From experience, we know that many candidates find the transition from flight school to their first relevant job as a pilot challenging. On the one hand you have achieved a significant milestone and come a long way on the journey to becoming a pilot. You have passed the comprehensive flight training and passed a variety of demanding tests, courses, and achieved the CPL (A) with all the ATPL (A) knowledge exams passed. On the other hand, you still lack some flight experience to be considered for your dream job. This is a very crucial moment in your career. Increasing flight hours and going from inexperienced to experienced pilot in a timely manner, can have a significant effect on your pilot career.
Many eager pilots in this situation write to us seeking advice on how to proceed, where to apply, and ultimately how to increase their flight experience. Therefore, we would like to give you our best tips on how to keep you airborne while searching for the dream job.
First, and most important of all, we would advise not to be too picky in the beginning of your career. Unless you have signed with a flight academy offering you a conditional job offer and career path, like OSM Aviation Academy with their concept of creating airline ready pilots, your first job might not be with one of the major airlines right after graduating. You can however do a lot to ensure that you are on the right track of getting there.
While basically any job that gets you flying is better than waiting too long for the right opportunity to come, it is preferable to get experienced on relevant aircrafts, not only fly small piston aircrafts. For an example, seek out job opportunities with attractive type-rating possibilities on the B737 or A320, for example. If that entails to move further away from home, in order to attain these type-ratings, this is one sacrifice you should be willing to make in the beginning of your career. In the spirit of taking the job where you can get it, you can for example have a look at what possibilities you have as a commercial pilot in Turkey, the Middle East, Africa or China? In the end, working abroad for a while can ultimately increase your chances of getting the dream job at the preferred location at a later point in your career.
If that is not for you, you might find it more attractive to increase your flight experience by working as a Flight Instructor. Flight instructors are in high demand and many flight schools all over the world are continuously looking for competent flight instructors to pass on their knowledge to the future generation of pilots. The best thing is, that you will not only have the possibility to share your passion and knowledge for aviation, you will also be able to expand your leadership capabilities and improve your communication skills. These are attractive and sought-after skills many airlines value greatly and require, and thus can be very useful when applying for a job.
In conclusion, our best advice is to not play “hard to get” at the beginning of your career. A pilot license alone is not enough and the value of it increases or decreases, depending on the flight experience that follows your initial training. If you manage to continuously build your record and take one step at a time, your prospects of getting your dream job are very good, since there will always be a pilot shortage of experienced pilots.