Essential Facts about Pilot Training
Numerous individuals already aspire to fly an airplane or be inside it at a very young age. The fascination of how an airplane works, its strange yet wondrous structure, its uniqueness as well as the excitement of being on it are what attract them. It is indeed a very amazing profession however, becoming one requires you to have a true passion and love for flying. In addition, being an airline pilot entails a great responsibility such as worrying about the passengers’ lives. It is never an easy profession; to be capable of flying a plane, you first need to undergo pilot training to develop your skills and expand your knowledge. In this article, essential things about being an airline pilot will be discussed — how much they earn within a year, how to truly become a pilot, the requirements you need and how long the process takes to become one.
The salaries received by every pilot varies according to different factors: the type of aircraft they’re flying, their level of experience (how long they’ve been in the industry), region or country, whether they’re in a regional or major airline and their position in the airline company. Pilots do not earn based on a fixed salary like some other professions; they earn on an hourly basis wherein they need to reach the minimum hours of work (usually 75 hours per month) set per month to ensure that they are receiving a monthly minimum salary.
If you’re a pilot in a regional airline in U.S., your starting salary has a rate of $20 – $50 per hour. In a year, its equivalent value is around $20,000-$40,000. Being in a major airline is a different case; your initial or beginning salary would have a higher rate. The rates would of course, still differ depending on the airline however, usually it would be around $60-$90 per hour thus, its estimated value per year would be $50,000 – $80,000.
As I have mentioned earlier, the salary amount they receive depend on the the type of aircraft they’re flying as well as how long they’ve been in the airline. For example, the standard annual salary of a pilot flying a large jet would be around $120,000 but for smaller jets, it would only be around $100,000. However, if a pilot flies a non-jet plane, their salary would be lesser than the aforementioned amount.
Steps Towards Becoming a Pilot
Becoming a pilot does not happen in an instant, you need to invest a lot of your time and effort in learning all the essential things about aircraft and everything related to it. To give you an idea about how you can officially become one, here are some of the steps:
1. You should attain a college education.
College degree programs regarding piloting are greatly available if you haven’t had any existing knowledge and experience in flying an airplane. It is more advisable to get a college degree than just an associates’ degree since it is what commercial airlines prefer among their applicants.
2. Have at least the minimum hours of flight experience.
Before you become a pilot, you should be able to fly a plane for a total of 250 hours, which is the minimum hours of flight experience. In doing so, you would be accompanied by flight instructors in flight schools to always ensure a safe flight.
3. Get a pilot’s license.
After completing the minimum number of flying hours, you could now apply for a commercial pilot’s license by completing all other requirements they’re asking for. Pilots must first undergo and pass the physical examination to ensure that their hearing and vision have no physical impairments. Afterwards, they need to take the written examination that includes all the safety information and would also asses their skills.
4. Take additional pilot training and start working as a pilot.
Selected airlines require their pilot to take some special tests before they officially hire them as their pilot. Moreover, you need to gain a great number of flying hours (at least 4,000 in total) since they do not accept inexperienced pilots.
Pilot Training Requirements and Process
Some of the people easily get discouraged when they learn about the processes and requirements needed in training to become a pilot. Before you officially obtain a FAA Airline Transport Certificate, you need to first complete the requirement of having a total of 1,500 hours of flight experience. It may seem like a big number but, if you are really determined to become one, this would not be a hindrance. The time it takes to be a pilot depend on the training you’d undergo as well as on the kind of pilot school you would get enrolled at. If you focus a lot on your pilot training, maybe it would take you a lesser time to become one; it could be shortened to less than a year. If the pilot school you get enrolled at lets you fly a plane for around once a week, then you would be spending quite a long time before you reach the minimum. But, if the school lets you fly for twice or thrice a week, then you’ll have a faster progression.
If you aspire to become a profession pilot, you need to acquire three important things first — private license, instrument and commercial. A private pilot license allows you to only fly the plane for enjoyment. Instrument is a rating that would be added to your license and allows you to fly by reference to the aircraft’s equipment. Lastly, commercial license gives you the right to get paid by flying. Aside from that, there are educational requirements you need to complete to be able to qualify in pilot training. Most airline pilots are required to have a bachelor’s degree with any major than just a college degree. Regardless of your major, it is essential to complete and pass a coursework in English, Math, Aeronautical Engineering and Physics. In addition, it is also more advisable to be enrolled in aeronautics program for it will give you a lot of advantage and would also develop your knowledge.
Types of Pilot Certifications
If you are training to become a pilot, there are various types of certificates you could obtain. The type of training you would undergo would also vary on the kind of certificate you wish to receive. Pilot certificates are also called as pilot licenses and some of its types are as follow:
Private Pilot License
This category has 4 different types under it — student, sport, recreational, and private. Private pilot license is the most common type that most pilots have. This certificate allows you to fly any aircraft. However, you are not permitted to fly for commercial purposes and would not receive compensation for flying. You should have at least 35 or 40 total number of flying hours to obtain this.
Commercial Pilot License
Acquiring a CPL allows you to get paid for all your flying services but, requires you to abide by any federal aviation regulations. Being a commercial pilot also means that you are to study and to fly more complex aircraft which requires knowledge about professional flight operations.
Being a flight instructor allows you to teach a lot of pilot students to fly different types of aircraft. Most people who wish to become a pilot first try to become a flight instructor to gain experience while getting paid for flying. Before you could become one, you need to complete certain requirements such as having a CPL.
Airline Transport Pilot
The ATP license is considered as the most advanced certificate that could be received by any pilot students. In commercial airlines, they now require and hire applicants that have obtained this type of license. To obtain this certificate, you need to have the following requirements:
- At least 23 years old
- Have at least a total of 1,500 flying hours
- Pass all exams and tests (medical, physical or written)
Some individuals get easily confused between pilot certificates and ratings. To clearly differentiate the two, ratings are additional tests and training added to their certificate to improve or acquire greater opportunities. Some example of ratings are:
There are certain requirements you need to complete before obtaining this type of rating. This could be added to certificates such as PPL or CPL. Instrument rating pertains to the qualifications a pilot must have under the Instrument Flight Rules (IFR).
