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Fast Facts - Commercial Pilots
- Median Salary - $92,060 per year
- Minimum Education - Associate or Bachelor Degree
- Job Outlook - 11% growth through 2020
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How To Choose A Flight School
Learning to fly is a challenge! Do you have what it takes? Do you have the time? The money? Will you be successful? Will your family fly with you? Are there jobs out there for professsional pilots? In this section, we try to answer as many questions as possible about researching, contacting, and finally deciding on the flight school that's right for.
Career Flight Training - If you want to fly for a living, you'll need to go to a school that offers private pilot, commercial pilot, and instrument rating training, because all three of these licenses/ratings are required (by most companies) to get a job as a pilot. You can count on the whole process taking six months to a year or more to complete. For this reason, most aspiring professional pilots attend a flight training academy that specializes in teaching career pilots. There are several distinct advantages to attending a flight academy: shorter training programs (through accelerated training), airline-style training environment, lower costs, and the chance to build flight hours as a certified flight instructor upon graduation. Academies can dramatically reduce the time taken to earn your licenses and ratings because they have more resources available to get you through training, including larger fleets, more flight instructors, more advance flight simulators, and the use of a proven accelerated training program. The airline-style environment can be a bonus too, because you'll learn how to fly like a professional from day one, utilizing crew resource management (CRM), flight dispatch, and company procedures. On the surface, professional flight training schools may appear to be more expensive (and in some cases are) but here's how they can actually save you money, and in some cases, make you money. Generally speaking, the sooner you get hired in your first pilot job, the better, because the majority of pilots are paid based on seniority, or hire date. Flight academies typically offer the fastest way to earn all the licenses and ratings you need then build flight hours to gain experience. Graduates of flight academies are often hired on by the school to teach the next generation of pilots attending the school. Although pay is generally pretty low, most graduates are only there to build up the number of flight hours they need to apply, and get, their next job as a pilot. By building the requisite number of hours quickly, aspiring professional pilots get into their next job faster, and build up seniorty sooner, which can translate into higher pay and better position in the company down the road. However, when researching these flight schools, be on the lookout: don't pay for large amounts of flight time in advance. If a school requires you to pay them in advance, think very carefully before you make the purchase. Contact the school and find out if you can talk to some of the recent graduates, or even current students. Chances are, you'll get a really good idea about what to expect in terms of housing, facilities, fleet, CFIs, and more.