How to become a pilot – My 10 personal advices

How to become a pilot – My 10 personal advices
03/11/2016 pilotpatrick
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“How to become a pilot?” Probably the most frequent question I get on my Instagram account @pilotpatrick.

Additionally to my series “How I became a pilot” I want to give you 10 personal advice when you strive to become a commercial pilot.

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My epaulettes. Three stripes for a First Officer / Copilot


First of all I want to clarify the different types of licenses:

  • PPL: Private Pilot License. As the name suggests this license is solely used for private operation. (e.g. flying in a small piston engine, non commercial)
  • CPL: Commercial Pilot License. This license grants you to fly aircrafts commercially as a First Officer. The A states for airplane.
  • ATPL: Aircraft Transport Pilot License. This license is granted to those how fulfill certain flight hours and are holding a CPL with ATPL theory. This type is needed to become a Captain.
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My first day of flying a commercial Jet in 2010

My 10 tips how to become a pilot:  

1. Make sure you are fit to fly and meet the medical requirements to pass the class 1 examination. After having passed the initial examination you need to revalidate your Medical class one every year.

2. Be fit in maths and physics. You do not to be genius but the basic knowledge is necessary. Your sense in space should be well developed. Check the requirements of airlines and flight school which kind graduation level they expect. Some airlines only hire pilots with a high school/ A-level graduation.

3. Find the flight school which suites you the best. There are many flights schools which all promise to make an airplane out of you. Attend “open days” or info events of the flight schools to gather as much as information as possible. Try to talk to graduates to get a genuine feedback. Consider location of the school, training devices and length of the entire education. Here you find a list of flight schools for example.

4. Go for a short “test flight” with an instructor. This way you will find out if you agree to Leonardo Da Vinci’s quote: When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return“. This way you will easily find out if aviation and flying is for you

5. Flight training with an airline. This would be the best and financially the least risky way of becoming a pilot. Usually the airline gives you a training loan and offers you a cockpit position at the end. A certain amount of the training cost is paid back with your salary. (differs to all airlines of course). I have not heard about any scholarships for cadets.

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Cockpit of a Piper Arrow in Vero Beach during flight training in 2008

6. Consider the high education costs of a private flight school. I was lucky that my parents paid for my entire training at pilot training network. The costs were around 70.000€. Depending on the school and country the prices range from 50.000 to 150.000€. Additionally you have to consider the costs for a daily living and accommodation. It will be quite difficult to work part time since an integrated training is time consuming

7. Modular Training: In case you do not have the financial back ground, it would be a more safe way to do the training step by step. This type is called modular training. I do not want to scare you, but there are students you took a high loan to afford the training. This can be quite risky when you do not get a job right away and/or the salary might not be so good as expected.

8. A pilot license is not an official professional education. In case you lose your medical for whatever reason, you can only show flight hours in your logbook. That is why I decided to attend a far distant university to have some kind of back up. Maybe think about going to college or learn a profession before becoming a pilot. Sounds strange, but it is always good to have a Plan B.

9. Think about the pros and cons of a pilot life could mean for you. Especially at the beginning of your career you should be quite flexible in terms of your home base location. During your training you might be forced to move to different places.

10. I recommend to visit exhibitions, where flight schools introduce themselves. For example: The ILA  (Internationale Luft- und Raumfahrtausstellung) in Berlin. At the career center you have the chance to get to know different flight schools and chat with them.

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Overflying Miami Beach during flight training in 2008

Have a look on my aviation related Links page, where you might find additional information.

I hope this blog posts helps some of you. In case you have further questions comment below!

Positive mind, positive life and happy landings!

Your Pilot Patrick

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  1. anshley prayag 3 years ago

    great blog captain..i just wanted to know if you knew a friend of mine who is also a pilot for a charter company and went to the same training academy as you. his name is michael leyk.

  2. abdulrehman 3 years ago

    I wanted to know if I can still become a pilot if I have really weak eyesight.
    Can I wear glasses and become a pilot??

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 3 years ago

      Yes you may wear classes, but only up to a certain degree. Please google or have a look on my blog for the link which lists the medical requirements!

  3. dardan 3 years ago

    hi there patrick i am goin to start my pilot training in Florida USA i wanted to ask you if you are able to write an recomand letter for , training in Florida , need to show that to my sponsor , and you have a lot of photos in instagram that could help me after that recomand , i am Dardan zeqiri born on 11 october 1997 and i am from Kosovo , we still dont have any flight training school in our country , that would help me really much , thanks. sincerely DZ

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 3 years ago

      Hello Dardan, I wish you all the best for your flight training. It will be hard but try to enjoy it was much as you can. I am sorry that I can not help, but I can not write you a recommendation since I do not know you in person. Have a lot of fun in Florida!

  4. Arthur Estrada 3 years ago

    I’m very impressed, but at this stage of the game I will leave the flying to you professionals. Having friends in high places is a great. You do the flying and I will do the cooking. You can have a personal chef.

