The dream to become a pilot probably started off for you as a child when you looked up the sky every time you heard an airplane fly by. The decision to take that dream seriously though must be based on a good understanding of the job and the prospects.  

It starts of as a fascinating job for many and all but to do the same thing over and over again you must have the passion to fly and to operate machines. The job is high on responsibility, requires good medical fitness and has a lot more than the glamour element that attracts people to the profession first up.      

Airline pilots fly close to their allowed maximum of 100 hours a month, which can be taxing.


The first thing one needs is a Commercial Pilot License (CPL). You can start training for it after passing class 12th with Maths and Science.

You can join a DGCA (Director General Civil Aviation) approved training school – see here: http://dgca.nic.in/licencing/fly-ind.htm - or go abroad. Indian schools can be as expensive as the ones abroad. If you go abroad for a pilot license, you will need to apply to DGCA to convert your license for India, clear a written test and complete few other formalities. The training can cost about Rs.25 to 30 lakhs and can take about two years to complete. You gather about 250 hours of flying experience by the time you complete the training and obtain the license.  

Many airlines recently have been selecting only trainee co-pilots who are type-rated (trained on the fleet of their aircrafts). So if you wish to obtain the type rating on your own there is an expense of about Rs. 12 to 15 lakhs additionally over and above the cost of obtaining the CPL. And the type rating can take six to eight months to obtain. 


The prospect of landing a job after obtaining the CPL depends on the health of the Airlines industry. The health can be described as fluctuating at best. Many may argue that job opportunities depend on the health of the economy in all industries, but they may be reminded that while the skills you acquire through general education programmes are transferable across industries, the skills to become a pilot are unique to the aviation industry alone. Also, because many join pilot training courses immediately after class 12, they lack the basic educational qualification of a graduate to seek other jobs. 

There are a few things you can do to manage risks. First, when you plan the expenses for taking up pilot training, also plan for a waiting period to seek a job during which you would not have any income. It’s best that you speak to people in the industry to understand the job prospects before you begin your training, and not go by the assurances of the training school. 

Moreover, considering the costs involved and the risk of not being able to obtain a job soon enough there is some sanity in obtaining a graduation before going for your CPL license. This way you can increase your prospects of taking another job in the same or related industry in the duration that you are waiting for a pilot’s job to become available for you.


You join as a trainee and complete the type rating. You start off as a first officer, also called a Co-Pilot. After obtaining experience you will upgrade to an Airline Transport Pilot License, and undertake another 6-8 months training for a pilot-in-command rating for that particular type of aircraft to become eligible as the captain of the aircraft. The real opportunity comes when vacancies become available.

Therefore, the journey to become a pilot can be a tough one, certainly an expensive one, and dependent heavily on the demand for fresh pilots in the industry. It's important that you speak to industry insiders before you set out to become a pilot.

Pilot, Careers in the transportation industry

Entrance Exam


Steve Jobs, chief executive officer and co-founder of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, urged graduates to pursue their dreams, follow their interests & curiosities and see the opportunities in life's setbacks-- including death itself.