This type of rating enables you to effectively control an aircraft with multiple engine and with a retractable gear. It could be added to your certificate as a private pilot . For certain training schools, this type of rating is necessary but is just optional for others.
This rating, when added to your certificate, allows you to instruct advance students regarding flying an aircraft. It is an essential rating to add in an airline transport license for it allows you for greater opportunities. The type of students you would be teaching are those who wish to apply for instrument rating as well as those aiming for an airline transport license (ATP).
Multi- engine Instructor
In achieving a rating, certificate or endorsement, pilot students are required to receive a certain amount of training, both in air and ground. MEIs are considered responsible for teaching or instructing students who wish to efficiently and effectively fly multi-engine aircraft.
Activities in Pilot Training
Pilot students definitely learn a lot of things during their pilot training. Aeronautics is broad and therefore, requires you a lot of time and training to master all the important things about it. Students undergo ground and air training; several things they do in training are the following:
Takeoffs and Landings
One of the easiest task of a pilot is learning how to takeoff and land. However, it gets harder when they start learning about the different types of it — normal, crosswind, soft field and short field. They must learn how to land on various types of fields such as on grass, soft and short runways.
Ground Reference Maneuvers
This refers to learning how to turn around a point, on a rectangular course and S- turns. It is an essential part of the training for it is best used to counterbalance the strong effects of the wind during a flight.
Stalls and Stall Recovery
Stalls happen when the wing of an airplane or an aircraft is hardly damaged and make it difficult for the plane to lift itself or to fly any longer. It is greatly dangerous at takeoffs and landing for they are at low altitudes. Practicing stall recovery occurs on high altitudes for increased safety as well as to know how to recover properly if ever it occurs on a plane flight.
This is also often called as advanced maneuvers since the skill required in properly executing it is not acquired unless proper control of normal maneuvers has been mastered. Learning this type of maneuver enable you to hone and develop your skills that could enable you to cope with unforeseen emergencies encountered in a flight. The types of things you learn are steep turns, steep spiral, and chandelle.
Flight Planning and Navigation
A pilot must learn and master how to plan a cross-country flight with the use of knowing the routes, weather conditions, and regulations. Flight planning and navigation has been simplified nowadays due to the existence of GPS devices. However, they should still learn how to navigate in case of emergencies such as a GPS failure. When you talk about flight planning, it refers to magnetic heading and airspeed calculation, plotting in maps or charts, and taking into consideration the fuel usage.
As mentioned in the first paragraph, being a pilot is never an easy profession. In fact, there are no easy jobs or professions. It would only look easier once you have the determination to achieve it as well as have the passion to continue pursuing it.
Things You Need to Know In Becoming a Pilot
Becoming a pilot has a lot of advantage. It definitely have some disadvantages too but despite of that, there are countless reasons to be considered as to why this profession is an aspiration for many individuals. Indeed, becoming one takes a long process. You need to undergo different set of training and pass several tests to develop your skills and knowledge about aircraft. Learning how to fly an aircraft is a continuous learning experience. To further understand and know more about aircraft, read on and discover how much pilots earn, the steps to become one and the type of training you would experience.
How Much Pilots Earn
The compensations received by each pilot differs according to various variables. For example, the type of aircraft you fly would be a basis for the salary you receive. How long you’ve been in the company and your position in the airline affect your salary as well. In addition, the amount you earn would highly be affected depending on the region or district of where you work.
Start-up Pilot Salaries
For first-officer pilots, their salaries could be relatively low. However, its rates has recently been shifting and have been upgrading. Currently, their hourly rate salary adds up to around $20 – $50. When converted to its yearly amount, it could be between $20,000 to $40,000. As mentioned earlier, the amount they earn would still vary since it is affected by several factors like the type of aircraft you’re flying, your airline company and your position.
Salaries Depending on the Airline Company
As mentioned earlier, there are various factors that affect the amount of salary you receive. Obviously, one of it is the type of airline company you’re working at. Between major and regional airlines, it is with no doubt that salaries of pilot workers in major airlines are higher as compared to the regional ones. One of the major airlines, Delta Airlines, has a rate of $68 per hour for their first officers. For captains, their hourly rate extends up to $241 per hour. In 5 years, the hourly rate of their first officers would be increased to $160 and $248 for their captains.
On the other hand, Air Wisconsin, a regional airline, has an hourly pay of $26 for their first officers in their first year. After 5 years, the hourly rate would be increased to $42 per hour. However, if you are a captain, you will be receiving a salary with a rate of $61 per hour on your first year. After gaining more flying experience, it will be increased to $78 per hour in 5 years.
Salaries According to Aircraft Size
Another basis of determining a pilot’s salary is the type of aircraft he or she is flying. The median annual salary of a captain who’s flying a large jet aircraft would be around $121,000. Flying a small jet would of course have a lower salary and an estimated amount would be around $104,000. For flying a non-jet aircraft, the salary is lower than the amount received by those flying a jet aircraft. If it’s a large one, your annual salary would be $79,000 but for a small one, it would be $85,000 per year.
How Pilot Salaries Could be Increased
Different airlines vary in their schedules but all of them begin with offering the standard salary rate. Pilots experience their highest salary increases during their first five years in the company. As compared to captains, first officers receive a higher increase in their salary. However, expect the greatest salary increase on your first year of probationary period since it’s when it usually occurs.
For the significant carrier Southwest, first officers start with a time-based compensation of $57 in their first year. By year five, this has dramatically increased to $130 per hour. By year 10, a first officer’s time-based compensation is $148 with Southwest. In the main year, a chief for Southwest has an hourly rate of $191 . By year five he receives $200 in an hourly rate, and by year 10 $212 hourly.
For regional carriers, they would pay less and also the aircraft they would be flying is smaller. Flying for a regional aircraft is the most common method to increase or gain experience as required by major airlines. Therefore, it is essential and a lot advisable for most upcoming and aspiring pilots.
How to Become an Airline Pilot
Deciding to become a pilot is an easy thing to do. However, the process it takes to become one could be considered difficult since you’ll be needing to have lots of preparations. It includes choosing which flight school you would attend, completing all the requirements and many more. To guide you into becoming an airline pilot, here are some ways you need to take and follow.
