Basic requirements on how to become an FAA Pilot in the USA. Flying across the world, controlling a huge refined aircraft may be a dream for some. While it’s a rewarding and very exciting job, many people wonder how exactly does one become a glamorous pilot. The process takes time, dedication, and a good chunk of change. As long as you are committed, the dream of driving in the sky can be yours. There are several different ways one can become a pilot as stated below.


Getting a four-year college degree may benefit you in the long run. A degree is not needed to fly for a regional airline in the United States, but it is necessary for a major US airline. A Bachelor of Science is preferred with emphasis in aviation, but it’s not necessary.

Obtaining your initial Class 1 Medical is required for anyone wishing to train for any commercial airline. Contrary to popular belief, you can fly for an airline while wearing glasses or contacts as long as your vision is corrected to 20/20.

Be well aware that becoming an Airline pilot is a huge financial investment. Make sure that you monetarily prepared and committed. Depending on where you chose to go to flight school, it could cost between $100,000-$150,000.


Research and look around your local area for a good flight school and a flight instructor. You will now start working on your private pilot certificate. The current minimum flight time according to FAA is 40 hours. It may be desirable to complete 60 hours.

After earning your private pilot license, you can begin your instrument rating and your commercial certificate. For an instrument rating, you will need 50 hours as a pilot in command and 40 hours of simulated conditions. For a commercial certificate, however, you will need a total of 250 hours.

 Now you will need to complete your certified flight instructor rating and begin working at the flight school. Pilots need experience to qualify for your license so working for a flight school is useful. To qualify for a FAA license, you must also be 18 years old and earned 250 hours of flight experience.


With all the proper ratings and 1,500 hours of flight time, you are now eligible to work for regional airlines. In order to work for a major airline, you will need about 3,000 hours of total flight time.

Many pilots begin their career teaching as flight instructors as well. Other take on assignments with charter planes or end up going private.

Within airlines, pilots start off as a first officer and then advance to captain. Depending on your contract and airline, many pilots move up to captain within 5-10 years. Gaining seniority will also help with your flight assignments. Usually, you will start off as a reserve and be on call for flights while getting an actual schedule will help you organize a more structured life schedule.


This might be the best time to get started on your license to become a pilot. The current projection is that there will be a shortage of pilots between 2018-2030. Many of these pilots will be needed in the Asia-Pacific area due to expansion plans with several airlines including the famous airline, Emirates. Pilots also have strict age and health requirements that force a large number of pilots to retire. Females also make up a very small percentage of pilots in general so airlines will be on the lookout.

It’s important to remember that the industry is still very competitive. Make sure to do your research and prepare as best as possible before beginning this new career. It will take time, effort, money, and commitment but it is definitely doable and will pay off in the long run.

Basic requirements on how to become an FAA Pilot in the USA.