to pass physical, psychological, and competency tests.

If you get hired, you’d have to undergo a 6 to 8-week training period and fly at least 25 hours to gain the required aptitude. You can also try your luck and get a job at a regional or small airline to have a better perception of how an airline operates its flights.

Step 5: Become an Airline Pilot

In case you don’t identify yourself as a commercial pilot, you can move onto getting your Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL). The best way of doing it is to become a flight instructor. Thus, you’ll need to undergo a CFI course, as well as to have successfully logged 1,500 hours of flight time. Along with the CFI rating you’d be earning at the end of the course, you’d need to gain a CFII rating (Certified Flight Instructor - Instrument) and a MEI (multi-engine instructor) rating. And, if that’s not enough, there’s always room for improvement. You can attend diverse training courses, webinars, or webcasts, and advance in your career.

Now as you know the steps on how to become an airline pilot, you can have a defined understanding of what awaits you if you enroll in a pilot school. It is absolutely up to you whether you want to become a commercial pilot, or an airline pilot, but at least you have a guide now.

Last Updated on November 5, 2019.