1. Attend a FAA flight school.
The first step towards becoming a pilot is to enroll yourself on a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) flight school. However, keep in mind that you should choose one that is nationally accredited. The training you would undergo may take a year or a year and a half, depending on the employment requirements of your country.
2. Have a commercial license.
In some airline companies, their requirement is to attain an Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL) but others only require a commercial license for you to get hired. To get a commercial license, you first need to complete the first and basic step to become a pilot — attain a Private Pilot’s License (PPL). This certificate allows you to officially fly an aircraft but, it has limitations. After you get a PPL, you can now move on to attaining a commercial license. This license allows you to get paid for your flying services.
If the company you’re applying to requires you to have an ATPL, you need to gain more flying experience. It is the highest level of flying certificates and would require you a total of 1500 hours of flight time before receiving this certificate.
3. Take instructor courses.
Some pilots experience difficulty in getting hired by airline companies due to having a lack in flight experience. To gain and increase flight experience, most pilots try to first take instructor courses or become an instructor until they reach the required 1500 hours of flight time.
There are a total of three instructor courses. The first one is the Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) which allows you to teach students to become a private pilot or be a commercial pilot. Next is the Certified Flight Instructor Instrument (CFII) which grants you the capability to teach students to become an instrument rated pilot. Lastly, Multi-Engine Instructor (MEI) allows you to teach students to be a multi-engine rated pilot. Having a CFI and CFII would increase your chance of being hired as a pilot in a certain company.
You could start flight training once you’ve finished and met all the requirements as well as been officially hired as a pilot. The kind of training you would undergo vary depending on the airline company. It depends on which field or part you need master. In addition, the training you would receive would be based on the type of license you have, the aircraft you would be flying and your position. For example, a private pilot would receive a different training as compared to airline pilots and commercial ones.
Some common topics included in the training are jet orientation, crew cooperation, and line-oriented flight training. One of the easiest thing pilots do in flight training is learning how to takeoff and land. Indeed, it is easy but it becomes complicated once they start learning the different types of it. Aside from that, they are also trained to perform ground reference maneuvers, stall and stall recovery, flight planning and navigation. Ground reference maneuver is known as learning how to turn around a point. Stall recovery is practiced so that pilots would immediately know of what to do in case the plane experience wing damage that makes it hard to lift itself.
Two Types of Flight Training Programs
There are two different types of FAA flight training programs that could be taken by any pilot — Part 61 and Part 141 training programs. These two are both accepted training programs however, they definitely have differences. Part 61 training program is defined as the most common type of program. It is also the type that is often offered by small flight schools. It is a very flexible type of program since the program itself could be adjusted to suit the preference of the students. Since it is less structured as compared to Part 141, it takes a longer time to be finished.
Meanwhile, Part 141 flight training program are often offered by great flight schools or institutions. Both training programs are conducted using the same standard but when it comes to this program, it has a more structured training which lessens the time for it to be completed. For an instance, the flight time required for a pilot who’s undergoing Part 61 training would take 40 hours but only 35 hours under Part 141 rules. The students’ performance under Part 141 training are regularly monitored by FAA. This is to address and improve the poor performances exhibited by the students.
In becoming a pilot, there are certain requirements you need to meet. For a student pilot, you need to be at least 17 years old, must possess reading and writing skills, and understand English to attain a student pilot certificate. In gaining a private pilot’s license, the requirements are the same as the student pilot. But, added are that flight and ground training should be completed as required by federal aviation regulations. For commercial pilot and flight instructors, it is also the same as the student pilot’s requirements. The only difference is that they must be at least 18 years old. Lastly, for airline transport pilot, they must be at least 23 years old but exempted pilots could attain a certificate at age 21.
Aside from age requirements, there are other things you need to complete or have before you could qualify for pilot training. These include the educational requirements, financial requirements, and other skills which would further be developed.
Difficulties Experienced by Airline Pilots
The work of a pilot is a very interesting and amazing thing. However, it is also very complex that is why they also experience some sort of difficulties. When it comes to flying an aircraft, landing is one of the trickiest thing to do since it has different types. Performing it lets you become closer to the ground at a high speed which makes it seem terrifying. Weather is also another factor that greatly affects the way you’d be flying an aircraft. Therefore, it is essential to learn and understand the information about weather to always ensure a safe flight. For example, try to look at weather maps or forecasts before you call for a briefing.
In becoming a pilot, you also need to understand risks since there are instances where you do not know what might happen. You should be aware of how to take actions in case of emergencies. One example of these emergencies is experiencing flying without the use of a GPS device. Navigation would become a lot difficult with the absence of GPS so it is essential to practice flying without it. Most pilots, despite of having enough knowledge regarding aircraft, still lack essential skills because of having a lesser time spent in flying. One important thing needed by airline pilots is to develop their physical, mental and flying skills. It could be done by enhancing their flying time or what is called as “flying frequency”. In this way would they only learn more and get used to flying.
These are just some of the common problems encountered by pilots during flying. However, it is not limited to these since there are other difficulties which they probably experience during ground training and in other fields.
Becoming a pilot is a dream for many. After all, you get to fly a humongous aircraft and travel the world in the process. There are many other reasons why being a pilot is a sought-after job. But one of the more compelling reasons behind this is a pilot’s salary. Is pilot salary really that high? If it is, what are other responsibilities and benefit that comes with it? Read on to know more about these questions.
US National Pilot Salary Figures
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the median pay for pilots is $102,520 a year in 2015. For a large aircraft, the median annual figure goes up to as much as $126,000. However, the typical range is usually anywhere from $109,000 to $142,000 depending on various other factors.
On the other hand, the average salary for pilots in the US is much lower compared to its median figure. Indeed states that pilots make an average of $76,534 every year. The said salary information was gleaned from over 2,100 data points from employers themselves. Overall, pilots are paid a few levels above the national average salary in the US. Pilots who earn the highest are ones who have been employed in their airlines for a long time.
