The job of a pilot is very attractive for young people. Pilots have high salaries, ability to travel around the world, an interesting and challenging job, etc. However, apart from the benefits, this profession has some drawbacks. The negative sides of pilot’s job include unstable working schedules that might involve quick relocation; long business trips away from the family; hazardous influence of radiation at high altitudes and stressful environment in the; difficulties with career development with the change of employer; the problem of underpayment, etc. In addition, the cost of training and the competition for the best-paid positions are very high. This paper describes job responsibilities of pilots, the level of income, health and professional requirements, advantages and disadvantages, the necessary certification as well as the career prospects for pilots. Overall, flying is a dream of millions, but only dozens might really fit the profession of a pilot.
There are many young boys and girls who like reading about the fantastic journeys written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Perhaps, this love makes they start dreaming about becoming professional pilots. The profession of a pilot is associated with prestige, respect, ability to travel and earn a lot. Flying is the quickest way to get from one place to another. A plane can transport tons of passengers and cargo. That is why pilot’s job is very attractive and interesting. However, it is a very responsible profession that requires a lot of training and preparation. Operating a huge metal machine is a difficult task that can be completed only by a strong person.
Pilots have a lot of responsibilities in their daily work. They might fly on domestic or international routes, for business or commercial purpose, transport cargo or passengers. Depending on the type of operation that a pilot performs, the responsibilities might differ. However, generally, pilots are responsible for performing flights safely; checking weather information and all the data required for flight; using the obtained information for flight preparation, in flight, and after flight; calculating and controlling the amount of fuel on the aircraft; checking the major flight control systems; carrying out preflight briefings with crew members; analyzing information obtained from flight instruments; communicating with passengers, crew, and air traffic controllers; updating all the documents related to flight; reacting quickly and professionally to unexpected situations (Prospects, 2015a).
There is a long way from an idea to actual work of a pilot. Firstly, it is important to identify one’s eligibility to become a student pilot, a commercial pilot, a private pilot, or a flight instructor. Before flight training it is necessary to pass ground training that lasts for several months. At this step it is important to choose a flight school with proper certification (Part 61 or Part 141) (Phoenix East Aviation, n.d.). Then, either a pilot himself/herself will have to pay for the training or a company-employer will compensate the cost of training.
Depending on the type of license that a pilot obtains, there might be specific certifications related to it. For example, a commercial pilot must have a commercial pilot license, instrument rating, multi-engine rating, multi-crew rating, specialty courses, and jet training (Phoenix East Aviation, n.d.). Also, no physical or mental problems should be discovered in a potential pilot. The same is true about breaches of law. Safety is the greatest priority for an airline, so only top-ranking professionals are welcome. Potential employers usually look for 250 flight hours for a commercial pilot license, and 1,500 flight hours for an airline transport pilot certificate. In addition, strong communication and monitoring skills, quick reaction, problem-solving abilities, and attention to details are required. Computer skills are also required for navigation purposes. Technical skills that a pilot should demonstrate are the ability to work with radio, run preflight checks, and monitor engine and hydraulic systems (Study.com, n.d.).
Pilots have to pass a lot of profession-related trainings every six month. This requirement might seem strict, but it is justified by the safety of passengers. Usually pilots pass such trainings as safety regulations, air legislature, simulator training, dangerous goods transportation, medical check, etc. In addition, pilots should be knowledgeable about physiology, meteorology, navigation, etc.
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Pilot’s job is quite dangerous for health. That is why, only healthy people can become pilots. Every person must have a special medical certificate before entering any flight training school. There are several types of medical examinations, and it is necessary to clarify the class of medical certificate with the training school. For example, Class 1 medical certificates are the most restrictive and are obligatory for commercial pilots. Class 3 medical certificates are less restrictive and suitable for student pilots. The procedure of a medical examination is not difficult. A doctor asks several health-related questions and performs hearing, vision, and some other tests, if required. It is important to know that if a person is denied a medical certificate, he/she has a right to retake this check after some time (Phoenix East Aviation, n.d.).
Level of Income
The job of a pilot is very desirable because pilots earn a high income. Depending on the position and flight experience, the salary of pilots might range from £21,000 to £140,000 (Prospects, 2015b). Various airlines offer different work conditions and salaries. The general tendency is that with every year of experience in a particular company, the salary rises. In addition, the monthly payment can vary depending on the hours of operation (night or day), standby time, operation at out-of-base airports, and other factors. Also, flight time a month defines the amount of salary. However, it is not allowed to fly more than 90 hours per month (Prospects, 2015b). However, at the beginning of flight career, even if pilots get quite a good salary, they cannot accumulate wealth because they have to pay huge debts for their professional education. The high level of income of pilots might be created by media and university agents who look for potential students. In fact, in aviation only captains of big air carriers earn a lot. However, such positions are very few, and competition for them is really high.
Many pilots like their job very much and do not want to change it. Those who have to quit the profession usually suffer from this. The advantages of pilot’s profession are: comparatively high salary; ability to travel, see the world and meet a lot of interesting people; ability to work in a comfortable and highly technologic environment; prestige associated with this profession; discount rates for flights for pilots and their families; beneficial pension plans and health-recreational opportunities.
Despite all the benefits, the profession of a pilot also has some disadvantages. Firstly, pilots’ working schedules are not fixed. It means that a pilot might have to appear at the airport within an hour after a call irrespective of the part of the day. He/she must be 100 percent ready for performing a flight: healthy, not tired, and sober. Secondly, pilots might stay for quite a long time at out-of-base airports. Consequently, they are not able to spend much time with their families. Thirdly, operation of an aircraft flying at high altitudes is hazardous for health. Radiation coming from the sun, emissions from instruments, accumulated fatigue, night-time operations, and other factors are bad for health. In this regard, if a pilot has some bad habits, his/her flight career is not likely to be long-lasting. In addition, pilots feel like handcuffed to their present employer, and if their working conditions become unfavorable, pilots cannot change for a company with healthier climate without facing some negative consequences. Thus, when a pilot changes an air carrier, he/she is forced to start from the bottom of the career ladder and has to contend with minimum salary at the beginning. Moreover, many pilots are not able to accumulate wealth. They are forced to look for new jobs after bankruptcy of an airline, crisis in economy and other reasons. Also, there is a problem of underpayment, when employers hire foreign staff from the third world countries and pay them much less than they would pay the natives. A further reason is that many low-cost employers force pilots to pay for their training themselves, which is quite frequent and expensive. This is one more reason why pilots are not able to accumulate wealth (The Truth about the Profession, 2015).
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Experienced pilots have good opportunities for career growth. For example, one can start with being a private pilot, then retrain for commercial pilot, then for a captain, pilot-instructor, and finally become a chief-pilot. In fact, this professional sphere offers a wide range of choice. Everyone can find a pilot job according to his/her interests: regional pilot, cargo pilot, sight-seeing pilot, skydiver pilot, photographer pilot, charity pilot, news pilot, national defense pilot, firefighting pilot, banner-towing pilot, etc. (Phoenix East Aviation, n.d.). However, one should take into account that aviation is the sphere with the lowest job security. If an airline closes, pilots are forced to look for a new employment. In this process they are likely to face very high level of competition.
All in all, the job of a pilot is attractive from the first sight. However, it has both advantages and disadvantages. A person who decides to become a pilot should be ready for long trips, intensive trainings, financial difficulties, a high level of competition, and the influence of other factors. In order not to be disappointed with the profession, it is necessary to consider all pros and cons. One has to check his/her eligibility for being a pilot. This career is one of the most difficult ones because every time a pilot changes airline, he/she has to start from the lowest position with the respective salary.