Being an airline pilot is believed to be a glamorous, exciting, and highly rewarding job. People see this occupation as something almost magical and revered. A pilot is responsible for handling an expensive and complex piece of machinery as well as keeping hundreds of people safe all the way until they arrive at their destinations. Flying can indeed be a rewarding career, both in terms of personal satisfaction as well as financially, but it can be difficult to break into, as well as to get used to due to the many changes you must make to your regular lifestyle.
Pilots undertake intensive and expensive training to develop highly unique and perishable skills and must continue training and learning to keep up with the times. The job usually pays well, depending on seniority, type of aircraft and the airline itself. As a general rule, the bigger the airline, the larger the aircraft and the further the route, the most remuneration a pilot will receive.
The first step to become a pilot is to make sure you meet the basic requirements needed just to apply for a student certificate. This greatly depends on your local regulations; but if you are in the United States, student pilots can began taking classes as early as when they turn 16 years old, 17 years old for private pilots and at least 18 for commercial pilots and flight instructors. Airline Transport Pilots however, must at least be 23 years old in order to apply.
The training itself is divided into Ground School and Flight Training. Ground School is usually conducted in a classroom environment, but they can also be done in a one-on-one with a flight instructor or through computer based courses. The purpose of ground school is to prepare applicants to pass the necessary exams required to move on to the next step to become a pilot. Flight training is the practical portion of the flight instruction and it can be done with a small flight school or fixed based operator (FBO) or with a larger flight school that can provide this type of services.
There are two different types of FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) flight training programs that are available to prospective pilots: Part 61 and Part 141 training.
Part 61 training is flexible and allows instructors to go at their own pace and allows the program to be adjusted to suit the needs of the students. Instructors are free to use any type of training materials they’d like to use, and can train the student in a variety of different ways.
Part 141 flight training programs can often be found at larger institutions, including fast-track programs and universities with flight programs. Part 141 flight training is conducted to the same standards as Part 61, but is done under a more structured training outline and more efficiently.
The FAA requires students to obtain a student pilot certificate and aviation medical certificate before they are allowed to fly solo in an aircraft. As such, most flight schools require students to get their student pilot certificate and medical certificate before they arrive for training.
Once you find a flight school that suits your needs, the next step is to apply. The application process itself varies by flight school. Some application processes are as simple as filling out a form and providing photo identification. Other application processes are more in-depth, requiring waivers, insurance and various other documents.
Pilots can work in many different fields and areas of expertise. Some of the most famous ones are: Regional Airline Pilot, Major or International Airline Pilot, Corporate Pilot, Charter Pilot, Contract Pilot, Freight/Cargo Pilot, Flight Instructor and more.
A typical day for an airline pilot can vary considerably. One day you may start work at 5 am and only work for 4 hours whilst other days you might start work at 12 pm work for 13 hours. You must keep in mind that you are only getting paid while the aircraft is moving, so even if you have to wait for long layovers or have time between flights, only the time operating the aircraft counts as working hours.
Some of the best perks you can have from being a pilot are the awesome discounts on air fare (most airlines can give you up to 90% for you and your family) and the days off you may get while away in some exotic destination. Pilots say they have the most beautiful office view in the world and that is one of the things about their job they definitely love. The nice thing about it is, when you set the brake at your destination, you’re off the clock and can walk away from your job. This type of freedom allows you to pursue other interests and passions you may have while holding a job that actually pays quite well.
For more information on some of the bests jobs out there for travel lovers, check out our blog at Royal Holiday Jobs.