New Pilot Starting Salary
If you’re a newly minted pilot, chances are you’re in the lower totem pole of the salary spectrum. So what exactly is at the lower end? You’re looking at anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000 a year. Translated to hourly, this would be anywhere from $20 to $50 per hour. This depends on what airline you’ll sign up to, the aircraft you’ll be flying, and whether you’ll be flying domestic or international.
The thing about being a pilot is that your flight hours will be highly regulated. And you’re likely to spend as much time on the ground as you do on air. Airline pilots, on average, log around 75 flying hours a month. They then log another 75 for carrying out ground tasks such as record maintenance, pre-flight checks, and flight planning—to name just a few.
Aside from the hourly wage pilots receive, they also receive a training stipend as well as a per diem rate when based away from home. The said rate covers their meals and other additional expenses that come with traveling. Moreover, airlines also pay for a pilot’s accommodation when flying to places that are away from home.
Although the starting salaries for pilots have been reputed to be fairly low, recent development in the industry has seen entry-level pay for pilots to be on the rise.
As mentioned previously, one of the factors that affect pilot salary is the aircraft you’ll be flying. Pilot training will then depend on the type of aircraft you’ll be designated to fly.
For a large jet, a pilot’s salary can reach as much as $120,000 annually. While smaller jets usually net a pilot a salary around the $100,00 a year range. On the other hand, pilots who fly non-jet aircrafts make significantly less. Those who fly large non-jet aircrafts earn around $80,000 per year. While small non-jet aircrafts have a median salary of $85,000 annually.
The highest pay rate based on aircraft is when a pilot flies any of the Legacy carriers. It’s one of the oldest and largest carriers available in US. For instance, flying a Boeing 757 carries a $70 per hour pay rate. The pay then significantly increases after the first and second year. After a decade of flying a Legacy aircraft, a pilot can enjoy as much as $150 per hour pay rate. Even with a minimum logged time of 65 hours a month, a pilot flying a Boeing 757 can still stand to make around $50,000 a year. This doesn’t include the per diem rate.
However, not all airlines provide the same rate. Delta, for instance, pays about $200 per hour for flying the Boeing 757 on a pilot’s first year. By year 10, this is set to increase to $222. This translates to a salary of $160,000 annually on a pilot’s first year and over $170,000 on the 10th year. Both estimates don’t include the per diem.
As lightly touched on in the last section, pilot salary can vary depending on what airline you sign up with.Every airline will offer a different base pay rate depending on your ranking. Most often than not, major airlines will offer higher salaries compared to smaller, regional ones. Regional airlines also usually have smaller fleets which means lower pay for their pilots as well.
Despite the lower pay, pilots commonly fly with regional airlines as a way to gain experience. And for pilots who are on the rise, it’s a must to have experience first before being hired by major airlines. Island Air, a regional airline, pays its first officers about $40 an hour. This goes up to almost $60 by the 5th year. Their captains make almost $70 an hour on their first year and about $100 by their 5th year.
In comparison, one of the biggest airlines in US, Southwest, has a reported salary of $50 an hour or about $193,000 for its first officers on their 1st year. This rate is set to more than double by a pilot’s 5th year to $130 an hour. By a pilot’s 10th year, the hourly wage for a first officer would be around $150 an hour.
Captains, on the other hand, stand to make as much as $190 an hour for their first year with Southwest. By his 5th year this is set to increase to $200 an hour and $212 for his 10th year.
How Pilot Salaries are Increased
Every airline has their own pay schedule but almost each one raises their pay yearly. Expect the biggest salary increases to be in the first five years of a pilot’s career. More specifically, the biggest increase will be after a pilot’s first year of probationary period. The pay raise for those ranking as first officers is also much more substantial compared to those already ranked as captain. Despite this, a lot of importance is still usually placed on seniority as a basis for a salary increase.
Aside from the standard salary that pilots get, there are also other forms of compensation that add to their total pay. Many airlines offer profit-sharing schemes as well as bonus and incentives to their pilots.
It has been reported that negotiations are in order for an increase in salary for pilots in some major airlines. In Delta, unions have been lobbying for as much as 13% increase in 2016 as well as an additional 3% raise in 2017. This will then be followed by a 3% boost in 2018 and 4% in 2019. With 2015 being the year that airlines made its highest profits, industry pundits are looking at a pay increase for pilots in the coming years.
Job growth for this career is slated to grow at 5% from 2014 to 2024 which is average. The forecasted employment change between 2014 to 2024 is about 5,400. All in all, the outlook for a pilot career will be steady in the next 10 years with little to no change.
However, a study by University of Dakota has forewarned a shortage of 15,000 pilots by 2026 which could put a dent in the growth of the industry. Should this shortage happen, it’ll no doubt slow down airline growth in the coming years. More specifically, it could increase labor costs as travel demand grows.
Due to this impending shortage, many regional airlines are increasing their pay and bonuses in order to attract more people into the flying career path. Major airline carriers haven’t felt this shortage since they hire mainly from regional airlines.
Pilot Job Description and Career Path
Being a pilot requires a number of serious responsibilities. Their biggest one is to transport a carrier and its passengers safely to the designated destination. They are also in charge of making sure that the aircraft is in good working order before every flight by doing pre-inspections. Another one of their responsibilities is modifying a flight plan in cases of emergencies.
Once you pass the hiring process, you’ll then start out as a flight instructor. The salary for a flight instructor usually starts out low. The common hourly rate for an instructor is anywhere from $15 to $20. This doesn’t include benefits such as health insurance, sick leaves, and vacation times. Due to this, there are some states that allow flight instructors to receive public assistance since the majority of pilots starting out are also beginning to pay their debts as well.
After a stint as a flight instructor, many new pilots move on to flying charter either in corporate flight, a small commercial airline, or flying freight while others directly work as a regional airline pilot. Once you’ve amassed enough experience, most pilots then go on to work for major airline carriers. Flying in any of the said options entail benefits and bonuses aside from the standard salary.
In terms of ranking, you may have to stay as a first officer for a couple of years before you’re promoted as a junior captain. Following a few years as a junior captain, you will then get promoted as a captain. In total, you’ll have to wait at least seven years before you can occupy the left seat of the cockpit as a captain. The key thing here is to stay in just one airline in your career so you don’t lose your seniority status.
