Career Advice on How to Become A Pilot, Copilot or Flight Engineer

General Career Information

A very large percentage of pilots and copilots are actually ex-military pilots.  This makes a good deal of sense, as one of the most important traits one could hope for in a pilot is that he has flown a plan for as many hours as possible.  After all, which would you prefer- the new guy who is excited to finally be flying a massive plan with several hundred people in it? Or the guy who has done it so much he is almost bored?  These are all good points to keep in mind when you begin your career planning or job search.

In general, when people hear the term “pilot,” they usually think of airline pilot.  But the facts are that roughly a third of pilots are engaged in other kinds of flying, such as dusting crops, flying test aircraft or rescue efforts.  When one considers all the ways airplanes are used, it quickly becomes apparent how many different flying options and types of pilots there are


Career Facts:

Most large airplanes usually have at least a pilot and a copilot in the flight crew.  It is also common for larger aircraft to have a flight engineer.  The flight engineer works to operate and monitor various systems and might even make minor (one hopes) flight repairs.  Additional responsibilities for a flight engineer may include watching for other aircrafts and helping drunk pilots back to their seat, well, no not really, or so we hope.

Due to the nature of the job, pilots, copilots and flight engineers can spend a great deal of time in the air.  Currently, pilots are limited to one hundred hours of flight time per month.  Often they will work very long hours and spend a good deal of time away from their home cities.


Career Opportunities and Job Outlook- Average:

The growth rate for pilots, co-pilots and flight engineers is expected to be about twelve percent from 2008 to 2012, which is roughly average for all professions.
Job Outlook is OK

A Day in The Life:

Much of a pilot, co-pilot or flight engineer’s day is spent marveling at the relatively amazing safety record that the flight industry does enjoy.  Losing a pilot friend is a rare thing, and that is a testament to the overall quality of industry, at least in terms of general safety.

Average Salary:

The average salary for a pilot, co-pilot or flight engineer is about $65,000 for commercial pilots, with the top ten percent averaging about $130,000.



Career Training and Qualifications:

Thankfully, the training necessary to be a pilot is significant.  The majority of airlines expect pilots to have an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree.  Most applicants in today’s market do in fact have their bachelor’s degree.   Pilots can learn to fly both as pilots in the military or by attending FAA certified flight schools.
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