  5. Dilek Ulucay 3 years ago

    Wirklich großartige Tipps. Ich liebe Flugzeuge und dementsprechend wäre ich auch sehr gerne Pilotin, jedoch bin ich aufgrund meiner Größe nicht für diesen Beruf geeignet :/ aber es ist wirklich toll zu sehen , wie sehr du deinen Job liebst 🙂 bin wirklich begeistert

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 3 years ago

      Hallo Dilek. Vielen Dank für dein netten Kommentar. Das tut mir leid, aber du kannst ja immer noch privat fliegen gehen. 🙂

  6. Olga 3 years ago

    Hi Patrick! Lucky me finding your blogg at this important moment in my life. I’m applying to the Baltic Aviation Academy in Vilnius and hope to become a pilot one day. I want to ask you how did you manage to get such a wonderful job almost directly after graduation. And did you pay for your TR or the airline company did it for you? Thank you! And keep the blogg updated 😉 Best regards. Olga

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 3 years ago

      Hey Olga, thanks for your comment. It took me about 10 months to find a job. I send a lot of applications, did a lot of phone calls and visited aviation exhibitions. I had to pay for my TR to start the job. Read my series of “How I became a pilot”. All the best for your training! Patrick

  7. Author
    pilotpatrick 3 years ago

    Hallo Bartek,
    vielen Dank für dein Kommentar. Herzlichen Glückwunsch, dass du den GAPF Test bestanden hast. Ist der immernoch in Würzburg? Ich kann dir leider bei der Wahl der Flugschule nicht helfen, da ich RWL nicht kenne. Ich denke aber, dass es sinnvoller ist die Theorie auf Englisch zu machen. Bei Interockpit/PTN war der Unterricht oft auch auf deutsch, da wir alle im Kurs der Deutschen Sprache mächtig waren. Das fand ich sehr angenehm. Die Tests und auch das Material waren aber komplett in Englisch. Da die Luftfahrtbranche sehr international ist, kann die Ausbildung in Englisch dazu beitragen seine Englischkenntnisse zu verbessern. Ich würde es auch davon abhängig machen wo die Einzelnen Schulen ausbilden. Ich hoffe mein Antwort hilft dir ein wenig weiter.
    Happy Landings!

  8. Kay 3 years ago

    Hi Patrick,
    zuerst einmal danke für deine coolen Artikel; Hilfestellungen und Tipps in deinem Blog.
    Nun zu meinen Fragen:
    – Ich habe mir einmal die Websiten von Intercockpit und EIAB ( angeschaut. Würdest Du denn eine der beiden Flugschulen empfehlen oder von einer abraten? Oder gibt es eine andere Flugschule, die Du auf jeden Fall empfehlen würdest ?
    – Wie schätzt Du denn die Bewerbungschancen ein?
    – Viele Flugschulen bieten neben der ATPL Ausbildung ja noch ein Studium (bspw. Aviation Management & Piloting oder ILST) an. Würdest Du generell zu so etwas raten ?

    Ich freue mich auf Deine Antwort!
    Grüße Kay

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 3 years ago

      Hallo Kay, danke für dein Kommentar. Ich selbst was bei Intercockpit, deshalb kann ich keine andere Flugschule empfehlen. Bewerbungschancen für Fluganfänger leider im Moment sehr schiwerig. Ein Studium kann ich, wie in meinem Blog geschrieben, nur empfehlen. Wenn ich nicht gleich eine Anstellung gefunden hätte, hätte ich erstmal ein Studium dazwischen geschoben. Da die Pilotenausbildung offiziel keine Berufsausbildung ist, kann ein Studium für ein zweites Standbein nur empfehlen. Ich hoffe ich konnte dir weiterhelfen.
      Happy landings! Patrick

  9. patrick 3 years ago

    Hello parick hi,my name is too patrick,i come from Uganda,my son is 6years old,i asked him who he to be in future ? he said he want to be pilot,and this gave me a very challeng on how i will my boy achive his goal,now i tried to look around for a person like u with such a great schieved career so that may have an hand of support.Please wait to hear from u

  10. Olga 3 years ago

    Hi! Thanks a lot for the answer. What help you finally find the job: exhibitions, applications or phone calls? Did you do your TR after you found the job or before and how much did you pay for it? Thank you! Regards. Olga

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 3 years ago

      Hey Olga, a combination of both. I did the Type Rating after I found the job. My first employer required to be type rated on the Citation XLS. So I had to attend a course and pay for the training myself. (about 20.000€)
      Kind regards Patrick

  11. Olga 3 years ago

    I would be grateful if you can answer my previous post. Thank you! Greetings from Olga.