How to Become a Pilot
If you want to know how to become a pilot, we have just the right information for you. The basic requirement to being one is having a college education. Most airlines require their pilots to have a bachelor’s degree rather than just an associate one.
Although not always necessary, it’ll be helpful if you get a college degree program that’s related or close to being a pilot so that you’ll have a solid educational foundation. An example would be mechanical or aerospace engineering. Some airlines also prefer pilots who have taken courses in liberal arts and aeronautical engineering subjects. You can then take classes in a flight school that’s certified by the Federal Aviation Administration or FAA.
The next step is to rack up on flight hours so you can earn your pilot license. For this, you have to have at least a minimum of 250 hours. If you’re 18 or older you can then complete your other requirements such as a physical examination to determine if their eyesight and hearing are sound. It also serves the purpose of assessing whether you have no physical impairments whatsoever in terms of doing your job as a pilot.
Aside from this, you also have to take a written exam that will test your flight expertise and knowledge about safety. The test will be monitored by an FAA-certified instructor. You might also be required to take other additional licenses or tests depending on your pilot position. Some airlines also require their pilots to take intelligence and psychological tests.
Once you’ve passed all the requirements to be a pilot and have been hired by an airline, you’ll then undergo pilot training. Some airlines such as Emirates have their own training facility that they exclusively use for training their pilots. Other airlines like EasyJet partner with other flight training schools in training their pilots.
Airline training usually integrates specific requirements unique to that airline as each one has different operational procedures and policies. Training usually covers topics such as jet orientation, crew cooperation, and line-oriented flight training—to name just a few. Pilots will be equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills that will prepare them to serve as a pilot flying both domestic and international flights.
Pilot training is also structured depending on the license it confers (e.g. Multi Pilot License). It can also be laid out according to a pilot’s position and what aircraft he’ll be flying. For instance, first officers usually receive a different training from captains.
Aside from actual flights, you’ll also be undergoing flight simulation training according to your airline’s operational requirements. The first six months is usually done in a classroom in order to build your aviation expertise. You will be regularly tested on your knowledge throughout the period and will then undergo actual flight training in the airline’s designated training center.
Flying an aircraft is no doubt an amazing experience. It’s the next best thing to being able to fly. Work as a pilot can be challenging since you’re responsible for the safety of thousands of people every day. More than that, it requires many skills as well to master flying something so big. Being a pilot can be a number of things. You can be an aircraft pilot, commuter pilot, and airline transport pilot, to name just a few.
Being a pilot can be a number of things. You can be an aircraft pilot, commuter pilot, and airline transport pilot, to name just a few. Below are more information on what it’s like to be a pilot.
Pilots are the ones who operate an aircraft during transportation from one place to another. They can either be employed privately or publicly. There are also pilots who work on a self-employed basis. Either way, a pilot’s life is often on the road, living in hotels and transferring from location to location.
But before you could ever hope to be a pilot, you have to have the education for it first. This costs anywhere from $100,000 to $150,000 depending on your school. After that, you then have to get certified before you could officially assist in flying an aircraft.
Process of Becoming a Pilot
The process of becoming a pilot doesn’t stop when you finish your education and get certified. You then start out as a flight instructor and then, later on, move to being a charter pilot. You also have the option to make the shift to corporate and become a co-pilot. Flying for an airline is also an alternative that many take before becoming a captain.
During your career, you are also required to take regular simulation rides, crew training, flight assessments, and upgrade training, to name just a few.
Being a flight attendant is one of the most in-demand jobs out there. As a matter of fact, the ratio for applicants and for vacant spots is extremely high. There are 13 to 45 applicants all vying for just one spot judging by the applications received by U.S. airlines. Crazy, right? If that’s not competition for you, I don’t know what is.
With that many people clamoring to have a flight attendant job, you’re probably curious on how much a flight attendant job pays. If you want to know, the median salary in the U.S. for flight attendant jobs is $20.45 per hour. While profit sharing and bonuses can go as high as $3,000.
Annually, most flight attendants make anywhere over $55,000 to more than $86,000 as of May 31, 2016. The bottom 10% on the other hand, earns around $43,000. While those in the top 90% earns way over $100,000.
However, entry-level flight attendants stand to make only around $18,000 to $20,000 a year if you’re working for a major carrier.
Take note that flight attendant salary is dependent on a number of things. Factors such as seniority and how much hours you work per month are important. The more hours you work or the more senior your position is, the bigger your earning potential.
Flight Attendant Salary by Employer
Every airline has their own pay scale that they abide by. If salary is one of the top deciding factors for you when it comes to choosing the airline you want to work in, it pays to have an idea of the typical salary range airlines offer. Here are some of the major airlines in U.S. and their respective salary range.
- Delta Air Lines Inc — $30K-$58K
- Southwest Airlines Co — $30K-$62K
- American Airlines — $29K-$81K
- United Airlines, Inc. — $22K-$52K
- US Airways Group Inc. — $38K-$79K
- Frontier Airlines — $39K-$70K
- Alaska Airlines, Inc. — $35K-$43K
- Delta Air Elite — $28K-$50K
- Delta Airlines — $30K-$79K
- JetBlue Airways Corporation — $33K-$95K
- Virgin America — $44K-$56K
- ExpressJet Airlines — $14K-$40K
- Republic Airlines — $39K-$56K
- Skywest Airlines, Inc. — $48K-$61
From this list, the top companies in terms of having the highest flight attendant salaries are JetBlue, American Airlines, US Airways Group, Delta Airlines, and Frontier Airlines, to name a few.
Southwest is particularly noted for its high salary. But even for them, it’s highly likely that no entry level cabin crew stands to make more than $50,000 a year. Moreover, they are known to base their salary on total flight times and distance. Their flight attendants are guaranteed around 80 flights.
Areas Where Flight Attendants Earn High
According to BLS, Texas pays the highest flight attendant salaries. The yearly average wage for Texas flight attendants is about $53,000. While other high-paying states for flight attendants are Florida, Tennessee, California, and Wisconsin.
Florida pays about $50,770 and Tennessee, $49,470. California comes a close second with $47,490 and Wisconsin with $46,420.
