How to Become a Pilot

How to Become a Pilot in the US

When you were a child back then, did you wondered at the airplane flying above you? I’m sure you, too, did like all the other kids. As a child, we all wished to become a pilot and fly above the sky in our fancy airplane – those were the days of dreaming. But now, as we grew up, the career path became more vivid to us. By gaining more knowledge on the subject, we realized ‘what it takes to become a pilot.’ That is like Rome wasn’t built in a day; one cannot get into the profession of a pilot overnight. It’s as simple that there are many parameters to follow for becoming a professional pilot. Read this blog to know all about the entire process.

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Who is a Pilot?

A person becomes a pilot when they qualify to fly an airplane.  In the beginning, the people called the pilots as aviators, a job that was uncommon for the youth. People wouldn’t have been able to travel to far from places in a matter of hours if it weren’t for pilots.

What are the Roles and Duties of a Pilot?


On becoming a pilot, their main business is to fly passengers and shipments at both the national and international levels. They fly government officials and VIP members to a specific location, and they also fly people for leisure purposes.

If the airplane is big and the flying time is long, then it has two, three, or more pilots sitting in the cockpit to maneuver the airplane to its destination. Out of the pilot team, there would be the captain who is in charge of the crew members (flight attendants) and pilots aboard a flight. The attendant is accountable for a safe and well-organized flight starting from its origin to its destination.

Before taking off, a pilot must check flight plans, flight controls, and weather conditions to make sure what to expect during flight hours. They also have to keep communicating with air traffic controllers to check if there are other flights on their air routes.


There is a list of other duties that the pilots have to undertake before and after a flight:

»  They have to cross-check if the air route, onboard passengers, weather conditions, and flight controls data are ideal.

»  Examining the air route map to plan the altitude and maintain the airspeed so that the flight will reach its destination on the said time.

»  Along with flight planners, the pilot’s job is to calculate how much the use of fuel for each new trip. As per safety regulations, an airplane should always carry a little more fuel than its least limit. The reason for doing so is that in case of an unpredictable situation, the pilot has to divert the airplane to another destination. This is possible only when they’ve enough fuel to do so.

»  Pilots have to ensure meeting all safety aspects. If they are flying two engine flights for long distances across oceans with no airports en route, they need an extended operation. (ETOPS) safety rules are crucial because in case one engine fails, the other will fly them to the nearest emergency airport for a halt.

»  Before the flight takes off, pilots will conduct briefings with the cabin crew and will maintain communication with them.

Key Responsibilities

»  During the flight, pilots will check operating and navigation systems.

»  As a pilot, they have to be in constant touch with air traffic controllers before takeoff and during a flight.

»  Watch if the noise regulations follow because it can cause discomfort to passengers and crew.

»  Read and interpret instruments and control data.

»  The duty of the pilots is to check the performance of the engine and the fuel levels. They also have to keep a tab on the weather conditions and their airway position to avoid mid-air collision and disaster.

»  Before takeoff, a pilot will greet the passengers and introduce himself and his crew to them. During the flight, they will keep updating passengers if they witness any turbulence. After the flight, before landing, they will thank passengers and wish them goodbye.

»  Finally, they will write an outage report to note if there were any technical snags or incidents that were witnesses mid-air.

Become a Pilot in the US – Complete Information

I assume you have dreamt about becoming a pilot many times, and hence the question on “how to become an airline pilot” has risen to turn your dream to reality.

This dream of flying a huge mechanical bird in the sky to far of places remains a dream for many and reality for few. The journey to becoming a pilot is tough and long. It would take years before you can reap what you sow, earning the money that you have invested in education and flying classes. That is the time spent in the training, to gain knowledge, and the efforts you put in yourself to help you stay motivated will take up some time.

But don’t try to keep your hopes too high, rather maintain a moderate attitude towards becoming a pilot. Becoming a captain in the first few years will be difficult; in fact, many pilots retire as first officers instead of captains.

Who are Captains and First Officers?

The captain is the pilot in command who is usually seated on the left side of the first officer. As a captain, they’re accountable for all that happens onboard, such as taking emergency decisions and leading the cabin crew. More, it is the captain who flies the plane for long hours, and after that, decides to hand over controls to the first officer.

The first officer is as good as the captain flying knowledge and education. The thing that separates them both is the seniority as the captain might be working for the same airline for more years of working in the same field.

There is no definite growth pattern of becoming a pilot. Before you get your first break to work for a major airline, you might have to start as a flight instructor. Then, they progress to being the first officer for a domestic carrier. Then the gradual progress to be a captain for the same domestic carrier and then hit the jackpot, i.e., a major commercial airline.

Educational Requirements to Become a Pilot

There are some standard requirements as per FAA (Federation Aviation Administration) to become a pilot.

»  You will need to read, write, and speak English.

»  Be at least 17 years of age.

»  If you wish to work for an international carrier, then you would need a bachelor’s degree (four years) with math and physics-related subjects.

»  If you choose to work for a domestic/regional carrier, then an associate’s degree would be enough. Remember, you do not have to take courses related to aviation; whatever program you choose, it has to have maths and physics in it.

»  Posses a valid first-class medical certificate from AME (Aviation Medical Examiner).

»  After 60 hours of flying time, you will receive your private pilot certificate (PPC) from the FAA.

A private pilot certificate (PPC) is the starting certificate you would need to gain your commercial pilot certificate (CPC). All pilots hold the PPC. You can fly any non-commercial airplane with this certificate. Also, as a PPC pilot, you won’t get paid for your service unless a corporate entity hires you as their private pilot. But, if you do some charitable work, then only you’ll get paid for fuel and rent.

How Much Salary Does a Pilot Earn in the US?

As per the bureau of labor statistics, the average median salary of a pilot in the US is $121,430 per year.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Pilot?

Now, before binding up this career guide, here is the main question that most aspirants have in their minds. That is, how long will it take for them to get a job as a pilot? To quote a statement by the ATP flight school:-

“It takes 3 months to become a pilot and earn your private pilot license. To become an airline pilot, it takes just over two years to gain the required 1,500 hours flight time. “

So, if you aspire to become a professional pilot and to rise above the clouds, work-hard and seek your job as a pilot.

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