How to become a pilot

If you have always loved the buzz of jetting off and have been thinking about becoming a pilot, it is appreciated that it is often hard to know where to start. It seems to be an odd profession in that respect; if you want to become a doctor, you train at medical school; likewise, if you want to become a teacher it is obvious that you would need to complete a teacher training course or a PGSE.

There are actually lots of different varieties of pilot jobs, despite popular belief that a pilot is a pilot, and that is that. But, we are going to focus on pilots who you would find working for an airline in this guide.

Duties of a Pilot

In this role, as a pilot, you would be taking on a range of differently sized aeroplanes and you would be responsible for getting the passengers and crew safely to their destinations.
You would also be expected to carry out equipment checks prior to each flight to ensure the optimum safety levels at all times.

As the pilot, you would be tasked with checking routes with air traffic control and having the knowledge and power to alter them if necessary. This could be, for example, due to bad weather.

You will also gain the skills to control planes in mid-air and you will need to know how to correctly respond to in-flight information. Furthermore, you will follow instructions during the course of the flight from ground staff to ensure a safe landing.

A pilot will write up detailed reports and logs which relate to each individual flight to use for future reference.

Getting your Qualification

To operate as a pilot, you will need to be fully qualified. Before you start your practical training, you will be required to pass a general fitness test which will evaluate your eyesight and hearing. If these are all sound, you will be able to move onto training to become a pilot.

Unfortunately, if you do not have sufficient eyesight or hearing to meet the standards set out, you cannot continue on to becoming a pilot.

If you are successful at the general fitness test, you can aim towards your Airline Transport Pilot’s License (ATPL), or the frozen ATPL, which allows you to work as a First Officer, meaning you would act a co-pilot only. The frozen ATPL will take no less than 18 months to complete if you do it full time. Part-time courses will take longer.

To pass the qualification for a frozen ATPL, the minimum number of hours in the air to be completed is 195 hours. When you have completed 1,500 hours of flying hours during your time, you are eligible to apply for a full ATPL to qualify as an Airline Captain.
Check out the The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for the list of approved flying schools.

Skills required to be a pilot

To be a great pilot, you will need:

  • Really good hand-to-eye-co-ordination
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Problems-solving skills
  • The ability to remain focused and calm when under pressure

If you feel like you have these skills, then you should have no problem in your journey becoming a pilot and if your career in general.

How much will I earn as a pilot?

The starting salary for a pilot tends to be around £20,00 per annum. The progression in this industry is great. As an experienced co-pilot and captain, you can expect to earn anywhere from £38,000 to £90,000.

You can look at being able to eventually earn around £150,000 per year after you have lots of experience under your belt and are now classed as ‘highly experienced’ as a captain.