Is It Hard To Be A Pilot? – The Surprising Truth

By Pilot Institute
Posted on November 1, 2022 - 7 minute read

There is a common misconception that being a pilot is an easy job. People think that all you have to do is show up and fly the plane. The truth is, being a pilot is a challenging, but rewarding, career. Pilots face many challenges on a daily basis that aren’t immediately obvious, from dealing with difficult passengers to ensuring their aircraft is on time and in working order.

In order to become a pilot, you must be willing to put in years of hard work and dedication. Is it worth the challenge? This article will provide an unbiased look at the aviation industry and flying as a career from my experience as a professional pilot.

The Lifestyle of a Professional Pilot

The lifestyle of a professional pilot can be quite challenging. Pilots often have to work long hours and are often away from home for extended periods of time. However, pilots also enjoy many benefits, such as flexible schedules, dedicated time off, and an above-average income at the airline level.

Pilots typically work between 50 and 75 hours a week. They may fly for several hours at a time or be on call and must be ready to fly on short-notice, typically due to a staff shortage. Pilots also have to spend a significant amount of time training every year, both in the classroom and the cockpit. This includes flight reviews, which are usually bi-annual.

Many pilots are away from home for weeks or even months at a time, depending on the type of operation they are involved in. They often stay in hotels near the airport and frequently eat out at restaurants. The airline usually provides an allowance to fund their food and travel. Although the lifestyle can be hectic, it is also rewarding and exciting.

Pilots earn a good wage, and they are typically in high demand in the United States. While the airline industry is susceptible to market fluctuations due to tight profit margins, the demand for pilots continues to increase, particularly in the US, Europe, and China. In addition, pilots can expect to receive excellent benefits, including retirement plans and medical insurance.

There is a mandatory retirement age for commercial airline pilots of 65 years. This may, however, be extended in the future as medical treatments become more advanced.

Overall, the lifestyle of a professional pilot is both challenging and rewarding. If you are willing to put in the hard work necessary to become a pilot, don’t expect a traditional family life, and keep your health in good check, you can expect a bright future in this exciting field.

The Benefits of Becoming a Pilot


There are many benefits to becoming a pilot. Pilots earn high salaries, have flexible schedules, and can travel the world. Let’s look at a few of the best reasons to enter a career in aviation.

Increasing Demand

The demand for pilots is high and increasing. If you are able to obtain an FAA or EASA (European) license, your qualification, with the right experience, will be in high demand. This will allow you to take advantage of opportunities to work for airlines and various types of flight operations all around the world. Pilots can also work for private, charter, and cargo companies.

Ability to Travel

Pilots have the opportunity to see the world from a different perspective. They get to travel to foreign countries and see different cultures, and they also get to experience different weather conditions and views from the sky. This is a unique perspective that most people do not get to experience.

Good Working Relationships

Pilots also have the opportunity to work with different types of people. They work with passengers, air traffic controllers, cabin crew, and other pilots. Cabin crew and pilots are often a mix of different nationalities, making for an exciting work environment. This is an excellent opportunity to network and build relationships with people from all over the world.

Additionally, there is a great deal of teamwork involved in aviation – this is not your average office workplace. Pilots and cabin crew generally travel together and stay at the same hotels, often for days or sometimes even weeks at a time. Because of this, flight crew often develop strong working relationships and even long-term friendships.

The Challenges of Being a Pilot

Becoming a commercial pilot is not an easy task, and being an airline pilot presents unique challenges that are important to consider before committing a significant amount of time, money, and effort to make aviation your career.

It takes years, thousands of dollars, and a lot of effort to become certified and experienced enough to fly multi-million dollar aircraft. It’s only once you’ve obtained your Commercial Pilot License that the real challenge begins, however.

Challenging Career Path

The aviation industry is often glamorized to the point where young high school graduates are convinced that they will be in the front seat of an airliner in less than three years. The truth is that you will likely spend the first few years of your career (after spending thousands of dollars to obtain your Commercial Pilot License) flying small aircraft for a low salary. Most airlines require 1,500 hours of experience before even considering a candidate. This can take several years to obtain, depending on the type of job you get initially.

There are ways to fast-track your career, however, and no airline has the exact same hiring standards or process. For example, obtaining experience in turbine aircraft can be a great way to compensate for a lack of hours. Another great way to get into an airline is through a cadet program, effectively a train-to-hire program. This will allow you to receive training funded by the airline in exchange for an agreement to work for an airline for a specified amount of time. Despite this, you will still spend a significant amount of time as a junior pilot as you build experience within the airline.


The cost of flight training can be significant. It will cost around $100,000 to become a commercial pilot. Keeping the price tag in mind, it is important to do your research and find a reputable school that offers good value.

There are ways to reduce the cost of flight training. For example, you can find a school that offers scholarships or payment plans. You can also find a flight school that is willing to provide you with a discounted or deferred training rate if you agree to work there as an instructor when you obtain your license.


Pilots have to deal with challenges on a daily basis. They must be able to deal with bad weather, mechanical problems, and other potential hazards. Pilots also have to be able to stay calm in stressful situations.

The lifestyle of a pilot can be very demanding. Pilots often have to travel for long periods of time, which can be difficult for families. Additionally, pilots have to deal with shift work, as they may be working at odd hours.

How Much Does a Pilot Make?

Pilots earn a good salary, but it is not as high as some people may think. Entry-level pilots typically start out making around $30,000 per year. With experience, pilots can make up to $200,000 per year.

There are ways to make over $400,000 per year with enough experience. Pilots with decades of experience have the opportunity to fly for foreign airlines or cargo companies that are willing to pay better than their US counterparts. This becomes particularly relevant if you are a training captain (i.e., airline pilot instructor).

It is important to remember that the hours that pilots work can be difficult, and the lifestyle can be demanding. Therefore, financial compensation should not be the only factor considered when deciding if becoming a pilot is the right choice for you.

Is It Worth the Challenge?


Becoming a pilot is a challenging task, but it can be very rewarding. Pilots get to see the world, travel to different places, and help people safely reach their destinations. If you are willing to put in the time and effort, becoming a pilot can be a great career choice.

Aviation can be a very rewarding career, but it is essential to enter into it for the right reasons. When considering an aviation career, it is important to remember that it is not an easy field to break into. There are many challenges that pilots face on a daily basis, and it can be difficult to obtain the experience required to become a pilot with most airlines.

It is also important to keep the lifestyle of a pilot in perspective. The financial compensation is good, but it should not be the only factor considered when deciding if becoming a pilot is the right choice for you.

Finally, the aviation industry is glamorized, and being a commercial pilot is a high-status career. There is nothing wrong with enjoying admiration and intrigue from strangers, but keeping yourself humble and professional is important. Aviation is an industry that requires a high level of competence, and individuals who enter aviation for the status are quickly weeded out during the difficulties of flight training.


When it comes to aviation, there is no other career quite like it. It can be very rewarding to fly for an airline.

However, becoming a pilot is not an easy task. There are many challenges that pilots face on a daily basis, and it can be difficult to obtain the experience required to become a pilot with most airlines.

It is also important to keep the lifestyle of a pilot in perspective. The financial compensation is good, but it should not be the only factor considered when deciding if becoming a pilot is the right choice for you. Aviation can be a very demanding career, and individuals who enter aviation for the wrong reasons often find themselves struggling during flight training.

Finally, while aviation may seem glamorous from the outside, it is important to remember that being a commercial pilot requires hard work and professionalism.

Are you willing to put in the effort, understand the lifestyle, and aren’t chasing money or status? Then what are you waiting for? Become a pilot!

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