How Long Does It Take To Become A Pilot

 

how long does it take to become a pilotFrom the time you start your flight training, it will take anywhere from 4 years to 15 or even 20 years before you land that dream pilot job!

Why does it take so long?

If your dream is to work for an airline, corporate flight department, or any job that flies technically advanced jet airplanes, you will need two things:

 

  1. A lot of flight time in your logbook
  2. A college degree (used to not be necessary, but realistically, to be competative this is a must)

[note: the military route to a pilot job will be different, this article deals with civilian pilots]

There are different scenarios that civilian pilots take to get their flight time.  Here I will show you the two main scenarios that I’ve seen.  Most other scenarios are a combination of these two:

Scenario 1

  • Years 1 – 4: Attend college to get a degree.  You can do some or all of your flight training during this time as well.
  • Years 5 – 6: Your First 250-300 flight hours.  Finish flight training to obtain your basic certificates (Commercial, Multi-Engine, Instrument, Certified Flight Instructor)
  • Years 6 – 10 and on: Your next 300-1500 flight hours.  Work as a full time Certified Flight instructor, banner tower, glider tower, scenic flight pilot, part 135 pilot, etc.  Obtain an ATP (Airline Transport Pilot certificate)  and start applying for your dream job

Scenario 2

  • Years 1 – 4: Attend college to get a degree.  You can do some or all of your flight training during this time as well.
  • Years 5 – 7: Your First 250-300 flight hours.  Finish flight training to obtain your basic certificates (Commercial, Multi-Engine, Instrument, Certified Flight Instructor)
  • Years 8 – 12: Your next 250-1200 flight hours.  Work as a part time Certified Flight instructor, banner tower, glider tower, scenic flight pilot, etc.
  • Years 12 – 15: Your next 1200-1500 flight hours.  Work for a part 135 company flying small twins and/or turboprops, either part time or full time
  • Years 16 – 20 and on: After your 1500 flight hours.  Obtain an ATP (Airline Transport Pilot certificate)  and start applying for your dream job

Notice how in Scenario 1 you’re working as a full time pilot (flight instructor) as soon as you can.  In Scenario 2, you are working only as a part-time pilot (flight instructor), presumably because you have a higher-paying full time job.

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The new FAA rule

In the United States, regional airlines could legally hire pilots with as little as 300 hours to serve as co-pilots (only captains were required to hold an ATP).  Starting in 2013, this will no longer be an option.  In August 2010, Congress passed a law that will force regional

regional airline, how long does it take to become a pilot, how long to be a pilot, how long to fly

airlines to only hire pilots who have an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate.

This means that someone with very little flight time (less than 1,500 hours), will no longer qualify for a job with a regional.  If this worries you, you don’t have to panic.  Even when it was legal for regional airlines to hire low-time pilots, the truth is, they didn’t.  They still hired the best candidates, those with more experience….more flight time.

So, just because you won’t qualify, it doesn’t mean you had a realistic chance of getting hired by a regional with less than 1,500hrs anyway.

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  20 Responses to “How Long Does It Take To Become A Pilot”

  1. It’s great that I came across your article. I am 33 years old and planning to pursue a career as a professional pilot. I am currently a professional pharmacist at the moment and using this career to save up for flying lessons. I will be paying(of course) for my PPL and CPL and the cost is not a joke. My question is, do I still need to get an IR to get a pilot job? Which pilot jobs can I get with minimum (200 hours maybe) to earn more flight hours? I dreamed of being a pilot since I was 7 or 8 and I still dream of being one now. I know it will entail lots of time.. Any comment will be appreciated. Thanks.

  2. Hi Ryan,

    Thanks for your question! While an Instrument Rating is not required for some jobs, it will definitely limit your opportunities for pilot jobs. Some of the the jobs you could obtain with out it are:

    * Banner tower
    * Tow plane pilot
    * Parachute jump operations pilot
    * Sight seeing pilot
    * Ferry pilot
    * Pilot for photography operations
    * Traffic watch pilot

    With any job you obtain, you will be limited to VFR operations, which is why companies may be hesitant to hire you. But, since you are starting out a bit later than most, it is definitely key for you to start getting as much flight time as possible.

    Good luck!

