How Do You Become A Commercial Pilot? (6 Reasons To Fly!)

First Officer doing cockpit pre flight duties
First Officer Readies for flight.

Throughout all my years of being a commercial pilot I was often asked by the curious and the dreamers, How Do You Become A Commercial Pilot? Since this is a career path move let’s talk about what it takes and what it’s like to be a Commercial Pilot and fly the line.

How Do You Become A Commercial Pilot?

You must have a Private Pilot Certificate or equivalent military certification and be 18 years of age, be English language proficient, be healthy, At least a Class 2 Medical, and have passed the aeronautical knowledge test, the flight test, and the oral exam. You must have logged 250 hours, 100 as a pilot in command, (PIC), and 50 hours cross country, and have a valid Passport.

1. Qualifications.

The logical steps to the attainment of this certificate are to have completed your private certificate and your instrument rating. This will give you the edge required for the precise execution of flight maneuvers.

The 250-hour requirement can seem insurmountable and there can be some lonely moments flying the hours required. An Instrument Rating will push you to close to the 100-hour mark and the rest of the time will be all on you, but you can be creative and use the hours constructively to fly friends and family on adventures. You may also pursue training as a Commercial Pilot building your 250 hours.  

Practice the maneuvers you learned and study the commercial maneuvers. Practice landings until you are a master.

Be a Professional Pilot from the very beginning by flying responsibly. Do not be a “cowboy” and scare your passengers by showing off your new skill. Too many people lost their lives to irresponsible show-offs and I emphasized professionalism to every student.

2. Desire!

This is the place and time that you choose to become a professional pilot and it takes desire. It takes every bit of your concentration because you may find yourself with the responsibility for hundreds of lives, as well as your own.

Without the desire, your competition will be ahead of you before you start. There are no shortcuts or any easy way and the more you study and learn at this juncture will serve you well in the years to come.

3. Flight Training.

There are many choices for flight training now in 2022, that will allow you to choose your training at your pace or you can attend an accelerated flight school that will accommodate you from 0 hours to 1500 hours and your ATP in 2 years. And a guarantee of an airline interview.

However, the present pilot shortage has forced some airlines to severely reduce the minimum requirements to as low as a Commercial and your necessary 250 hours. You could be earning a fair wage as an FO with a reputable airline.

Some of these airlines are offering sign-on bonuses which in my 50 years of aviation experience is a first.

You can do airline research to find your perfect match and who knows you may be a Captain at a major airline in just a few short years.

I chose to go it alone in my training because I  had my own airplane to do the training I needed. It gave me a diversified instructor pool from WWII pilots to guys my age at the time in my early 20s. That is a superb choice if you have the means.

4. Financing Your Career.

If you can afford training all the better but there are many places you can go for financing and if you choose a flight school they will undoubtedly help you with this step.

With today’s rapid advancement I would venture to guess it would be easy to pay off considering the prevailing wages of Commercial Pilots.

5. Flight Instructor.

Being a Flight Instructor is a very honorable way to start your career and today there is an abundance of jobs working as an Instructor!

The best way to learn something is to teach it, so I highly recommend this way.

I enjoyed flight instruction as well as being the company training Captain and Check Airman.

6. Flying The Line.

Your first job flying the line will likely be one of the most exciting and possibly frightening experiences in your career.

My first job was flying a Piper Navajo, a twin-turbocharged aircraft, with Airborne Express freight from Denver Stapleton Airport to Scottsbluff, Nebraska, and then to Casper WY. This was all single-pilot IFR. (Instrument Flight Rules.)

I made a whopping 50 bucks a trip so I was not getting rich! But I loved it.

A lot can be said about having two pilot crews because the workload is considerably less and you have another pilot to help with decision making, but there was no budget for a second pilot.

As it all turned out it was one of the best jobs I ever had.

Flying the line is absolutely great so please get started on your career flying today.

Final Thoughts.

Today is the best time in aviation history to become a commercial pilot or an airline pilot. Wages are competitive and it really is easier than it has ever been.

Quite honestly I am envious because it was a fight to get a job in my early days. I did achieve my goal in spite of my own shortfalls!

The best opportunities that I have ever seen are in a young pilot’s grasp. Even pilots that are older starting their career have great chances like the one you can hope for here.

If it is your dream to fly put yourself into the left seat and start your new career then head for the airport today!

If you are a woman your chances are even greater to find a seat upfront with an airline as only 4% of pilots are women with an ATP.

Related: “Can A Woman Become An Airline Pilot?” ( 5 Yes You Can Facts)

Please feel free to make comments. It would be nice to know your thoughts or questions.

Thank you, Steve.

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