How to become a Pilot

Pilots fly various types of aircraft, including light planes, helicopters or airline aircraft, depending on the aircraft type they are approved to fly. They may transport passengers, mail and freight within Australia, internationally on scheduled airline and unscheduled charter services, or provide other aviation services as required.

Personal requirements of a Pilot

  • Good eyesight (may be corrected)
  • Able to make accurate judgments quickly and remain calm in an emergency
  • Able to use information from various sources and make decisions
  • Able to speak, write and understand English

Education & Training for a Pilot

To become a pilot you have to complete a number of licences involving practical and theoretical training. The practical component is undertaken with a qualified pilot or instructor, with flight training available from private flight training schools. You can check the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) website to find private flying schools in your area. You can also become a pilot by completing a VET qualification in aviation. As subjects and prerequisites can vary between institutions, you should contact your chosen institution for further information. Entry to this occupation may be improved if you complete a degree in aviation, aviation technology or science, majoring in aviation. To get into these courses you usually need to gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education. Prerequisite subjects, or assumed knowledge, in one or more of English, mathematics and physics are normally required. Applicants may also be required to submit an Aviation Reference Number, complete a questionnaire, attend a selection interview and obtain a Class 1 CASA Medical Certificate. Universities have different prerequisites and some have flexible entry requirements or offer external study. Contact the institutions you are interested in for more information.

Additional Information

The precise requirements (such as aeronautical experience and examinations or tests) for the issue of pilot licences are contained in the CASA regulations, which can be viewed at any licensed flying school or through the CASA website.

Duties & Tasks of a Pilot

Pilots:

  • prepare flight plans based on weather forecasts and operational information
  • make sure aircraft are properly loaded for a safe and efficient flight
  • check fuel requirements and quantities prior to flight
  • check on the maintenance status of aircraft prior to flight
  • conduct checks of flight controls, instruments and aircraft engines
  • fly aircraft according to established operating and safety procedures under a range of flight conditions, including extreme weather and emergency situations
  • provide passengers with information and weather details.

Working conditions for a Pilot

Pilots' duties vary according to the size and nature of the company they work for.

Employment Opportunities for a Pilot

There is considerable competition for all types of employment for pilots, particularly with commercial airlines. Promotions depend on experience and the licences held. To obtain employment, pilots may need to move to a major city or regional centre or be prepared to be away from home for extended periods. Major employers include commercial airline companies, agricultural services, aerial surveying services, aeromedical services such as the Royal Flying Doctor Service and government agencies such as the police, forests and national parks and Customs Coastwatch. The Australian Defence Force employs Navy Helicopter Pilots to fly front-line rotary aircraft from naval bases that are on-shore or at sea. Airlines recruit experienced commercial pilots who meet the minimum requirements direct from the general aviation industry, usually either fully qualified pilots with an Air Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) or a Commercial Pilot with ATPL theory subjects passed. Check with individual airlines for full details.

Future growth:

Moderate

Employment by state:

ACT ACT 1.6%

NSW NSW 27.1%

NT NT 3.5%

QLD QLD 27%

SA SA 6.9%

TAS TAS 0%

VIC VIC 22.3%

WA WA 11.5%

Hours worked:

35.7

Unemployment:

Average unemployment

Gender split:

Male 84.6%

Female 15.4%

Education level:

Age brackets:

15-19 - 2.1%

20-24 - 6%

25-34 - 26.5%

35-44 - 24.6%

45-54 - 27.9%

55-59 - 7.1%

60-64 - 4.8%

65 and Over - 0.9%

*The data above is sourced from the Department of Employment’s Job Outlook website.

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