  3. Hi, My name is Mohammad and I am 17 years old. I am in O’Levels IGCSE final year. Becoming a pilot is my dream since childhood and I want to become a commercial pilot. My question is how should i start my career as a pilot? What qualifications do i need to get an admission in a flying school and what are the requirements. Hope for your acknowledgment. Thanks :)

  4. Hi. Im 16 years old and i want to be a pilot working for the airline or airforce.
    My question is. When should i go to pilot school? Should i do it durning collage time or?

    • Yes, as soon as you can. If you want to start flying during college, make sure you have enough time. Otherwise, wait until you graduate and then focus on flight training to get it done quickly. The longer you take, the more it will cost.

  5. Hi…my name is jeremy from philippines and becoming pilot is my dream and i just want to ask how long the commercial pilot….i’m already 3rd year high school in my place its very early to inquire but im excited….and to know my mom how long does cpl..thank you

    • It all depends on you. If you work really really hard, maybe a couple of years. If you slack off, it will take exponentially longer. But, then you still need to build up flight time, and that will take another few years.

  6. hello,
    im currently in year 11 in high school taking my gcses.
    i will hopefully be taking 4 a-levels including maths and physics
    i would love to be a female commercial airline pilot. i say female as a few people have said that its a guys job but i am determined to achieve!i was wondering how long it would take to be a commercial pilot and how old would i be when i have a full licence
    many thanks
    larea

    • Hello,

      Don’t worry, there are many female airline pilots now. Of course, it’s still mostly males, but that is slowly changing and all the male pilots I know are very cool and supportive of women pilots.

      One of my articles talks about how long it take to be a pilot, so make sure you check it out!

  7. Hi, i am 19 and i am not sure which path is best for me. I have a few questions about how to become a pilot.

    -I recently got a job as a trainee mechanic in avionics, but my all-time career is to be a pilot. I’ve read countless times that a degree is practically essential to become an airline pilot, but was wondering if i was to achieve a B2 license, (which consists of 13 examinations and requires at least 5yrs experience) would that count. It’s not exactly a degree but it is a licence in aircraft maintenance which is still aviation related. I’m not sure if I should stay and achieve a B2 licence (as it is still aviation related and shows I have experience in aircraft maintenance) or leave and go to uni to get a 4yr degree.

    -Also I’ve read that the RAF is also a good way to become an airline pilot. Is that true? And how would I go about it?

    -Should I start with my PPL or are there other ways to start flight training?

    P.S. I live in Scotland and would much prefer to stay in the country if possible.

    • From my experience, a technical certificate does not count as a college degree, so you would be better off getting a degree if a pilot career in the airlines is your goal.

      The RAF is a good way to have the military pay for your flight training, but sometimes a pilot slot is not guaranteed so make sure you ask a lot of questions. Also make sure how many years they expect you to commit.

      A PPL is what most people start with, though I have heard of people going straight for their Commercial/Instrument.

  8. I am now studying in 10th…and my interrogation with you is I m female…so can females apply for this..and if yes what is the procedure for them…..? I hope the answer is positive..

  9. Hi My nameis Njabulo and I am 21 years old. I have obtain my diploma in IT(database administrator) Becoming a pilot is my dream since childhood and I want to become a pilot navigation. My question is how should i start my career as a pilot? What qualifications do i need to get an admission in pilot navigation schools and what are the requirements. Hope for your acknowledgment. Thanks

  10. Hi I’m 15 years old and in high school .
    I want to know where can I start to become a airline pilot

    • You can start by doing research and maybe visiting a flight school. Ask if there’s a way you could help out in exchange for some demo flights or flight time. It’s a great way to meet other pilots that can help you out along the way. Also, make sure you get good grades and maybe even join an aviation organization, like the Civil Air Patrol – you can learn a lot and get introduced to great opportunities.

  11. Hi,
    I’m 16 and want to become a pilot.
    I was wondering if I could take PPL training instead of doing A-levels/IB..
    I’ve just moved back to the UK after 4 years in Norway and have the next 7-9 months in which I wish to do this training and then I do 2 years of IB starting from the next academic year. Do you know if this is possible?

    • Hi!
      Great, congratulations! Yes, getting a PPL is totally doable in 7-9 months. You just have to study hard and fly often. Some people have done it in 3 months!

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