How to become a commercial pilot

The beginner’s guide to becoming a commercial pilot

The beginner’s guide to becoming a commercial pilot

How do I become a commercial pilot?

How to become a commercial pilot

Our former Training Advisor George Jobbins, takes you through the routes available to anyone wanting to become a commercial pilot. 

There are many different ways you can train to be a commercial pilot, with different options available on how you can structure and finance your training. It can all seem a bit daunting at first with so many options available to you. We will give you some hints and tips and things you should consider prior to making your final decision on the route that will suit you.

The two main training routes are integrated or modular. An integrated course is studied full-time and usually takes around 18-20 months to complete. In the majority of cases, you will not get any credit for any previous flying experience you have. The price for an integrated course ranges from around £80,000 to £120,000.

A modular course is a more flexible option, providing you with the opportunity to train part-time or full-time. Training can take from 12 months to several years, depending on your commitments. Often students studying part-time are doing this while continuing to work full time which helps them to fund the cost of their training or around family commitments.

The modular course also allows you more flexibility to train at different schools if you wish and gives you the option to stop for a break during any stage of your training. The average cost of training using the modular route is £55,000 to £70,000.

Things to consider when choosing a training route:

  • Part-time or full-time training – Can you drop your current lifestyle to train full-time or do you have family and financial constraints that you have to consider?
  • Learning style – Do you prefer structured full-time learning or do you have the discipline to keep yourself on track with your studies if you study part-time?
  • Finance – An integrated course quite often requires a large lump sum of money upfront prior to starting the course. Whereas modular you pay for each course as you get to it, this allows you more flexibility to train when you have the money if you are not pushed for time.
  • Job security – This is even more important during these testing times. If you choose the integrated route you would need to give up your job and you will most likely have no income. Training via the modular route allows you to keep your current job, if you wish, having something to fall back on if the unexpected may occur.
  • Medical – Getting a Class 1 medical early in your training is very important – this is the level of medical that will be required to fly commercially. You may have an underlying health condition you never knew about that may prevent you from flying as a commercial pilot, and you don’t want to spend thousands on training before finding out!
  • Choosing a school – There are many things to consider here; the main ones are finance and what is included with the advertised price. For example, some schools will include test fees with the course. It is important to check this as it may be an expensive surprise when you come to your test.
  • Flexibility – This is especially important due to the current situation with Covid-19; some students will want to spread their training out, and qualify when the market picks up again. The modular route allows you plenty of flexibility to do this, whereas the integrated offers very little.
  • Research – Investigate the schools that you are interested in and speak to people that have trained there. Word of mouth is a very powerful tool in this industry, and it works well. Make sure you visit the schools too, as this will give you a good indication of what it may be like to train with them.

All routes lead to the same licence and it is up to you to choose the one that suits you best.

I have come from a slightly different route to most as I was in the RAF, and I was lucky enough to be awarded a flying scholarship to get my PPL. I have always had a passion for aviation but at this time I was unsure if I wanted to be a commercial pilot. Once I had decided it was the career for me, I chose the modular route as I wanted to remain in employment. The main reason was that I could finance my training myself.

I am training with the support of the Wings Alliance. Their support is unique, since they have someone there to answer your questions and assist in structuring your training. Modular training can make you feel as if you are on your own since you’re not ‘on campus’ with a group of students, however, with the Wings Alliance you are not on your own, there is always someone available to answer your questions or provide you with any support you may need. I trained with Bristol Groundschool for the ATPL theory as they have an outstanding reputation in delivering the distance learning course, so it was a no-brainer when it came to choosing a school for this part of the training.

If you have any questions about training – contact us