How to Become a Commercial Pilot: What You Need to Know
Did you know that there is currently a pilot shortage that could last through 2030? The airline industry needs to hire around 14,500 new pilots each year until 2030 to fix this problem. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.
There has never been a better time to become a commercial pilot. If you've dreamed of being in the air and getting paid for it, it's time to make that dream a reality.
Taking the steps towards a pilot license will take time and many hours of training. Keep reading to learn how to become a commercial pilot.
Private Pilot License
To become a commercial pilot, you'll first need to get a private pilot license. Training and preparation for this license requires completing pre-solo, a few variations of solo flights, cross country planning and cross country flight planning, and passing the practical test (i.e. checkride).
Most pilots begin by learning on single-engine planes before moving up to more complex and larger aircraft.
It takes as little as 35 hours of flying to become certified as a private pilot through Blue Line's accelerated Part 141 course.
Get Instrument Rated
Once you've received our private pilot pilot license you'll need to get instrument rated. An Instrument Rating (IR) is a pilot rating earned by learning to fly by only using the aircrafts instruments. This is known as IFR. It is arguably one of the most valuable ratings you can add to your pilot certificate and is a fun and challenging aspect of flight training.
The instrument rating is necessary for pilots wanting to operate an aircraft in weather conditions where visibility may be low.
Get a Commercial Pilot License
After you receive your private pilot license and your instrument checkride, the next step to becoming a commercial pilot is securing your commercial pilot license.
To obtain a commercial pilot license, applicants need to meet certain requirements, such as:
- Being at least 18 years old
- Holding current and valid FAA 2nd class medical certificate
- Being able to write, read, understand, and speak English
- Having a private pilot license
- Taking and passing an FAA commercial pilot test
- Completing minimum flight training requirements
- Taking and passing check ride with an FAA examiner
- Having excellent eyesight
Under FAA Part 141 minimum flight time to earn your Commercial Rating is 190 hours. Under FAA Part 61, minimum time to earn your Commercial Rating is 250 hours. Students can save at least 60 hours from required flight training by training in an FAA Part 141 environment.
Commercial Multi-Engine Checkride
A multi-engine rating is an FAA-approved additional certification that qualifies pilots to fly aircraft with more than one engine. Both private pilots and commercial pilots need to obtain this rating on their respective certificates before operating a multi-engine aircraft.
Secure a Flight Instructor Certificate
The next step to becoming a commercial pilot requires obtaining a certified flight instructor certificate.
This will take you just 10 training days to complete at Blue Line. Upon completion of the course, you will have all necessary training and endorsements, and will be eligible for your CFI initial checkride.
You'll also need to get instrument rated as a CFI (CFII). This course typically adds 5 days to the training following completion of your CFI course.
Reach 1,500 Hours of Flying
You'll need to build hours as an instructor as you work towards your dream career in aviation. Once you hit 1,500 hours you'll have completed enough flight time to get paid as a professional pilot.
Commercial Pilot Pay
Salaries for a commercial pilot vary widely based on the airline, and the pilot's experience.
In the United States, the average salary for a commercial pilot was $99,640 in 2021. The median pay for airline and commercial pilots was $134,630 annually.
Understand the Role of a Commercial Pilot
During your courses and training, you'll learn that it takes more than flying a plane to become a commercial pilot. These roles require regular duties, such as:
- Ensuring the weight of the plane is well balanced
- Checking aircraft systems before flying
- Checking flight schedules, weather conditions, and fuel before flying
- Communicating with the control tower
- Starting the plane's engine and administering controls
- Monitoring fuel consumption
- Ensuring smooth takeoff and landing
You'll learn a lot of technical things to obtain a pilot license.
In a larger aircraft, two pilots are responsible for flying the plane. The more experienced pilot is the captain who is responsible for command of the plane and the crew.
The second pilot, also known as the first officer, helps the captain operate the plane and takes over when necessary. The first officer often communicates with the control tower and handles corrective measures.
After landing the plane, the commercial pilot will fill out a detailed report of the events of the flight. This report will include any issues or repairs that need to be addressed.
Get Paid to Fly as a Commercial Pilot
It takes time and dedication to become a commercial pilot. If your dream is to fly and get paid for it, you'll want to make sure you attend a top rated flight school.
Don't wait any longer to get started. Check out our career pilot program now.
Blue Line Aviation, established in 2012, is one of only a few flight schools in the world to provide quality flight training programs at an accelerated pace. In as few as five and a half months, students can go from no experience to fully confident and certified pilots, fully prepared for a career in aviation. Schedule a tour of our new state-of-the-art facility (located at 3149B Swift Creek Road, Smithfield, North Carolina) and let your new career take flight. For more inquiries and additional information, please visit our website, find us on social media, or contact Ashley Tucker, our Vice President of Sales and Marketing, at (919) 578-3713 ext. 305.