Can I become a pilot at 40?

become a pilot at 40

There is no age limit for pilots to work commercially. At 40 years of age, you can start a career in airlines as a pilot.

Sounds interesting? Well, there’s a lot more to which I will explain in this post:

  • How can you become a pilot at 40 for airlines?;
  • The crucial aspect that will make or break your commercial pilot career at 40;
  • What is the age limit for commercial pilots?;
  • How long can you work in the airline?;
  • Which jobs are available for professional pilots after you are 60?

Becoming a pilot at 40 is possible, but it might be challenging for those with health concerns. Ultimately it’s your decision whether you will select the airline career path or not.

Depending on your objectives as a pilot, I also answered which license is adequate to fly an airplane.

You may choose to become a commercial pilot or merely a pilot for recreation.

How can you become a pilot at 40 for airlines?

The process to get a pilot license is straightforward. Enroll in a flight school, pass the tests, and have your certificates fly an airplane.

Assuming at 40, you have sufficient cash to afford flight training for a commercial pilot license. However, the only concerning matter is, are you fit to acquire a 1st class medical certificate at 40?

RELATED: Why is the pilot training course expensive?

Acquiring a commercial pilot license requires the pilot to hold a first-class medical certificate. A person has to pass specific medical examinations for a first-class medical certification.

Being medically unfit at forty will limit your opportunities to work as an airline pilot. Nevertheless, your chances of working as a commercial pilot are not limited.

The airline may not hire you as a pilot at forty if you are not in your best medical condition, but you still can work as a pilot in general aviation.

Thus to become a commercial pilot at 40 is not too late. It means your opportunities to work are slightly narrow.

I suppose, at 40, you want a career shift or revive your childhood dream to become a pilot.

Even at forty, if you are medically fit and acquire your commercial pilot license, you will be on the right path to work as an airline pilot.

If you are hesitant, then you must go for a discovery flight. A discovery flight allows you to realize:

  • How do you feel inside the cockpit?
  • Are you comfortable enough to take flight training?
  • Can you grasp the aircraft control at this age?
  • Do you feel too old to multi-task as a pilot?

Answering these questions after a discovery flight, you can determine whether you are ready for the career shift or not.

If you are determined, follow the STEPS below, which will take you close to your aviation goals.

Step 1: Is to acquire a private pilot license.

Step 2: To Become instrument-rated.

Step 3: Get your commercial pilot license.

Step 4: Become a certified flight instructor to build experience to satisfy airline requirements.

Flying airplanes is a thrilling experience, and regardless of your age, you will love it.

What is one crucial aspect that will make or break your commercial pilot career at 40?

The trickiest part to becoming a commercial pilot at 40 is to maintain good health.

Like I mentioned earlier, to obtain any pilot license, you have to pass specific medical tests for pilots.

Passing the medical tests is not a big deal, but maintaining your best shape to continue flying is challenging.

The medical certificates issued by the civil aviation body have a date of expiry. A pilot must renew his first-class medical certificate annually to keep his commercial pilot license current.

Apart from that, pilots over 35 years old must do medical tests every six months to confirm they are medically fit.

It is common for airlines to do medical checkups of pilots every six months.

Minor issues with your health or failure to pass a medical examination will disqualify you from working as a commercial pilot.

Is it too late to become a pilot?

Is it late or not depends so much on your objectives as a pilot.

  • Obtaining a pilot license for recreation is one thing.
  • Acquiring a commercial pilot license to make a living is another thing.

If you intend to fly once in a while with family and friends, you only need a private pilot license. The regulation for holding a private pilot license is merely easy but has a few operation restrictions.

RELATED: Private pilot license restrictions.

A private pilot license is adequate for you if you own an aircraft and travel frequently between states. A private pilot license is easy to obtain without so many restrictions on medical certification.

Even at fifty years old, don’t hesitate to get a private pilot license. Thinking you are too old to fly for recreation is a joke.

What if your objective is to become a commercial pilot at 40?

40 is not too late to live your dream. But if you are medically healthy and, of course, afford the flight training cost.

RELATED: Why is the flight training course expensive?

