The higher we elevate from the ground the more beautiful and awe-inspiring things seem to be. Next to astronauts, pilots get to experience this first hand. Commercial pilots are those that fly aircrafts to deliver cargo and goods for various companies, or more common-- passengers for major airline companies.

Types:  Cargo Carriers, Passenger Transport


     Commercial pilot requirements are very stringent for good reason. Many individuals are afraid to fly, the general public needs to feel assured that their pilots are competent enough to handle such a technical and skill orientated job. To become a commercial pilot you must have the basic requirements which are: You MUST be 18 years of age, be fluent in the English language, hold at least a private pilot license, and be a holder of a class 2 medical license for medical emergencies onboard.  

     Physical fitness is not a major factor for commercial pilots. It is more important that a pilot simply maintain good general health to lessen the risk of a heart attack or stroke while on the job. This also explains why a pilot and copilot would need to hold a class 2 medical license.

     Mental health is very serious in the piloting industry. In recent years there have been more screenings for depression and stress. It is very important that an individual that is responsible for the lives of hundreds of people at a time to have the necessary mental and psychological capacity to get the job done. This became a concern when a number of pilots were suspected of nosediving the aircraft on purpose and taking the lives of many passengers.


     Along with the basic requirements you will also need to attend flight school in order to fulfill 250 hours of total flight time which includes 100 hours of flight time as the commanding pilot, and 50 hours of cross country flight time. Once that is out of the way, the aspiring pilot must pass a written, oral, and practical exam to test his/her knowledge of weather patterns, technical equipment on the plane, situational simulations, and a test to perform certain maneuvers in the air. The tests really stress the technical side of the profession and good communication skills which are both vital for pilots. Flight school and registration fees can become costly but not too bad if paid for over time. Total costs can range from at least $18,000 to $30,000 depending on the school and amount of training you begin with. The governing body is the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). All of the applications and resources for flight schools by state can be found in the helpful links below.

Work Environment

Commercial pilots have a multitude of responsibilities. They are required to do hours of planning to account for weather patterns, calculate fuel usage in the event that an alternate route needs to be taken, checks to make sure all flight gear is working as planned, as well as take-off and landing procedures. Even the little things that most think would be immaterial are very important to pilots, in many cases pilots must make sure baggage and luggage are loaded correctly because it could lead to improper weight distribution. Pilots spend a majority of time seated so there is not as much strain on the body as there is on the mind. Staring at the open skies for most of the day while maintaining a certain level of focus can be very draining, so the co-pilot usually can take over to give the commanding pilot a break.


Total Employment: 38,490

Mean Annual Wage: $89,350

Median Annual Wage: $78,740

Top 5 Highest Paying States

State Employment 

Annual Mean Wage 

New Hampshire 80 $124,570
Connecticut 330 $115,290
Georgia 1,020 $113,720
District of Columbia 30 $111,420
New Mexico 150 $109,960

 Top 5 States with Highest Employment

State Employment 

Annual Mean Wage 

Texas 5,100 $105,590
California 3,890 $96,650
Florida 3,680 $76,340
Ohio 1,670 $84,240
Arizona 1,630 $77,990

 Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (


     Most people who choose this career path tend to love aviation and the open skies to begin with, so they already have a passion for this job which is always a plus. The salary is also competitive. Let’s also not forget that there is a great sense of accomplishment after every flight. There is also a social prestige factor, since pilots receive a lot of respect and recognition. Last but not least, although a pilot must ALWAYS be alert and ready for any situation they can still enjoy the open skies on a regular basis.


     Pilots are expected to be away from their families for very long periods of time. therefore, Someone starting a new family might find this difficult to cope with. It can be very hard to keep concentration and focus for so many hours on end, even with short breaks. When things are going great you get all the recognition and honor but when things aren’t so great, you also take all the blame, you are held at a much higher standard than your co-pilot. Pilots also need an extreme amount of mental fortitude in case of emergencies.


     Commercial pilots are a wonderful choice for those with a passion for flying and the open skies. This is not the job that someone stumbles upon at the last minute to earn a nice paycheck. Those who love to fly will naturally thrive in this profession once they learn the technical skills from flight school. Room for error is pretty much nonexistent in this field so it takes a tremendous amount of communication skills and technical skills to prevent any type of major issues. Based on our NoDegree job scale we rate this job an 8.9 out of 10.  

References and Helpful Links

Note: Affiliate links below

Commercial Pilot Oral Exam Guide: The comprehensive guide to prepare you for the FAA checkride (Oral Exam Guide series) Eighth edition by Hayes, Michael D. (2014) Paperback - AMAZON

Student Pilot's Flight Manual: From First Flight to Private Certificate (The Flight Manuals Series) - AMAZON

Career As A Pilot: What They Do, How to Become One, and What the Future Holds! - AMAZON

The Career Pilot Blueprint: How To Become & Succeed as a Professional Pilot - AMAZON