How to Become a Pilot: A Step-by-step Guide

March 6, 2023
how to become a pilot

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 A pilot’s life is full of adventure. Becoming a commercial pilot is rewarding and exciting but requires hard work and dedication. It is a career that has grown in popularity and is now more achievable than ever before. We have answered all your queries about how to become a pilot.

As per statista, the DGCA issued about 863 commercial pilot licenses in 2021 alone, as compared to 639 in 2020 alone. This shows that there has been a steady growth in the increasing demand for pilots. Becoming a pilot involves a few steps, such as obtaining a pilot’s license, completing ground school, and logging flight time.

To become a pilot, you must possess the physical and mental abilities to handle the pressures of flying and a strong knowledge of aviation regulations. This guide will provide an overview of the steps needed to become a pilot, from the initial licensing process to gaining the experience necessary to become a professional pilot.

Pilot Job Description

A pilot is a person who is equipped with exceptional knowledge about various aircraft and air vehicles, along with the skills to operate and run them. They fly airplanes carrying passengers commercially or as a private jet pilot. A pilot can also join the defence forces and protect the nation from air attacks. Pilots, also called aviators, are licensed by established bodies that qualify an individual to fly airplanes.

Duties of a pilot include:

  • Pre-flight preparation and planning, including checking weather reports and flight plans.
  • Controlling and operating the aircraft during flight, including steering, speed and altitude.
  • Communicating with air traffic controllers and other aircraft in the air.
  • Monitoring and responding to aircraft systems, including fuel, navigation and engine performance.
  • Maintaining and troubleshooting aircraft equipment.
  • Landing and taking off, including taxiing and docking the aircraft.
  • Preparing and filing flight logs and other paperwork.
  • Ensuring passengers and crew safety and comfort.

Types of Pilots in India

The following table summarizes the different types of pilots, their eligibility, and the qualifications needed.

Type of Pilot  Airline Transport PilotPrivate PilotCommercial PilotSports PilotFlight Instructors
AboutAn airline transport pilot is a pilot who acts as pilot in command.     The Certification for ATP pilot allows you to take command for any aircraft carrying passenger or cargo.Private Pilot is a type of pilot who flies private air vehicles.   These pilots are not allowed to fly plane for job earning.  Commercial Pilots are certified to fly planes carrying cargo and passengers.   They also perform other duties like aerial surveying, search and rescue operations.Sports pilots are the ones who are certified and allowed to fly light aircrafts and at low altitudes.Flight Instructors are the professionals who train new pilots and help veteran pilots during the flight.
EligibilityCandidate should be of 23 years old with good eye sight, physical and mental health.Candidate should be 15 years during enrolment and have complete High School (10) education.Candidate should be of 17 years age, have passed 12th with 50% aggregate marks.Candidate should be of 17 years age, should be able to speak, write and read English.Candidate should be of 17 years age and have passed 12th grade with 50% marks.
QualificationGraduates from any degree programme can apply for ATP pilot course.After completing 10th and have to clear AME CET to get admission in top aviation institute.Have passed 12th with Physics, Chemistry, and Maths as main subject in 12th. And should have 3 years Engineering Diploma to gain further pilot qualification.There are no set qualification requirements. You can apply after passing 12th.Candidate should have Physics and Maths in 12th grade.
Course Duration2 YearsDuration to complete course is 6 to 8 months.3-9 moths of course duration, which can extend up to 36 months, with all the exams and training. 200 flying hours included20-40 hours of flight training, ground training and then passing the written exam.6-8 years of course duration to gain Private Pilot Licence.
Average IncomeAverage Salary of Airline Transport Pilot is 3 LPA.Average Income of Private Pilot is 6 LPA.Average Income of Commercial Pilot in India is 1 LPA.Like Private Pilots, Sports Pilot earn from clients hiring them.Average Salary of Flight Instructor is 9 LPA

How To Become a Pilot in India?

If you are an aspiring pilot wondering how to become a pilot in India, here’s how you can start your journey.

Do Research to Choose Path

In India there are two main routes to become a pilot. The first one is through civil aviation and another is Indian Defence Forces. You have to decide which one to choose, through civil aviation you can choose to become commercial pilot and with Defence Forces you will become air force pilot. Conduct in-depth research and then make decision.

Get Trained

After you have chosen your path, you need to get trained. If you choose to become Civil Aviation Pilot then you need to search and apply to one of the flying schools in India. These schools not only train students to fly planes but also equip them with theoretical aspects of the pilot qualification. And if you choose Indian Defence Forces, then they will train you to fly fighter planes and provide all air defence knowledge.

