The career path of a commercial airline pilot

During our childhoods, most of us aspired to be a pilot when we were older. However, for those clinging onto these dreams and genuinely considering becoming a pilot as a career path, it’s rarely made clear to youngsters what kind of path one might need to take in order to become one. Whilst there are a few details here which we’ll get into, you’d be glad to know that becoming a pilot is more hands-on that you might initially think. So how do you become a commercial airline pilot?


To get the proverbial ball rolling, you will need to decide on which course you will want to take in order to begin with. There are numerous places across the web to search for pilot courses, but perhaps for now you should consider visiting , which has the quintessential list of course offerings for prospective pilots.


Unlike most other professions, training as a pilot allows you to train whilst you work, or work while your train; whichever way you’d prefer to look at it. In the profession this is known as ‘ATPL’ Training, or ‘Ab Initio Air Transport Pilot Licence’ Training. During this time you will complete 195 hours of flight time to get your starter licence, and then a further 1,500 hours to get your full licence – 500 of these you will complete as a ‘First Officer’ working with another training pilot.

This gives you both the experience and accreditation to begin your career as a commercial airline pilot.


Experience rules the market when it comes to the pharmaceutical industry, so best prepare yourself for employment by choosing a degree which allows you to obtain professional experience whilst you study. This can be in the guise of a professional experience module of up to 6 weeks, or better yet, a year – which is available via a ‘sandwich degree’. This will help set you apart from other graduates in your position who are looking to gain employment in the pharmaceutical industry.


Whilst learning to become a commercial airline pilot is predominantly a practical based exercise, alongside this you will still be required to sit exams on a periodic basis. You will also be required to sit tests after you have your full licence to ensure that pilots are compliant with current aviation laws and legislation. Further academic study can be taken in order to advance your career further.


As a career, piloting rewards those with excellent patience, good communication and team working skills, as well as those who are even-tempered professionals with a calm personality.

The further down the career path, the more you will be financially rewarded, with some commercial airline pilots earning as north of £100,000. Starting out you can expect to earn between £25k and £35k per annum – which progresses rapidly after you have a couple of years under your belt.


A healthy lifestyle is imperative for any prospective pilot, as well as continual well-being throughout your career. As a pilot you will undergo periodic health checks to check that you are in tip-top condition so that you don’t risk the life of your passengers because of any ailments that you may have picked-up. Most pilots choose to follow a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and stick to a rigid sleeping pattern.

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