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How to Become a Commercial Airline Pilot in the USA?

Become a Commercial Airline Pilot in the USA

Hello there, Inspiring pilot! Your ambition to become a pilot must have brought you to this website. You may be wondering how to become a pilot in the United States after schooling, how much pilots make per year, how much flight school costs etc. If you answered yes to any of these questions, then the “How to Become a Commercial Airline Pilot in the USA in 2024” Guide is for you!

Becoming a pilot in the USA might seem like a lofty goal, but fear not! With a bit of determination and the right guidance, you can turn that dream into reality.

Buckle up, because we’re about to take off on your journey to the cockpit! but if you are interested in becoming an RAF pilot in the UK, please read that separate guide.

This statistic illustrates the number of pilots active in the airline industry worldwide in 2019 and gives a projection for 2029. In 2019, there were a total of 333,000 active pilots working in the aviation industry.

Published by Statista Research Department, Apr 16, 2024

In this article, we will explore the steps you need to take to achieve your dream of becoming a pilot in the USA.

How to Become an Airline Pilot: A Detailed Guide

1. Get an FAA-endorsed four-year college education

Most significant carrier organizations require a four-year college education in flight or a connected field while going after positions as an aircraft pilot. If you intend to follow an airline pilot profession way, the most widely recognized step understudies take is to go to an FAA-approved establishment where you will take flying-related coursework to procure a degree and get pilot preparation simultaneously.

This way can assist with directing you straightforwardly to your ultimate objective of turning into a carrier pilot. A significant advantage of going to an FAA-supported school or college is the pilot preparation that is generally included as a feature of their flying system. They can provide students with a greater degree of flexibility in the scheduling of flight hours, dedicated facilities, and a wide range of training aids.

2. Decide the flight training

a) Private Pilot License (PPL)

  • Enroll in a flight school or hire a certified flight instructor to start your training.
  • Complete a minimum of 40 hours of flight time, including solo flights and cross-country navigation.
  • Pass a written exam and a practical flight test with an FAA-designated examiner.

b) Commercial Pilot License (CPL)

  • Build on your PPL by completing additional flight hours, advanced maneuvers, and instrument rating training.
  • Obtain a minimum of 250 hours of flight time, including night flights and cross-country flights.
  • Pass written exams and a comprehensive flight test to earn your CPL.

c) Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL)

  • To become an airline pilot, you will need to acquire an ATPL, which requires a minimum of 1,500 hours of flight time.
  • Complete additional training on multi-engine aircraft, crew resource management, and airline operations.
  • Pass written exams, simulator assessments, and a final check ride with an FAA examiner.
how to become a private jet pilot

3. Get a confidential pilot permit

To procure a confidential pilot testament or pilot’s permit, you’ll have to learn fundamental flight strategies, airplane moves, routes, flight arranging, and crisis preparation. When you have this certificate, you are legitimately permitted to fly a plane. Pilots procuring this authentication figure out how to fly little airplanes all alone.

4. Procure an instrument rating

Flying for a carrier requires perusing and utilizing instruments. You will need to learn how to use sophisticated instruments that help a plane navigate through a variety of weather conditions and altitudes once you have earned a basic pilot certificate. This confirmation likewise trains pilots to associate with aviation authority and the Public Airspace Framework.

5. Get a business pilot permit

A business pilot permit permits pilots to fly products or individuals to bring in cash. When a pilot has this assignment, they can take occupations in search and salvage, traveler flights (like the travel industry or corporate) and freight conveyances. In order to obtain ratings for each type of aircraft that a pilot wishes to fly, they undergo additional training under this category. They can, for instance, upgrade their single-engine commercial pilot certificate to include a multi-engine rating.

6. Earn a flight instructor certificate

Obtain a certificate as a flight instructor Many pilots choose to become flight instructors to gain experience and flight hours. Pilots can earn money while also logging hours. Most carriers require at least flight hours before you can apply to be a first official. A good way to quickly get the flight hours and experience you need to work as an airline pilot is to work as a flight instructor.

7. Add a multi-engine rating

Add a multi-engine rating Pilots must earn an additional rating to their commercial license in order to fly passenger airlines’ aircraft. Pilots should demonstrate that they can fly enormous planes with various motors. Learning how to handle these large planes in all areas of flight and what to do in the event of a single-engine failure are all part of this certification training.

8. Acquire experience and flight hours

how many years does it take to become a commercial pilot
Photo by ThisIsEngineering

To become a Commercial Airline Pilot for an airline, you need to fly a lot. The base number of absolute flight hours expected by the FAA is 1,500. This can be accomplished by taking classes, taking flight lessons, or working as a commercial pilot.

9. Get an airline transport pilot certification

Earn certification as an airline transport pilot (ATP) Certification as an airline transport pilot (ATP) is the highest license granted by the FAA. To procure this confirmation, pilots need more than the base prerequisite of 1,500 hours of flight insight. Pilot in command (PIC), nighttime flying, and cross-country PIC are all required flight hours for pilots.
To procure an ATP accreditation, planned aircraft pilots should likewise pass clinical assessments. To be a pilot in command, a pilot must pass a first-class medical exam, and to be a second in command, they must pass a second-class medical exam.

