How to Become an Airline Pilot


A career as an airline pilot is one of the most reputed jobs. It not even pays a lot, but also allows you to travel. However, becoming a pilot isn’t easy. There are two ways you can accomplish this task. In this post, we have discussed these aspects in detail. They will help you make the right choice, and realize your capabilities.

Military Pilot

Joining the military to become a pilot is a long term commitment. You need to go through a tough and lengthy process. The first step is to get a bachelor’s degree and join the military as an office. You also need to undergo flight training, which may extend up to several hours. It’s worth mentioning that becoming a military officer comes with at least 8-10 years of commitment.

There’s no doubt that it’s competitive and difficult to get into flight training. When you complete the standard military requirement, you can qualify for commercial airlines. After moving on from the military, it becomes easier to become a pilot in a commercial airline.

Civilian Pilot

Becoming a pilot can be a fruitful and reputed career choice. However, whether you want to choose a private or corporate pilot career, it’s important to understand different types of civilian pilot licenses and ratings.

Cessna 180Student Pilot License – In order to fly an airplane, this is the first pilot license you need. When you receive training from a certified flight instructor, you don’t need any license. However, there are will be a time during the training when the instructor will want you to fly the plane on your own. This is called a solo. For your solo training, you will need a student pilot license.

In most cases, you will need about 40-50 hours total flight time before you get a Private Pilot License. A Student Pilot License is valid for 24 months. The application process is quite simple. However, you will need to obtain a Pilot Medical Certificate too.

Private Pilot License (PPL) – In order to carry passengers with you in the plane, you need at least a Private Pilot License. Once you obtain the Private Pilot License, you can take friends and family members with you whenever you choose to fly. You will have to take a practical and written test to get a Private Pilot License. Every aspect of the test is covered during the training process as a Student Pilot License holder. A Private Pilot License does not expire in the United States. However, it may be revoked or suspended.

Commercial Pilot License (CPL) – If you’re focusing on a commercial pilot career, you will have to obtain a CPL. When you want to join an airlines as a pilot, a Commercial Pilot License is mandatory. In order to get the CPL, you will need around 250 hours total flight time. Even this license does not have an expiration date. For a Commercial Pilot License too, you will have to pass a practical and written test.

Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL) – If you want to be a Captain in your commercial pilot career, you will have to obtain an Airline Transport Pilot License. In order to get this license, you need at least 1500 hours total flight time. Even this license does not have an expiration date.

Overview of Pilot Ratings

Pilot ratings are considered an additional qualification that can be added to an existing license. Ratings can enhance your abilities, and further your career. There are two major types of pilot ratings.

Instrument Rating (IR) – This rating is required to fly an airplane through or inside the clouds and during times of low visibility. During the training process, the pilot needs to fly the airplane by just looking at the flight instruments inside the airplane’s cockpit. If you want a commercial pilot career with an airline, this rating is a must.

Multi-Engine Rating – Most training is done on Single Engine planes. However, most commercial airlines have more than one engine. Therefore, it’s important to receive multi engine rating. Most people get multi engine rating with the Commercial Pilot License.

These were some common types of pilot licenses and ratings to help you become a pilot. With a better understanding of these licenses, you will be able to make an informed career choice. Moreover, you will also realize your capabilities and potential.

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