How to Become a Professional Pilot

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A pilot is one of the most relevant experts in the aviation sector. They are professionals in charge of operating an aircraft. They are trained to fly jets, passenger planes, helicopters, rescue planes, etc.

Pilots go through rigorous and intense training to man an aircraft and are put in charge of people’s lives. Pilots are paid relatively well, which has resulted in a very driven and competitive job market where only the top candidates will make the cut.

Responsibilities of a Pilot

  1. Conducting inspections of fuel, equipment, and navigational systems before and after flights.
  2. Operating the aircraft safely and maintaining a reasonable degree of professionalism at all times.
  3. Monitoring weather conditions and communicating with air traffic.
  4. Liaising with co-pilots and flight crew throughout the flight.
  5. Updating and reassuring passengers and crew during emergencies.
  6. Determining the safest routes and analyzing flight plans before take off.

Skills required as a Pilot

  1. Communication: Accidents can occur when information isn’t appropriately relayed between the pilot and the controller. A pilot must be able to communicate effectively to prevent disastrous mistakes.
  2. Teamwork: Being able to work as part of a team is vital, in addition to working with your co-pilot, you must also work with air traffic controllers and flight attendants to ensure a safe flight.
  3. Multitasking – Flying an aircraft requires several moving parts. Being able to multitask is vital as you will be required to manage tasks simultaneously effectively and take action on multiple priorities and projects at once.
  4. Management: A pilot must know how to prioritize tasks and projects.
  5. Professionalism: in many instances, a pilot’s conduct has averted disaster in dangerous situations. It is essential to conduct yourself calmly and professionally, maintaining professional and ethical behavior at all times.
  6. Adaptability: You must be able to adapt to a myriad of situations to become a successful pilot. Sudden changes in weather conditions, a shift in scheduling and working hours, the presence of hostile passengers, and even technical failure will test your resourcefulness and ability to adapt to different situations.

Educational Requirements for a career as a Pilot

Various pilot jobs have different requirements. Regional airlines do not typically require a college degree, but significant commercial carriers do need pilots to have a bachelor’s degree in aviation or a related field.

Airlines will consider pilots with any degree who have obtained their pilot license. But seeing as competition is tight for pilot positions, with thousands of applicants applying for limited slots every year, getting an aviation degree is a sure way to get your application noticed. You can consider some of the following options below;

  1. Griffith University, Australia – Griffith University is a public research university in South East Queensland on Australia’s east coast. Founded in 1971, Griffith University has one of Australia’s largest and most highly recognized aviation teaching programs. The Bachelor of Aviation is a two-year accelerated degree allowing students to progress more quickly into a flying career. During the program’s course, you will be introduced to the sciences underpinning the theory and practice of aviation. You will also study courses in areas such as navigation, safety management systems, and human factors in aviation. Through the Bachelor of Aviation, you will develop the skills needed for lifelong learning in the evolving aviation environment. Tuition for international students will cost $34,000.
  2. University of Leads, United Kingdom – The institution’s Bachelor in Engineering (BEng) course, Aviation Technology with Pilot Studies and Management, will equip you with the knowledge, skills, and creativity needed to take a highly integrated approach to the global aviation industry, as the basis for a world-class aviation career. You will discover the relationship between aviation, materials, energy, economics, and policy – and the system that connects these – through this course’s interdisciplinary nature. You will also develop specialist aviation engineering, technical, and management skills, alongside drawing upon our extensive expertise in aircraft, materials, propulsion, and environmental issues and the ability to apply this knowledge to real-life aviation industry scenarios. You will benefit from the training facilities of flight simulators and have the opportunity to achieve the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ground exam requirements for the Private Pilot’s Licence (PPL). The three-year program will cost $31,500 per year.

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If you ultimately choose to obtain a degree in another field but still wish to pursue a career as a Pilot, the following Diploma programs can provide a path to achieving your goal:

  1. Commercial Pilot Diploma, Saskatchewan Polytechnic – Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s award-winning Commercial Pilot program, offered in partnership with the Saskatchewan Aviation Council, is one of the most innovative, highly-respected programs in Canada. The Commercial Pilot diploma program provides a strong foundation in the basic principles of aviation. You’ll alternate two ground school training sessions at Saskatchewan Polytechnic, Saskatoon Campus, with actual flying experience at your home flying school. Tuition for International students will cost around $18,000.
  2. Graduate Diploma of Flight Management, Griffith University – The program’s aim and focus is to prepare students for a career in the aviation industry by developing their knowledge and skills in the practical aspects of commercial aircraft operations coupled with appropriate technical qualifications for industry employment. The core knowledge and skills gained through the program provide a platform for lifelong learning in a rapidly changing industry. Besides achieving the essential basic pilot qualifications for employment in the industry, the additional ‘industry-ready’ focus is on developing the high-level flight management and personal skills required to transition to an Airline or General Aviation position. The program will run for a minimum or a year and will cost international students $112,000.

