Every kid dreams of becoming a pilot but as we grow older, that dream diminishes and gets taken over by more realistic ambitions. However, becoming a pilot is as realistic as any other profession.

The idea of flying an airbus seems quite difficult as a proposition and so we think of much less challenging professions. We can all agree that no profession is easy nor difficult but when it comes to flying, it’s not for everyone.

If you have a phobia of heights, anxiety and other conditions that stop you from being calm then this profession may not be for you. That being said, for people who want to kiss the sky on a daily basis, this is how to become a pilot in India!

What is aviation and who is a pilot?

Aviation is the area that deals in aircraft, air traffic and air control. As per the dictionary, aviation simply means flying or operating an aircraft but, aviation is considered much more than that. It involves the groundwork that is crucial in making flying possible.

Dictionary describes a pilot as the person who operates the flying controls of an aircraft. A pilot is responsible for pre-flight inspections, taking off, flying and landing of an aeroplane. He/she is accompanied by a co-pilot, who assists the pilot in performing the said tasks with much higher efficiency.

What do employees in aviation do?

Apart from piloting an aircraft, the aviation industry has a lot of other roles and responsibilities that are necessary for a successful aviation operation. There are air traffic controllers, aircraft mechanics, airport managers, aeronautical engineers, airfield operators and more. Each of the employees plays an important role in ensuring every flight takes the air and lands safely.

Following are the roles in the aviation industry:

  • Air traffic controller: An air traffic controller is responsible for monitoring and directing traffic on the ground and in the air. They manage the tight schedules of flights and instruct pilots about taking offs, landings, runways etc. They’re also responsible to communicate with pilots in case of onboard emergencies.
  • Aircraft mechanic: Aircraft mechanics are responsible for the well being of an aircraft. They do a regular diagnosis of the mechanical and electrical functioning of aircraft to ensure that each aeroplane is ready to leave the ground.
  • Aeronautical engineer: Aeronautical engineers design, develop and manufacture new aircraft.
  • Airport manager: Airport managers take care of behind the scenes of an airport. From maintenance, the safety of the runway to airspace capacity and airline scheduling. They’re crucial in making the day to day aviation operations smooth.
  • Pilots & Co-pilots: Pilots are responsible for taking instructions from ground staff, and operate aircraft. It sounds easiest of them all but requires the most skill.

Why build a career as a pilot?

In April of 2019, Economic Times reported that there is a large shortage of talent in the aviation industry. With airlines planning to add over 100 aircraft by 2020, this shortage is likely to increase.

So, it seems the perfect time to live your dream as a pilot. There are many more jobs than you would need and airlines are actively looking out for more and more talent. In these years of shortage, becoming a pilot is probably the smartest thing a person can do.

Pros and cons of working as a pilot

Pros Cons
Chance of travelling the world High fees to become a pilot
Exciting job No personal life
Decent salary and perks Health concerns due to irregular working hours
No work after working hours Need to stay fit to fly

Qualification required to become a pilot

The bare minimum requirement to become a pilot in India is to secure 50% marks in Physics, Maths and Chemistry in 12th. Then there are certain age criteria depending upon the type of license you’re planning to get. Following are some of the career paths you can take to become a pilot.

Step 1. Find the type of pilot you want to become

Student pilots: You can apply for a student pilot certificate at the age of 16, given the fact that you’re fluent in writing, reading and speaking English. These criteria are set by the Civil Aviation Regulation (CAR).

Private pilots: Private pilot applications can be considered if you’re above 17 years of age and can speak, write and read English fluently. Also, you’re required to complete your ground & flight training as per the regulations set by Federal Aviation Regulations.

Commercial pilots: Applicants should be at least 18 years of age and should be able to speak, write and read English fluently.

Step 2. Complete your graduation

Even though it’s not a compulsion, more and more airlines are preferring candidates with a graduate degree. If you are not able to do a degree in aviation then science is preferred. Non-science background people can also become pilots, given that they can understand math, calculations and reasoning.

Step 3. Join a training school

The next step to becoming a pilot is to find the right training school. Research and evaluate different training schools in your area or even the country. Join the best you can find in terms of course structure and fees. The training school will teach you everything about aircraft and flying. Complete your training to the best of your abilities.

Step 4. Medical exam

Once you complete your training, you would need to pass class 2 medical to become a pilot. A lot of people get the medical first so that they can be sure if they really can become a pilot. There’s no point of spending all the money in training to become a pilot when you’re medically not fit to become one. So, if you can do this medical in advance, even better. Once you pass your class 2 medical, then you will need to clear class 1 as well. Not every doctor has the authority to conduct these medical exams, so make sure to research before you lookout for one.

Step 5. Computer number

You need a computer number to give your theory papers. You would need the following documents to apply for a computer number:

  • Application of computer number
  • 10th and 12th Marksheet.
  • Birth certificate
  • Photos

Step 6. 200 hours of flying

Once you have cleared your papers, you’re only one step away from being a pilot. Lastly, you need to get the experience of at least 200 hours of flying. Find out aviation schools to complete these 200 hours of flying. Once you complete it, you can then apply for a commercial pilot’s license in DGCA.

Pilot courses and certifications

Multiple aviation academies offer aviation studies which can be crucial in becoming a pilot. Here are some of the most popular academies to become a commercial pilot.

Pilot salaries

Job role Average annual salary range (in ₹)
Junior first officer 15,00,000 - 18,00,000
First officer 18,00,000 - 24,00,000
Senior first officer 30,00,000 - 42,00,000
Captain 48,00,000 - 66,00,000
Senior captain 72,00,000 - 96,00,000

Pilot skills

Skills Details
Communication To communicate with the air controllers and take instructions
Awareness To keep a track of the weather, fuel, terrain, altitude, speed and more
Team work To avoid discrepancies and possible accidents
Decisiveness To make quick decisions during emergencies
Mentality A calm and analytical mind to make the right decisions at the right time

Tips to get a job as a pilot

If you’re looking out to get a job as a pilot, then following are some of the tips to do so.

  • Work on your math

Pilots are required to do calculations on a day to day basis. These calculations are crucial for flying aeroplanes and so one needs to hone such skills. If you wish to be hired by the best airlines, make sure to up your math game. Revise, practice and repeat!

  • Communication is key

A pilot needs to have fluent English to communicate. A pilot communicates with ground support for taking clearances to take off, land and more. So, your communication skills must be impeccable. You’re more likely to land your dream job as a pilot if your communication is unparalleled.

  • Physical health

Pilots do not have fixed flights and so, no fixed time to sleep. Layovers and jet lag adds a lot of pressure on the human body as well. This is the reason, a pilot needs to be fit physically to cope with such irregular timings. Make sure you work out and exercise every day to keep your body healthy. It will give you an edge while interviewing for jobs.

  • Mental health

Mental health is equally important to become a great pilot. You’re flying a plane full of people at thousands of feet in the sky, if anything happens, you should be calm enough to make the right decision. This requires a very stable and calm mind. So, make sure you do some additional training for strong mental health.

  • Leadership

Leadership skills are essential for a pilot. Whether you’re a co-pilot or captain of the aeroplane, the rest of the crew needs to be lead every day. Leadership is also important to keep the crew at your side during emergencies as panic can easily seep in.

Pilot blogs

Here are some of the popular blogs related to aviation and pilots.

Pilot books

Here's a list of books every pilot should read.

Pilot youtube videos and channels

Here some aviation YouTube channels for you to keep learning.

Career Advice Guides
Bhaumik Karia

Bhaumik Karia

Content Marketing Strategist & Writer by profession, musician & traveller by choice.

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