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How to Have a Career as a Pilot

Pilots are stars in a demanding job providing safe passage for legions of people, but there’s a lot more to advancing in this exciting career than you might guess.


  • Step 1: Take introductory flight Take a plane ride at a small airport that will let you use the controls. This will help you decide if you like being off the ground and in control of others’ lives.
  • Step 2: Get training and education Acquire knowledge of aircraft systems, meteorology, physiology, navigation, regulations, and air traffic control.
  • TIP: Though regional airlines do not require a four-year college degree, all major airlines do.
  • Step 3: Meet medical requirements Meet standard medical requirements, including physicals for vision, hearing, and reflexes, as well as conventional checks for blood pressure, hernia, diabetes, neurological, and more.
  • Step 4: Log hours and get tested Log at least 250 flight hours for a commercial pilot certificate, awarded after a written test and a 'check-ride' with a Federal Aviation Administrator. You must also pass tests for instrument, commercial aviation, multi-engine, and other ratings.
  • Step 5: Apply for job Apply for instructor positions and positions at regional or cargo companies.
  • TIP: Both major airlines and corporate jet services pay well and offer superior benefits.
  • Step 6: Handle the pressure Prepare for erratic and stressful schedules that may keep you away from home several days at a time.
  • Step 7: Upgrade qualifications Accumulate flight hours, attend FAA seminars and courses, and stay abreast of developments in the field through pilot associations and other organizations.
  • FACT: Atlanta is the world’s busiest airport, with an average of 2,400 flights daily.

You Will Need

  • Education
  • Good health
  • 250 flight hours
  • Grace under pressure
  • A college degree

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