Airline pilots are currently in demand. What does it take to become one?

For much of 2020, travel stalled as Americans stayed close to their homes instead of facing the restrictions and risks of going to places during a pandemic. This summer, however, travel is booming. And airlines are facing a shortage of pilots, which limits their ability to meet demand. If you are looking for a lucrative career opportunity, consider becoming an airline pilot.

Why airlines need pilots now

During the pandemic, airlines reduced their flight schedules as demand plummeted. Many pilots were incentivized to retire early so that airlines could cut costs when revenues fell. Now airlines have the opposite problem – they need more pilots to keep up with demand, and they are desperate to train people to fill those roles.

Should you become a pilot?

Being a pilot, as you might imagine, is not a career to immerse yourself in overnight. It requires extensive training.

In addition to a bachelor’s degree (usually required to work for a major airline), you’ll need to log thousands of hours of flight time and acquire a number of licenses. There are other requirements too, such as regular physical exams.

Fees at a private aviation college typically range from $ 60,000 to $ 80,000. This may sound like a lot of money, but the return on investment can be significant.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, US airline pilots earned an average salary of $ 147,220 in 2019. However, this salary is not guaranteed. Whether or not you command it depends on factors such as the types of flights you control and the airline you work for. Large airlines tend to pay much more than smaller, regional airlines.

If you have a six figure salary, that can give you financial security. This type of income could make it possible to build strong savings. It could also help you build a solid retirement note.

► Ask the captain: I want to be a pilot. Should I go to college or flight school?

If you want to become a pilot, ask yourself if your lifestyle and career are right for you. Many career paths require an investment in your training and the time spent in training – none of these are unique to being a pilot. But flying for an airline means spending a lot of time away from home and having a much more demanding schedule than a typical 9-to-five job. Be sure you can handle it.

It’s also important to note that while the demand for pilots is high right now, things may cool off. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll struggle to find a job, as air travel depends on trained pilots. But if you invest the time to qualify, you may not get your dream job right away.

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