John T. Yeska Jr. hopes to be a commercial airline pilot one day. He calls being a pilot his “dream job,” and he is in the process of working his way to that dream now from his home near Tampa Bay, Florida. Here are the basic steps to becoming a commercial pilot:
- Education. All commercial pilots are required to have a Bachelor’s degree in any major. Aspiring pilots can enroll in aviation or aeronautics bachelor’s programs to gain experience and learn how to complete coursework in physics, aeronautical engineering, math, and English, all of which will help when it comes time to take the pilot’s license exam.
- Obtain flight experience. Pilots must complete a minimum of 1750 hours of flight time before they can even take the pilot’s exam. First pilots log 1500 hours of flight time to get an airline transport pilot certificate, then they have to obtain an extra 250 hours of flight time to qualify for a license. Find private flight instructors or complete this as a part of your coursework at a bachelor’s program.
- Get a license. When you have logged enough hours in the air, you can take the pilot’s written exam, as well as the flight exam, and the instrument flying rating exam. You also have to pass a physical exam with vision correctable to 20/20, good hearing, and no handicaps that will prevent you from doing your job.
- Advance as a pilot. Advancement usually is based on seniority, but you can apply for more licensure and acquiring more flight ratings based on the types of aircraft you can fly. The better trained you are at flying all kinds of aircraft, the faster you’ll advance.