Have you always dreamed of becoming a commercial pilot, either flying Helicopters or Fixed Wing Aircraft? Is it your dream to become a commercial pilot and fly for a living? Before you invest time and money into becoming a pilot, there are a few things you need to know.
You’ve probably heard that there is a high demand for pilots, and this is the perfect time to become a professional pilot – and it is. We talk to dozens of prospective flight school students every day. There are many myths and misconceptions that we attempt to correct. Below are the top 3 myths about becoming a commercial pilot.
Myth #3: There is a High Demand for Pilots.
This is perhaps not so much a myth as it is a controversy – the demand for qualified pilots. The controversy starts and finishes with the term “Qualified Pilots”. In 2012, Boeing forecasted that 70,000 pilots will be needed in North America between now and 2031.
In 2012, Boeing forecasted that 70,000 pilots will be needed in North America between now and 2031. However, on July 10th, 2013, the FAA released the final rule for the Pilot Certification and Qualification Requirements for Air Carrier Operations. This ruling requires pilots to hold an air transport pilot certificate (ATP) in order to fly for an air carrier (which is a good thing). However, this made it harder to become a commercial pilot. The point is that fixed wing operators are looking for “quality pilots” to fulfill the forecasted demand.
To apply for an air transport pilot (ATP) certificate, applicants must have at least 1500 flight hours. Although there is a large demand for pilots presently and in the near future, the demand is for “experienced pilots” who are qualified to meet the FAA’s new ATP requirements. It is important to note that this FAA rule change only had an impact on Air Carrier Operations. Helicopter companies, looking to employ helicopter pilots, do not operate as “Air Carriers”. For this reason, helicopter operators were not affected by the FAA change.
What about commercial helicopter pilots? Is there a demand for commercial helicopter pilots? The truth is that experienced helicopter pilots who are well trained are in high demand – no doubt. There are incredible opportunities for helicopter pilots who have the right training and solid experience. The key factor is “where did you get your training?” If you have graduated from a reputable flight school, you will find that there is a demand for your services, and you will be positioned to get the best jobs.
Myth #2: You Can Begin a New Career as a Pilot in Mere Months.
There is a belief that someone who has never flown before, can get a Pilot’s License (Certificate) and start a new career as an aviator in mere months. While there is some truth to this myth, we need to clarify that it takes a great more to begin a career as a professional pilot. The truth of the matter is yes, a person can get a pilot certificate within a few months of training. However, the first certificate you will receive is a Private Pilot Certificate. This certificate does not allow you to fly for compensation or hire. If you want to fly for a living and start a new career as an aviator, you will need additional certificates and ratings.
The Ratings and Certificates needed for a top level aviation career will likely include:
• Private Pilot License (PPL)
• Instrument Rating (IR)
• Commercial Pilot License (CPL)
• Certified Flight Instructor (CFI)
• Certified Flight Instructor of Instruments (CFII)
• Air Transport Pilot (ATP)
• Misc. Add-On Ratings (Airplane, Rotorcraft, Multi-Engine, Type Ratings etc…)
Everything listed above is not required to begin your aviation career. At a minimum, you will need a Private Pilot’s License and a Commercial Pilot’s License in order to legally fly for compensation. The Aviation Industry is a highly competitive field, so do not expect to get offered a job with the bare minimum. A new student pilot will have to dedicate 1-2 years to his or her flight training.
A new student pilot will have to dedicate 1-2 years of training in order to get the necessary certificates and ratings desired. You will then need to work an entry level job for 1-2 years, or more, as you build proficiency and gain flight experience. Before you know it, you will be ready to market yourself as a qualified pilot for many of the better paying jobs. Be ready to pay your dues before you start making the good money.
Myth #1: Instead of Becoming a Commercial Pilot, You Are Better Off Getting a Traditional Education Like Your Parents Did.
The average young adult, after dedicating 4-6 years of their life to college studies, can walk away with the once coveted Bachelor’s Degree. However, they quickly realize that it is tough to find a job in just about every field of study: Employers want ‘experience’ among other things. Well, where do you get that experience? Today, more than ever, you start from the bottom and scratch your way to the top. Get ready, it might take awhile.
All too often today’s college graduates have invested a great deal money to gain an education that they may never end up using. Many college grads are taking any job they can find. Simply type “College Grad” into a Google search window, and the results are peppered with entries about how tough it is for college grads to find jobs. The number of college graduates working minimum wage jobs in 2012 was nearly 71 percent higher than it was a decade ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest figures. I’m sure the 2013 figures are much worse.
However, aviators with a college degree are finding jobs. As a matter of fact, college educated aviators are in high demand. There are many different degree choices for professional pilots. Plus, from day one, as a student pilot in a college program, you will be logging flight hours and gaining the experience needed to launch your new career. Student pilots go to class in the morning and fly in the afternoon (or visa-verse).
Can you imagine a Law Student or Medical Student stepping into the courtroom or emergency room on day one of law/medical school? Neither can we. Both law and medical students take Labs as a part of their course work. But these labs don’t put the students front and center into their respective fields. Meaning, they are not in court trying cases or working with patients. Commercial pilots, on the other hand, start flying in their “lab” courses right from the start. Student pilots start building flight hours in week one of flight school. That’s why today, more than ever, deciding to launch an aviation career is one of the best choices you can make!