One of the most common questions asked at flying schools by prospective students is How long until I become a commercial pilot? There is no hard fixed time to gaining a commercial pilot licence as there are many variables in training to become a pilot, course times are only an indicator of the approximate. How long the training course takes is not usually the answer the questioner is looking for. Not because it’s longer than expected but because the prospective student didn’t quite ask the question correctly.
The questions about the duration of a commercial pilot training course are generally answered in most course advertising material. The real question the prospective student was asking is how long until I become an airline pilot? If you ask many commercial pilot licence holders who do not fly for a major airline how often they have been asked “When are you going to be a commercial pilot?” the response is likely to be quite frequent. There is a misunderstanding by the non-flying general public that the only commercial pilot is the one they see at the front of the aeroplane when they travel on holidays. Let’s face it even though it is not the case these pilots are probably the only pilots the majority of the general public ever see.
The commercial pilot licence is the type of licence a pilot requires if they are going to earn money flying. For a living. After completing the commercial pilot training and a commercial pilot licence test the new commercial pilot now enters the industry with minimal experience and as time goes by they will gain experience increase their qualifications and undertake training on various aircraft types.
Some of the different types of jobs that a commercial pilot licence holder can be employed in are scenic flights taking passengers flying to view various scenic locations. Charter flights where a commercial pilot will fly passengers from one location to another at a timing that suits the passenger. There is aerial ambulance services such as the Royal Flying Doctor Service carrying medical teams and patients across the country. Aerial agriculture is also another pathway a commercial pilot licence holder can take, spraying farmers crops to keep pests away. The flying instructor teaching you to fly also holds a commercial pilot licence. There are also commercial pilots flying business jets in corporate aviation flying executives across the country. Other forms of flying requiring a commercial pilot licence is Aerial surveying , mapping and fire fighting. The smaller regional airline pilots and the major airlines all require a commercial pilot licence.
So the next time you meet a person who is working as a pilot but not at the front of the airliner you are boarding for your holiday. Don’t ask them if they are going to be commercial pilot one day as they already are. For the prospective pilot student out there, think about the question you are about to ask. There are many jobs for a commercial pilot licence holder just as there are many answers as to how long it may take you to become an airline pilot.
In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Its not the destination it’s the journey”