Academy of Aviation Flight School - How To Become A Pilot

Steps to Become an Airline Pilot

AOA Pilot Photo

Follow 6 Main Steps To Your Career as a Pilot

We get many potential students asking what steps they will have to take to become an airline pilot, and we would like to lay out a step-by-step guide detailing the process.

Much of this information can be found all over the web, but we understand that it’s helpful to have it right in front of you; so please scroll down, read through the information, click on the helpful links and enjoy. If you have any questions, please tap on the Chat bubble at the bottom of this page and we will respond right away.

Step 1: Choose your Flight Training and earn a Private Pilot certificate.

Part 141 or Part 61? You decide.
Part 141 Pilot course training syllabi have been evaluated by the FAA and follow a strict protocol. Both the student and the flight schools must adhere exactly to what the FAA has approved so there are no variations in training. The benefit, you can obtain your FAA Private Pilot License in fewer hours, which means shorter training time and less money.

Part 61 Pilot courses, in comparison, are simply more flexible in how the training is conducted but have a higher flight hour requirement. It should also be noted that some airlines and Civil Aviation Authorities in other countries require Part 141 training, so make sure you discuss your overall aviation career goals with our Admissions Team for guidance. You can read the FAA Federal Aviation Regulations for Part 61 and Federal Aviation Regulations for Part 141 in depth here if you really want to understand the differences.

To earn a private pilot's license, individuals must be at least 17 years old. An FAA medical certificate is also required, and is obtained by being examined by an FAA-designated Aviation Medical Examiner and demonstrating good overall health. A summary of the FAA Medical Standards is available here.

Aspiring pilots must also pass a written exam and complete at least 35 hours of flight training. Half of this training must be with a flight instructor, and at least 5 hours must be in solo flight time. A practical flight test is also required, and is called a check ride.

Along with a minimum amount of flight hours, students need to demonstrate sufficient skills and knowledge to their flight instructor before they may earn an FAA private pilot's license. This license, also known as a certificate, will allow them to fly an aircraft and carry passengers and baggage without compensation. Individuals will need to earn a commercial pilot's license to get paid to transport people and property.

Academy of Aviation's Private Pilot course is both standalone and included in our Career Pilot track. As such, we offer both Part 141 and Part 61 pilot courses.

One of the most compelling comparisons between Academy of Aviation and a four-year college is the time factor. Unlike a full-time college commitment, we get you into the air for the full duration of your training. If you’ve got your heart set on a career as an airline pilot, our career-oriented programs will put you on a direct course to your goal.

A crucial distinction between an independent FAA-certified instructor and the Career Pilot track at Academy of Aviation is determined by our ACCSC Accreditation. Recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, ACCSC serves as the designated institutional accrediting agency for 700 trade and technical schools that provide quality vocational education to over 150,000 students each year.

Step 2: Earn an instrument rating and a multi-engine rating.

IFR: Operate aircraft in low-visibility situations where you cannot solely navigate using visual references under VFR or Visual Flight Rules. Heavy cloud cover, heavy rain and night flying are examples of flying IFR, or Instrument Flight Rules, and you learn to navigate the aircraft between navigation aids and carry out instrument approaches to land.

Multi-Engine: Your multi-engine commercial rating is a necessary step for any professional pilot who wishes to make the transition to the airlines. Your expertise in systems, controllability, and performance of multi-engine airplanes and Academy of Aviation is proud to offer the advanced abilities of the Diamond DA-42 aircraft to our students.

Step 3: Earning a Commercial Pilot certificate. More experience and higher requirements allows pilots to legally be paid to fly.

In order to be compensated for transporting people and property, pilots should obtain a commercial pilot certificate. While in training, students should keep detailed logs of both their in-flight hours as well as their on-ground hours. A detailed article explaining examples of logging Pilot-In-Command time can be seen here:

In order to receive a commercial pilot's certificate, students must pass a variety of medical and physical exams, an FAA written exam, and a check ride with flight standards that are more stringent and a knowledge level higher than that of the private pilot. Once pilots have obtained their license, they must pass regular physical screenings and practical flight tests in order to keep the status of the license up-to-date.

At Academy of Aviation, we take pride in preparing our students for all examinations on the way to their pilot license, and this includes making sure we cover all the required material for you to pass your written exams with ease and confidence. As a certified Cessna Pilot Center, we use Cessna developed computerized courses which closely resemble the FAA written exams, and we administer professionally proctored knowledge examinations in a relaxed and friendly environment.

Step 4: Earning Certified Flight Instructor Certificates allows pilots to earn a living flying while simultaneously obtaining the flight experience required by airlines.

• Certified Flight Instructor
Becoming a CFI gives you the qualifications to teach Private Pilot and Commercial Single-Engine students.

• Certified Flight Instructor Instrument Rating
Your CFII allows you to teach instrument rating students both on aeronautical knowledge and flight training and is a great way to build on your own instrument skills.

• Multi-Engine Certified Flight Rating
As an MEI, your qualifications and credentials allows you to teach Multi-Engine courses to flight school students.

Step 5: Gain flight experience and earn your minimum 1,500 hours total flight time.

As an enrollee of Academy of Aviation's Career Pilot program, we encourage students to apply for a Certified Flight Instructor job upon graduation. A position as an AOA flight instructor allows you to build experience and flight time; in about 18-22 months, you can build the flight experience required for the ATP Certificate and 1500-hour airline hiring minimums. The Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate is the highest level of aircraft pilot certificate.

Individuals with a Commercial Pilot's License may seek employment as a pilot anywhere they choose. According to job postings for aircraft pilots, employers seek pilots to fill First Officer positions with an airline, test new aircraft, develop flight simulation programs, and conduct national security missions. Employers preferred pilots with several years of flight experience and various pilot licenses.

Step 6: You are eligible for an Airline Pilot Job.

Academy of Aviation has partnered with all major regional airlines to in order for our students to participate in Cadet Programs, allowing students to gain seniority while still in training, tuition reimbursement, and even sign-on bonuses. These partnerships include a conditional letter to interview for a First Officer position with upgrade potential to major carries such as American Airlines, JetBlue, United, etc. in as little as 2 years.

Academy of Aviation’s accelerated courses are a defining factor in getting you into the cockpit instead of keeping you at your desk as a four-year college course will do, and this is manifested in the seniority ranking and advancement time of your career as a pilot. Take advantage of the pilot shortage happening right now and start your pilot career.

Pass your check ride


Academy of Aviation

Academy of Aviation Locations:


Farmingdale, NY
Republic Airport

White Plains, NY
Westchester County Airport

Charlotte/Gastonia, NC
Gastonia Municipal Airport

Fort Lauderdale, FL
Fort Lauderdale, FL
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London, England, UK
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