Answer by Thomas Zerbarini:
As with any endeavor or education/training required for a professional career, the steps are all similar:
- Decision/Commitment: Once you've decided to become an airline pilot the next step is to commit to the decision. The reward to any career is your path and the experience you have along the way. I didn't realize this until I began to look back on my career and appreciating all the exciting things I accomplished and learned as I trained and gained my experience. Things like my first lesson, my first solo, my first passenger, my first flight through clouds, my first emergency procedure, my first paying job as a pilot, and so on… Keep the adventure in mind as you navigate through your training and gain your experience.
- Research: Research colleges and flight schools locally and globally. Compare and contrast all the programs. Pay specific attention to fees, total costs, extras, and the amount of flight time you'll get. Also, ask for "average cost" per student and "average flight time" students of the school require to pass their programs. You'll find that they quote the FAA/ICAO minimums when stated program costs and have a small writing disclaiming that most students require more time. Most of all, get good training and education. If a school mentions employment at the end of your training, get it guaranteed in writing. I've seen countless schools offer employment in their brochures to sell their programs when they only have one or two slots for every 30-40 students going through the program.
- Setting Goals: Once you've made your decision to pursue your training/education, set and write down your specific goals to accomplish your training. Map your path to success and constantly update your steps and goals as you progress. Remember, your goals are a fluid thing and you'll need to adjust the steps from time to time as you progress to stay on track.
- Time: Be sure to dedicate the time required to be successful. Becoming an airline pilot can take years. Rarely, it can take just a year or two in some countries with a cadet () program or similar.
- Finances: Like most of us, if you're not one of the lucky few to get a scholarship, you'll have to figure out a way to pay for your education and training. The cost can grow to more than $100,000. So, do your research and calculate your budget.
- Discipline: Once you make your decision and dedicate yourself, keep disciplined and stay focussed on your goal. Do your best not to get distracted from your timeline. Remember, most airlines base their rosters on seniority. The sooner you land your airline pilot job, the higher your seniority will be. Hence, better pay, schedules, faster upgrades, better vacations, etc…The path to the airliner cockpit can be difficult and seemingly impossible to achieve. After all, if it was easy everyone would want to do it.Good luck on your adventure and career..Thomas Zerbarini