Ask almost any pilot their thoughts on their job and your’re likely to get a response such as “best job in the world” or “I can’t believe they pay me to do this”. It is a career that offers excellent working conditions and pay, as well as the chance to become involved in a wide variety of work around the globe from the airlines to firefighting to flight training. By far though the majority of licensed pilots are recreational pilots who simply fly for the enjoyment of being in the air.
Salary and Benefits
Pilots are generally well remunerated both in terms of both salaries and benefits. The annual rates below are in Canadian dollars (K=thousands).
- Single-Engine Bush pilot - $18-40K
- Flight Instructor - $25-40K
- Chief Flight Instructor - $35-60K
- Charter Pilot Piston-Aircraft - $20-50K
- Charter/Corporate Turbine Aircraft - $25-80K
- Commuter Airline - $35-85K
- Regional Airline - $35-100K
- Major Airline - $75-265K
- Corporate Jet Captain - $55-$150K
Skills and Aptitudes
At the basis of any good pilot is a willingness to put in a lot of time studying all the procedures and undergoing the training needed to become a safe and competent aviator. The basic techniques of flying an aircraft - takeoff, climbs, turns, descents, landing, etc. - are well within the capabilities of most people. However, as the aircraft flown get larger and more complex, as does the environment in which those are flown, a great deal of study and practice goes into the making of an excellent pilot.
The first step in becoming a pilot in Canada is to obtain a valid aviation medical. One this is complete, you can obtain your Private Pilot Licence , which takes a minimum of 45 flight hours to complete, by passing the TC Written Exam and Flight Exam. You can accomplish these steps on your own, at your own pace, at a Flight School or through a program within a Flight College.
From there it’s a matter of continuing training and building of flight hours to qualify for more advanced licenses such as the Commercial Pilot Licence (which is required for you to be paid to fly airplanes), and the highest category of all, the Airline Transport Pilot Licence. These can be obtained flying either fixed wing or rotary wing aircraft. A link to complete licensing details is given below.
There are many other career paths involving a wide range of aircraft and environment from helicopter logging to Flight Examiners to Airline flying and so on. With respect to airlines, a common career path includes obtaining an initial licence and ratings, followed by building time through flight instruction or bush flying. The next step could involve becoming a co-pilot on turbine followed by Captaincy on turbine or light jet for charter or commuter airlines. From there the next step would be hired on as an Airline Co-pilot with a major carrier, and eventually becoming an Airline Captain.
One other route is military flight training which can allow for direct entry into nearly any level of the career path depending on the amount of flight experience and aircraft types flown during the person’s stay and type(s) of aircraft flown in the military.