What are the steps to become a pilot?


The path to become a pilot can be a confusing one, and it can be even more confusing for someone who isn't already familiar with the aviation world.  Although each person's aviation goals are different from the next, here's a quick break-down of what it takes to become a pilot:

Step 1: Private Pilot

The first step in anyone's aviation journey is to get their Private Pilot Certificate.  This allows you to fly (with passengers) on your own.

The FAA requires that you have at least 40 flight hours, 10 of which are solo hours.  Along with the flight experience, the FAA requires you to have been trained in several subjects related to flight and aviation, and that you take and pass a written exam.

Once you have completed the minimum requirements, and have an endorsement from your instructor, you can take a "checkride," or a practical test with a pilot examiner.  This is where they make sure you have the required knowledge and skills to be a pilot.

Step 2: Instrument Rating

For a lot of people, getting their private pilot certificate is all they want. But even if all you're doing is flying for pleasure, we recommend continuing on and getting your Instrument Rating, which allows you to "fly in the clouds."  This training will really help you to polish and fine-tune your flying skills.

For pilots wanting to pursue a career in aviation, an instrument rating is in many cases a requirement, so getting this rating is strongly encouraged.

The instrument rating also has some flight experience hours requirements, as well as instructional requirements and a written test.  Once you've completed those requirements, you take a checkride with an examiner to ensure you are up to the standards set up by the FAA.

Step 3: Commercial Pilot

On the path towards a career in aviation, the next step for a pilot is to get their Commercial Pilot Certificate.  This certificate, like the others, has some experience and training requirements, as well as a written test and a checkride you must pass in order to earn it.

The biggest thing with the Commercial Pilot Certificate is that it requires you to have at least 250 total flight hours.  So between your Private Pilot Certificate and your Commercial Pilot Certificate, you need to be flying and building up those hours.

Step 4: Build Your Hours

Many companies require you to have a certain number of flight hours before they will hire you.  Some smaller, local companies might hire you around 500 hours.  Larger charter organizations start looking at candidates when they have around 1000 hours.  And airline companies require you to have at least 1500 hours before they will hire you.

This is the part of your journey where you have to decide HOW you will build your hours and get the experience employers require.  Some people do everything they can to find jobs that will hire pilots at low hours... but many times, you have to go to where the work is, and take whatever you can find, even though it might not pay too well.  Other people opt to continue on to get their Flight Instructor Certificate and get a job at a flight school as a flight instructor.  You could even simply rent airplanes and fly whenever you want as long as you can afford it.  No matter how you do it, you're working towards getting that dream job... so buckle down and get it done!

The path towards becoming a professional pilot can be confusing, and it helps to get your questions answered by someone who already has experience in that field.  Contact us today and we can help answer all of those questions.

Happy flying!