CareerExplorer’s step-by-step guide on how to become a commercial pilot.
Is becoming a commercial pilot right for me?
The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:
Still unsure if becoming a commercial pilot is the right career path? Take the free CareerExplorer career test to find out if this career is right for you. Perhaps you are well-suited to become a commercial pilot or another similar career!
Described by our users as being “shockingly accurate”, you might discover careers you haven’t thought of before.
Meet Basic Requirements
To qualify for a commercial pilot’s license, applicants must be at least 18 years old and have at least 250 hours of flight experience.
Because pilots must be able to make quick decisions and react appropriately under pressure, airline companies will often reject applicants who do not pass psychological and aptitude tests. Pilots must also be in good physical condition and have vision correctable to 20/20.
Attain a Private Pilot License
Attaining a private pilot license allows you to fly a plane and begin logging hours towards your commercial pilot license.
Commercial pilots-to-be must spend at least 250 hours practicing various aspects of aviation including aircraft maintenance, instrument training and various different flying situations with variables such as weather and time of day.
To fly in various weather conditions, pilots must learn how to fly by their instruments and pass a test to show they can do this.
Pass More Tests
To become licensed as a commercial pilot, those in training must pass the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) practical test which is administered by a registered official, as well as pass a written test in order to attain certification.
Some airline companies require at least two years of college and prefer to hire college graduates.
Because the number of college-educated applicants continues to increase, many employers are making an undergraduate degree in aviation an entry-level requirement. Preferred courses for airline pilots include english, mathematics, physics, and aeronautical engineering.
Once hired by an airline, new pilots undergo additional company training that usually includes six to eight weeks of ground school and 25 hours of additional flight time. After they finish this training, airline pilots must keep their certification by attending training once or twice a year.
Applicants must also pass a strict physical exam to make sure that they are in good health, must have vision that is correctable to 20/20, and must have no physical handicaps that could impair their performance. In addition, they must pass a written test that includes questions about safety procedures, navigation techniques, and federal regulations.
To fly during periods of low visibility, pilots must be rated to fly by instruments. They may qualify for this rating by having at least 40 hours of instrument flight experience. Pilots must also pass a written exam and show an examiner their ability to fly by instruments.
Furthermore, commercial pilots usually maintain one or more advanced ratings, depending on the requirements of their particular aircraft. All licenses are valid as long as a pilot can pass periodic physical, eye, and flight examinations.