Originally Posted by Yanal
There are many ways to become a pilot. I became one by joining the Air Force and qualifying to be a combat pilot. The old F-86. Giving my age away.
Back then the USAF had the Aviation Cadet Program, somehow I managed to qualify for it.
The pay was good, although I only flew for a little over 2 years. I did get some nice side benefits, a life time pension, Post Traumatic Distress Disorder, Crippled arm and leg, Chronic pain disorder etc.
In the past about the only people who became commercial pilots were retired military pilots with over 20 years flying time. However as the commercial airlines grew and the need for Air Force pilots dropped most commercial pilots today are graduates from Aviation Schools. Typically the candidate for Aviation school will have a bachelors degree in aeronautical Engineering and a single engine pilot rating.
Aviation School is very expensive, outside of the 2 years or so of ground school you will need to amass over 1000 hours of flight time in multi-engine jet aircraft. Much of that will be as a student with an instructor pilot. Typically you will pay the instructor over $100 per hour and pay the plane rental of several hundred dollars per hour. The cost of fuel is tremendous. You have to pay for that also. It takes over $2000 in fuel just to get a 4 engine passenger jet up to take off speed. The good part is once air borne and at cruising altitude you only burn up a couple hundred gallons of JP-4 per hour. It costs a bundle to become a pilot. However, most pilots that show promise get hired while doing their undergrad work in Aeronautical engineering and an Airline company pays for the flight training. You usually have to sign a 20 year contract with them.
The pay is probably one of the highest paid salaried jobs in the world. average pay for a 747-400 pilot with 10 to 19 years experience is about $100,000 per year and some
Senior Pilots make over $1,000,000 per year (1 or 2 in the entire world). However, the stress and the physical demands take their toll. I believe the typical pilot is completely washed out after 2 or 3 years. You do have to stay in peak physical and mental condition to pass the annual physicals. It is an unforgiving job, one error and innocent people including yourself will die or be severely injured.
There are closely related fields that cost less to get into and while the pay is less, it is still good and you can expect to have a work life of 25 to 35 years. Those are things like:
Private License instructors