How do I become an airline pilot?

We’ve got a comprehensive understanding of all the prerequisites for becoming a commercial airline pilot. Use the navigation to navigate to specific sections you want to know first. Use this navigation to help you understand the required airlines’ pilot requirements in this guide.

So You Want to be an Airline

When you are in that long process of getting your pilot’s license, it’s fun to think about the different jobs in the airline industry that this license might make possible for you. Obviously, the top echelon of being a full-fledged pilot is to pilot one of those jumbo international jets. But there is a path between where you are and that job and is a fine goal to start out with.

Of course, one way to quickly become the head of the team on a commercial airline is to go to work for an airline where you will be piloting a smaller craft or to work for a charter airline so you are the only one the plane on each outing. That’s not a bad option and it’s a respectable job using your pilot’s license. But sometimes nothing will take the place of climbing the latter in a larger airline so you can enjoy the big rewards of someday being the chief pilot on a large craft going to some exotic route.

If you get to the position of the on a large aircraft, that is no small position. It is an “apprentice” position and you are in the position of being an assistant to the captain while you learn the ropes of operating a large and complex craft. But if you are a young pilot and you want to get a good flight log of real-life cockpit experience, paying your dues as a is an outstanding time in your career and one you will benefit from tremendously. It won’t play as well as when you make full pilot but look on it as your “internship” and be glad that by holding down that spot, you are on your way.

Much of the excitement of piloting a major aircraft for one of the big airlines come to you even as the first officer. And that major airline flight time on your resume is nothing short of priceless as you move forward in your career in the industry. Along with learning the nuances of the aircraft itself and how to respond to different in-flight situations from a technical point of view, the time you have working as a peer with an experienced airline captain and crew can help you sort out the culture of the airline of the industry so you can not only navigate the aircraft but your career in the industry as well.

By serving some good months or years in the first officer position, you are putting yourself directly under the scrutiny of the people who make the decisions about hiring for airline captain jobs and other senior positions in the airline industry. Airline captain is not a position that you can just walk off the street and do. And by doing some good time as a first officer and getting noticed for your good work in that position, you will be in great shape when the time comes for you to apply for the top job.

So include a stint as the first officer in your career path as you start your ascent through the positions of authority in your airline career. And when you make this first-level goal and have a first officer position, don’t be too hasty to rush through it. This is an outstanding time to build relationships and to demonstrate competency not only to the people who might promote you to captain but to the airline staff and your fellow crew members who may one day say “Yes Captain” to you when you sit down to command a big aircraft en route to London, Paris or Rome.

How to become an airline Pilot - Step by step, APC

How long does it take to become an airline captain?

I want to become an airline captain, and I’m trying to estimate how long it will take me. How long will it take? I don’t know. The process is not transparent. I can ask people who are already airline captains how long it took them, but they all started at different times in different places with different backgrounds. Some may have gotten jobs by networking or knowing the right person. I don’t know what their jobs were like before they got them or how long they worked at them before they became captains; there might be a learning curve that took years. And even if they did all start at the same time, what worked for them might not work for me.

There’s no authoritative answer, and no way to get one. The only way to find out how long it takes is to start trying; there’s no other way to get inside the system and learn its rhythms and rules, which you need to do if you want any chance of succeeding.

The answer is, it depends. It depends on whether you want to be a captain or a first officer, and it depends on which airline you want to work for and what kind of airplane you want to fly. And it depends on how long you can remain employed as an airline pilot.

The training time for an airline first officer is remarkably short — as little as two months, maybe less. For a captain, the training program can be as long as five years. Some pilots prefer to work as first officers and then “grow” into the job of captain; this saves time and money but puts more pressure on the pilot to remain employed by the same airline until his seniority permits him to become a captain.

What it is like to be an airline pilot

Being an airline pilot is to be in a continuous state of becoming not dead. Airplanes are designed by engineers, who are optimists. They are always trying to outwit Murphy’s Law, which says that if anything can go wrong, it will — at the worst possible moment. Designing planes for normal human beings, engineers err on the side of safety. But pilots must make hundreds of tiny decisions every hour to keep their planes aloft and within legal speed limits and maneuvering tolerances, which are much tighter than you might think.

