How To Become a Commercial Pilot
Many of us here love the ultralight aviation because of its unique spirit and the charm of ultralights themselves. They are nothing like the big airplanes, mind you. Completely different experience. But many of us also love it because it's the most affordable way to fly. So at least for the most of us, it's not like we don't enjoy big airplanes and helicopters. We do. And maybe you even want to pilot one of these, no? But so expensive...
Unless you turn it into your profession. Do what you love and make money form it. Why not?
Why Become a Commercial Pilot
The main answer I already gave. To make money from what you love: flying. For most of us this is the only realistic way to achieve our dream to pilot airplanes due to financial constrains. For some even the cost of ultralight flying is a burden but they could probably invest the same money for the future benefits of a great profession.
Not just becoming a commercial pilot gives you the chance to fly. It gives you the chance to fly a lot! Many light aircraft owners can't afford to fly as much as they want regardless that they own an airplane or a share in one.
But money is not all. Being a commercial pilot is prestigious, honorable and remarkable trade. If you love flying this is one of the best possible career paths to you. If you are young enough to start it :)
So What Kind of Commercial Pilot You Can Be?
The first thought that comes to someone's mind when talking about becoming commercial pilot is airline transpot pilot. This is cool and one of the most prestigious civilian pilot trades. But it's not all, buddy. There are so many other pilot jobs available! You can even be your own boss running private pilot services with your own airplane. Let's explore the most popular options further:
- International airline pilot. As already said: the first thing that comes to your mind, I guess. It's a top-notch job, the cake of all, but not always the best. Why? Because nowadays airline pilots are overworked and spend half of their life away of their families. You must be tough to work this job.
- Regional airline pilot. Why are we putting this as a different option, isn't it the same? Not by one of the important criteria: by staying in your region or country you'll spend less time away from your family. And flights will be shorter. Other than this, yes, it's nearly the same job.
- Contract or corporate pilot. This is when you work for a company or rich individual and pilot their private plane. You'll be flying a light airplane typically on short destinations and irregular time.
- Freight/cargo pilot. Why so many people forget that cargo traffic is huge? All these FedEx and airmail packages fly with airplanes, no? This is a huge industry and there are pilots who drive these aircraft. When working as cargo pilot you don't have to deal with passengers so the mental load is slightly lower. There is of course hazardous cargo for which you have to worry about. The job security is generally better.
- Sight-seeing or tour pilot. Typically these are pilots of helicopters, but sometimes there is sight-seeing done with airplanes too. Sounds like less-serious trade, but there is nothing funny when you are responsible for passengers. Other than this, it is of course more relaxed job than the job of international airpline pilot of course.
- Agricultural pilot. Yet another big business that aviation fans often forget about. Agricultural airplanes are used all over the world and take care for our food, clothes and fuel.
- Skydiver pilot. Yes, your job can also be to fly an airplane used by skydivers to make their jumps. It's a fun trade especially if you have many beginners on board :)
- Photographer pilot. With the raise of drones this profession is in decline, but there are still cases when a human pilot needs to do photographs. A job that guarantees you beautiful sights!
- Demo and airshow pilot. While very few pilots work only this, it is also a possibility. These pilots demonstrate airplanes on aircraft sales or perform airshows. The latter require really high level of pilot skills.
- Medical evacuation / rescue pilot. You can work in government / municipal, non-profit or other organizations who perform search and rescue operations with aircraft. More often than not these are performed by helicopters.
- Firefighting / Forestry pilot. Similar to the above, this is usually a public service job.
- Patrol pilot. This can include various types of jobs: border patrol, pipeline control patrol, national defense pilots and more.
And this list is certainly not complete: it aims just to show you how large is the list of opportunities to work as commercial pilot.
How to Actually Become a Commercial Pilot?
The short answer is: education. A lot of it. And medical exams. And licensing. You really need to invest time and money to crack it: there are no shortcuts. If you are short in money you can think about joining the military. If you are short in time... well, you aren't going to make it. Becoming a commercial pilot is a big commitment.
I'm not going to go into much details about the education and certification process here, because this WikiHow guide did excellent job on the topic. If you are seriously considering to become a comemrcial pilot, this guide is a must read and your start-up point ever.
Before investing tons of time and money into studying to become a comemrcial pilot you may need to consider the future in front of this trade. Some of the professions like photographer pilot may disappear or at least become really rare. But are the airline pilot jobs going anywhere? Is there a time when rescue pilots, firefighting pilots or agricultural pilots won't be needed? I don't think so. At least not in a life time. On the contrary: as the general aviation becomes more affordable there are more and more airlines and flights. There is still a lot of development to see in agricultural aviation and certainly military and government jobs aren't going anywhere.
So if you believe that a becoming a pilot is your dream, don't hesitate. Put those years and fifty thousands or so dollars (relax, money can be less) and go ahead. There's just one life to live and it's a pity so few people follow their passion.
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