Job description: What does a pilot do?
Even if it sounds trite to the highest degree, when you think of the pilot’s job profile, this line inevitably comes to mind: Above the clouds, freedom must be limitless. But there is a lot to consider above the clouds so that a flight runs smoothly and free of turbulence.
First of all, this requires very intensive training. Later on, the highest level of concentration in everyday work is that pilots who control large passenger planes are one thing above all else: decision-makers and responsible persons.
There are pilots in a highly technical and complex environment in the cockpit of an aircraft consisting of electronics, computers, information, and communication with the co-pilot and the tower.
In doing so, they take responsibility for tens of human lives every day. Because even if the cockpit processes are highly automated, the pilot must take control in tricky situations. Therefore, he must always grasp the trouble to make the right decisions in a fraction of a second in case of doubt.
In this respect, flying is a tough job in some situations, which requires enormous mental resilience and maximum physical performance. That is why the requirements for applicants are very high.
The work-life balance at work is mixed. For one thing, pilots keep moving between time zones, which can mess up their biorhythms. On the other hand, the stress level at work is too high. But prospective pilots have good prospects on the job market.
Education: How do you become a pilot?
Three paths lead to the pilot’s profession:
- Training with an airline
- School education
The training at an airline set the general university requires, particularly to perfect maths, and physics knowledge. One of the airlines that can be trained as a pilot, is one of the largest employers, for example, American Airlines or United Airlines, which trains many pilots per year.
First, however, the applicant must pass a tough aptitude test. Knowledge from the areas of:
- Communication skills
- Also, a medical fitness test is mandatory.
The training itself consists of theory and practical phases. The curriculum includes the following subjects:
- Air law
- Aircraft knowledge
- Mass and center of gravity
- Flight performance
- Flight planning
- Human capacity
- General navigation
- Radio navigation
- Operational procedures
In total, prospective pilots complete around 1,200 academic teaching units with exams during this time. There are also around 320 hours of flight training.
Training with an airline is the typical route to work. But there are also private flight schools where you can complete the training. It is based on the training courses of the major airlines and is mostly identical in content.
Employer: Who is looking for pilots
Pilots find employment at:
- An airline
- In the army
Salary: How much does a pilot make?
The income in сommercial aviation is specified in the agreement for employed pilots. Income depends on the size of the company, the region, and individual experience.
Map of pilot salaries
The darker areas on the map show where Pilots earn the highest salaries across all 50 states.
Bottom 10% Annual Salary: Less than $65,700 ($31.60/hour)
Median Annual Salary: $140,400 ($67.50 /hour)
Top 10% Annual Salary: More than $208,000 ($100/hour)
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Entry opportunities: The prospects for pilots
In general, job opportunities for young pilots are excellent. Air traffic is continuously increasing, and good pilots are always wanted around the world. However, graduates who have learned from an airline have a clear advantage.
Large airlines train for their use. Those who pass the training have a takeover guarantee. This is different from graduates of private flight schools. There is no guarantee of a job here after practice, and it can take a while to find a job.
Application: How do pilots score
It is essential that pilots can demonstrate relevant professional and social skills in their application documents. They include:
- Completed high school diploma
- Excellent knowledge of maths, and physics
- Good spatial orientation
- Very high attention capacity
- Extraordinary memory retention
- Increased speed of perception
- Stress resistance
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Career: The development opportunities as a pilot
Trained pilots initially “only” start as co-pilots. If you want to become captain after a few years, you have to pass further training tests. An alternative is further training to become a training first officer who trains prospective pilots on the flight simulator.