Whether you want to fly to exotic places or travel at high altitudes, a career as a pilot is definitely for someone with a sense of adventure. But it takes a lot of training, too. Before you research pilot training schools, there are certain courses you should take to prepare yourself to become a pilot, including science and English. Pilots must also be at least 17 years old and pass a variety of medical exams.
Future pilots need a variety of science courses, including earth science and physics, to help them learn about aeronautical principles. Through physics, they learn about the laws of motion, inertia, pressure and temperature. Through meteorology, pilots learn the causes and effects related to flying under different weather conditions. They should also take courses that deal in physiology so they can understand physical problems that might affect them or their passengers.
Be prepared to take a variety of mathematics courses. Through math, aspiring pilots learn how to properly measure the distance needed for take-off and for landing an aircraft. They need to study trigonometry to learn about triangles, which is important in space navigation. Through calculus, they learn about the functions and limits related to flying an aircraft.
Whether it is communicating with co-pilots or talking on a radio with air traffic controllers, pilots should be able to speak English properly and clearly. While flying a commercial plane, they must be able to communicate clearly with flight attendants and provide information to passengers. In fact, the Federal Aviation Administration requires all pilots to speak English. Pilots must also be able to read and write English at a professional level.
For pilots, geography means more than just learning about terrain. Courses in geography should also focus on the social and political aspects of different nations. When pilots are in the air, they should be familiar with her surroundings. They should know how to read maps so they know where major bodies of water or high mountains are located. They should also develop knowledge about different cultures located in countries along their flight routes. They should learn about international laws as well as political situations that might affect them when they travel. According to the JetCareers website, this is especially important in emergency situations so the pilot knows which countries are hostile or unstable, and which are safe.
2016 Salary Information for Airline and Commercial Pilots
Airline and commercial pilots earned a median annual salary of $111,270 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, airline and commercial pilots earned a 25th percentile salary of $77,450, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $166,140, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 124,800 people were employed in the U.S. as airline and commercial pilots.
- Aviator Flight Training College: What You Need to Know to Join a Flight School
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: How to Become an Airline or Commercial Pilot
- Air Line Pilots Association, International: General Qualifcations
- JetCareers.com: Becoming an Airline Pilot
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Airline and Commercial Pilots
- Career Trend: Airline and Commercial Pilots
Dachell McSween has contributed to the "New York Daily News" and "Black Enterprise Magazine." She also writes for various online publications. McSween received a B.A. in journalism from Pace University and an M.S. in publishing from New York University.