Let me break the ice: You can become a pilot without solid educational background. It’s more important to have a flying experience to qualify as an airline pilot.
The information I share in this article will help many aspiring aviators pursue their dream of becoming airline pilots. Many students plan to fly airplanes for a living but give up on their dream because they don’t understand what qualifications they need to become a pilot.
Your flight experience should be your priority and then your aeronautical knowledge to become a pilot.
At least 1500 hours is the minimum requirement to qualify for an American airline job. Many global airlines also accept pilots with 500 hours. The drawback with 500 hours is that the airline may think you are not ready for the job without a bachelor’s degree.
Sounds confusing? To clarify the matters, I divided this article into two sections for you to determine whether you are qualified to enroll in a flight school and become a pilot or not.
- What academic qualifications do you need to become a pilot?
- What aviation qualification do you need to become a pilot?
There is online information available on the subject, but I want to add more detail about the issue for those utterly unaware of the qualifications to become a pilot.
What academic qualifications do you need to become a pilot?
To become a pilot, you must first get your pilot license. A pilot license allows you to fly airplanes as the pilot in command.
To get your pilot license, you must enroll in a flight school. The flight school can be anywhere. You can select a school in the USA, Canada, or perhaps South Africa.
Different flight schools have additional eligibility requirements.
A flight school in the USA can ask you to present your High School certificate before enrollment. A high school certificate is equivalent to GCSE A’ Level in the United Kingdom and Higher Secondary Certificate in India.
However, many flight schools in the USA don’t ask for academic certificates.
To become a private pilot, one must be at least be 17 years old. By the time anyone is 17 years old, they passed their 10th grade, equivalent to O’ Level in the United Kingdom and Secondary School certificate in India.
Thus if you have at least passed your tenth grade, you can find a suitable flight school to start your pilot training in the USA. Enrolling in a reputed flight school may require a High School diploma, yet many flight schools accept students without a fuss.
You will learn how to operate airplanes safely and obtain your pilot license in the flight school. The vital aspect is to build flying hours.
Actual flying hours matter most to get accepted in an airline. The more flying experience you have, the more competent you are. Thus in the next section, I will discuss what flying qualifications you need to become a pilot.
What aviation qualification do you need to become a pilot?
You must obtain multiple pilot licenses before qualifying for an airline pilot job.
After you enroll in a flight school, the first step would be to get a student pilot license. A student pilot license allows you to start your flight training.
After you start your flight training, you will gradually obtain the following licenses:
- A private pilot license;
- An instrument rating;
- A commercial pilot license;
- A certified flight instructor license.
It may seem like too much to acquire, but all flight schools have a professional pilot training program that includes all these four steps.
Most pilots log roughly 250 hours by the time they complete their professional pilot program.
However, you are not qualified for an airline pilot job with 250 hours.
Airlines in the USA require pilots to have at least 1500 flying hours before accepting any job application.
Many airlines in Asia and Africa accept pilots with a minimum of 500 hours.
So with 250 hours and a commercial pilot license, you are not yet ready to become an airline pilot.
Your Certified flight instructor (CFI) license will be advantageous at this stage. You can start working as a CFI. Flight schools in the USA frequently hire their graduates as CFI to teach new student pilots.
Although you are not working as an airline pilot, you can build hours and simultaneously get paid for your time as a CFI.
It’s common for fresh graduates to work as a CFI until they accumulate 1500 hours.
You have to gradually work your way up to the top and qualify as a competent airline pilot like any other profession.
The entire process takes time. From zero hours to becoming an airline pilot may take years.
To graduate from flight school with 250 hours may take only two years.