Airline and commercial pilots essential career information:
- 2012 median pay: $73,280
- 2012, number of jobs: 34,990
- Employment growth forecast, 2010-2020: 11 percent
- Entry level education requirements: Associate’s degree
Airline and commercial pilots; what they do:
Flying the friendly skies is not what it used to be for airline pilots and commercial pilots; advanced security measures, threats of terrorism, long hours and budget constraints have made it a challenge for airline pilots and commercial pilots to do their jobs effectively. In light of these issues, pilots have one of the most challenging, rewarding and exciting jobs in the world.
Airline and commercial pilots fly multi-engine airplanes or helicopters that carry people, packages and other cargo. Commercial pilots also fly aircrafts to conduct rescue and firefighting missions as well as charter unique flights such as aerial photography.
Airline pilot careers may include reviewing safety measures and procedures including checking preflight hydraulics, engine parts and other flight systems, monitoring fuel, schedules and weather.
Airline pilot careers involve listening for proper takeoff and landing instructions from air traffic controllers, checking aircraft weight distribution from loaded cargo and monitoring warning devices, cockpit instrumentation, engines and fuel levels during flight. Airline pilots also work with other crew members to maintain smooth takeoffs and landings.
Airline and commercial pilots job titles:
- Commercial Airline Pilot
- Airline Pilot
- Airline Transport Pilot
- Airline Captain
- Commuter Pilot
- First Officer
Airline and Commercial Pilots Education, Certification and License Requirements
Today, most airline pilots and commercial airline pilots attain an associate’s or bachelor’s degree from a certified civilian flight school or train with a certified instructor to begin a commercial airline pilot career. Many employers require pilots to have a degree.
Commercial pilots and airline pilots carrying passengers or cargo need a commercial pilot’s license, an instrument rating, be 18 or older and have 250 hours of flight experience. In addition, many companies require employees to undergo physical, psychological and aptitude tests to make sure they can handle the enormous amount of stress they face during an airline pilot career.
Company training for pilots often includes 6-8 weeks of ground school with an exam, 25 hours of flight time and yearly training to keep their certification up-to-date. As of 2013, new requirements ensure airline captains and first officers have a transport pilot license which includes 1500 hours of flight time, both written and flight exams, advanced ratings and passing physical examinations.
Airline and commercial pilot programs cover subjects such as:
- Aircraft radio communications
- Human factors in aircraft flight
- Navigate aircraft VFR
- Aircraft passengers and cargo
- Managing pre and post flight actions
- Control airplane on the ground
- Refueling aircraft
- Controlling airplane in normal flight
Career Advancement Opportunities
Most often, civilian pilots begin their careers as flight instructors and advance in their career through accumulating flight hours during training sessions. After completing many training hours, the instructors can become commercial airline pilots.
Commercial airline pilots often advance in their career through attaining higher end positions and pay grades via flying corporate planes. However, union contract rules have specific requirements regarding any position movement. First officers in nonairline jobs can further their careers through advancing to a captain job or director in aviation job.
Airline and Commercial Pilots Job Outlook
Forecast: 11 percent employment growth for airline and commercial pilots from 2010 to 2020, about as fast as the average for all occupations.
The increase in traveling taking place between Asia and the United States and the continued replacement of retired pilots increases the demand for airline and commercial pilots. The increase in the number of retiring pilots between 2010 and 2020 increases the job opportunities for flight instructor jobs and the need to train incoming pilots.
Airline and Commercial Pilots Salary
- 2012 median annual wage: $73,280
- 2012 workers at the 75th percentile annual wage: $96,810
- 2012, workers at the 25th percentile annual wage: $53,050
Airline and Commercial Pilots Major Employers
- Activities for air transportation
- Ambulatory health care services
- Nonscheduled air transportation
- Aerospace product and parts manufacturers
- Technical and trade schools