The path to a job as a professional pilot is long and sometimes confusing.
Which school is the best?. Do I want to do the training modular or integrated.? How much will it cost me and where do I get the money from? JAA or FAA or both? The list of questions seems endless and everybody will have different opinions on which is the “best” way to get your license.
My advice is to consider not only the cost of the training, but also to find a school that matches you and your needs. Do you want to wear a shirt and tie everyday as you have to in some of the integrated courses, or do you prefer a more laid-back school, were you can show up in jeans on a Sunday afternoon.
An equally important thing are the instructors. The school may promise you everything, but a school is only as good as the instructors make it….remember that. Talk to them and ask them to show you around. Ask some of the other students at the school if they are happy with the way their training is scheduled and if they feel that they are progressing with their flying, or if they feel that the instructors are just “milking” them for hours. It happens in some schools, so be aware. You will be paying big money for your training and it will pay off to do some research of the schools available, before you open your wallet.
To me an important aspect of flying is having fun while you learn. Flying is a sociable thing and you should feel welcome and comfortable at the school. If the atmosphere is hostile and cold, there is often a reason for it. Again, talk to the other students and the instructors.
The first step in your flying career will be the private pilots license (PPL). You will learn all the basics of flying and navigation. It’s comparably inexpensive and a good way to find out if flying is something you really want to do for a living.
The next step is either an instrument rating(IR) or a commercial pilots license(CPL). In Europe you will have to do the demanding JAA ATPL theory. It consists of 14 subjects with an exam in each. It normally takes between 6 and 9 months to pass all 14 papers.
Most people also do a multiengine rating(ME) at the same time as the instrument rating. That way you can fly a twin engine aircraft in instrument conditions. It is hard work, but probably one of the most rewarding ratings you will get in your career. Most people do the instrument rating before the commercial license because of hour requirements for the CPL.
Now you’re ready to go job hunting. A lot of new pilots obtain a CFI license(certified flight instructor) which allows you to teach others how to fly. It’s very rewarding being able to pass your knowledge and skills on to new pilots, and at the same time you get paid and build hours in your logbook.