How To Become An Airline Pilot
So you want to become an airline pilot?
Like many before, you have dreamed of climbing into your shiny Boeing 747 Jumbo and flying the world all from the relative comforts of your cockpit. You have also likely dreamed of exotic locales and attractive flight attendants. If this forms part of your dream of becoming a commercial pilot you may be severely disappointed.
Due to the recent shake up in the airline industry the golden age of senior captains earning 200k plus per year and working 12 days per month have practically disappeared. The abhorrent reality is that now most Captains earn in the sub 100k range and are working and flying more duty hours than ever before. They also live on par poverty wages accumulating the appropriate experience level to even reach that lofty point of their career. The unfortunate truth is the path to the becoming a professional pilot is now a rough one.
The good news is that there are still many opportunities for the people that have the drive and determination to forge a career in this difficult field. I am therefore writing this article to give you the basics of what you should know before making a decision on an aviation career.
Firstly, this article is primarily being aimed at the person interested in going into the Part 121 – Airline environment. It is not within the purview of this primer to cover other equally lucrative areas of aviation.
Ok, you have obviously just made the well intentioned decision to forge ahead with your commercial pilot training and you’re not exactly sure where to start. The first piece of advice that I will give you is to attend a college and study a degree in something other than aviation.
The reason I advise this is that, in the future, you may need to fall upon that skill set when times become tough in aviation and you need to seek work elsewhere. You will find that you regret the fact that you lack a non-aviation related degree if you choose to eventually seek work outside of aviation.
Now, if you absolutely can not stay away from aviation and must eat, sleep, and breathe it, I then recommend that you choose an aviation related college such as the University Of North Dakota (UND). There are other aviation schools around that bill themselves as the `Harvard of the skies’. Do not buy into this marketing hoopla, the plain truth is that all the Major airlines just want to see a degree from somewhere. It is irrelevant which university that you went to. So save yourself some money and seek the cheapest degree you can get (this will be a common theme in your aviation career).
Many people will tell you to skip school and go straight to a small regional airline where no degree is required. This can be an advantage in that you would be senior to someone who waited to finish school but the reality is that to move on to any Major airline you will need a four year degree. So suck it up and finish college before moving on to pilot training.