Airline Pilot

Soar the skies behind the flight stick of a commercial jetliner.

Quick Stats

Salary Range
$80,000 – $139,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Airline Pilots do?

Airline Pilots fly planes full of people or cargo from one place to another. They can work and travel anywhere in the world there’s an airport, and can spend their days seeing some pretty cool places.

Before you start out on a flight, it’s your job as an Airline Pilot to thoroughly check everything on the plane. You make sure instruments are working, fuel is sufficient, bags are safely loaded, and nothing on the plane is broken. In order to do this, you collaborate with a lot of other people. You talk with Baggage Handlers, Fuel Truck Drivers, Air Traffic Controllers, and Maintenance Workers to ensure everything is ready to go.

You work with your Copilot to plot a course, and then call air traffic control to let them know your flight path. You also ask for any information you might need, like weather problems or closed airports, and then prepare for takeoff.

Takeoff and landing are the most dangerous parts of the flight, but once you successfully navigate these, it’s smooth sailing. There are a number of specialized computer systems (like autopilot) that ensure everything goes as planned. The plane just follows the route you have entered into the system.

Although this takes a lot of the stress off of you, it’s still your job to remain alert and handle any issues that come up. For example, you keep an eye on approaching storms, fuel levels, and turbulence.

Once on the ground, you might wait only a short time before flying again. Or you might stay a while longer. Airline Pilots often work unpredictable hours.

Should I be an Airline Pilot?

You should have a bachelor's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.
  • Team Player: You're able to listen, communicate, and work with tons of different people.
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.

  • Also known as: Commercial Airline Pilot, Regional Airline Pilot

    How to become an Airline Pilot

    Most Airline Pilots have a Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:mkn9aa&chl=no+college+%2813%25%29|certificate+%2811%25%29|associate%27s+%2814%25%29|bachelor%27s+%2863%25%29||&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,13,63
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