10. Interview for a situation as a carrier pilot

When you meet all the FAA prerequisites, you can look for work with a significant carrier. Since carriers depend on position, you’ll begin fill in as a first official and move to skipper after something like two years of work with the carrier.

Some Airline and Commercial Pilots’ Statistics



1) How much do Commercial Airline pilots make per year?

Do Airline pilots make good money? The size of the company, type of aircraft, and level of experience all influence a pilot’s pay. Pilots working for airlines are compensated based on the number of hours they fly, with a maximum of 1,000 hours per year. Hourly rate is a deciding component in working out how much a pilot makes.

The public typical base compensation for a first official is $53,325 each year. The skipper of a business plane can make a typical compensation beginning at $55,362 each year. For the most cutting-edge compensation data from For sure, click on every compensation interface.
Other than a base compensation, carrier pilots frequently procure advantages, for example, free air travel, clinical protection, paid time off and carrier worker limits. A few organizations offer “mate passes” for carrier tickets that are free or scaled down in cost for relatives.

2) What is the workplace for an aircraft pilot?

A carrier pilot will invest a large portion of their energy in a little, encased cockpit with a couple of other group individuals in nearness. The length and number of flights on their schedule will affect how many hours they work. Pilots work from a place they consider to be their base, but they frequently travel for several days before returning home. They might be required to work late at night, on holidays, and for long periods of time.

Pilots for airlines also serve as leaders. Whether they are in the job of skipper or first official, pilots are liable for the airplane and all travelers and group individuals on their flight. They should be happy with pursuing fast choices on the off chance that a circumstance happens that needs quick activity to keep up with the wellbeing of the flight.

Because their jobs can take them to a lot of different places both inside and outside their own country, pilots need to be able to appreciate traveling. Carrier pilots frequently have a feeling of experience and value the mechanics of trip as well as air travel. They may truly be able to see the world through their work.

3) What jobs can I have after getting a commercial pilot license?

You can seek after a few unique strategies for schooling and preparing to turn into a career pilot. Here are the four regular vocation ways:

Train at a flight school
A Section 61 or Section 141 flight school, which alludes to how many guidelines from the FAA, will give the fundamental preparation you’ll require in flight and route. These flight schools frequently provide adaptable, time- and pace-varying programs. Notwithstanding, a Section 141 school has a profoundly controlled guidance process, while a Section 61 preparation program can be more adaptable in its strategies.

Procure a professional education from an FAA-approved flight program
A flying school will prepare close by a four-year certification or partner degree program. With coursework in fields that relate to flying, you’ll likewise acquire down-to-earth preparation in flight mechanics, guiding and route as a component of your schooling.

Go to a pilot recruitment program
Flight institutes likewise offer particular preparation for carrier pilots. They offer a simplified career path to work for the company and are frequently associated with a specific airline. After an underlying preparation period, the individuals who train with the foundation might need to satisfy specific jobs inside the carrier or a partnered carrier before they are naturally moved into a situation as a carrier pilot.

Join the Military
A few people decide to turn into a pilots through chances to serve in the military. Each part of the U.S. furnished administration has its own flight unit to prepare pilots, including the Military and the Aviation based armed forces. The Marines have the most broad pilot preparing program. For commissioned officers, the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard all offer naval aviator programs.
In this way, preparing is paid for as a result of your tactical help and long-haul responsibility. Military pilots acquire a higher level of precise tactical and emergency response expertise. Aircraft programs frequently exceptionally esteem up-and-comers who have related knowledge flying for the military.

4) Airline pilots vs. commercial pilots: the differences

Regularly, carrier pilots start their profession as business pilots gathering flight time as a flight teacher or sanction pilot. The contrast between a carrier pilot and a business pilot is the administrations they are employed to do. Carrier pilots frequently work for a particular provincial carrier while business pilots fly travelers and freight, perform observation, and satisfy other flight needs connected with their work title. A pilot with a business pilot permit would require further preparation and more flight hours to meet each of the prerequisites to become guaranteed as a carrier transport pilot.

5) How many years does it take to become a commercial Airline pilot

Most preparation programs permit you to procure your certificates to turn into an aircraft pilot in two years. However, to be considered for a position as an airline pilot, additional time may be required to accumulate the required flight hours and experience.

6) Minimum age requirement to obtain a license as an airline pilot

You must be at least 23 years old in order to obtain certification as an airline transport pilot (ATP). In any case, you could be qualified for a limited carrier transport pilot (R-ATP) certificate at 21 years of age if you have a flying degree from an FAA-supported school program with flight preparation or on the other hand on the off chance that you have a tactical pilot foundation.

7) Do you want the ideal vision to turn into an aircraft steer?

While you don’t have to have an ideal vision to function as an aircraft pilot, you should wear remedial focal points that make your vision 20/20.


  • Naveen K

    As a passionate Instructor, content writer and Researcher with 12 years of experience, I take pride in creating engaging and informative content that resonates with readers. Since 2015, I have been helping our readers/students find the right courses and learning platforms for their bright future.

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