Types of Piloting Jobs

  1. Mainline Pilot – mainline pilots work for international airlines and transport passengers across the globe. Going from China to America, to Poland, to Germany, is all in a week’s work for mainline pilots.
  2. Regional and Domestic Flight Pilot – as the name implies, local or domestic flight pilots work for domestic airlines and transport passengers from one part of a country or region to another.
  3. Cargo Pilot – Cargo pilots transport goods or freight regionally or internationally for an airline or a company. The significant difference between cargo pilots and passenger pilots is that many of the flyings are done at night, and they sometimes transport dangerous and volatile materials.
  4. Military Pilot – Military pilots fly various types of specialized aircraft to transport troops and equipment and execute combat missions. Military aircraft make up one of the world’s largest fleets of specialized airplanes.
  5. Agricultural Pilot – Agricultural pilots (also called ag pilots, crop dusters, or aerial applicators) perform piloting jobs related to the farming and agricultural industry. They are skilled professionals who operate aircraft for such purposes as transporting cargo to market, aerial applications (also known as crop dusting), hauling feed, or planting seeds.
  6. Private Pilot – Private pilots fly private jets and other lightweight aircraft for individuals, usually affluent, who can afford to hire them. They are typically contracted to firms that cater to the aviation needs of the rich and famous.
  7. Firefighter Pilot – A Firefighter Pilot uses purpose-built aircraft (airplanes and helicopters) to fight wildfires and other large-scale fire outbreaks.
  8. Flight Instructor Pilot – Flight instructors work with students to ensure they learn what it takes to become professional pilots and prepare for any eventualities during their professional lives. They evaluate students and give feedback on how to improve.
  9. Test Pilot – A test pilot is a specially trained pilot who uses specific maneuvers, known as test flight techniques, to evaluate newly produced, experimental, and modified aircraft’s capacity and capability.

Job Outlook for a Pilot

The global aviation industry is forecast to grow from carrying around 4 billion passengers annually to 7.8 billion in 2036 – and global airline revenues already exceed £600 billion per annum (IATA). Hence, the global aviation industry needs knowledgeable, skilled, and creative people as pilots.

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Typical Employers of Pilots

  • Government agencies
  • Private firms
  • Individuals
  • Airlines
  • Charity and Aid Organisations
  • Travel Companies
  • Entertainment Companies

Salary Estimates for a Pilot

  • Salary.com estimates the average annual salary of a mainline pilot to be around $137,901.
  • The average yearly salary for a domestic pilot is $60,000, according to Ziprecruiter.com.
  • According to Glassdoor.com, Cargo pilots make an estimated average of $106,000 a year.
  • A military pilot’s salary varies depending on rank and years active, but payscale.com averages it to be around $90,000 a year.
  • com estimates the average annual salary for an agriculture pilot to be around $80,000
  • Private Pilots can look forward to a yearly salary of $110,000, according to ziprecruiter.com.
  • On average, Fire Fighter pilots can make between $70,000 to $110,000 a year, according to flyingmag.com.
  • com puts the average salary of a flight instructor pilot at $50,000 a year.
  • com estimates the annual salary of a test pilot to be $130,000.

Postgraduate Options for Pilots

To keep ahead of the intensely competitive job market, you should consider investing in a postgraduate degree to equip you with a broader range of skills needed to keep you relevant in the field. Here are some options you might consider:

  1. Professional Aviation Pilot Practice MSc, Middlesex University – This degree is the only one of its kind that is exclusively focused on professional pilot practice. It will allow you to recognize, accredit, and extend your professional training and expertise. You will focus on your current and ongoing professional development while consolidating and enhancing your existing professional skills. You will gain an additional, new, and academic perspective on your professional practice and the wider industry. You will also have developed advanced skills in structured reflective reporting. The degree is work-based and delivered entirely online. As a work-based program, this course will take place in the “real world” context of airlines and the aviation industry and offer the critical aspects of leadership and management in senior pilots’ professional roles. The Two-year part-time program will cost $18,000 for international students.
  2. Human Factors in Aviation MSc, Coventry University – This course covers the theoretical basis for studying human factors in aviation, demonstrating how these concepts are applied in aspects of aviation operations. This specialist distance learning course is taught by current staff with expertise in the academic and professional disciplines of human factors, ergonomics, and occupational psychology within aviation. This course aims to equip aviation professionals with a thorough appreciation of all aspects of the discipline and how they can be applied to the aviation industry’s best effect. Tuition for international students will cost. 15,500.

Careers Related to Piloting

  1. Quality Control Personnel – Those with strong attention to detail and an interest in materials and manufacturing can enjoy a career on the factory floor as a quality control specialist. Inspectors, testers, and graders are responsible for checking all parts and materials as they make their way down the assembly line to ensure everything meets safety and quality standards. These professionals may perform detailed tests, produce reports, and use sophisticated software and tools to perform their tasks with a high degree of accuracy.
  2. Air Traffic Controller – These airport professionals work at FAA airport traffic control towers to direct all air traffic and ensure all pilots receive appropriate taxi, take-off, and landing instructions. It is a fast-paced job during flight take-off and landing times and requires strong decision-making skills and sound judgment. Air traffic controllers may work at the terminal or at Air Route Traffic Control Centres (ARTCC). They are responsible for managing all communications with the pilots and providing assistance in the event of an emergency.
  3. Aviation Maintenance Technician – Aviation Maintenance Technicians are responsible for checking and preparing an aircraft’s electric and mechanical components. They must comply with specific standards and perform various safety checks. It is a dynamic career with several options to specialize in. Those with military experience already have valuable training to apply towards the FAA credits for practical experience for mechanics certification.

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