For top-paying metro areas, New York takes the spot. In fact, the Nassau County-Suffolk County in NY has a yearly average wage of $69,370. While other high-paying metro areas for flight attendants include cities like Dallas-Plano-Irving in Texas.
In California, San Diego and are Carlsbad the cities that pay the most. If you’re in Florida, Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall have high flight attendant salaries. Lastly, airlines in the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land in Texas also pay handsomely.
Flight Attendant Salary by Experience and Location
Salary as a flight attendant also depends on experience. Entry-level are those with no experience or have worked as much as five years in the industry. A mid-career level is those who have 5 to 10 years of experience under their belt. Experienced level flight attendants have anywhere from 10 to 20 years of experience. While in late-career level are those who have notched more than 20 years of cabin crew work.
If you’re in the beginning stages of your career, you can make around $38,000 annually. For those in mid-career level, expect to make an average of $49,000 a year. Once you’ve reached a decade or two of service, the median salary goes to as much as $70,440 as of Jan. 30, 2017.
In terms of location, the top cities hiring for flight attendants are Newark in New Jersey, New York, San Francisco, and Atlanta. The pay difference in the first two cities is around 9 and 8 percent higher, respectively. While in Atlanta, the pay difference for flight attendants is at -10%.
Benefits and How to Bump Up Your Flight Attendant Salary
There are a number of excellent bonuses that come with the job.
Work before check in and check out of a flight is paid. This is for the pre and post-flight preparation. However, this is usually constrained from 30 to 60 minutes of paid time for both.
Another good thing about being a flight attendant is that there are per diems granted. You can use this for meals to offset your living expenses. This is great when you’re not onboard an aircraft or when staying overnight at a hotel. Your meal allowance will largely depend on how long you’re staying at a hotel or layover is.
For example, a 12-hour layover for a domestic flight might bring in a lower per diem rate compared to a 24-hour international flight. The more meal periods you’re bound to have, the higher the corresponding per diem rate is. Your meal allowance is also affected by the strength of the local currency. If you’re currently in a country with a better currency then that means you’ll be able to exchange for them at a higher rate.
In countries such as U.S. and Canada, per diems are considered tax-free. So whatever you receive is yours to keep if you’re employed by an airline in the said countries.
Other airlines, however, such as United Airlines, have a flat rate that they impose for their meal allowances. As of February 2013, their per diem rate for domestic flights is $1.95 and $2.50 for international flights.
The good thing about this industry is that it very much values career seniority. This means that the longer you stay on the job, the bigger your salary will be. This is mainly due to the fact that you can pick premium routes. Premium routes are usually long international flights to a popular destination so it pays well.
Another thing that can spell a higher salary for you is the aircraft’s size. The bigger an aircraft, the more passenger it has which means more work for you. This goes for flight attendants and pursers. For instance, a purser on a B777-200 is paid more than pursers working on an Airbus 319.
Managing a crew of nine versus a crew of just two or three is definitely more demanding. That’s why it warrants a different pay scale for most airlines.
Get Promoted as a Purser
Another excellent way to increase your salary is to get promoted as a purser. Many flight attendants do after garnering enough experience on the job.
However, this also means you’ll have new challenges and responsibilities to handle. Pursers are usually in charge of managing the crew at a specific aircraft. You’ll be leading the team to make sure everyone’s doing the job in assisting the passengers.
Pursers are also known as service directors. Many airlines require at least one to two years on the job before being considered as a purser.
As of 2011, purser on small aircrafts earned around $50 per hour. On the other hand, pursers on bigger aircrafts earned about $67 per hour. More than just the higher salary, pursers are also paid the standard per diems as well as night premiums along with other expenses flight attendants get.
Other Factors that Affect Flight Attendant Salary
As previously mentioned, flight attendant salary is influenced by a number of things. Depending on a cabin crew’s seniority, an aircraft’s size, and your additional skills or job responsibilities, you can pretty much boost your salary beyond the basic rate.
One of the foremost factors that will affect your pay in the long-term is seniority. This is based on your date of hire. The more senior you are in the company, the more you have a choice in your flying routes and schedule. Conversely, newbies are less likely to get quality, high-paying flights.
Size of Aircraft
There are also airlines who have varying pay scales depending on the size of the aircraft you’ll be working in. This is especially true for pursers who are in charge of a bigger flight crew.
Moving Up to More Responsibilities
Speaking of pursers, you might want to consider being one as you move along in your career. Pursers have more responsibilities than a typical flight attendant. They are the ones who manage a cabin crew team during a flight. It has a lot more duties and obligations, but it also pays more as a result. At Air Canada, pursers earn around $50 per hour of work.
Having Other Languages Under Your Belt
Skills such as knowing additional languages will also indirectly affect your salary. Know Dutch, Italian, or any other such language? You’ll certainly have an edge over others when it comes to being assigned premium flight routes. This is known as “speaker pay.” It will likely add a few dollars to your per hour rate as well. Even if you’re not in a senior position, you can be easily placed on these flights.
Being well-versed in more languages means the higher the chances of you getting hired. This is on top of having a better pay. The only problem with this is that you may be stuck flying the same routes for a while. This is until you reach seniority status or if you can trade schedules with fellow speakers taking the same flight.
In total, you can get around $21,000 a year if you’re classified as a bilingual flight attendant.
Turning in Extra Hours
The average hours worked of a flight attendant is anywhere from 80 to 90 hours a month. While the maximum is around 100 hours. There are a lot of reason why airlines sometimes require their cabin crew to work extra shifts such as when another flight attendant has called in sick. Cabin crews who pick up extra shifts are often rewarded through draft premiums, which is a way for airlines to encourage their employees to cover extra shifts.
For every year of their service, flight attendants are often offered a standard raise.
These are just some of the way you can pad your basic salary as a new flight attendant. It has been claimed that if you’re able to fulfill most of these, you can earn as much as $80,000 a year as a flight attendant although it happens rarely. More than the income, you can also enjoy a host of benefits you can easily use to travel.
Flight Attendant Perks and Benefits
A lot of people say that being a flight attendant is not about the salary, but the travel benefits that come with it. That is definitely true if traveling is one of the most important things in your life right now.