Get Flying Experience

According to DGCA rules to get the licence, pilots need to log a certain hour of flying experience to get the licence. Moreover, the number of flying experiences determines which type of pilot licence you are eligible to get. There are various licenses that the civil aviation authority issues, depending upon the candidate’s flying experience and pilot qualification. Some of the many licenses are-

  • Private Pilot License (PPL)
  • Commercial Pilot License (CPL)
  • Airline Transport Pilot License (ATP)
  • Multi-crew Pilot License (MPL)
  • Commercial Multi-Engine Land (CMEL)
  • Certified Flight Instructor (CFL)

Apply for Licence

After you have completed your training of Civil Aviation Pilot you can apply for your licence from DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation). To get the licence of Civil Aviation Pilot you need to complete the minimum flying hours experience as per DGCA rules and based on experience you will be given licence.

And if you train under Indian Defence Forces, then you will be given free defence licence after they train you. However, remember this, that you will only get you licence from the Civil Aviation or Indian Defence Forces only after clearing their written exams.

Complete Exams and Additional Training

Even after getting the pilot’s licence, you need to take additional training and give tests on your psychological and aptitude level before getting hired by any airline company. This is part of the hiring process to check Pilot qualifications and abilities.

Gain More Experience

To advance in your career from pilot to captain, you need to gain a lot of experience. Other than that, you also need to clear FAA written exams and practical training program to get more positive reviews, which will give weightage to your credentials.

Courses To Become a Pilot in India

Becoming a Pilot requires you to be well-equipped and well-trained. Subsequently, there are a few courses that you can undertake to start your training as a pilot.

You can do courses after passing 12th or after completing your graduation. Here are some of the courses that you can do to become a pilot.

Pilot Courses After 12th

After acquiring your school education, you must be thinking how to become a pilot after 12th. So here are some courses you can choose to do so.

1. B.Sc. (Bachelor of Science) Aviation

If you are wondering how to become a pilot in India after the 12th, then this bachelor’s programme is one of the best choices for you. This bachelor’s degree prepares students to become a pilot. It is a 3-year course covering meteorology, engines, air regulation, navigation, and aircraft engineering. The eligibility criteria to enrol for this course is that the students must have physics, chemistry and mathematics (PCM) in their 10+2 studies.

2. B.Sc. (Bachelor of Science) Aeronautical Science

This is a specialist pilot course that blends engineering concepts with aeronautical science. It helps to supplement pilots with the focus study of this course being-

  • Laws of Motion
  • Designing and developing aircraft
  • Air and objects in airspace
  • Working and maintenance of aircraft

Read further: Aeronautical Engineering – A Complete Guide

3. B.Sc. (Bachelor of Science) Aerospace Engineering

B.Sc. in Aerospace Engineering is an important pilot qualification course, focused on operations associated with the aerospace industry. It covers the avionics systems of aircraft, flight control and deck design, airline operations and support, and the environmental effects of aviation, i.e., noise and climate.

4. Diploma in Pilot Training

Diploma in Pilot Training is 18 months course which trains students to become commercial pilots. During this course duration, students will be taught and trained to command single-pilot aircraft or as co-pilot. This course can be done after completing 10+2 education.

Pilot Courses After Graduation

If you have completed you bachelor’s courses of becoming pilot, but want to gain more in-depth knowledge about this field. Then you can opt for these courses after completing your graduation.

1. MBA in Aviation

Master of Business Administration in Aviation is a 2-year degree in management that covers various aspects of the aviation industry like-Operations management, Resource management, Financial accounting and forecasting. Also, this course covers core business attributes applicable to aviation-oriented topics with theoretical and practical knowledge for the proper management of companies and airports.

2. M.Sc. in Aviation

This program is designed for those with a related degree or work experience in aviation to increase their knowledge and abilities in related areas. This program offers specialties in aeronautical engineering and aviation management.

3. M.Sc. (Master of Science) Aeronautical Science

This is an advanced-level master’s degree that combines engineering studies with aviation topics that supplement a pilot’s work by handling the design, maintenance, and operation of the most important sky-bound transport system.

4. M.Eng. (Master of Engineering) Aeronautical Engineering

M.Eng. in Aeronautical Engineering specializes in the design, construction, development, operation, testing and maintenance of commercial and military air vehicles, spacecraft, satellites and missiles. It also involves the study of propulsion systems, aerodynamic performance, construction materials and specifications of an aircraft.

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Skills Required To Become a Pilot

Now that you know how to become a pilot in India, you need to know about soft skills, other than flying experience to become a successful pilot.


