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Airline pilots fly and navigate commercial airplanes and helicopters. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, openings for airline pilots are expected to grow faster than average through 2030. To become an airline pilot, you’ll typically need a bachelor’s degree, flight training, experience as a commercial or military pilot, and certain certifications and ratings from the Federal Aviation Administration.
How Long To Become An Airline Pilot
Training required: Airline pilots typically need a bachelor’s degree and must complete flight training with independent FAA-certified flight instructors or flight training schools. Colleges and universities may offer pilot training as part of a two-year or four-year aviation degree. Newly hired airline pilots will require on-the-job training that meets federal regulations, including several weeks of ground school and flight training. Airline pilots also have to maintain training, experience certain maneuvers and procedures, and undergo regular medical examinations.
How Long Does It Take To Become A Pilot? (faa Requirements)
Availability of Financial Aid: Becoming an airline pilot usually requires a bachelor’s degree. If you attend a traditional college to earn your bachelor’s degree, you can usually access federal aid dollars through Title IV funding. First, submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to access need-based aid and federal student loans. If you have a financial gap to fill, consider a private student loan. Former service members can use tuition assistance programs or the GI Bill to pay for training.
If you attend a private technical school with a flight training program, you may find that the school offers its own loan programs or the equivalent of a “buy now, pay later” financing option. Use these with caution as rates can be much higher than federal student loans. Compare the programs available at these schools with any offered by a nearby community college.
General Cost of Becoming an Airline Pilot: The cost of becoming an airline pilot varies depending on where you get your bachelor’s degree and flight school training. They will be separate expenses. For example, ATP Flight School, which has locations nationwide, costs $87,995 with no prior experience or $68,995 when you already have a private pilot certificate.
To compare the cost of a bachelor’s degree, you can use the College Scorecard to search for schools by “field of study.” This will show you average debt, graduation rates and salaries at US schools.
How Long Does It Take To Become A Pilot?
Loan forgiveness available: Airline pilots are unlikely to receive student loan forgiveness. However, Minnesota has an aviation degree loan repayment program for which residents may be eligible.
Hours: Pilots have variable work schedules, including overnight layovers. Long working hours are expected but mainly depends on the routes you take. However, airlines must comply with federal regulations that set maximum work hours and minimum rest requirements for pilots.
Where airline pilots work: In aircraft flight decks, which are often sealed. Airline pilots work in small teams and are close to co-workers for long periods of time. Flight assignments are generally based on seniority.
Risks: Fatigue, jet lag and mental stress are all to be expected due to the long hours and level of concentration and responsibility of the job. Fatalities are uncommon, but pilots have a higher fatal injury rate than other occupations.
How To Become A Pilot: Everything You Should Know
Benefits: Airline pilots receive full benefits, including health, dental, vision and life insurance, paid time off, flexible work schedules and extensive travel opportunities. There are unions for airline pilots affiliated with specific airlines, or pilots can join the largest union worldwide, the Air Line Pilots Association, International.
About the Author: Anna Helhosky is a writer and authority on student loans. Her work has appeared in The Associated Press, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and USA Today. read more
Student Loan Repayment Options: Find the Best Plan for UB Anna Helhosky Read More 2022-23 FAFSA Guide: How to Get Free Money for College by Anna Helhosky Read More Charlie Page is a senior first officer with over 10,000 hours on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Experience flying around Europe on the A320 family and around the world on the B787. He is also a freelance writer, contributing to a range of print and online publications.
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Become A Pilot
Every time you board an aircraft, you entrust your life to the captain and his crew. Airline safety has become so good that you now take it for granted. You board a flight and you expect to exit the aircraft again a few hours later — and so you should.
However, who is responsible for your safety, this person hiding behind a locked flight deck door? How did they get to this position and how much work do they do themselves and how much is done by their flight deck mate?
One of my biggest gripes with how the aviation industry is portrayed by the general media is the use of the terms “pilot” and “co-pilot”. While both are valid terms when used in the correct context, they are often used incorrectly. Let’s clear this up.
Every so often I hear the news that the “pilot” successfully landed the plane after an in-flight emergency. Unless the aircraft is a small propeller aircraft, it is mostly possible for the aircraft to have two pilots. On long flights, there will be three pilots and on some ultra-long-range flights, four pilots. The safe outcome of a flight is for all pilots present on the flight deck, not just one pilot.
The Airline Pilot Shortage Is Real And Will Cost All Of Us
The term “co-pilot” is also often misused. He or she is often depicted as a passive observer on the flight deck while the heroic captain saves the day. Or, in the case of accidental entertainment, a passive and timid person, afraid to speak up against the domineering captain.
The clue is in the title “co-pilot” — the “co” means “combined” or “together.” A co-pilot is as proficient in flying the aircraft and is as trained as the captain. The only difference is that most airlines have wind and visibility limitations when co-pilots are flying the plane.
On a day-to-day basis, the captain and co-pilot will take it in turns to fly the aircraft. The co-pilot can perform the first sector, takeoff, climb, cruise, approach and landing, while the captain can fly the return sector.
While it’s pretty clear who the term captain is referring to, “co-pilot” is a bit vague, which probably leads to general confusion about the title. While there is only one rank for captain, there may be three ranks for co-pilot, hence the widespread use of the name.
Choosing To Become An Airline Pilot As A Career
While all airlines will have a very similar definition for captain, how the ranks and roles are classified below may differ somewhat. Here’s how most airlines classify their pilots.
The commander of the aircraft and usually the most experienced pilot on the flight deck. The captain sits in the left-hand seat and has full responsibility for the aircraft and its passengers.
Depending on the airline, they will usually have at least 3,000 hours of flying experience. A captain wears four stripes on his uniform shirt and jacket.
The SFO is one of the ranks of “co-pilots” and sits in the right-hand seat. A senior first officer has a minimum of 1,500 hours of total flying experience, however, this varies from airline to airline. The SFO is second only to the Captain. If the captain becomes incapacitated for any reason, the SFO takes command of the aircraft.
The Truth About Flight School
Some airlines will make a new entrant pilot a senior first officer if they have the necessary experience at their previous airline. Other airlines will make them wait a little longer. A senior first officer wears three stripes on his uniform shirt and jacket.
The second rank of “co-pilot”, the first officer wears two stripes on their uniform and is less experienced than the senior first officer, however, this is not always the case. Some airlines give all new pilots first officer status for the first four to five years with the company, regardless of their previous experience.
As a result, a two-striped pilot may have thousands of hours of experience as a captain at their old airline or be fresh out of flight school. The lesson here is don’t judge a pilot’s experience by their stripes.
Second officers are employed by some airlines to act as “cruise” pilots. This means they only sit at the controls during the cruise, allowing the captain and SFO/FO to sleep so they are well rested for the landing.
Now Is The Time To Become An Airline Pilot
For most jobs in the business world, people tend to “climb the corporate ladder” by moving.
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