Becoming An Airline Pilot – Part I: Beginning

When an airline needs to hire pilots, they set out to hire talented pilots with good educations and loads of quality flight experience. Each airline has its own hiring qualifications, so a little research is in order to find the qualifications for the airline you want to work for. Qualifications also fluctuate according to the supply of pilots and the number of flying jobs available. When several airlines are hiring actively, the demand for pilots goes up and airlines often lower their flight time requirements to increase the number of resumes coming in.

Before committing to the pursuit of a career as an airline pilot though, there are several things you should consider:

  • You should research the profession and decide if this is the lifestyle that you want to live. Airline pilots travel a lot obviously and are typically away from home two to four days at a time. It is a fun and exciting lifestyle with many rewards, but make sure it is right for you.
  • You may want to check with an FAA designated Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) if you have concerns about any medical conditions you may have. You will have to take physicals at least once a year and there are some medical conditions which could make you ineligible for flight duty with an airline. For instance, although most airlines will hire you with less than 20/20 vision, if yours is less than 20/70 it may be more difficult.
  • You should examine your past. Airlines will do a very thorough background check of your driving record, your work history and check for arrests or DUIs. Violations or incidents recorded on these background checks aren’t the kiss of death for you career in aviation, but serious felonious behavior will be.
  • You should order your transcripts. Airlines prefer a college degree or that you have completed some quality college courses. A degree shows that you can handle a challenging curriculum and successfully complete it. In the absence of any college, airlines want to see job or life experience that would add to your value as an airline employee.
  • You may want to volunteer. Airlines tend to look at your past behavior as an indication of how you will behave as an employee. Being group-minded is a quality that is desired in any employee, but even more so by the airlines. Being able to show your participation in a good cause on your resume and is very helpful. Volunteering for a MS Walkathon, for example, is a plus as it shows your willingness to apply yourself selflessly to help others.
  • You should choose the right flight school. There are a few different ways to get your flight training. You can train at a local airport, or train with a more established Flight Academy. In either case, you should train to acquire the certificates and ratings that will make you eligible to be an airline pilot, as well as end up with a way to gain additional flight experience.

We will cover more of that in the next section of “How do I become an airline pilot?” along with a look at the Certificates and Ratings that you will be training for.