Becoming a pilot requires time, money & effort but is not very hard.

is it hard to become a pilot

Becoming a pilot involves a lot of money, and the thought of spending so much and not getting an airline job immediately can be daunting.

There are many challenges in this profession that you must overcome to get your job quickly, and the path to becoming an airline pilot is long.

In this article, I discussed why becoming a pilot is not as easy as you may think and what to expect once you embark on the journey to becoming a pilot.

There is no simple answer to the query: Is it hard to become a pilot?

Operating an airplane is straightforward; however, maintaining safety during flight and even on the ground requires a pilot’s competency.

To fully understand the challenges of becoming a pilot, you must interpret many factors to concede why and how difficult it is to become a pilot.

Is it hard to become a pilot?

Ignore what you heard from many successful pilots that getting an airline pilot job is easy.

In the last few decades, getting an airline job was easy. Commercial airlines used to hire pilots with little experience and learn on the job.

However, flight safety is an issue today, and hiring a fresh graduate from a flight school is uncommon.

Though there are demands for pilots in the airlines, there is a deficit of qualified pilots. As a result, there has been a surplus of less qualified jobless pilots.

It’s hard to become a pilot today immediately after graduating from flight school. Getting a well-paying airline pilot job requires effort, study, confidence, intellect, and experience. Acquiring all these involves more time and money from an aspiring pilot. Therefore working your way up to the top requires patience and years of training to prove competency.

Being an airline pilot pays well. Most people are aware of that. And on top of that, a pilot can travel the world for free. Did you think you could achieve all that success overnight?

Like any profession, you must work up to become a commercial airliner pilot. To give you an idea of how hard it is to become a pilot in the United States, let me share the definition of a qualified pilot in the USA.

A fresh graduate from a flight school has roughly 250 hours in the USA and a commercial pilot license. On the other hand, airlines require pilots to have at least 1500 hours to be eligible for airline position applications.

So where would you get the extra 1250 hours of flying experience?

There are several ways to build the necessary flying hours. But building these extra 1250 hours takes years for any pilot.

In the process, many pilots quit pursuing their dream in aviation.

If you’re lucky, you can get an airline pilot job outside the United States.

Many airlines abroad hire pilots with low-flying experience. In such cases, you may have to pay the airlines for additional training on the job.

So either you must spend money to get your job quickly or spend years building flying experience to work in an American airline.

Getting different pilot licenses is easy, but qualifying for an airline pilot job is demanding. Any airline, regardless of its operation size, wants safety for its passengers.

Flight safety is the leading marketing factor for any airline that brings more passengers, which means more business.

So, airlines can’t compromise on hiring less qualified pilots when there is a surplus of pilots in the marketplace.

Now that you understand why it’s not easy to become an airline pilot, let’s dive deep into other factors that make pilot training and becoming a pilot hard.

How hard is it to get into flight school?

To become a pilot, you need a pilot license; to get a pilot license, you must enroll in a flight school.

Enrolling in any flight school in the United States has straightforward requirements. The requirements to enroll in flight school is:

  • Be a high school graduate;
  • Have a driving license;
  • Fill out the application form;
  • Have lots of money.

But to be able to begin your flight training, you must have a third-class medical certificate. The requirement to obtain a third-class certificate is also explicit.

Medical and Physical requirements.

To obtain a third-class medical certificate, you must visit an FAA-designated doctor and share specific diagnostic test results.

The third-class medical certificate has simple requirements, such as 20/20 eye vision with or without spectacles and good hearing sense.

Additionally, the doctor may check for certain diseases like diabetes and color blindness.

Lastly, the doctor may diagnose your blood for alcohol and drug abuse.

Nevertheless, individuals must obtain a first-class medical certificate to become professional pilots.

You can begin flight training with a third-class medical certificate, but to progress in your pilot training, you need a first-class medical certificate.

Unlike a third-class medical certificate, the tests for obtaining a first-class medical certificate are much more stringent.

Thus to become a pilot for an airline, your age and physical requirements play a significant role indirectly.

Physical requirements and age aspects.

To become a commercial/professional pilot, your aim should be to stay and keep your first-class medical certificate current.

Pilots in their twenties can maintain a first-class medical certificate regardless of their poor lifestyle, but in their thirties, you must be mindful of what you put inside your body.

Keeping your first-class medical certificate current can be challenging.

Maintaining a good physical form requires discipline and a healthy diet if you’re in your thirties. So, aspiring pilots in their thirties must consider the complexity of maintaining good health to become airline pilots.

Does that mean you can’t become a pilot in your forties? Of course, you can, but you must consider the difficulties of medical and physical health conditions before hopping on a new journey.

Is flight school hard?