So they have to learn to live with uncertainty. They have to learn what it means when the weather radar goes down or the traffic alert system fails or their instruments say they’re about to stall — and act anyway. They have to learn what it feels like when everything is going fine but they know that something could go wrong at any second — and act anyway.

And if something does go wrong, they have to learn how to deal with that too — which is not so simple when your life depends on it.

Being an airline pilot is one of the hardest jobs in existence. I know this because I’m one. Being an airline pilot is one of the best jobs in existence. I know this because I’ve done it for twenty-six years. The first statement is undeniably true. The second statement may strike you as inconsistent, but it isn’t. It’s just that doing a good job at anything is rarely simple and usually involves some kind of balancing act between conflicting goals, which means that it can be hard to describe what you do without sounding like either a lunatic or a liar.

Is a college degree required to become an airline pilot?

Is a college degree required to become an airline pilot? I don’t know. I’ve never flown on an airplane. A few years ago, before my then-wife and I broke up, we went to Florida for a vacation. We rented a car and were driving around looking at things, and we drove past the airport and she said “Oh look! A plane!” I looked up at it. It was flying really close to us. It made me nervous; it seemed too close. “Don’t worry,” she said,

“it’s just taking off.”

A few minutes later we were driving past another airport and she said “Look! Another plane!” I looked up at it; it was flying really close to us again. Actually, we were driving into it; it had probably already landed and was taxiing to its next takeoff spot.

“Don’t worry,” she said again, “this is normal.”

I’m not sure if that meant flying that close to people is normal or if driving by airports is normal. Maybe both; maybe there is no difference between those two kinds of closeness. But what struck me was that here we were in this metal box, driving around with our heads sticking out through holes in the top like dogs do

In the United States, a commercial pilot must hold at least a commercial pilot certificate. To obtain one, you must have at least 250 hours of flight time as a pilot, and at least 50 hours of flight time as a pilot in command. But what if you have a college degree? That is one of the requirements for an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate, which is required to become a captain on an airliner. Does that mean that a person with a college degree can’t become an airline pilot without first obtaining a college degree? No. Many airlines will hire pilots who have earned only a high school diploma or even no diploma at all, provided they have the necessary flight experience. In other words, there are two ways to meet the educational requirement: through education or through work experience.


Gallery Show


Google news for Today 2023

Firsts in Commercial Flight: Barrier Breaking Women in the Flight Deck - National Air and Space Museum

November 4, 2021 - National Air and Space Museum

Firsts in Commercial Flight: Barrier Breaking Women in the Flight Deck  National Air and Space Museum...

I just became a commercial pilot — here's what it's been like - Business Insider

October 28, 2021 - Business Insider

I just became a commercial pilot — here's what it's been like  Business Insider...

Is It Safe to Fly Right Now as Pilots Return After Months Out of Cockpits? - Bloomberg

October 14, 2021 - Bloomberg

Is It Safe to Fly Right Now as Pilots Return After Months Out of Cockpits?  Bloomberg...

Taking Wing: Senior Airline Pilot Moments | Flying - Flying

October 29, 2021 - Flying

Taking Wing: Senior Airline Pilot Moments | Flying  Flying...

Durbin praises OWB PIlot Program to Rotarians | News | - messenger-inquirer

November 4, 2021 - messenger-inquirer

Durbin praises OWB PIlot Program to Rotarians | News |  messenger-inquirer...

Out-of-Practice Airline Pilots Are Looking Error-Prone - Insurance Journal

October 19, 2021 - Insurance Journal

Out-of-Practice Airline Pilots Are Looking Error-Prone  Insurance Journal...

What it will mean to be a pilot - AOPA Pilot

November 2, 2021 - AOPA Pilot

What it will mean to be a pilot  AOPA Pilot...

