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What are the steps to becoming a pilot?

What are the steps to becoming a commercial pilot after graduating high school? How long does it take to become a pilot?

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Subject: Career question for you

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Aisha’s Answer

Here are the steps you take to become a pilot:

Step 1
1. Research Pilot Schools
The first step to become a private or commercial pilot is to research your flight training options. Learn and compare available programs offered by flight schools, and pick the best match for your aviation goals.

Step 2
2. Take an Admissions Flight
Successfully completing an Admissions Flight is required before enrolling in a pilot training program. This flight lesson will help you see first-hand the training, aircraft, and quality of instruction a flight school will offer you. It is also a great way to get a better sense of what it's like to fly from behind the controls.

Step 3
3. Apply for FAA Medical Certificate
Pilots must meet basic medical requirements to fly. If you want to fly professionally, you must meet higher medical standards than recreational pilots and should apply for a first class medical certificate through an Aeromedical Examiner (AME).

Step 4
4. Apply for FAA Student Pilot Certificate
Apply for a student pilot certificate through the FAA's Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) website (your flight instructor can help with this). While you don't need a student pilot certificate to start flying lessons, you will need it to fly solo during your training.

Step 5
5. Start Flight Training Lessons
Start taking flight training lessons and begin working towards obtaining the aeronautical knowledge and pilot training experience requirements needed to become a private pilot.

Step 6
6. Pass Private Pilot Knowledge Test
During your private pilot flight training, you will need to take and pass the computer-based FAA private pilot knowledge test. To be eligible for the test, you must receive an endorsement from your flight instructor.

Step 7
7. Pass Private Pilot Practical Exam
The final step in earning your FAA private pilot certificate is to take a practical exam with a Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE). This exam consists of both an oral and a flight portion, and once completed you will be a private pilot.
Thank you comment icon Thank you, Aisha for the advice. Sophia
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Aaron’s Answer

So I know I can't give a ton of advice on this but I remember looking at Arizona State University for this exact reason once and I've heard amazing things from people I knew since I lived in the area at one point.

https://poly.engineering.asu.edu/aviation/

I hope this helps!
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! Sophia
Thank you comment icon This is a new program from Southwest airlines too! https://careers.southwestair.com/D225Cadet Aaron Escamilla
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Sean’s Answer

To expand on Aisha’s answer, there are many options available for becoming a pilot. If you’re interested in becoming an airline pilot, with financing and full time training, it’s reasonably possible within 3 years. That would include earning your pilot certificates and gaining minimal experience flight instructing or other flight time builder (ie… charter, corporate, or cargo flying). Her advice to get a first class medical in the beginning is sage. I’ll add to that by saying, if you have any medical concerns ( diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.), schedule an appointment with an Aero Medical Examiner, as a regular patient, so as to discuss them. Once it’s on a government form, it will be there forever. If you don’t qualify for a First Class medical, but can get a Second Class medical, there are thousands of ways to make an excellent career flying.

I’d check airline websites for career development programs, such as Southwest Airlines Destinations 225 or Jet Blue’s JetBlue gateways, for ideas on ways to develop your career. To answer your question about how long it takes to become a commercial pilot, with full time training and cooperative weather, you can be on the market within 9 months to 1 1/2 years. That’s to earn your private, instrument, and commercial licenses. I suggest that you attend a Part 141 flight school, as the have FAA certified training programs. You can get your ATP certificate at 21, but it’s restricted until you turn 23. You have to have an ATP to fly at an airline. I don’t know if airlines are hiring pilots with restricted ATP’s. Minimum pilot requirements for airlines change often, so keep an eye on them.

You can be a professional pilot without a college degree. Right now, a degree is not required for airline jobs. But, in the future, if there’s more pilots than jobs, we might see that requirement return. That said, my schooling and training for my professional pilot’s degree has served me well. There should be several Universities near you with flight training programs. UND comes to mind. There are many universities with aviation programs out there. Like anything else, try to find one that offers the best value for your money. Also, check out FAPA. They have aspiring pilot programs at various cities, throughout the year. They also host pilot job fairs.

Best of luck!
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