How Long Does It Take To Become an Airline Pilot?

It’s exciting to pursue becoming a pilot. Congratulations if you’re beginning a career in aviation or just want to learn to fly for fun. 

You’re in for a thrilling journey. 

How long does it take to become an airline pilot, though? 

That sounds like a straightforward inquiry deserving of a simple response. But that’s not the case. 

The frequency of your flights, your skill level, the complexity of the airspace you fly in, the type of aircraft you fly, the local weather, and the expertise of your flight instructor are additional factors that come into play. 

Although there are required minimum hours, you’ll definitely need a lot more to become a pilot. Think about it: it takes, on average, between 55 and 70 hours to become a private pilot in the United States.

So, let’s get back on course before we stray. How long does it take to become an airline pilot?

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What is an Airline Pilot School Like?

An aviation-based job path is not suitable for everyone, according to pilot educators and professional pilots, as flying an airplane demands a great level of courage, competence, and confidence. 

Aviation experts claim that a skilled pilot is capable of responding to an emergency situation with speed and composure. 

According to experts, pilots must be able to handle and resolve mechanical failures of the aircraft at a moment’s notice, as well as safely navigate unforeseen storms. 

Every passenger on an airplane depends on the pilot for their lives, so the pilot must be both extremely skilled and dependable.

Wiggins advises youngsters considering a career in aviation to begin their training in high school. 

At the age of 17, students can obtain a private pilot’s license by collecting a minimum of 40 flight hours. At least ten solo flight hours are required throughout pilot training. 

“There are a couple of reasons for it; it will expedite their time in flight training while they are in college and it will ensure that they are truly interested in doing this before spending a lot of money on flight training after that. You’re either going to like it or you’re not, according to Wiggins.

College grads who work as flight instructors can accrue more hours. Bjerke claims that as flying teachers, pilots can frequently reach the 1,000-hour milestone in just over a year. 

From there, according to Higgins, many pilots join regional airlines, which are frequently more negatively impacted by the pilot shortage due to the higher pay and benefits offered by major aviation businesses, which serve as recruiting tools for new hires. 

Experts emphasize the necessity to fill the technical positions, which are frequently unfilled while pilots are on the front lines of the aviation business.

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Is Attending an Airline Pilot School Worth It?

For many students, being a pilot is worthwhile. Over the next ten years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 5% increase in the need for airline and commercial pilots. This is a faster rate of growth than the overall average for jobs. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that demand for pilots will grow over time as a result of sporadic work schedules and the need to fill pilot retirement positions. 

The average salary for those working in the airline or commercial piloting industries is above average. Most pilots find their profession to be interesting and lively, despite the fact that it demands a great deal of patience and concentration.

The time it takes for flight students to accumulate the required amount of flying hours to obtain the requisite pilot certificates makes the training to become a pilot a significant commitment. Fortunately, you are still qualified to fly as a student pilot. 

Depending on the employment, being a pilot may also come with a number of benefits. 

For instance, pilots who work for airlines frequently receive opportunities for reduced travel that can include their family and friends. 

A career as a pilot can be something to think about if you work well under pressure, have a desire to fly, and enjoy traveling.

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How Long Does It Take To Become a Licensed Airline Pilot in 2023?

To decide if a pilot’s career is right for you, it’s crucial to review the processes and requirements before applying. This includes providing answers to questions like “how long does it take to become an airline pilot?” Students generally travel down the same path: 

1. Training to become a student pilot 

Pilots begin their careers by enrolling in the initial training programs offered by commercial airlines, academic institutions, or independent flying schools. 

They often devote 18 to 2 years to these initial training programs, despite the fact that university degrees typically require more time to finish (three to four years). 

Your training typically ends here if obtaining a Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) for single-pilot operations is your only objective. However, the CPL is only valid for single-pilot aircraft operations.

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2. Training a co-pilot for flight hours 

You can further your education in order to apply for positions in passenger and cargo airlines. 

