6 Different Pilot Positions (and What Each Job Entails)

Many young people dream of becoming a pilot in command of a commercial flight or taking charge of a military plane and seeing different places as they render service to their country. But aside from these two popular choices, the career path for pilots can still be quite diverse. If you’re undergoing pilot training, it’s always a plus to familiarize yourself with the different options that your future profession offers. Knowing the possibilities offered by your training gives you a better chance of finding work that thoroughly matches and complements your skills, strengths, and interests.

It’s also worth knowing that the demand for pilots is expected to rise in the coming decades. In fact, according to Boeing, the aviation industry will need to supply more than 600,000 pilots by 2039. Of course, a portion of this demand will be for commercial plane pilots and perhaps air force pilots, but there are also other industries and sectors that will be sorely in need of professionals who have the skills, training, and qualifications to fly an aircraft. Here are some of the pilot positions that you can aim for once you complete your pilot training.

Airline Transport Pilot

Airline transport pilots fly commercial airliners for a living, and they’re what many future pilots envision when they’re thinking of their end goals for their careers. While airline transport pilots make up a significant chunk of pilots, this doesn’t mean that theirs is an easy career path. There are plenty of hurdles that one needs to overcome to be deemed a worthy pilot in command or first officer of a scheduled air carrier’s aircraft. Before anything else, a pilot applicant must possess an airline transport pilot license, which is the highest level of aircraft pilot certificate. Plus, they must also have a log that exceeds 1,500 hours. It’s a lofty position that requires years of training and experience. The airline that they are a part of dictates the length of their route and the size of the aircraft that the pilots can control.

Commercial Pilot

Generally speaking, the term commercial airline pilot refers to pilots who can be paid for their professional services and not necessarily tied to an air carrier. These professionals are capable of taking charge of complex planes, ones that feature flaps, a controllable-pitch controller, and retractable landing gear. To do their work well and so that they can apply their training to jobs coming in from various sectors and industries, it’s essential for commercial pilots to have a high standard for precision. They should also have a thorough grounding on the protocols and procedures that concern the assignments that they take on.

Cargo Pilot

Aside from flying people to their intended destinations, pilots also play a big role in the logistics sector by flying cargo to where they need to be. The planes commanded by cargo pilots are similar to those that are flown by airline transport pilots, except that the seats for the passengers have been taken out to provide sufficient space for cargo. Many cargo pilots work for large logistics companies, but there are also those who choose to transport smaller cargo for groups or individuals.

Sport Pilots

If you’re not keen on flying long distances, you can aim to become a sport pilot. Sport pilots, in particular, are allowed to use light sport aircraft (LSA), and they only operate in their local area. Compared to other types of pilot licenses, getting hold of a sport pilot license is fairly easy. It only takes 20 hours of training to make a person eligible for this type of certification. On the other hand, sport pilots can only take one passenger with them at any given time that they are flying. In addition, there are airspaces and heights that they cannot venture to. This particular pilot position is more accessible to people who simply want to hone their flying skills and techniques.

Recreational Pilot

Compared to sport pilots, the aircraft typically used by recreational pilots are much heavier. This is basically the essential difference between these two classifications. The number of hours that pilots in training need to attain to be considered recreational pilots is also pretty similar to that of sport pilots, as they only need to have at least 30 hours of logged flight time. Recreational pilots are also subject to a number of restrictions. Namely, they cannot fly more than 50 nautical miles from their departure airport, they can’t fly at night, and they are restricted from using controlled airports.

Flight Instructor

If you want to become a pilot and pursue your passion for teaching, then you can do both by becoming a flight instructor. Commit to this role and you’ll play an important part in shaping the next generation of pilots. A flight instructor is a tough job, as it requires would-be instructors to constantly update their teaching curriculum as well as their flying skills. Due to their special role, flight instructors should have a good grasp of the technicalities that one needs to know in order to command an aircraft. Also, becoming a flight instructor is a great way to earn logged flight time if you’re interested in becoming an airline transport pilot later on.

Which of these pilot careers do you want for yourself? Also, which of these career tracks match with yours? Consider these options well before you commit yourself to a flight school that can help you achieve your goals as a pilot.

What do you think?


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