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Home > News > Make 2019 the year you become a professional pilot

British Airways Cadet Programme 2018

So 2019 is the year you’re going to set out on a new career as a commercial pilot. Whether you’re in the final year of school, finishing uni, or looking for a change from your current career, it’s a good idea to put together a personal career plan to make it happen.

That’s easy to say, harder to do, so first you need to gather information and the best place to do that is at one of the Pilot Careers Live events that Seager Publishing, publisher of FLYER, stages. These events bring together many of the Approved Training Organisations (ATOs), ie flight schools, that offer commercial pilot training.

At PCL shows, you’ll be able to talk directly to the ATOs, to their instructors and also to current and former cadet pilots. They’ll be able to answer your questions and give you a first-hand idea of what’s involved in becoming a professional pilot.

We also stage seminars during the PCL events with industry experts speaking on key subjects – qualifications, personal qualities, finance, timescales, job prospects – all the things that really matter.

Three things you really have to do early in the process.

First, find out if you can pass the Class 1 medical examination. The initial Class 1 medical has to take place at an Aeromedical Centre which you can find through the CAA website: www.caa.co.uk/medical

Put simply, no Class 1 medical, no career as a professional pilot so find out straightaway.

Second, find out whether you really like flying! It may sound obvious but if you’ve never flown in a light aircraft before, book an hour’s trial lesson/flight experience at a local flying school. You can also try a virtual flight in a real airliner simulator.

Third, be prepared for the interview and aptitude tests. Most of the ATOs will put potential cadet pilots through a series of tests, often the COMPASS test, to find out whether they are suitable. They don’t want to waste a lot of time and effort attempting to train someone who clearly isn’t suited, and they don’t want you to spend of money finding out.

But you can prepare. You need to be good at basic maths, there’s quite a bit of science in the theoretical knowledge, and you need to be able to communicate effectively with others (no, shouting is not considered effective!). So, sharpen up your maths and science, be clearer in your comms.

What next? As well as attending PCL events, go along to open days run by the ATOs. You’ll get an idea of their facilities, the people and the company philosophy.

One key question to be faced at an early stage is whether to train via the Integrated (full-time) or Modular (in stages) route. That may come down to cost, with Modular courses generally being less expensive and you can work in between each stage.

How to pay for training is an issue. If you’re one of the lucky ones who has the money available, great. Most though have to either borrow, or take advantage of a bond if one is on offer (effectively a loan from the airline), or work while you train.

There are stories on the Pilot Careers website of all the common methods of training and paying for it, many inspirational.

Of course, there’s always the military option where your training is paid for by HM Government – and first-rate training it is too. Ex-military pilots are sought after when they return to civvy street, not only for their flying skills and experience but also because they’ve worked in teams and are excellent at communications and managing situations.

Finally, sign up to the Pilot Careers Newsletter and visit www.pilotcareernews.com frequently!