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3 Answers

How To Become a Private Pilot

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Private Pilot


My name is Rachel and I'm pretty new to the flight business. I've desired to become a pilot for the past few years and seem to finally be getting somewhere. I'd love to become a Private Pilot but really don't know where to start after I get my license. Are Private Pilots in high demand? Where would I apply to find a job as a Private Pilot? Should I just take lessons from a flight instructor at a local airport or go to flight school? Do I need a college degree?

Thanks! :)

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3 Answers

  1. Paul Tocknell on Jun 08, 2012



    Congratulations on following your dreams of becoming a pilot.   So many people I run into say, “I always wanted to be a pilot” but never follow through.   You should be commended for your action.  The first step is really the hardest and I’m glad you have come to this community looking for some guidance.


    If your goal is to earn income as a pilot, then your first step is to obtain your Private Pilot certificate.  As a private pilot, you will be able to experience the joy and freedom of flying but with some limitations.  One of the most limiting, is that you cannot accept compensation for directly being a pilot.   In order to accept pay for flying, you need to obtain at least a commercial pilot certificate.   But not to worry, a commercial pilot certificate is not as intimidating as it sounds.   A flight instructor at your local flight school will be able to easily guide you through the requirements and the steps necessary for that to happen.


    Some answers to your other questions:

    Are pilots in demand?  Yes, pilots are in demand*.  Now, the fine print.  I need to say that starting out as a pilot, the pay isn’t terribly impressive and the quality of life might be a little rough (bad schedule).  It takes a great deal of dedication and hard work to obtain a good paying pilot job, but it can be done! I know several low time pilots who recently, even in this economy, have secured pilot positions at airlines and corporate flight departments a like.   They worked very hard at networking and it paid off!  Everyone you meet might be your future boss so just remember that! 

    Applying for a pilot job:  This depends on where you want to work and which pilot avenue you pursue.  I have worked as a flight instructor, traffic pilot, airline pilot, charter pilot, cargo pilot, aerial survey pilot and a pilot for a corporate flight department.   All of those jobs, I obviously applied at different locations.   (BTW, I personally like corporate flying a lot!)

    If your goal is to become a pilot as quickly as possible, my recommendation would be a dedicated flight school or a university that has an aviation program  (FYI several good schools in Ohio 😉 

    College degree?  Not necessary but highly recommended.   I know pilots who have been very successful without them but good paying flight positions are becoming more and more competitive and a degree for those jobs is necessary (sometimes even a MBA!).  I would major in something that is marketable (think engineering) and will give you a career to fall back on just in case.

    If you have any other questions, let me know!  Good luck!


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  2. Jim Foley on Jun 08, 2012

    Glad to see more women getting involved in aviation; there’s a shortage.
    No, you do not need a college degree.
    Yes, you can just head to your local airport and tell them you want to learn to fly.  A little research would be good to read reviews and compare prices.
    No, private pilots are not in high demand.  In fact, there is NO demand for them (in terms of jobs).  This is because according to the law, private pilots cannot be paid for their services.  In order to get paid to fly, you must hold at least a Commercial Pilot certificate.  I say “at least” because you should really also get your Instrument rating.  This allows you to essentially fly in clouds.  If you do not have your Instrument rating as a commercial pilot, you are limited to only flying during the day, and restricted to flying no farther than 50 miles from your departure airport. 
    So, if you are limited by your budget to only getting a Private, know that you will have to do much more training, and thus money.  Of course, I still suggest you get your private anyway.  The minimum is 35-40 hours for private, and 190-250 hours for commercial.  Most people will be closer to the 250 hours.

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  3. David Els on Jun 26, 2012

    Paul summed it up perfectly. 
    Rachel, I suggest you visit http://pilotincanada.com and do some reading. 
    It seems you want to pursue this as a career, so you should at least know as much as you can about it. 

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