For one, you’ll be able to get discounts on hotels, air travel, car rentals, local events, and partner brands, just to name a few. You can then use your travel passes to commute where you are based or where you want to live. This way, you can choose to work in a place that’s closer to your family or one where the real estate value is within your budget. It’s all really up to you.
Another good thing is the work hours. Compared to a traditional employee working 40-hour work weeks, flight attendants work a total of 6 months out of the whole year.
How to Become a Flight Attendant
If all this talk about flight attendant salary is something you’d want for yourself then the next best thing is to know how to become a flight attendant.
The first step to becoming a flight attendant is to send an application. You can do this online as most airlines prefer online applications. Alternatively, many major airlines also conduct open days in major cities where you can drop off your CV for the first step of assessment.
Open days are often published months in advance. It’s like an open session where you’ll get to know more about the airline, such as their salary, benefits, and training program, to name just a few.
Aside from passing your CV, you have to fill out some forms and submit photos of yourself. There’ll also be assessments such as a reach test to ensure that you reach the minimum height. For males and females, this will be done without any shoes on.
To give you an idea of the common height standard of airlines, Etihad requires its flight attendant to be able to reach 210 cm standing on tip toes while Emirate and Qatar Airways require 212 cm.
You’ll also be interviewed by the recruiters and then if you pass the initial screening then they’ll call you back.
In events such as these, it’s important to give the best impression and come in proper attire. If the required dress code is business or corporate attire, make sure to come in those.
Flight Attendant Training
Once you’ve passed the screening and recruitment process, you’ll then undergo flight attendant training. There are independent flight attendant schools who provide this kind of training but are usually paid. The training phase usually lasts anywhere from four weeks to 2 1/2 months.
During training, you’ll be taught a number of things about flight safety, customer service, grooming, aviation terms, and other related subjects.
To make sure you pass the training with flying colors, remember to study and do any assignments given to you. Be a good team player, interact, and get along with others. Many airlines value flight attendants who work well with others so ensure that you highlight this aspect of your personality.
Other crucial aspects that will also be discussed are grooming, personal hygiene, and customer service. As the representatives of your chosen airline, you’ll be the face of the company every time you interact with the passengers. This is why many airlines include a part of their training program teaching their newly hires how to look good and spruce up their appearance.
Airlines such as Emirates go as far as requiring their flight attendants to have a strict makeup, skincare, and hairstyle routine.
Once you pass training, you’ll then be on probation for six months. You’ll be qualified to fly and assist passengers on flights. After getting through the probation period, you’ll now be able to enjoy the benefits that come with the job. Expect to receive travel passes, meal allowances, discounts, and much more.
If you want to become a flight attendant, focus more on the lifestyle—not the salary. Starting out on the job means you’ll have a small salary. So you really have to like that aspect of the job as well. You’ll often be sharing crash pads with other flight attendants as well as pilots if you want to save on housing expenses.
Just make sure you join one that’s represented by unions for better job security. Although the starting salary is low, having the leisure to say you’ve travelled around the world is more than enough benefit for many!
Have you always wanted to travel the world and get paid for it? It’s definitely possible once you join the ranks of the aviation profession.
Working in the field typically comes with big travel discounts that you can extend to your friends and family. This is why being a flight attendant is a thrilling experience that many people usually vie for.
Although not usually required, going to a flight attendant school can give you a competitive edge over other applicants. To get the lowdown on online and traditional flight attendant schools, read on below!
Online Certificate Programs
There are many kinds of online programs available on the Internet. Most of the certificate courses on the web teach onboarding know-how. However, these programs will differ depending on your target airline. Whether you want to work for a regional airline, international airline, or large international airline.
The reason why you need to take a different course depending on airline size or type is because of the airplanes associated with each. Depending on the type and size of a flight, there are a specific number of airplane models that are fit for that flight. What online certificate programs do is to fit the program curriculum based on the likely airplane models to be used for a particular flight type and size.
Included in a standard online certificate program are topics about the history of flight, aviation terminology, uniform policies, boarding, and standard safety procedures, to name just a few. Certificates of completion are then issued via email or you may also opt to purchase a printed certificate.
In terms of cost, online certificate programs for charter operators or regional online usually cost an average of $250 while courses for large international airlines cost an average of $350.
Supplemental Online Courses You Can Take
If you plan on taking your training to the next level, you can also take supplemental courses to add to your knowledge. Typical supplemental courses on being a cabin crew include topics about first aid and emergency, inflight leadership training, and safe food handling, to mention a few.
You can also take short courses on a specific aircraft type. There are a lot of courses out there on airplanes such as the Boeing 737 line, Airbus A330, and Dash 8-100, among others.
For those aiming for management positions, there are also available courses for that.
Traditional Flight Attendant Training School
Traditional flight attendant training schools are those that you have to attend in person. The duration of the courses offered in these schools lasts anywhere from a few days to a few months. The usual curriculum of these short courses is divided into different phases.
You’ll usually start out with basic introduction of responsibilities, aircraft protocols and procedures, as well as emergency situation training. After completing each course, you will undergo a competency check to test your learning and knowledge of the whole course.
Compared to online training programs, going to a traditional flight attendant school can cost you $1,500 to $5,000. If this is too steep for you, seminars are also a good alternative. They cost less than half and are typically held in much shorter duration.
Comparing School Training to Airline Training
There are some cabin crew veterans out there who are not a big proponent of undergoing training schools. This is because once hired, airlines will also provide you with their own training.
Once hired by an airline company, they will typically pay for your training, food, as well lodging. However, you’ll have to shell out your own money to buy your uniforms. In one airline, uniforms can cost as much as $2,000, which is often deducted to your salary over the years.
Nonetheless, your expenses won’t stop there. If ever you’re stationed outside of your hometown (happens about 90% of the time), you’ll have to find your own place. This means you have to have enough money to pay for rent in the city you’ll be based in. This could be a problem if you’re just starting out since you might not necessarily make a lot of money even if you work for a major airline.
Compared to flight attendants who started in the 90s, those entering the field today are making 30% lower than their counterparts.
