The Route to an Aviation Career.
This guest post is from Stephanie of Hillsboro Aviation in Oregon, who was kind enough answer my questions about how to start an aviation career. I hope my son is reading this!
The Route to an Aviation Career
The route to becoming an employable commercial pilot is not necessarily easy. Is it worth it? That really depends on you—if it’s your dream to fly airplanes or helicopters for a living, then it probably is.
Before you start out, however, there are some things you should understand. It will likely take years before you are ready to start piloting a big, commercial airline jet or flying helicopters commercially. During this time you may be earning little money and even paying money for airplane or helicopter flight training to earn the necessary certificates that you need. If you are okay with this, then it’s never too late to start.
In addition to the necessary airplane or helicopter lessons, many employers like to see that you have completed some formal education. While there is usually no official requirement that you must obtain a degree to be a pilot, it does not hurt and often helps in the recruitment process. Consider going for a math or science degree to boost your credibility in this area.
You will need to log a certain number of flight hours with an instructor and a certain number solo to get your first certification: Private Pilot. With this certificate, you can then work on getting either a Commercial Pilot Certificate for an airplane or a helicopter. Once you complete your commercial certificate, you can work on your Certified Flight Instructor Rating. With this rating, you can get a job as a flight instructor which is a great way to build your flight hours and pay for food at the same time. As an instructor, you can get paid to help other students learn to fly an aircraft and build up the necessary hours flying. According to Hillsboro Aviation, a flight instructor must be prepared to educate, motivate and evaluate his or her students effectively.
Somewhere between getting a private certificate and a commercial one, you’ll need to get an Instrument Rating in order to fly in conditions of low visibility. Commercial airline pilots will also need a multi-engine rating, which gives you experience in a multi-engine aircraft and an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate, which ultimately allows you to be the pilot in charge (or the captain) of a big, commercial airline jet.
After getting a commercial certificate, your “training” may not be finished. Depending on the type of career you are seeking, you’ll most likely have to work your way up to the job you want. Airlines don’t often put freshly-certified pilots in charge of large 747s after all. With a commercial license you are ready to fly charter jets or with a regional airline, all the while getting more flight experience and more time in the sky. After that, you are ready for major airlines, where you will likely undergo more preparation directly from the airline.
With helicopter pilots, there are a lot of different options available from emergency medical services to sightseeing operations. Check out the specific requirements for the job you want, and if you do not yet fit the bill, work on getting as much experience as you can.
As you can see, it may take some time for you to land the pilot job of your dreams, but it is definitely possible. The best thing you can do to begin the journey is start logging as many hours in the cockpit as possible. Before you know it, you’ll be ready to take on any challenge.
If this has you dreaming of a career in aviation and you are local to Portland, you can visit HIllsboro Aviation yourself to find out more. They offer both Helicopter and Fixed Wing Flight Training and, as you can see, are more than happy to answer questions.