A “frozen” ATPL is the result of taking pilot training courses; it can only be “unfrozen” after completing the necessary flight hours while serving as a co-pilot in an actual aircraft. 

Depending on your dedication, the co-pilot apprenticeships span one to two years. 

With the smallest CPL programmes lasting 18 months and the longest ATPL programmes lasting up to six years, the complete training procedure lasts about three to four years.

3. Final authorization and accreditation 

For their ultimate ATPL license, pilots complete a standardized exam. In the UK, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), a specialized public corporation founded by Parliament, issues and oversees licenses. 

Pilots and aspiring pilots can also receive certification from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to operate commercial aircraft with EU registration. 

Most pilot training programs include CAA and EASA training so that you can complete the program with the credentials required to sit for both types of exams.

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How Much Does It Cost to Become a Licensed Airline Pilot?

After performing a medical examination, an Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) grants the certificate. Depending on the class, doctor, location, and whether an EKG is required, medical examinations can cost anywhere from $75 to $200. 

To get your pilot license, you often also need to pass an aeronautical knowledge test. The cost of the test varies by location and is between $140 and $165. 

Passing a practical exam is the last need for obtaining a license; the cost of the test depends on the license, the location, and the kind of aircraft used to conduct the checkride.

Costs for practical exams typically range from $350 to $550. The cost for flying instructors, on the other hand, can range from $500 to more than $1,000 in some locations. 

A headset, books, and possibly even a bomber jacket and a pair of Aviator sunglasses are necessary for pilot training. Budgeting $500 to $1,000 for those training materials is an excellent idea.

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Salary and Job Outlook for Airline Pilot after Study

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of airline and commercial pilots will increase by 13% between 2020 and 2030, outpacing the average for all occupations. 

Over the next ten years, there are expected to be over 14,700 opportunities for airline and commercial pilots annually. The demand for commercial pilots is expected to rise across a number of businesses, particularly in ambulance services that need pilots to transport patients to medical facilities. 

Pilots make an annual base income of $83,655 on average. 

There will be plenty of new job opportunities when pilots leave the business or change careers. 

Due to their more lenient entry-level criteria, regional airlines and non-scheduled aviation services may provide candidates a better chance of finding employment.

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Now that you know how many hours it takes to become a pilot, you can plan accordingly. But the minimal necessary hours have received the majority of our attention. 

Most aspiring pilots require at least a few more hours than the minimum in order to attain the necessary level of competency. 

While getting your PPL will almost certainly take you more than 35 hours, you will undoubtedly have some control over “how much more.” By flying frequently, selecting your instructor wisely, and practicing at home, you can drastically cut down on the number of hours. 

Wishing you luck on your aircraft adventure—it will be one to remember!

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Frequently Asked Questions 

How long does it take to become an airline pilot?

Becoming a pilot typically takes 3 to 4 years. To become a pilot, however, can take a variety of years, depending on the certificates and ratings you want to get. There is a minimum number of logged flying hours needed for each certification.
Your timetable may also change depending on whether you want to go to college. A bachelor’s degree can often be obtained in 4 years of full-time study. While pursuing your degree, you can enroll in some aviation programs that include flight instruction and direct you toward becoming a pilot.

Is becoming a pilot for an airline difficult? 

A commercial airline pilot must complete extensive coursework, training, and flying hours before being certified. To become a commercial pilot demands a lot of commitment, hard work, and devotion, but it may be a rewarding career option for anyone who loves to travel and enjoys a challenge.

Does being a pilot require a degree? 

No, is the response. A degree in aviation or attendance at an aviation school are not prerequisites for becoming an airline pilot. In truth, big airlines don’t give a damn about what you studied in college and accept applicants with any and all bachelor’s degrees.

Is it worth it to pay to become a pilot? 

For many students, being a pilot is worthwhile. Over the next ten years, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 5% increase in the need for airline and commercial pilots. This is a faster rate of growth than the overall average for jobs.



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