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Aircraft Pilots

Aircraft pilots are highly trained professionals who fly airplanes and helicopters to carry out a wide variety of tasks. Although most pilots transport passengers, cargo, and mail, others dust crops, spread seed for reforestation, test aircraft, direct firefighting efforts, track criminals, monitor traffic, rescue and evacuate injured persons, and take aerial photographs. Helicopter pilots are involved in firefighting, police work, rescue, construction, and various other operations.

Entry Requirements

All aircraft pilots who are paid to transport passengers or cargo must have a commercial pilot’s license with an instrument rating issued by the FAA. Applicants must have 250 hours of flight experience. Airline pilots must have an airline transport pilot’s license. Applicants must have 1500 hours of flying experience, including night and instrument flying, and must pass FAA written and flight examinations. Most pilots have a college degree. The armed forces is an important source of trained pilots for civilian jobs. Those without armed forces training may become pilots through flight schools. The FAA has certified about 600 civilian flying schools.

Average salary is $99,500 a year.

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