Looking to Transition from Certified Professional Pilot to an Airline Career? Here’s What You Need to Know

Certified Professional PilotYou’re not alone; many people consider switching jobs, the average person doing it 11 times throughout a career. (1)  Perhaps you’re bored of a monotonous, desk job, desiring a more exciting position, one that takes you places.

As consumers bounce back from a recession, more willing to take vacations and spend time in the skies, more airlines are hiring certified professional pilots to navigate planes and passengers through the clouds.

Are you planning on taking your employment to the skies, transitioning jobs, becoming a certified pilot?  Here’s what you need to know to do it.


A number of airline companies require (at least) 2 years of college, preferring graduates; as the number of bachelor-degree-holding pilots increases, the standards of hiring rises as well.  (2)  Aspiring pilots focus on English, Math, Engineering, and related fields.


According to the US Bureau of Labor, new regulations require first officers have a pilot’s license in conjunction with commercial certification; applicants must be at least 23 years of age, pass required exams and flight training, and accrue a minimum of 1,500 hours in the sky. (2)

Amateur pilots may transition their license, becoming a commercial worker through training and accruing more time flying through flight training.  Commercial airlines champion candidates who have quick reaction times and are good problem solvers.

Due to the huge responsibility and number of people involved, pilots must undergo psychological tests, ensuring mental stability and aptitude for making optimal decisions, especially during periods where other peoples’ welfares are involved.

Once hired, additional training usually takes place, encompassing 8 weeks or longer on the ground and more hours (about 25) of flight time.  Ongoing training is mandatory and takes place once or twice per year.


Accumulating flight hours is the sought goal of professionals transitioning into a piloting career.  New pilots have to compensate for lost time in the sky; additionally, aspiring fliers need to ensure they’re accumulating the right kind, such as cross-country, night, multi-engine, and hours using particular instruments.

In addition to the wealth of airtime needed to apply, to-be pilots undergo an immense amount of reading, learning about particular systems and engines like JT15D as well as airline devices.

Aside from mastering technical insights, pilots must be personable, offering passengers value in exchange for their commerce.  As in food-service-related jobs (like bartending) fly attendants and pilots are highly sociable, ensuring the passengers feel safe, secure, and would likely chose to spend dollars using the respective airline’s services again.


In 2010, more than 100,000 pilot jobs were available, paying a median salary of just over $90,000 per year (2).  The career offers a number of rewards including the ability to see new places, work different schedules, and the possibility of permanent relocation within different cities and parts of the world.

The learned abilities to stay flexible and save money out of college (until enough hours are accrued to become a certified pilot) are two, immediate concerns of new pilots or those transitioning from other careers. (3)

Do the needed requirements offer a challenge, with the proposed lifestyle seeming attractive to you?  Do you have what it takes to transition your careers, donning a pilot’s cap, flying through the friendly skies?

Andre Maye is an amateur pilot, and aircraft is his personal passion. He enjoys sharing his insights and flying stories on various aviation blogs. Visit the Pilot Training School link to learn more