A pilot is in charge of the flight throughout the journey, filled with various situations that cannot practically be covered completely by any educational degree. In such situations, the leadership qualities of a pilot come into the picture and take control of the situation to subdue it. Ultimately, the safety of the passengers is the responsibility of the pilot.


A pilot is in continuous contact with the airport it is taking off from and will land in.  It is very important for the pilot to communicate with the civil aviation authorities of the airports about the details of their journey. Also, a pilot has to communicate with the passengers and the cabin crew on board.

Attention to Detail

A flight journey is filled with small yet significant details like air speed, air pressure, geographical attributes, etc. Therefore, it is important for the pilot to connect all the dots as nature is unpredictable, and variations in natural factors can affect the safety of the flight and the lives on board.

Knowledge of Maths, Physics and Geography

It is imperative that a pilot has to have a great deal of knowledge of these subjects, as they are a crucial part of the pilot qualification. Mathematics and physics will help the pilot to analyze the vehicle specifications and calculations. Geography is important to understand the directions and various anomalies that occur while the flight is in the air in the pursuit of the journey. Thus, intelligence in these subjects is an important pilot qualification.


A pilot is often faced with a situation where strong and prompt decision-making is required. There is not enough time to discuss it with people on the ground or, for that matter, even discuss it with the co-pilot or other people on board. In such moments, the pilots have to ace the art of making the right decisions and making them quick.

AFCAT Exam for Pilots

The Air Force Common Admission Test (AFCAT) is a defence exam conducted by the Indian Air force for the selection of Class-1 Gazetted Officers in Flying and Ground Duties (Technical and Non-Technical). The AFCAT exam is held twice a year, in February and August/September.

Its applications are available in June and December. Candidates can apply for all three branches of the IAF through AFCAT, which are the Flying Branch, the Technical Branch, and the Ground Duty Branch. Although, different branches have different eligibility requirements.

Read more-

Salary of a Pilot in India

A professional pilot falls under one of the highest-paying jobs in India. The salary of pilot in India depends on the level of their flying hours experience and their track record as pilot.

Experience LevelSalary (Per Annum)
0-1 year₹1 LPA
2-3 years₹8 LPA
15+years₹24 LPA

Source: Ambitionbox

Your Career as a Pilot

Flying in the limitless sky is everyone’s dream, and when you can a career out of this dream there is nothing exciting more than that. Choosing the career path as a pilot can be highly beneficial for you. Not only is being a pilot an exciting job but a well-paying option as well.

There are several perks of choosing pilot as your career, like:

  1. Traveling the world – By flying an aircraft as an aviator, one can fly domestic and international airplanes.
  2. Unbeatable view – By flying 35,000 feet above ground level, the experience is enriching.
  3. Travel discounts for friends and family are one of the most attractive perks of being a pilot.
  4. Job satisfaction – Flying is usually the most desired and loved aspect of an aspirant, and the salary that the airline companies pay is very high. Thus, the job satisfaction of a pilot is unmatched.
  5. Meeting and interacting with people of diverse cultures. Pilots do not interact with the same people repeatedly when they fly. every journey is a new and learning experience for the pilot.
  6. Career Growth: You might start as a student pilot or co-pilot, but with experience and excellent flying records you can become a pilot.

Explore more career options.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What qualifications do you need to be a pilot?

A. The qualifications required to become a pilot are-
1. 21 years of age
2. Medical examination, including fitness, hearing, and sight
3. Bachelor’s degree
4. Training
5. Soft Skills such as leadership, communication, attention to detail, and decision-making.

Q. What should I do after the 12th to become a pilot?

A. One can pursue various bachelor’s degrees as per their area of interest in the aviation sector. If the goal is to become a pilot, mandatory training programs and flying periods are required to obtain a commercial pilot license. This is how to be a pilot in India.

Q. How long does it become to be a pilot?

A. There is no specific time that it takes to become a pilot. It is on the candidate how fast they get an opportunity to complete the required educational and flight training. The civil aviation authority issues a commercial pilot license after completing the required prerequisites and passing the medical examination. After that, aviation companies hire you as a captain for their aircraft.

Q. Is it difficult to become a pilot?

A. It is not very difficult to become a pilot. There are some basic attributes to becoming a pilot which must be fulfilled. Suppose someone has a hearing or vision disorder. In that case, it will be more beneficial for the individual to study other aspects of the aviation industry rather than aspiring to become a pilot. Otherwise, with a significant amount of education and training, it will be easy for an individual to join the aviation industry.

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