Pilot Career Training: What You Need to Know

pilot career training

Looking into pilot career training? 

There has never been a better time to embark on your pilot career.

A massive pilot shortage is creating significant demand for pilot career training. As baby boomer pilots retire, the national and global need for new pilots continues to increase at an incredible pace.

In fact, Boeing has reported that over the next 20 years, there will be a need for over 790,000 new pilots.

With such strong demand, the pilot career has become highly attractive. Excellent pay, robust benefits, and fantastic job security make flying airplanes for a living an ideal career to pursue.

If you have ever dreamed of becoming a pilot, now is the perfect time to evaluate your options. We take a look below at pilot career training requirements, program options, and costs.

First, let’s look at the minimum pilot career training requirements.

Unlike many other high-paying careers, a college degree isn’t necessary in order to begin your career as a pilot. In fact, it’s possible to begin your pilot career with all your required training complete in as little as 6 to 9 months. The only definite prerequisites for a career as a pilot are a series of certifications and flight ratings that can be earned as quickly (or as slowly) as you are able to achieve them.

Here are the required ratings and certificates for pilot career training:

  • Private Pilot Certificate. The Private Pilot Certificate is the starting point for anyone who wants to fly, personally or professionally. Students become a safe and competent private pilot while learning about aerodynamics, flight maneuvers, weather, takeoffs and landings, airplane systems, avionics, air regulations and compliance, and more.
  • Instrument Rating. The Instrument Rating is required to fly during cloudy and low visibility weather conditions. Training will include partial panel procedures, various instrument approaches, low visibility navigation, one-on-one ground instruction, FAA regulations and compliance, and more.
  • Commercial Pilot Certificate. The Commercial Pilot Certificate is required for anyone earning money professionally as a pilot. Training includes advanced maneuvers, precision takeoffs and landings, navigation and instrumentation, regulations and procedures, flight theory and principles, flight planning and monitoring, air systems and equipment, and more. Pilots must have a minimum total time of 250 hours in order to apply for their Commercial Flight Rating.
  • Commercial Multi-Engine Certificate. The Commercial Multi-Engine Certificate is a requirement for anyone wanting to be employed by a commercial airline.
  • Certified Flight Instructor (CFI). The Certified Flight Instructor Certificate allows pilots to be employed as a flight instructor and teach others to fly. While this rating is not a requirement in order to be employed in other capacities, it is commonly earned by pilots who want a career with regional or major airlines because it allows individuals to earn money while also logging at least 1500 hours total time, which is the minimum flight time to be employed by the airlines.

Here are optional flight ratings that are commonly earned because they allow more employment opportunity as an instructor:

  • Certified Flight Instructor Instrument (CFII). The Certified Flight Instructor Instrument Rating is a requirement for anyone wanting to work as a flight instructor helping others achieve their instrument rating.
  • Multi-engine Instructor (MEI). The Multi-Engine Instructor Rating is a requirement for anyone wanting to work as a flight instructor in multi-engine aircraft. While this rating is not a requirement in order to be employed in other capacities, it is commonly earned by pilots who want a career with regional or major airlines because it allows them to earn money while logging multi-engine time.

Now, let’s look at the program options and costs associated with pilot career training.

While the minimum requirements are the same for everyone, there is a large variance in the associated training programs and costs.

Here are some of the common options:

Bachelor Degree Program Associate Degree Program No Degree – Flight Training Only
Program Overview Many students interested in a pilot career complete their required training as a part of a traditional four-year college degree program. In years past, many of the available pilot jobs went to pilots who had obtained their degree, making the traditional college degree program a common, if not preferred, choice for many career pilots. The downside for students is the time and money it takes to complete their four-year program. Tuition and fees for the degree program can range from around $7,500 per year to over $30,000 per year, depending on the college or university. As the demand for pilots has increased in recent years, many students have opted to complete their pilot career training outside of the traditional four-year bachelor’s degree programs. This saves tuition and time before beginning their pilot career. For airline pilots, seniority progression can have a larger impact on overall pay and benefits than having a four-year degree, meaning the sooner you can get hired, the sooner you can receive the higher salaries that are available. The quickest approach to pilot career training is to complete your training outside of a college degree program. Because many regional and major airlines have removed or relaxed their degree requirements, many career students have opted to skip the time and expenses associated with a degree program and instead focus all of their efforts on getting into their dream job as quickly as possible.
Expected Costs The typical investment for a bachelor degree program with all the necessary ratings and certificates will range from $120,000 to around $250,000. The typical investment for an associate degree program with all the necessary ratings and certificates will range from around $85,000 to $120,000. At Performance Aircraft, pilot career students can complete all of their required flight training in as little as 9 months for around $60,000 total.

No matter which option you choose, completing your pilot career training will allow you to embark on an exciting and enjoyable career with attractive salary and benefit options, including regular pay increases, signing bonuses, profit sharing, and more.
Read more about the pilot career opportunity here.

pilot career opportunity

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