How to Have Your Career as a Pilot

The aviation industry is now a booming industry for transportation because it has its advantages and pilots are the main pillars of this industry.

These trained and licensed professionals operate and fly the aircraft responsible for carrying passengers and goods. There are also other job profiles in which pilots work, which we will soon get to know in this article.

About the Pilot

A licensed pilot operates and flies the aircraft and checks on the overall working of the aircraft. He/she checks on all the cockpit mechanisms, including aircraft requirements such as repairing or fuel, weather conditions, and air traffic. 

After checking through everything, a pilot gives a green signal to fly an aircraft.

Eligibility to become a Pilot

To become a pilot, you must complete your 10+2 from a recognized board in Science stream with Physics, Chemistry, and Mathematics as main subjects. You also need to have a minimum of 50% marks in 10+2.

There are three types of licenses that an aspiring pilot can earn:

  1. Student License Pilot (SPL) – You can get this license after qualifying 10th standard from a recognized board. The minimum age limit is of 17 years, and this course is of 6 months duration.
  2. Private License Pilot (PPL) – After completing 10+2 in the above-said subjects you can apply for this license, and this course is of 1-year duration.
  3. Commercial License Pilot (CPL) – After getting an SPL and PPL, you can apply for a CPL if you want to pursue your career as a commercial pilot. This course is for three years.

After these courses, you can fly as a co-pilot. To fly as a Captain, you need to clear the ATPL examinations.

How to Become a Pilot

After your 10+2 in Science stream with PCM, you can directly join a flying school or pursue your graduation and then join a flying school. After this, you need to qualify for the IGRUA entrance examinations and be physically fit as per the standard set by the DGCA.

If you successfully pass all flying and medical tests, you will be then licensed to fly as a pilot.

Top Pilot Institutes in India

The top pilot training institutes and flying schools currently in India are:

  • Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademi (IGRUA), Rae Bareilly
  • Ahmedabad Aviation and Aeronautics Limited (AAA), Ahmedabad
  • Rajiv Gandhi Aviation Academy, Hyderabad
  • National Flying Training Institute, Gondia
  • Orient Flight School, Mysore
  • Government Aviation Training Institute, Bhubaneswar

Pilot Entrance Exams

You will need to qualify in the IGRUA Entrance Test conducted by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), a national level entrance exam, and be physically fit to become a pilot. ATPL is another exam that lets you become the Pilot-in-Command or Captain of an aircraft.

For becoming a military pilot, you need to qualify any of the following exams to join the Indian Air Force:

  • NDA
  • CDS
  • NCC

Career Opportunities for a Pilot

If you become a pilot with a CPL and ATPL, you can fly as a Captain for all commercial flights for which you will get very high salaries.

You can also work as a pilot in the military forces, and as well as for corporates, so the career opportunities are widely spread for you to choose from.

Employment Sector/Industry for Pilot

After becoming a licensed pilot, one can choose to work as a commercial pilot, military pilot, or private pilot. In the commercial sector, they are recruited by major airline companies in India, such as:

  • Air India
  • IndiGo
  • Jet Airways
  • AirAsia
  • SpiceJet

If you want to work as a military pilot, you can work in the Indian Air Force, Indian Army, and Indian Navy.

For a private pilot, you can work for corporate companies or individuals who own private jets and helicopters.

Jobs as a Pilot

After completing your aviation course and getting licensed as a pilot, you can work under the following job profiles:

  1. Commercial Pilot – These pilots work for commercial airlines which are further divided as-
  • Passenger Pilots
  • Cargo Pilots
  • Aero Sports Pilots
  1. Military Pilots – These pilots work for the military forces such as the Indian Army, Indian Air Force, and Indian Navy.
  • Airforce Pilots
  • Army Pilots
  • Navy Pilots
  1. Private Pilots – These pilots work for corporate or personal needs as pilots for private jets and helicopters.
  2. Test Pilots
  3. Chief Pilot
  4. Co-Pilot
  5. First Officer

Salary of a Pilot

A commercial pilot's average annual salary ranges between Rs 15 lakhs per annum to Rs 90 lakhs per annum.

The initial salary or salaries of junior pilots can be slightly less but is much more than any other conventional job.

The salaries of military pilots range between Rs 2 lakhs per annum to Rs 20 lakhs per annum. 

The salaries are more for experienced pilots, and the senior commercial pilots get paid the highest.

Study Material to Become a Pilot

These are some of the books you can consider reading while becoming a pilot:

  • To Be an Airline Pilot by Andrew Cook
  • Stick and Rudder: An Explanation of the Art of Flying by Wolfgang Langewiesche
  • 50 Real-World Pilot Tips by Mark Robidoux
  • Adventure of Becoming an Airline Pilot by George Flavell

Pros & Cons of Becoming a Pilot


  1. You get to travel the world and stay in many different places across the globe.
  2. It is not a monotonous job with a fixed working schedule.
  3. The average salary is much higher even in the initial stages of being a pilot compared to other conventional jobs.


  1. The investment for being a pilot is huge as pilot training is very expensive.
  2. This is a very sudden job with no fixed schedule, and you would need to board flights and work even in odd hours.
  3. Continuous traveling and a messed-up sleep-wake cycle due to work can affect your health and personal life.

FAQs about Pilot

  • How many hours does a pilot need to work?

    a pilot can fly for 35-40 hours in a week, !25 hours in a month and 1000 hours in a year which is the maximum limit of flying for pilots.

  • How PPL is different from CPL?

    PPL is a Private Pilot License, and CPL stands for Commercial Pilot License. If you have a PPL, you can use it for your flying hobby and entertainment purposes. Whereas, a CPL holder gets to fly commercial flights and is a pilot by profession.

  • What is the total cost of becoming a pilot?

    The total expenses for pilot training in India range between Rs 45 lakhs and Rs 60 lakhs. The training cost also depends on the course you will be pursuing and the institute as well.