Getting an airline pilot job is a steep path for everyone. Airline prefers to hire the most talented and knowledgeable pilot regardless of age.

So for someone in their 40s, the path may be difficult but not impossible.

is it too late to become a commercial pilot

Airlines prefer commercial pilots who are going to stay with the airline for a long time.

As a pilot of 40 years old with the same experience as 25 years old, applying for the same job in an airline will put you in a very competitive situation.

Nevertheless, with a growing number of airlines worldwide, there are always opportunities for fresh commercial pilot licensees regardless of age.

I saw many pilots in their 40s got hired by airlines.

Let’s assume you get a job as a first officer in your forties. It is likely they will only let you fly in the regional routes.

Sooner or later, depending on your cockpit performance, the airline will promote you as a captain in the airlines.

It is never too late to become a commercial pilot. If you commit to working in the airline, then go for it. It will be challenging, but the outcome will be sweeter.

Age limit for pilots and How long can you work in the airline?

  • The minimum age limit for pilots to get a private pilot license is 17 years old;
  • A pilot must be 18 years old to obtain a commercial pilot license;
  • To get an airline transport pilot license, a pilot must be at least 23 years old.

Airlines in the USA require pilots to have an Airline Transport Pilot License before hiring. To apply for an airline transport pilot license, a pilot must log 1500 hours of flying time.

So you can clearly understand that beginning pilot training at 40, you will need some time to fulfill airline requirements to get a job. It may take 3-5 years.

People commonly choose to be flight instructors to fly these initial 1500 hours and meet airline requirements. Hence earlier in this post, I mentioned Step Four to become a professional pilot is to become a certified flight instructor.

There are also options for becoming a commercial pilot other than in the United States. There is a growing demand for commercial pilots in the Middle East and Asia.

One reason why airlines prefer younger pilots is the age limit for airline pilots in the USA.

  • The airline pilots retire by age 60. If a pilot starts an airline career at 40 years old, he will work for the airline for twenty years.
  • A younger pilot who starts working at 25 will remain with the airlines for another 35 years.

Nevertheless, if you start late, you can look for opportunities as a commercial pilot outside the United States.

Many Airlines in Asia, Africa, and Australia hire pilots with hours as few as 500.

Be medically fit and knowledgeable in aeronautics to land your commercial pilot job. Therefore 40 is never too late to start a commercial pilot career.

Airlines prefer mature pilots due to better decision-making and judgment calls. It means you still stand a chance to get your first airline job regardless of the competition from younger pilots.

Which jobs are available for professional pilots after you are 60?

If you are over 60 years old and retire from an airline, you can choose to work in General Aviation. Retiring at 60 doesn’t mean you have to quit flying for good.

Even at 60, you can operate airplanes if you have a current commercial pilot license.

Many air charters hire pilots that are over 60 years old and well experienced in airplane operation.

Being a pilot is a gratifying career. Just pick your aviation goals and begin your flight training as early as possible. Don’t let your age hold you back.


The first thing to consider is your primary objective before deciding to become a pilot at 40.

If you decide to fly for fun and recreation, then you must go for it. A private pilot license is sufficient for that.

To become a pilot for a career change in your 40s is the real deal. You have to be considerate of multiple aspects before you make a decision. Once you decide to do so, be very determined.

There is no guarantee that you can compete with a pilot in his 20s with the same level of experience as you. To become a pilot requires money, passion, and effort.

Spending money to obtain your commercial pilot license and shifting your career at this age can be critical.

If you have any further inquiries or questions, don’t hesitate to ask in the comment section.

20 Replies to “Can I become a pilot at 40?

  1. Thx Captain, I’m 43 and making my dreams come true👨‍✈️I’m on the (run)way to obtain all licenses and become commercial pilot…’s never too late to live your dreams ✈

    1. Glad to hear that. Most people don’t do what they want in their entire life. People fear what might happen if they fail. They can’t realize they have already failed without trying at all. It seems you are courageous. Well, I wish you the best of luck.

      1. Thank you captn.Iam,40,I,am going to make it,as I was in the force,wherep always front no turning back.Paschal.Tanzania.

