There are numerous careers in aviation, and equally numerous paths to become a pilot. Here is a brief overview of the most common path to become an airline pilot.
- Go to a flight school to get private license, instrument rating, then commercial license. You'll have about 250 hours at the end of this process.
- Continue training and become a flight instructor by getting the CFI (certified flight instructor), CFII (certified flight instructor, instrument), and MEI (multi engine instructor). You'll have about 280 hours at the end of this segment of training.
- Get a job as a flight instructor. You'll need 1,500 hours to be eligible for the regional airlines, so you'll instruct for 1 - 2 years to gain those hours.
- Get a job with a regional airline when you have 1,500 hours. You'll start as a First Officer and log SIC (second in command) time. You'll upgrade to captain in 2 - 6 years and then start logging PIC (pilot in command) time.
- Get a job with a major airline when you have 1,000 hours of PIC time from the regional airline and between 4,000 and 8,000 hours total time. You'll upgrade in 5 - 20 years. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the career!
Some items to consider; you'll need a 4 year degree from a college to get hired by the major airlines. If you don't have a degree already, you can earn one by going to a college with a flight program so you can flight train simultaneously. Alternatively, you could get your degree online while you're flying at the regional airlines. It doesn't matter what field the degree is in, so pick something you enjoy and could potentially use in case the aviation career doesn't work out for some reason (health reasons, industry changes, etc.).
Here are some links and information that you'll find interesting as you investigate and consider an aviation career:
Pay scales for airline pilots. The numbers across the top are years of service, and the amounts are in dollars per hour of pay. The far right column lists the monthly guaranteed hours of pay.
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