Passing the Time With a Piano-Playing Pilot - The New York Times

October 9, 2021 - The New York Times

Passing the Time With a Piano-Playing Pilot  The New York Times...

NTSB: Crossed Brake Wires, Pilot Error, FAA Error Factored into Fatal 2019 Unalaska Crash -

November 3, 2021 -

NTSB: Crossed Brake Wires, Pilot Error, FAA Error Factored into Fatal 2019 Unalaska Crash

The “Insane” Reporter On “Let's Go Brandon” Southwest Airlines Flight - Live and Let's Fly

November 2, 2021 - Live and Let's Fly

The “Insane” Reporter On “Let's Go Brandon” Southwest Airlines Flight  Live and Let's Fly...


Price History


Price History for Blown Away


Current Price $1.99 January 19, 2024
Highest Price $1.99 December 26, 2023
Lowest Price $1.99 December 26, 2023
Since December 26, 2023

Last price changes

$1.99 December 26, 2023

Where to buy


Southwest Airlines Gift Card $200
✓ Best choice
Airline Maps: A Century of Art and Design
Underground Airlines
Airline - The Complete Season 1
Blown Away
Airline Disaster
Rough Air
Human Error
Cabin Pressure
A Chick in the Cockpit
Squawk 7500 Terrorist Hijacks Pacifica 762
Casey's Law


New Videos on this Topic for 2023

PILOT LIFE VLOG | Flying & Working as a Regional Airline First Officer | ALMOST MISSED MY FLIGHT??!

The first 1000 people to use this link will get a 1 month free trial of Skillshare! Here's a little insight as to what life is like on the road ...

Young First Officer PERFECTLY pilots CLASSIC B737-300 of Air Baltic into Riga! [AirClips] - get all our FREE full-length ULTIMATE COCKPIT VIDEOS in high quality! Here's our updated full list: Want exclusive full ...


Article on this Topic on General for 2023

First Officer -

Unravel the Star in You at India’s Best Airline. Search by Keyword. Search by Location ×. Send me alerts every days. Create Alert. ×. Send me alerts every days. First Officer. Apply now » Date: ...

Airline pilot, indicted in triple murder, arrested at ...

He was arrested as he prepared to fly as first officer on Flight 5523 from Louisville to Charlotte, North Carolina, the airline said.

United Becomes First Airline to Introduce PayPal QR Codes ...

United was the first airline to give customers in economy cabins the option to pre-order snacks and beverages from the airline's app and website, ... chief customer officer for United. "PayPal is ...

Airline ticket - Wikipedia

An airline ticket is a document or electronic record, issued by an airline or a travel agency, that confirms that an individual is entitled to a seat on a flight on an aircraft.The airline ticket may be one of two types: a paper ticket, which comprises coupons or vouchers; and an electronic ticket (commonly referred to as an e-ticket).. The ticket, in either form, is required to obtain a ...

United Becomes First Airline to Offer PayPal QR Codes as ...

United was the first airline to give clients in their economy cabins the option “to pre-order snacks and beverages from the airline’s app and website, and also offers customers the ability to ...

How to Become an Airline Pilot - The Balance Careers

Earning Seniority . Once hired by an airline, the only way to earn seniority and eventual promotion to captain is to put in the time. Because airlines naturally want their most experienced pilots to be the ones captaining their jets, expect to spend several years as a first officer.

Disaster on Tenerife: History's Worst Airline Accident

As first officer Klaas Meurs was finishing a radio confirmation with the tower of their post-takeoff flight instructions, van Zanten pushed the throttles and began rolling down the runway just after 5:06. “Stand by for takeoff. I will call you,” the controller said—the most tragically misunderstood eight words in the history of aviation.

American Eagle (airline brand) - Wikipedia

Prior to the Airline Deregulation Act in 1978, most major US air carriers had maintained close relationships with independent regional carriers in order to feed passengers from smaller markets into the larger cities, and, in turn, onto the larger legacy carriers. In the post-regulation era, the hub-and-spoke system gained prominence, and in order to feed traffic from smaller markets into these ...

%d bloggers like this: