Becoming a pilot at 40 is a challenge & A realistic dream indeed.

become a pilot at 40

Did you dream of becoming a pilot in your childhood? But life has taken a different turn. Now, you’re in your 40s and getting tired of sitting at a desk from 9 to 5.

Changing a career seems daunting at first, and to become a pilot at 40 seems quite late. But what is the reality?

become a pilot at 40

By being in the aviation industry for over a decade and writing about airplanes, I can tell you otherwise.

Becoming a pilot at 40 is hard to swallow, but it is possible to get professional pilot licenses and even an airline pilot job with time and effort.

If you don’t believe me, you can look at the data by Zippia. According to Zippia, the average employed pilot age in the United States is 44 years old.

There is no age limit for aspiring individuals to get pilot licenses.

The only drawback is medical fitness. If one could stay medically competent forever, they could possibly operate airplanes forever.

Besides age and fitness there are a lot more to understand about becoming a pilot at 40 and how can you become one of them.

As you get older, slowly, health deteriorates for many. But we can safely assume many of us are healthy in our forties. So, getting a pilot license is feasible. Now, the big question is, why do you want to get a pilot license at forty?

Do you aim to be a commercial pilot at forty?

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 stay with the airline for a long time.

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

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

Let’s assume you get a job as a first officer in your forties. Likely, they will only let you fly on the regional routes.

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

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 becoming 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.

Airlines prefer younger pilots because of the age limit for airline pilots in the USA.

  • 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 airline 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.

How can you become a pilot at 40 for airlines?

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

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

RELATED: Why is the pilot training course expensive?

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 can still work as a general aviation pilot.

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 the following:

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

Answering these questions after a discovery flight, you can determine whether you are ready for the career shift.

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

Flying airplanes is a thrilling experience; you will love it regardless of age.

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

The trickiest part of becoming a commercial pilot at 40 is maintaining good health.

As I mentioned, you must pass specific medical tests to obtain a pilot license.

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.

Besides that, pilots over 35 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 many restrictions on medical certification.

Don’t hesitate to get a private pilot license even if you are fifty years old. Thinking you are too old to fly for recreation is a joke.

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

If you are over 60 years old and retired 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 with a current commercial pilot license.

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

Being a pilot is a gratifying career. 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 becoming a pilot at 40.

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

Becoming 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 experience level as you. Becoming 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 queries, you can contact us here.

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  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.

        1. I am jyoti Kumar Tekwani from Hyderabad India, I am 42 years old and I want to become pilot of cargo planes, please guide me which is best school in India and how much will the fees and what type of insurance we should purchase?

      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.

        1. Dear captain,
          I hope you’re well.

          Huge thanks to you regarding writing this wonderful article.

          I always want to be a pilot, it was impossible regarding my nationality & the situation in my country.
          I finally succeeded starting a new life in The UK & in few days I will apply for British citizenship, fingers crossed to get it.

          I did more things in those years but I couldn’t think to study any subject except thinking and searching all the time regarding how can I be a commercial pilot?

          Some friends might think that I’m not logical enough because it’s very expensive to be a pilot in the UK.

          I know it is cheaper to do it in Brazil or South Africa but & regarding Europe Greece or Portugal are cheaper than The UK but the problem is how to get work permit especially after Brexit.

          I’m not sure what is the sequences regarding doing the course in Brazil or South Africa, any idea please?

          I have asked a Brazilian pilot about the cost where she confirmed around $30,000 USA dollars.

          I have also spoken to a Syrian British pilot who was doing the course in South Africa then he moved to Vitamin then he was required to pay additional $100,000 USA dollars to airlines company their to get internal training & be employed.

          I’ll never be able to be in his position because I live as a refugee by myself.

          I born in 1983 so I’ll start soon to be 39.
          Im going to try soon to do 1st medical class exam and see if I can obtain it.

          If I’m willing to do my PPL do you advice me to get 1st medical class or 2nd medical class exam?

          The main challenge is the price especially in the Uk. I couldn’t find out how can I do it.

          Do you advice me to do part of the course then I try crowdfunding website?

          Flying school offer modular ATPL course & integrated ATPL

          Which one is better please?

          I did one flying class for two hours & I really enjoy it.

          I do appreciate your support, your advice & your kindness.

          Many Thanks

  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.

  8. I liked it when you shared that you need to enroll in a flight school, pass the tests, and have your certificates fly an airplane if you want to become a pilot. My uncle just mentioned the other day that he is planning to send his son to fly an aircraft so he can travel whenever he wants. I will suggest to him enrolling his son in a reliable pilot training school.

  9. After 2heart attacks and 27 years not flying, with a commercial licence, I needed a stress test, 85 on the Bruce Protocol.
    I did the stress test with no pain or incident . an ST glitch , in the echo stress test… prompted Transport canada to give me a “Medically Unfit report” how do I get this expunged off my record and get my medical back.????? Norm

  10. Hello Captain, thanks for the inspiring article.
    I just turned 36 and I’d love to become a commercial pilot. I have a master degree in architecture and have been working for almost a decade in the construction field. However, I can’t let go of my dream of becoming a pilot. Therefor, I am applying to aviation schools in Canada and I wanted to ask you if you could help me finding the best fly school there and let me know if studying in Canada would be ok for me to get a job at the airlines or not? I am not able to study in the US because of my nationality and that’s why I am planning to take my license from Canada, just wanted to make sure if it’s acceptable and credible enough or not? does it matter where do I get my license from?
    Also, how long do you think it will take for me to be able to get an Airline job?
    I appreciate your help.

  11. There are many roles available to you with this license. You can be hired for banner towing, aerial work, and commercial air tours, to name a few. With additional certification, you can become a flight instructor too. In addition to having to pass a written knowledge and practical test, 1,500 flight hours have to be logged. A commercial pilot license with instrument and multi-engine time is also a prerequisite. A first-class medical certificate is required too.

  12. I never took into account the fact that it is required to have a first-class medical certificate before you become a pilot. With that in mind, it is essential for a person to ensure that they take care of their health and remain fit if they want to undergo flight training. My brother has been interested in this for the longest time, and he might get his own plane once he retires which is why he needs to be aware of this aspect to ensure that he can actually enroll.

  13. That’s nice to know that there aren’t any age restrictions. I want to get my pilot’s license to save on flights. I’ll have to get some extra quotes.

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