Have you ever wondered how to become a commercial pilot?
If you’re someone who has always wanted to fly but felt you couldn’t afford aviation as a hobby, maybe it’s time to think about a beginning a career as a pilot. In fact, it would help to first understand exactly what defines a commercial pilot. Simply put, a commercial pilot is someone who has been approved by the FAA to charge for pilot services.
While most people immediately think of commercial airline pilots flying passengers, the most common example of a commercial pilot, there are other possible careers in this field, even some that are unusual. For instance, cargo pilots, such as those flying for UPS and FedEx, are also considered commercial pilots. Other commercial pilot careers include being a corporate pilot, flying for a charity organization, such as Angel Flight, or even flying for the government, perhaps for the Forest Service. Certified Flight Instructors (CFIs) are also considered commercial pilots, and with the current pilot shortage, there is a high demand for CFIs.
There are many options for commercial pilots beyond flying for a commercial airline. Becoming a commercial pilot is a straightforward process. Once you determine your eligibility, you simply follow the training requirements established by the FAA. If you are not from the United States and want to become a commercial pilot in your home country, it is fairly simple to convert your FAA credentials to your country’s Civil Aviation Authority standards.
So, what exactly do I need to become a commercial pilot?
Let’s assume you are starting with no flying experience at all, which is how most of our professional pilot students begin at Epic Flight Academy. We will walk you through the steps you’ll need to take to become a commercial pilot:
• Earn your PRIVATE PILOT LICENSE (PPL). This is the first step and allows you to fly single-engine aircraft under Visual Flight Rules (VFR).
• Earn your INSTRUMENT RATING (IFR – Instrument Flight Rules). This allows you to fly in bad weather.
The next step is to begin your Commercial Pilot training. You must be 18 years old and have a 2nd Class Medical Certificate.
• Earn your COMMERCIAL PILOT LICENSE (CPL). This includes taking your written FAA exam, logging at least 250 hours of flight time (including 100 hours as Pilot-In-Command (PIC) and 50 hours cross-country), and passing your FAA check-ride.
• Earn your MULTI-ENGINE rating. This allows you to fly multi-engine aircraft.
After earning your CPL, you can build hours toward your ATP by becoming a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI). (To become a CFI, you will need to take additional steps.) In the United States, you will need to have logged 1,500 hours before you can be hired by a commercial airline. If becoming a commercial airline captain is your goal, working as a CFI is a great way to build hours toward that goal.
• Build 1,500 hours toward your AIRLINE TRANSPORT PILOT (ATP) license). This allows you to fly commercial passenger flights for the airlines.
After earning your CPL, you can build hours toward your ATP by becoming a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI). In the United States, you will need to have logged 1,500 hours before you can be hired by a commercial airline. If becoming a commercial airline captain is your goal, working as a CFI is a great way to build hours toward that goal.
Are you wondering how long it takes and how much it costs to become a commercial pilot?
The average student completes all training in approximately one year. This is if you have no experience at all. You will start with your Private Pilot License and go on to complete a Commercial Pilot License. Then, it’s up to you how far you want to go with it. Most pilots build hours by becoming a CFI or flying cargo. What a deal! You get paid to fly as you build hours! Once you’ve logged 1,500 hours, you can decide if they want to work for a commercial airline flying passengers.
The total cost for training varies on how well students do in their courses. On average, most students go from having no experience at all to earning a CPL in 12 months. The cost also varies depending on a number of factors. On average, the cost is approximately $70,000. This is a sound investment in your future considering the median pay for an airline pilot exceeds $130,000.
Are you ready to turn your dream into a reality and pursue a career as a commercial pilot?
You probably have more questions now that you’ve learned how easy it is to become a commercial pilot. We would love to answer any questions you have and help you navigate your aviation career path, so we encourage you to contact us and let us know how we can help.