Before beginning any program to become an airline pilot, the first thing that you should do is to get a full medical screening. You cannot be color blind, have a learning disorder, or have a Psychological illness in order to fly. You should also obtain a First Class Medical Certificate from a medical examiner at the Federal Aviation Administration. It is better to first determine if you are medically qualified to fly before spending any money on flying lessons, degree programs, etc.
One way to become an airline pilot is to first serve as an aviator in the military. You can talk to a recruiter to find out the qualifications for each branch. Most aviators attend an ROTC program at college; after earning a four-year degree and completing all Military Science classes, you will get a direct commission. After this, they will then attend pilot training, and will typically go on Active Duty tours for three to six years. The negative of this option is that you will not get immediate time working as an airline pilot, because you will incur a service obligation. The more seniority that airline pilots have, the more money they make, so many people prefer to take other routes to become trained.
Another way to become a pilot is to go to flight school and first train with a flight instructor. A pilot?s license generally requires 40-60 hours of flight time. Next, you need to work on your Bachelor?s Degree, since in order to be an airline pilot for a major carrier, you need a degree. It actually does not matter what you major in, but it does matter that you complete a Bachelor?s Degree to show that you are able to complete intense training programs.
Once you earn a private pilot license, you should complete an instrument rating certificate, and a commercial certificate, which requires at least 250 total hours of airtime in various conditions. Becoming a certified flight instructor and training at a flight school can also help you get hired, and will serve to increase your flight time. Another way to increase your flying hours is to join a local flying club.
After earning these certificates, the next step is to earn a multi-engine rating. At this point, you should be qualified to fly a regional-jet aircraft or a turboprop. The initial pay for pilots is not what most people expect, as it takes years and years to command the six-figure salaries that top regional airline pilots make at the Captain level. Most pilots start out around $20,000 a year flying cargo planes, and then begin making about $49,000 as a first officer when initially hired on to be a regional airline pilot.
It is important to understand that no matter what path you choose to become an airline pilot, you will need to stay medically fit in order to continue flying. Also, in order to maintain your license, you will repeatedly have to take various exams and complete multiple check rides. Therefore, this is a job where you will constantly have to prove yourself in order to keep your line of employment. But most airline pilots find the job to be very rewarding, and worth all of the time that it takes to reach the level of Captain at a major airline.