How to Become an Airline Pilot

Young woman learning to be an airline pilot.
If you love to travel and be on the go, this career might be a great fit for you. Gary John Norman / Getty Images

Flying an airplane is fun. Getting paid to do it is even better. For some people, it's the perfect job: an office that travels, a view that's constantly changing and challenges that are exhilarating. It has been said that a pilot's job is hours of boredom punctuated with seconds of sheer terror. This is perhaps hyperbole, but sometimes not all that far from the truth.

A person who takes a multimillion dollar machine, casually flies it off the ground and then safely returns it, fascinates people. They wonder what it's like to be responsible for hundreds of lives or goods worth millions. When passengers peek inside a cockpit, they are amazed. They stare at the multitude of dials and ask incredulously, "Do you really know what they all do?"


Pilots are the focal point and end operator in a huge team of highly trained professionals. They are the movie stars of the air transportation show, because they are the most visible people to the public, while most of the other team members remain "behind the scenes." But movie stars rarely die or cause others to die because of an on-the-job mistake. All pilots run that risk. Piloting is a serious business.

In this article, we will tell you what you must go through to become an airline pilot. We will also explain an airline pilot's day-to-day life and the many possible courses of his or her career. As we will see, this job is not for everybody, but it is a uniquely thrilling and fascinating profession.