What Airline Training Is Like
The mandatory training provided by your airline is typically FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) approved. Training lasts anywhere from a few weeks to two months.
During your training period, you will be taught cabin crew duties, responsibilities, industry terms, emergency procedures, and aircraft exit/entrance, among others. Your most important duty, however, is to assist passengers in any case of emergency.
The passing rate would be anywhere from 85% to 90% in all subjects. In terms of schedule, you could be either assigned to the AM or PM class.
The lessons are fast-paced and only about two or three “Needs Improvement” marks are allowed. Any more than the quota set by airline and you’ll be sent home. Most airlines are also strict when it comes to attendance. A late or no-show are often likely causes of being booted out of the training program.
Every airline has their own training standards and these are just some of the things you can usually expect. It’s very important that you review your airline’s training requirements as this can definitely vary.
Flight Attendant Training Benefits and Salary
Training salary per week ranges anywhere from $300 to $400, which is paid to your bank account. If you translate this to an hourly rate, you would net anywhere from $27 to $32 an hour.
A good number of airlines usually give a cash advance upon starting or on the 1st day of the month. This typically amounts from $800 to $1,000. The rest of the pay is then paid after two weeks, which already includes expense allowance and flight pay.
If the training is in a different city, your hotel, transportation, and food expenses will be usually provided. Any expenses outside of those will be shouldered by you.
During training, you’re also entitled to receive medical benefits (includes dental), pension, and life insurance. These are all on top of your travel benefits and discounts. However, each benefit is instituted at different times throughout your 6-month probationary period.
Every month, you’re guaranteed 13 day offs. For the rest of the month, you’ll usually be required to be on call 24 hours.
How to Pass Training
To pass training, having a stellar attendance is a must. Most airlines are pretty strict when it comes to tardiness and no-shows. Another important thing is to listen to the lessons. This will prove handy when it comes to doing your assignments, exam, and practice flights. Failure to learn or pass the home works can mean a failing grade for you.
The most important role of a cabin crew is making sure passengers are safe during any emergency. Make sure you’re calm and alert during emergency exercises.
More than just acing standard training requirements, you have to show that you’re a good fit for the job role. One of the criteria you’ll be assessed against is how good you get along with others. A good attitude and pleasing personality can do a lot for you. You might have the best grades in the class, but if you’re at odds with everyone then you could still fail training.
These traits show that you’re a team player and that you have people skills. There are nothing more integral to flight work than these two in addition to customer service skills.
Once you pass training then you’ll be given a FAA Certificate, which will be your proof of demonstrated proficiency. This certification is dependent on the specific aircraft you’ve been trained for. To maintain your certification, you’ll be required to undergo recurring training every year.
Top Valued Flight Attendant Skills
During your training, you’ll be typically assessed on your communication, customer service, physical fitness, and decision-making skills on top of your attentiveness level.
As someone who’ll be working with a lot of people from all walks of life, you have to know how to communicate well. Customer service skills are also crucial because that’s the nature of the job. Outside of emergency aid, you have to assist and make the passengers comfortable. This means providing meals and helping stow away their luggage.
Physical fitness is another vital aspect of the job because it entails long working hours. More than that, you might have to do some bag lifting every now and then.
For decision-making skills, this will come in handy during emergencies and safety procedures. You have to be able to think on your feet regarding the best steps to handle dire situations.
What Happens After the Training Period
Once you pass the training period, you’ll be guaranteed a minimum of 65 hours and maximum of 95 hours of flying time. This could be higher or lower depending on your airline. During summer, the minimum and maximum are increased with an additional 5 hours in anticipation of increased flights.
After completing initial training, new flight attendants don’t typically have their own scheduled flights. They’re generally placed on call, known as reserve status. Having this status means you must be able to report to work on short notice (usually 2 hours) as an additional staff or to fill in for any crew who’s absent. Expect to be on reserve for about a year after starting. However, there are cases when flight attendants are on reserve status for years.
You’ll also likely be relocated once you start. Many airlines will inform you of your impending relocation to weeks before you finish your training. This is to ensure that you have ample time to prepare for the move. If you agree with the move, you’ll be given a relocation allowance that will cover a 7-day stay in a hotel. You will also be given moving expenses and a maximum of 50 kilos of freight, with no charge. Any additional expense that you might incur, such as food or transportation, will come from your own pocket.
Any additional expense that you might incur, such as food or transportation, will come from your own pocket.
Flight Attendant Promotion and Advancement
Flight schedules (blocks) are based on seniority. Those who have tenure in your airline will be the first to bid on blocks. Bidding for blocks is done monthly. Once you achieve seniority, you’ll have more say on your monthly flying schedule. Expect the most popular and high-paying routes to go to tenured flight attendants.
Most airlines also enforce a substantial pay increase yearly, which some basing it on performance. By your 8th year, you’ll be able to reach the highest salary possible for flight attendants. This is assuming you get the yearly pay increase.
If you want to be promoted to a higher position, you’ll be required to have at least 30 months’ of experience. However, this will still depend on your airline’s current wait time before bidding up. Some have as long as 12 years’ wait time.
Once you reach senior status, you’ll be tasked to oversee the work of the crew in international flights. Many are also promoted to management roles, which are more stable. This is ideal for those who are starting a family and prefer not to fly back to back anymore. Those in management positions are usually responsible for recruiting, scheduling, and instructing new flight attendants.
Flight Attendant Job Demands
Although a job as a flight attendant is often admired and idealized, the job demands can be heavy. One of the job’s top requirements is to be prepared to work on holidays, weekends, and night shifts. You have to be able to cope working on irregular hours as well as long duty days (sometimes exceeding 15 hours).
A big part of your working hours will also be usually spent standing up. Additionally, you will also often be required to lift heavy bags (around 10 kg. and up). These conditions sometimes result in chronic back or feet/leg problems.
Expect to deal with turbulence on occasion when the weather’s bad. Although it happens rarely, dealing with unruly passengers or emergencies can be hard and cause you stress. You’ll also spend many days away from home and you’ll likely sleep in shared apartments or hotel rooms with other flight attendants.
During flights, expect cabin pressurization, and chronic jet lag.