If you are training to become an airline pilot, then you have a challenging and exciting career ahead of you. There is nothing like your first flight. For every pilot, the most exhilarating moment of all comes when you realise that you are are the only person who can get the plane back on the ground safely. When you have done this, you will have achieved something that very few other people have.
In this blog, we’ll show you what qualifications you need to become a pilot, and take you through some of the steps required to qualify for the role.
In order to begin training as an airline pilot, you’ll generally need at least 5 GCSE’s from A to C, with English and Maths included. You will also need at least two A-levels, and ideally this will include Maths and Physics. Although a University degree is not required, it is extremely useful if you are in possession of a degree in a related field such as Aviation Management or Aircraft Engineering. These courses typically provide a good introduction to the theoretical side of pilot training.
Licenses and Training
In order to qualify as a commercial airline pilot then it is required that you hold an ATPL (Airline Transport Pilot Licence). Initially, this is known as a Frozen ATPL. Students from flight school will generally graduate with both a CPL (Commercial Pilot Licence) and an IR (Instrumental Rating). Together, these combine to make a Frozen ATPL. In order to ‘unfreeze’ your ATPL, you will need to accumulate 1500 hours of flight time, in which case you will be issued with a full ATPL. Once you have achieved this, you will be qualified to captain commercial planes yourself.
Prior to taking any training, it is recommended that you take the CAA Class One Medical Test. All pilots must pass this medical check in order to achieve their ATPL. Here at How2Become, we also have a fantastic and comprehensive Airline Pilot Psychometric Testing Bundle which will give you experience in the type of things you will be tested on during the selection process,
Routes into the ATPL
There are two main ways to achieve an ATPL. These are:
- Module based training. This is offered by the majority of training providers, and is carried out in large segments, with gaps in between. The course incorporates both practical and theoretical based training, the latter of which can either be completed within the classroom setting or as long distance learning course; giving the student time to work in between. The module based training is a more affordable option for students, as it allows them to hold down a full time job whilst they are taking it. However, in order to undergo this training route you must already hold a private pilot license, and have completed 150 hours+ of flying before the practical element of the course begins. The modular route requires the participant to take more initiative, as it requires greater amounts of self-discipline and study.
- Integrated courses. This course is more intensive than the modular training, and takes around 18-20 months to complete. The course will be taken with a flight training provider, and like the modular training, incorporates a mixture of theoretical study and practical flying based experience. Unlike the modular training, you won’t need any previous experience for this route. The majority of providers are experienced in taking on all kinds of students, whether they have zero hours of flight time or 100+ hours. The disadvantage of this course is that it is extremely expensive, and costs can range from £80,000 to £90,000 depending on the training provider.
You can find a comprehensive list of CAA approved training providers on the CAA website Once you have completed your training, you will be ready to start applying for jobs.
In our fantastic guide, we will take you through the entire process, from what qualifications you need to become a pilot, to psychometric testing and beyond.
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