  12. Brishmin Febish 3 years ago

    Hello Patrick, I am Brishmin Febish from India, born in 1999,so my age is 18.
    I just completed 12 th, I want to become a pilot, At which age I will be the job?????
    After completing the training in flying school ,will I get the job directly?????
    How much the salary was in rupees????
    Plz guide me……

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 3 years ago

      Hello! Thanks for your comment. Sorry for my late reply. The flight training lasts about 2 years. So if you start soon you can become a first officer with the age of 21 like me. If you get a job directly? I am not able to tell you, but I if you put enough in your training you will be rewarded. All the best and happy landings Patrick

  13. Darshan Mer 3 years ago

    Hello sir , I’m from india. I’m currently in standard 12th , I’ve physics , chemistry , maths and mechanical maintenance as my subjects in 12th (boards). Sir I wanna ask you that what percentage I would require in 12th to get into flight school in new Zealand and also I’m very much sad with my specs of power -4 . Will I be able to clear my class 1 and 2 medical test ? At the same time I’m too much enthusiast with my dream of becoming an airline pilot..! Please guide me

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 3 years ago

      Hello Darshan, thanks for your comment. There is no special percentage you need for flight schools in Germany. Some school require A-levels, some don’t. Keep in mind the requirements of airlines and of flight school in New Zealand! I don’t know if you will pass the class 1 examination. See a doctor who can check if you will. Best of luck and happy landings! Patrick

  14. libretto40 3 years ago

    Hello Patrick,
    I aspire to become a commercial pilot. I had few questions. One is – should I pursue my B.E/ bachelor of engineering/technology) before starting my training? Second is -what is better B737 or A320 ?

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 3 years ago

      Hello ! I think it is great to have a bachelor degree before start flying. If I were you I would finish your studies and then start flight training. Maybe you have the chance with flight hours during your studies. Both are great aircraft but I always prefer Airbus since it is a European company! All the best and good luck! Patrick

  15. Author
    pilotpatrick 3 years ago

    Hallo Bartek,
    das liegt wahrscheinlich daran, dass Lufthansa und die PTN ihre Flugschule zusammen legen. Ich kann es nur empfehlen in den USA zu fliegen. Erstens ist das Wetter stabiler und es gibt sehr viele Flughäfen. Bei mir hat sich die PTN angeboten, da ich in der Nähe von Frankfurt bei meinen Eltern wohnen konnte.
    VG Patrick

  16. Raeann Reyes 3 years ago

    Hi. i’m aspiring to become a pilot and i am currently studying and i’m already 2nd year in college, but i still don’t know if i would continue to pursue my piloting dream. I’m having doubts cause i feel like i can’t make it. I’m not really good with math and all haha… Do you have any advice?

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 3 years ago

      Hello Raeann, please do not have so many doubts. You should rather think: I can make it! As long as you understand basic maths and physics you will be fine. I suggest you to finish your studies and maybe get some flight hours in the mean time. If you are able to fly a small bird you can fly a big one as well 😉

  17. Author
    pilotpatrick 3 years ago

    Hello Carmen!

    That makes me happy to hear 🙂 Yes of course it would be possible.

    If you are a European resident you do not need any permit. If you are a non European resident you need to retrieve a working permit for Germany. As far as I know you validate your licenses in the state of the first application .
    Aviation authority in Germany: Luftfahrt Bundesamt (LBA)
    For Lufthansa check their career website. But at the moment they do not hire any external pilots.

    I hope I could help. Let me know if you have further questions.

    Happy landings

  18. Jonathan Githire 3 years ago

    Hey Captain really amazing blog.
    Quick question what is your opinion on Flight Safety academy in terms of quality?

  19. joannair 3 years ago

    Hi Patrick 🙂 I’m so happy to have come across your blog at this moment of my life! It’s so helpful and inspiring! 🙂 Looking forward to any future posts and wishing you luck and many successful landings! 🙂


    • Author
      pilotpatrick 3 years ago

      Hello Joanna! Thanks a lot. Always makes me happy to hear that I can inspire people. Let me know if you have any questions! All the best to you. Happy landings Patrick

  20. basim 2 years ago

    now i am studying 12th standard and my exam are about to end by this month. i am from india. what is the next step i should take after completion of 12th standard.
    1. attend college, or
    2. attend flying schools ?

  21. Pavesh 2 years ago

    Sir your article was very helpful.can i become commercial pilot after becoming a pilot in Air Force.thnku sir.

  22. Faylinn Byrne 8 months ago

    I really appreciate you mentioning that you should go for a short test flight to be able to figure out if you want to learn how to fly. I think in general, trying something before you commit to it 100% is very good advice to take. In my opinion, anyone considering flying should already also enjoy the feeling of being feet above the ground, and being able to see the world from a different perspective.

  23. JAVIER 7 months ago

    Hi I’m impressed. I think I would like to be a commercial pilot but I have a very important question; how could I pay the school? As these are very expensive
    Please, write back soon,

  24. Nihal 3 months ago

    thank you so much for the tips. My dream is to become a pilot. I am planning to become a pilot in Germany. I have a question actually.. when u wanna join a flight school. What are the requirements? Should I do aeronautical or any degree in aviation to join a flight school?

  25. Nadirhamad 1 month ago

    Patrick how are you?? Sorry my dream to be came a commercial pilot but the fees is a big problem i tried to send for you a message in fb, instagram but nothing i beg you if you can to help me please


  1. […] a pilot I am sharing my experiences of pilot career to support and answer your questions. “How to become a pilot” is one of my most read blog post so […]

  2. […] It is the combination of a good application, perfect timing and a little bit of luck to get your dream job. For all future aviators, I have 10 tips for you when you consider attending a flight school. […]

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