Airline pilots work in the aviation industry. They operate aircraft, such as commercial jets, to transport people and goods to destinations all over the world. As an airline pilot, you will fly aeroplanes on short- or long-haul flights for airlines of all sizes, usually on scheduled air carrier routes.
Nights, weekends and holidays
Airline pilots are limited to flying a total of 100 hours per month, or 1,000 hours per year, as regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). They typically fly 75 to 80 hours a month and spend an additional 150 hours each month performing other duties such as preparing flight plans.
Though work schedules are variable, the FAA requires a minimum of an eight-hour break between shifts, while flight assignments often involve overnight layovers. Airlines will typically cover accommodation, meals, airport transportation and other expenses for pilots when spending time away from home, and if you’ve worked at an airline for a long time, you can choose the routes and schedules you prefer.
As an airline pilot, fatigue and jetlag are common, as you will work long hours and travel into different time zones. It is also a highly stressful profession, as you are responsible for the safety of your passengers.
Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.
DVM / VMD degree
In addition to a bachelor’s degree (which can be in any subject, although a degree in aviation or aeronautical sciences is preferable), you’ll need to obtain a commercial pilot’s licence from the FAA and the FAA-issued Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate.
You will typically begin your career as a flight engineer before advancing to a first officer position and, after 5 to 15 years, to a captain position. With experience, you could become a flight training instructor or an air accident investigator.