In the days of thriving trade and commerce, demand for commercial pilots is reaching all time high especially in the USA. USA is the seat of the world’s fastest growing trading companies that are focused on establishing far reaching ties with even the remotest corner of the planet. In context to the wide scope for constructive worldwide economy and the increasing demands for commercial pilots, it can be stated that this career path has one of the richest prospects that is taking the aviation industry by storm.
However, qualifying as a commercial pilot is no cake walk. To become a qualified commercial pilot you need to go through a couple of years in active and meticulous aviation training. Here are some guidelines that will help you procure a place in that direction.
In order to become a licensed pilot you need to meet some requirements such as:
- Meet the basic requirements: In order to acquire a commercial pilot’s license, you need to be a legal adult or you must be at least 18 years old and should be able to communicate effectively. You are required to pass physical exams that involve a vision test as well. You also should have logbook endorsements from an authorized instructor in order to validate your level of experience and your ability to demonstrate aeronautical knowledge.
- Basic training as a private pilot: Soon –to-be pilots should train as private pilots initially to learn the basics of the flight process along with the airplane operations, maintenance, airport communications and maneuvering. If you are interested you can look for the flight schools that offer recreational or private training courses as preconditions for commercial pilot training. This will help you sail through the required levels without multiple sessions.
- Obtain a bachelor’s degree: Although, it is not mandatory to have a bachelor’s degree in this career field, the BLS reports states that airline pilots should have a bachelor’s degree in any major. However prospective pilots can gain more relevant knowledge by signing up in an aviation or aeronautical program. Students are required to complete coursework in physics, aeronautical engineering mathematics and English regardless of the major.
- Log flight hours: Aspiring commercial pilots must spend 250 hours of flying in various situations including solo and pilot-in command. Along with the required hours of flying you need to complete instrument training and pilot a plane with designated gears. You will be required to successfully compete flying cross-country in both day and nighttime conditions. Apart from this you must be able to demonstrate successful completion of a specified number of takeoffs and landings. The logbook needs to be endorsed by the flight instructor for you to take the FAA knowledge and practical exams.
- Pass the required exams: While pursuing the career of a commercial pilot, it is of utmost importance that you pass the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) practical test. The test is conducted by a registered official. You will be required to perform a range of operational tasks, display your ability to meet industry standards and demonstrate proficiency in flying. A FAA examiner may ask you to plan a flight, evaluate you on aviation matters and then accompany you on a flight. While you are flying the plane with the FAA administrator, you will be asked to execute certain maneuvers and your examiner will monitor how you pilot the flight. If everything goes well, you will be awarded a commercial pilot’s certificate.
- Pursue additional certifications: You need to become a licensed airline transport pilot in order to work for commercial airlines. The become a licensed transport pilot you need to be at least 23 years of age, and have a minimum of 1,500 hours of flight experience including 250 hours as the pilot in command. You also need to get an instrumental rating in order to fly with low visibility (in adverse weather conditions) also you need a multiple engine rating that will allow you to fly planes with multiple engines.
Skills and competencies
- Communication: In order to become a commercial pilot you need to have excellent communication and problem solving skills. A commercial pilot should also be detailed-oriented in order to succeed in this career.
- Teamwork: Ability to work as a team player and be a part of the team is a crucial skill that you need to develop while pursuing your career as a commercial pilot. Throughout your career you will be working with your crew, traffic controllers and flight dispatchers so teamwork is very vital for this job.
- Task management: You should have or develop skills to prioritize tasks and projects.
- Professional attitude: This job requires the employees maintain a professional demeanor at all times. So this is one vital skill that you need to learn and develop while working as a commercial pilot.
- Adaptability: This is something that you will need in all spheres of life. As a commercial pilot aspirant you must possess the ability to adapt to unusual working hours and working conditions. So you need to have a mindset regarding the job roles.
Scope of work
As a commercial pilot you might be involved in unscheduled flight activities like aerial applications, charter flights, aerial tours, and non-flight duties. Some commercial pilots also transport company executives and find employment as corporate pilots. Commercial pilots are also employed for crop dusting.You can also work as flight instructors and teach students how to fly using simulators and dual-controlled aircrafts. You may find jobs in industries like nonscheduled air transportation, technical and trade schools, scenic and sightseeing transportation and support activities, ambulance services.
Commercial pilots are also required to fly aircrafts for other reasons like charter flights, rescue operations, firefighting, aerial photography and application of agricultural materials (like spraying of pesticides). The BLS expects the employment of commercial pilot to grow at the rate of 9% through 2022, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the average salary for airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers are as below:
- Average annual salary: $140,340 ($67.47/hour)
- Top 10% annual salary : More than $208,000 ($100/hour)
- Bottom 10% annual salary: Below $65,690 ($31.58/hour)
Airplane pilots are required to spend considerable amount of time away from home. Commercial pilots also have irregular schedules consider this while opting for this career. Generally, commercial pilots fly between 30 hours and 90 hours each month.
Although, commercial pilots draw a lesser salary than airline pilots because they often have more non-flight assignments than airline pilots, pilots with greatest number of flight and instrument usually have some advantage. So, all you need is to be persistent and gain as much experience as you can which is vital for your success in this career path.