You’ll go through ground and flight training in a flight school to become a competent pilot.

Many student pilots choose to become a pilot, thinking there is not much to study to become a pilot.

However, the reality is quite the opposite. The first obstacle for many student pilots is that they have to grasp too many topics quickly.

So much to understand in a short period becomes overwhelming at first.

At that moment, you may find it hard to become a pilot. But gradually, you’ll learn and slowly get used to studying.

To become an intelligent pilot, you must continuously keep learning.

Once you pass your ground school, you’re ready to take your first flight and learn aircraft operation on the ground and in the sky.

Educational and training requirements to become a pilot.

Let’s understand the difficulties of educational and training requirements to become a pilot individually.

How hard is pilot ground school?

To become a professional pilot, you’ve to get several licenses.

As you advance in your training, your ground classes will introduce advanced subjects with complex theories.

The more you progress towards your goal, the more challenging you’ll find it to grasp.

You may have thought that learning to be a pilot is easy, but you’ll be surprised that many student pilots fail their FAA private pilot knowledge test.

And FAA private pilot knowledge test is the first exam you take to pass the first stage of pilot training.

So there is no alternative to putting effort into studying during your ground classes.

Nevertheless, it would help if you familiarized yourself with multiple relevant aeronautical subjects during ground school.

Similarly, to get your pilot license, you must take exams in the FAA-designated testing centers. Many students fail the exam and delay their pilot training.

How complex is fulfilling training requirements?

Now comes the fun part of becoming a pilot. I believe this is the part any student pilot enjoys the most during pilot training.

Though learning to maneuver an aircraft is a challenge for many, for most students grasping aircraft operation is simple and quick.

Initially, you’ll learn less complex maneuvers and practice aircraft takeoff and landing.

Slowly, your flight instructor will introduce more complex maneuvers and multitasking.

Indeed flight training is not difficult, but a lot depends on the individual progress. Being good at theory during ground classes also plays a role in actual flight.

In many situations during the actual flight, understanding theory knowledge allows you to grasp flying lessons quickly.

But as all individuals are not created equally, some students would need more practice to master flying.

Once you master flying, everything in flight training becomes about building experience.

Challenges faced by aspiring pilots:

Common challenges faced by aspiring pilots.

By now, you know it is hard to become a pilot, but it’s not impossible. With patience, effort, and time you can ultimately achieve your goal.

Regardless, I want to mention some common challenges aspiring pilots face that not everyone discusses.

Most individuals are concerned about spending a hefty amount on getting pilot licenses and not getting a job immediately.

Aspiring pilots dream of making a living immediately after graduating from flight school.

As I explained earlier that it’s quite the opposite. Even if you spend to build flight hours, you cannot get an airline job in the United States.

Let’s discuss the cost of flight training and the difficulties of building flight hours.

Getting a pilot license by renting an aircraft, paying for a flight instructor, and operating an airplane is expensive.

Many students struggle to manage the money for flight training and abandon their dream of becoming a pilot halfway.

Some student pilots temporarily pause flights until they can manage more money to resume their training.

So having adequate cash and some extra beyond your budget is a crucial factor that stops many students from becoming airline pilots.

Also, as I said, not every student has the same capability to learn to fly. Some students need more flying hours to fulfill FAA requirements for becoming professional pilots.

Flying more hours means you must pay for aircraft rental and lessons.

In a sense, to pay for flight training and extra costs related to flight training, it is indeed challenging to become a pilot.

Student pilots often reach their budget benchmark before getting all their licenses. For wealthy people, it’s not a big deal, but students that are on a tight budget can quickly run out of cash and lose motivation.

It happens the student pilot got the flight experience and adequate hours but haven’t acquired the essential skill to obtain a pilot license.

To inspire everyone, I can only say that you always communicate with your flight school and discuss how much it would cost to get your commercial pilot license with an Instrument rating.

Always keep an extra budget over your allocated amount for flight training.

Career prospects for pilots.

You have spent a hefty amount to get your pilot licenses with an instrument rating and have accumulated only 250 hours.

You studied hard during pilot training and read multiple books thoroughly to prepare for your first airline job.

But are you truly ready for an airline job? You may think you’re ready, but to the airline recruitment team, you’re only a fresh graduate with zero experience in operating commercial jets.

Indeed you have a commercial pilot license acquired by flying with your flight instructor and primarily solo.

Yet another problematic journey is to get your first pilot job. Your first pilot job can be as a certified flight instructor or a charter pilot.

Building fifteen hundred hours for your airline pilot position can be challenging and lengthy.

There is a possibility of getting that position in the next two years. Yet, you won’t be making as much as an airline pilot during these two years.

