What does a pilot do?
Pilots fly airplanes or helicopters for a variety of reasons. Most pilots fly commercial aircraft to transport passengers and cargo. Some are involved in crop dusting and seed reforestation. Others test aircraft, track criminals, direct firefighting efforts, monitor traffic, and rescue or evacuate people who are injured. Before taking off, pilots must carefully plan their flights and thoroughly inspect the aircraft to ensure everything is operating correctly. Pilots communicate with flight dispatchers and weather forecasters to discuss flight and weather conditions. They use this information to pick a route, speed, and altitude to ensure the smoothest, safest, and most economical flight.
Pilots use a flight management computer and autopilot to steer the plane along the designated route. They constantly check the instrument panel to make sure all the aircraft systems are working correctly. Pilots also complete flight records and aircraft maintenance reports.
What kind of training does a pilot need?
Most pilots need at least 2 years of college, but majority have a college degree. Many pilots complete flight school at FAA approved institutions. Airline pilots usually complete a week of company instruction, 3 to 6 weeks of simulator training, and ground instruction, and 25 hours of initial flying experience. The training also includes a check flight with an FAA aviation safety inspector. Pilots must regularly attending training and simulator checks at least once a year.
All pilots who are employed to transport passengers or cargo must have a FAA issued commercial pilot’s license with an instrument rating. Helicopter pilots must have a commercial pilot’s license with a helicopter rating. Licensing requirements include flight experience and passing a written examination.
What are the prospects for a career as a pilot?
Employment of pilots is expected to grow about as fast as average for all professions, increasing 13% from 2006 to 2016 (1). An increasing population and the expanding of airlines will drive job growth.
Job prospects are projected to be good especially for pilots with extensive flying experience and familiarity with sophisticated aviation equipment. Job opportunities will be the best with regional airlines and low-cost carriers and air cargo carriers.
How much do pilots make?
As of September 2009, pilots with 1 to 4 years experience earned annual salaries between $24,669 and $73,698. Those with 5 to 9 years experience earned annual salaries between $40,976 and $89,000 (2).
A career as a pilot is a great choice for people interested in flying and operating aircraft. Pilots must be able to take command and work effectively as part of a team. Confidence, determination, precision, and self-sufficiency are all essential skills. Pilots must also have excellent communication and be able to articulate well.