Airline pilots fly goods and people to destinations across the world.

What does an airline pilot do?

Airline pilots fly goods and people to destinations across the world. You could be working for a big airline or smaller airline. The size and type of aeroplanes you fly will vary depending on which route you are travelling and how many people, or how much cargo you are transporting. You’ll need good leadership skills as well as being able to work effectively in a team. You’ll also need to be good at problem solving. You may be flying shorter internal (within a country) routes, or you may be piloting longer international journeys – either way, travel is an essential part of the job.  

What do I need to do to become an airline pilot?

You will usually need to have flown a number of hours as a first officer. To become a first officer, you must first complete your Airline Transport Pilots Licence (ATPL). There are three main routes to obtaining the ATPL – through private training, through armed forces training, or through a university course which includes pilot training. To obtain a full ATPL you must be over 21 years old. To work as a first officer or airline pilot, you will need to also pass a rigorous medical test. 

Related skills

  • Ability to understand technical plans
  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Problem solving
  • Teamwork

Related subjects

  • Foreign languages
  • Maths
  • Physics

Essential qualifications

  • ATPL
  • Over 21 years old
  • Pass medical test

Where to find out more

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

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