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Commercial Pilot Career CenterWhat you can expect as a pilot for hire
By Kyle Garrett
Commercial pilots are eligible to receive compensation (money) in exchange for their piloting services. Commercial pilots fly a huge variety of missions including flight instruction, piloting regional airliners on scheduled and charter routes, corporate pilots flying business jets, crop dusting, pipeline patrol, testing aircraft, flying cargo, firefighting, law enforcement, traffic reporting, banner towing, skydiving operations, humanitarian missions, sightseeing flights, and search and rescue. As a commercial pilot, you may encounter many jobs which are single-pilot in nature, meaning you'll be the only one in the cockpit. This is quite a bit different than flying for the airlines in which case there are always at least two pilots, a cabin crew, and support staff at both departure and destination airports. Most commercial pilots are not required to retire at age 65, as all U.S. airline pilots are.
Commercial Pilot Duties
As a commercial pilot, you'll likely be in charge of planning your flights, including routing, checking weather, calculating weight and balance, fueling the aircraft, boarding the passengers, cargo, or equipment necessary for the flight, and of course, flying the aircraft, communicating with air traffic controllers (when required), evaluating in-flight and destination weather conditions, and navigating to your destination. Read more about commercial pilot training.
Commercial Pilot Schedules
Commercial pilots also may have irregular schedules, flying 30 hours one month and 90 hours the next. Because these pilots frequently have many nonflying responsibilities, they have much less free time than do airline pilots. Except for corporate flight department pilots, most commercial pilots do not remain away from home overnight, although they may work odd hours. However, if the company owns a fleet of planes, pilots may fly a regular schedule.