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What Does a Commercial Pilot Do?
Commercial pilots are responsible for the safe transportation of the passengers and cargo aboard an aircraft from one location to another. Commercial pilots can fly for a variety of duties, including transporting passengers, shipping items, testing aircrafts, tracking criminals, and participating in rescue operations. By the same token, commercial pilots can fly in a many different aircrafts as well, including jumbo jets, small biplanes, and helicopters. Pilots are often distinguished as captains and co-pilots, as there are generally always two pilots flying an aircraft. Both pilots have essentially the same responsibilities, such as communicating with air traffic controllers, monitoring their instruments, keeping the aircraft on course and on time, and developing strategies to avoid storms or other incidents that may make flying difficult. Pilots must constantly check their aircraft instruments during the flight to ensure that everything is functioning normally and that no concerns exist. Depending on the type of aircraft being operated, pilots may have additional duties as well. For example, helicopter pilots must look out for obstructions such as trees in the flight path, whereas passenger jet pilots must watch for wind shears and other natural phenomena.
What Is the Employment and Salary Outlook for a Commercial Pilot?
As the economy recovers and travel becomes more common again, the airline industry will see a boost. With the increase in globalization, travel for business will become more commonplace as well. Business employees often board aircrafts to travel across the country, and sometimes even across the globe, for meetings with other business employees. Regional airline carriers will be the best places for new pilots to look for work, as their local standing means that prospective hires face less competition than if they were applying for work with a major airline. An increase in the cost of air travel also will have many passengers turning to regional airlines as well, as many regional airlines provide the same services as major airlines at a much more affordable cost. Employment opportunities for commercial pilots are expected to grow 19 percent through 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Commercial pilots earn an average salary of $65,340 annually, according to the latest information available from the Bureau.
How Can I Become a Commercial Pilot?
Aspiring commercial pilots should obtain an associate degree. There are no specific fields of study required for commercial pilots, but earning an associate degree in science or mathematics would best prepare prospective commercial pilots for a future in the air. An associate degree typically takes about two years to earn. During this time, students should take courses in physics, mathematics, aeronautical engineering, and other classes that will help them to better understand the complexity of safely and efficiently operating an aircraft. After completing an associate degree program, graduates should focus on earning flight experience by either joining the U.S. Armed Forces to work with the jets or attending flight schools taught by FAA-certified flight instructors. Flight school programs can last anywhere from a month to a month and a half. Future pilots must obtain FAA licensure, the requirements of which include the passing of a physical examination, the successful completion of an examination, and an evaluation of flying skills judged by an FAA examiner.