Your life during these two would be difficult, and keeping your aim straight toward your goal, you overcome difficulties and continue building experience for your dream job.

Are all the hurdles for flight school worth it?

In the above article, you learned undisclosed information on the difficulties of flight training and how hard it is to become a pilot.

Also, I break down every possible adversity you may face while becoming a pilot.

Becoming a pilot and getting a job in an airline is not easy as it may seem. It’s a process, and it takes a while to reach that goal.

If you enroll in flight school thinking you can become a pilot in the next couple of years, you will likely get upset when you see it’s taking much longer than expected.

Thus don’t dream of becoming a pilot quickly. Instead, focus on becoming a competent pilot.

By doing so, you’ll be ready for an airline interview, and you won’t be frustrated when you see it’s taking years to get all your licenses and become a pilot.


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  1. It was interesting when you said that the difficulty of pilot ground schooling will depend on which type of license we want to pursue. My husband wants to get a private license next year so he can start flying recreationally. I’m glad to hear that flight school probably won’t be too difficult for him!

  2. It’s good to know that it will be hard if you don’t put in any effort. My brother was telling me a couple of days ago about how he wanted to learn how to fly because it’s always been his dream since he was younger. I’ll make sure to pass this information along to him if he does start taking flying lessons.

    1. He certainly can start flying. However, like anything else in life, patience, dedication, and effort will make someone successful. Does your brother think otherwise? I hope not.

  3. Flight School is not as hard as it sounds like. Absolutely it requires some level of efforts to learn skills required to flight a plane. A good aviation academy helps new pilots as well as experienced pilots to hone their skills so that they can excel in their field. They offer same information here, one must check them also.

    1. Let’s get realistic, to learn flying and get a private pilot license is not hard at all. The purpose of a private pilot license is only to fly for recreation.

      To fly commercially, one must acquire a commercial pilot license. As a commercial pilot, you need to understand multiple subjects and various advanced topics relevant to aeronautics. Thus need to study harder.

      Hence, flight school and actual flying is not hard, but the responsibility as a commercial pilot is big.

  4. They say, “There is no free lunch out there.” – So is it difficult to fly?” It will depend on how dearly you would like to fly. As compared to the elation of flying as such, studying is hard work, and some people would need guidance in understanding certain principles, but come-on, really, it’s not that difficult.
    I currently live in Pretoria, and do offer both group – as well as one-on-one tuition to anyone in need of such.

  5. I’m a little discouraged. I’ve always loved to fly since I was 3 and I went on my first plane from Sacramento to Portland. It’s not about the money to me sure the money is nice but whenever I fly I feel so free like anything is possible like it’s something I feel deep down like I was meant to do. But I struggle every day with adhd I was middle of my class in high school and I didn’t finish college they always told me I would have to work twice as hard just to get to where everyone else was. I want to fly it’s my dream to fly for Delta but this scares me on what if I can’t make it and drop out like thousands have ?

    1. Having ADHD is troublesome. However, you mentioned you need to work twice as others to achieve anything. I say, on the condition that you are passionate about flying, you can work hard towards your aviation goals.
      I recommend first going for an orientation flight in a flight school. Observe how it feels to fly an airplane and figure out whether ADHD affects your flight training or not.
      Lastly, if you really think ADHD is stopping you from becoming a commercial pilot for airlines, then try flying gliders. ADHD can’t stop you from flying gliders and having fun in the air. Many people choose to fly gliders as it is similar to flying airplanes yet requires fewer skills.
      Don’t give up unless you try.

    2. I’m sorry to say, if you take meds for ADHD, you are basically eliminated from flying commercially. There are ways around it, but it requires you to go off the meds for months, and get a stringent re-evaluation.

  6. At 49 what are the hurdles or possibilities that present themselves or is it just not something that should happen. I have been a business owner my entire life and upon leaving the entrepreneurship and learning to become a commercial pilot is something that interests me not only for the benefits but for the excitement and love of flying. Is it something I should or could attempt or are there too many hurdles or obstacles to overcome. Thanks

  7. Hlo ma’am!
    Ma’am can u please tell me what is the total cost or fees for becoming a pilot!..?

  8. Thanks for this information. I’ll work hard to become a comercial pilot when I get to aviation school because flying has being my dream

  9. I am in middle school and I am not sure what I want to do but if I have a chocie this is probobly my #1 so thanks for the intel

  10. Would I be able to obtain a commercial pilot license after completing a diploma of aviation through flight school with integrated training?

    1. There are multiple ways to obtain a commercial pilot license, and integrated training is one way to get it.

  11. I like that you talked about how you must enroll in a flight school to get a pilot license. My younger brother wants to become a pilot and I am planning to support him. So with that in mind, we are going to enroll him in a private pilot course first.

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