      2. I wanted to become a pilot but somehow financial support is also necessary. Right now I’m a crew at the age of 28 and I’m staring my career. I hope I will make it for a pilot as well in coming years. Wish me luck captain. 🙏

    2. Christophe, your words are so inspiring to me! I am 43 as well, and I am contacting few training flight academies to enroll in a commercial flight course, and I hope to be accepted! Aviation was always a passion for me since childhood, despite that I made a legal career with the United Nations that I hate so much! and I regret everyday in my life, however I have finally decided to shift my life’ direction. So wish me luck as well 🙂

      I wish you all the best in your endeavors,
      Hassan from Iraq

      1. Hi Hassan, good to hear that you are pursuing your childhood dream finally.

        If may I ask what are your goals now? Do you want to fly airplanes for recreation purposes, or are you willing to become a commercial pilot?

        Regardless of what your goals are, you can obtain your pilot license with passion and little effort.

        1. To become a pilot, one must be a High School graduate or equivalent and at least 18 years old. If you have more questions, then leave a reply to this comment.

    3. Hi Christopher, in few more months I will be getting 43 which is same as you. I never know that after 40s still can become a pilot. All the while I was told that pilot’s age has limitation which is usually around 20-30 and after 30s, they may start to plan for retirement as their eye’s vision may not be as good as before. To become a pilot was once my childhood ambition. I remembered when I was young, I liked follow my uncle to airport and especially when I seeing those landed plane which is ready to take off, I will feel more excited. Ever since then, I have been thought to become a pilot but I do not know by how and who to engage with, so this dream just vanished away. And now, I know it will be difficulty to achieve as my age is catching up. But after read your post, I get inspired by you again. I could never think that is possible. Thanks for bringing my dream alive again!

      1. Hi Mikel, it is true you can become a pilot even after 40. But why do you want to become a pilot? You need to answer this question first.
        If you want to become a commercial pilot, then the quicker you begin flight training, the better it will be for you to find a job in the future. Delaying flight training to get a license is not an advantage at forty.
        Regardless, if you want a private pilot license for recreational flying then I am confident you can get a license anytime even if you are over fifty years old.

  2. I am 56 and I am 2 weeks from getting my PPL. I have a colleague who is 60 years old; A professor in Electronic Engineering and he is doing ATPL.
    Age is only a number if you are fit, so persue your dream and do not let go.

    1. True, age is only a number! New hobbies and adventures are something that make life more enjoyable. Once you get your PPL, you can challenge your flying further by getting more aircraft ratings. Cheers!

  3. Thank you captn.Iam,40,I,am going to make it,as I was in the force,wherep always front no turning back.Paschal.Tanzania.

  4. It’s awesome that you talked about how it’s possible to become an airplane pilot in your forties. My dad had always dreamt of becoming a pilot, but he got married at a young age and had my sister and me, so that’s why he couldn’t pursue his dream. Right now, we think it’s time for him to try it out, and after reading your piece, we’re more eager to help him get started! We’re grateful for your tips about what path to follow to become an airplane pilot.

  5. I’m 37 and i’m going to start my CPL training from 3rd may 2021, its 1 year Integrated pilot training including ATPl,
    Is it possible that i can become airline pilot, if yes then how long it will take

    1. Hi Jay, I guess you have started your integrated pilot training course by now. I believe it is possible to get an airline job in the next two years if you keep grinding.

      Build some flying experience at least 1500 hours, perhaps as a flight instructor. And then, by 2023, you can be in an airline. Best of Luck!

  6. How do I get a scholarship to purse my dream as a pilot in usa with my PhD in physics obtained in India?

  7. Thanks for pointing out that airlines prefer the most knowledgeable and most talented pilots regardless of age. I guess it is best for any aspiring pilot to continue their education to have the best records or credentials to get the job. I can imagine how beneficial it would be to look for flight schools that they can study in for more information about this industry to have an edge.

    1. What assistance do you need? All you have to do is find a reputed flight school in the USA and then send them an email. And regarding a USA visa, your nearest US embassy can give you all the information.

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