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What to Expect from Commercial Pilot Training

by Rogers Gislason


For many people, becoming a professional pilot is a dream come true. Not only are they getting paid to fly an airplane around the world, but they also get to meet interesting people and travel at no expense (out-of-pocket). 

More importantly, commercial pilots are lucky enough to see the world from a unique perspective regularly as their aircraft soars through the clouds. That’s quite remarkable considering that powered flight was only a dream around a century ago.

Starting your journey as a commercial pilot

Of course, becoming a commercial pilot is no easy undertaking. It’s one of the most demanding professions to pursue. Students need to consider the high fees and persevere to obtain the necessary licenses and aircraft certifications to become commercial pilots.

Good overall health is likewise essential for pursuing a career as a professional pilot. This is something that you would want to consider before investing any amount of time and money on pilot training. Commercial pilots are expected to undergo rigorous medical checkups over the course of their careers. This ensures that they’re well enough (physically and mentally) to pilot an aircraft safely and effectively.

Student pilots need to be able to meet the following requirements:

  • Proficient in writing and speaking English
  • Pass a medical test before flying an aircraft
  • Be of legal age (16 and above for most states)

How much will it cost?

Much of the cost will come from leasing and operating an aircraft for pilot training. On average, student pilots can expect to pay around $155 to $170 per hour, depending on the type of aircraft used. You can expect the cost to soar even higher as you start training on high-performance aircraft to earn your commercial pilot license.

Aside from the license, commercial pilots also need to earn ratings and certifications for operating specialized aircraft systems — instrument rating, turbine engine rating, multi-engine, etc. Employers require specific qualifications when hiring commercial pilots. As you might imagine, earning these additional ratings and certifications will add to the cost and one more thing that aspiring commercial pilots need to account for.

Now you might be thinking — there’s no way I can afford to pay all of the training expenses to become a commercial pilot. Well, that’s no reason to give up on your dream. You will find plenty of success stories on the Internet about how commercial pilots must be resourceful to finance their training. 

You see, much of the challenge surrounding commercial pilot training has to do with accumulating the necessary flying hours to qualify for a commercial pilot license. The specific number of hours can vary depending on the requirements set by the governing institution. In the US, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) requires at least 1,500 hours of flying time to qualify for a commercial pilot license.

There are creative strategies that you can implement to meet those flying hours without breaking the bank. One way is to get a job as a flight instructor (after obtaining a private pilot license and getting certified as a flight instructor). That way, you’d be able to accumulate some flying hours (and getting paid for it) with each flying lesson. More importantly, it’s also an excellent opportunity to share knowledge and experience with new aspiring pilots