The thrill of flying more than 30,000 feet above ground is a sensation that humans have long enjoyed. Unfortunately, unless you have a Firebolt like Harry Potter’s, flying can be a pretty expensive hobby — that is, unless you are a commercial pilot.

Pilots get to meet a variety of new people and travel the globe to see new places each day. From takeoff to landing, commercial pilots have a lot on their plate. The safety and comfort of sometimes hundreds of passengers are his responsibility. Pilots must be good communicators and respond well to pressure. Critical thinking and deductive reasoning are necessary to troubleshoot in-flight problems.

Becoming a Commercial Pilot

If you are serious about becoming a commercial pilot, it will require that you invest both time and money. There are several ways to begin your training as a pilot. Some future pilots begin in the military and can receive a civilian certificate through their service. Other pilots opt to go through private training with a flight instructor.

Another option is to receive your training by an airline. Many pilots receive an undergraduate degree to jump-start their piloting career. Hundreds of colleges across the country offer an associate’s degree in aviation.

All pilots need a pilot certificate. You need to consider what kind of vehicle you want to fly. A fixed-wing license will allow you to fly airplanes. If you prefer flying helicopters, you will choose the rotary-wing route. There are several different types of pilot certification which limit the size and type of aircraft you can fly.

These include:

• Student pilot
• Sport pilot
• Recreational pilot
• Private pilot
• Commercial Pilot
• Airline transport pilot

The type of certification dictates the conditions under which you may fly. For example, student pilots must be at least 16 years old, be fluent in English, and must pass an exam testing their knowledge of aviation rules and procedures. They must also demonstrate their ability to perform basic maneuvers such as taxiing, taking off, emergency procedures, and landings.

Although they may be endorsed to fly solo, they are not allowed to carry passengers or fly in a business setting.

Pilots are generally paid fairly well with salaries ranging from $32,000 to $129,000 averaging out at $65,000. Job opportunities continue to grow as the Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts the demand will grow 12 to 19 percent through 2018.