How To Become a Commercial Pilot

A Commercial Pilot oversees aircraft and flights focused on transporting cargo, business personnel, or even sight-seeing tours and the like. Unlike Airline Pilots, Commercial Pilots only need a high school diploma and proper training from an FAA-accredited flight school to excel.

Becoming a Pilot is a dream come true for many little boys and girls. Obviously, it’s not out of your reach if you can put in the hard work and complete your training. But, what will you need to do? How much money can you make? These and other important questions are answered below. Take a look! You’ll be flying high in no time!

Related Article: The 40 Highest Paying Jobs With A Trade School Education


Table of Contents

Is there a difference between an Airline Pilot and a Commercial Pilot?

Of course, both types of pilots require proper licensing and training; however, an Airline Pilot typically will require a bachelor’s degree. Commercial Pilots must have a high school education or an associate degree. Airline Pilots usually work for airline passenger companies, while Commercial Pilots work for privately-owned businesses.

What do Commercial Pilots do?

Commercial Pilots generally do not expect scheduled flights like an Airline Pilot does. They often fly when needed… and at the spur of the moment notice sometimes. 

Other duties include:

  • Flying appropriate aircraft
  • Useing cockpit instruments
  • Checking aircraft before and after each flight
  • Checking fuel levels
  • Checking weather conditions and emergencies
  • Maintaining records
  • Checking weight limits before flights
  • Working closely with air traffic controllers
  • And, much more! 

How do I become a Commercial Pilot?

Commercial Pilots are required to have a high school or equivalent diploma. In addition, they must obtain a commercial pilot’s license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Flight training is a must from an FAA-certified flight school, often offered through an independent school or a 2-year or 4-year college.

Will I need on-the-job training to be a Commercial Pilot?

Yes, on-the-job training will include six to eight weeks of ground school in accordance with the Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR). You will learn as you accompany the Captain and assist with flying the aircraft and communicating with the control tower. Specialty training is also available, depending on the type of aircraft you are managing. Continued education is a must as well.

Will I need to have a Commercial Pilot’s license?

Yes, according to the BLS, Commercial Pilots must obtain their license and ratings in the following order: 

  • Obtain Student Pilot Certificate,
  • Private Pilot License,
  • Instrument Rating,
  • Commercial Pilot License, 
  • Multi-Engine Rating,
  • And finally, the Airline Transport Pilot Certificate.

Also, airlines often conduct their own testing to assess your problem-solving, analytical, and decision-making skills, as well as psychological state.

Will I need a physical before beginning a program?

Yes, you will need to have a physical per the regulations made by the FAA. To receive your medical certificate, you will need to be examined by an Aviation Medical Examiner (AME).

What is the salary of a Commercial Pilot?

Commercial Pilots were paid, on average, $93,300 per year, according to the BLS as of May 2020. The highest 10% earned upwards of $200,920 annually.

Are Commercial Pilots in demand?

This field states a positive job growth rate of 11% between 2020 and 2030, according to the BLS as of May 2020.

Where do Commercial Pilots find work?

Commercial Pilots work for many different types of companies, such as: 

  • Commercial Airlines
  • Ambulance & Hospital Services
  • Private Businesses
  • Federal Government
  • Charter Companies
  • Delivery Companies
  • Rescue Operations
  • Aerial Photography
  • Sight-Seeing Tours
  • And, many more!

What type of aircraft can you fly as a Commercial Pilot?

With a commercial license, you can fly an airplane or helicopter; however, with every new aircraft you plan to fly, proper training will be required first. 

A private (instead of a commercial) helicopter pilot’s license is all you need… if you are flying a privately-owned helicopter and you are not seeking pay.