Airline pilot

Alternative titles for this job include Aircraft pilot, co-pilot, first officer, captain

Airline pilots fly passengers and cargo to destinations around the world.

Average salary (a year)

£20,000 Starter

to

£140,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

39 to 41 a week

You could work

evenings / weekends / bank holidays on shifts

How to become an airline pilot

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • applying directly
  • a trainee scheme
  • specialist courses run by private training organisations

University

You could start by doing a Professional Aviation Pilot Practice degree awarded by Middlesex University.

To apply, you'll need:

  • previous flying experience and a private pilot's licence
  • a Class 1 medical certificate
  • to be at least 18

Training takes 3 years and is done in partnership with a flying school.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English, maths and a science
  • 2 to 3 A levels for a degree

More information

Direct application

You may be able to apply directly to the Civil Aviation Authority's Military Accreditation Scheme to become a commercial pilot, if you have flying experience in the armed forces.

Other routes

You can apply for a place on a pilot training programme with a passenger airline.

You can also train with a private flying school to get your commercial pilot's licence. Courses can take at least 18 months of full-time study. Part-time or modular courses will take longer. The Civil Aviation Authority has details of flight training schools.

More information

Career tips

The Honourable Company of Air Pilots has a test for people with little or no flying experience. Pilot training is expensive and this could help you decide whether you're suited to this career before you spend money on training.

Further information

You can find out more about training to become a pilot through Flying Start and the British Airline Pilots' Association.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • leadership skills
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • knowledge of maths
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to operate and control equipment
  • observation and recording skills
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • you will be expected to use a computer confidently as part of this job.

Restrictions and requirements

You'll need to:

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

In this role you could be:

  • carrying out pre-flight checks of instruments, engines, fuel and safety systems
  • working out the best route using weather reports and information from air traffic control
  • following instructions from air traffic control
  • checking data during the flight and adjusting the route where necessary
  • telling passengers and crew about journey progress
  • writing reports about in-flight issues

Working environment

You could work on an aircraft.

Your working environment may be cramped, physically demanding and travelling often and spending nights away from home.

You may need to wear a uniform.

Career path and progression

You'll start by training as a co-pilot. When you’ve completed at least 1500 flying hours you can apply for an 'unfrozen' or full ATPL and qualify as an airline captain. This will usually take 3 to 5 years after you get your full ATPL.

With experience, you could become a flight training instructor or an operations manager.

Training opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

We can't find any apprenticeship vacancies in England for an airline pilot right now.

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Courses In England

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