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Pursuing a career as a pilot offers the opportunity for some exciting challenges and a chance to see the world, but it also requires dedication and hard work. It requires more than just the right education, although that will help you begin your journey. It also requires acquiring the right training, experience, and certifications.
You Will Need a Bachelor’s Degree
While you don’t need a special education just to¬†get a pilot’s license, you will need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, if you hope to go to work for any commercial airline. Many airlines stipulate that the degree must be in aircraft operations, aeronautical engineering, aviation, or some related field. Additionally, your course of study must include the completion of classes in physics, mathematics, and in English comprehension. In addition, make sure the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved the degree program for which you want to pursue.
Flight Experience
Before you can qualify for your pilot’s license, you must have at least 250 hours of flight experience. In applying for a license as a commercial airline pilot, that requirement is raised to 1,500 hours of flight experience. You must also obtain a total of 40 hours of instrument flying experience, which can be a combination of in-air experience and experience working with a simulator. Typically, flight experience can be achieved through working with a licensed private instructor or through a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved flight school.
Obtaining Your License
Once you have your flight experience, you can begin the licensing process, which will involve a written exam, an in-air flight test, and a rating exam that evaluates your precision in working with flying instruments. There will also be a physical exam that requires you to have 20/20 vision or have vision that can be corrected to 20/20. You must also exhibit healthy hearing and you cannot possess physical handicaps that would interfere with your ability to operate an aircraft.
Getting the Job
Even after you’re a certified commercial pilot, you’re still not done with testing and training. Most airlines require new pilots to undergo psychological testing, more physical exams that include drug tests, and aptitude tests. If hired, you’ll likely be subjected to a six to eight training schedule that often includes up to 25 hours of flight time. Afterwards, you’ll be assigned work as a co-pilot on smaller commuter flights and may have to work your way up to flying as the lead pilot on larger commercial aircrafts.