Besides the doctor and the engineer, every primary school boy wants to become a pilot. But with time reality strikes them and many of them sidetrack from the ‘I want to be aircraft pilot’ ambition. However, few remain staunch not allowing anything to hamper their dreams, and this is how it should be. Piloting is a nerve-racking profession that only hardworking people can do.
The industry is a very profitable one because of the high volume of air traffic every day. $8 billion dollars worth of goods is transported by air every day. This does not exclude how much they profit from passengers. So pilots are well paid. Local pilots salary could be up to N350,000 to N800,000 monthly depending on ranks. While N1-2 million Naira are paid to an aircraft pilot working for international airline company.
To begin this remarkable career, you have to be ready for excessive learning hours and you have to be financially stable. The cost of aviation schools in Nigeria are up to N7.8 million Naira and even more abroad. If you find it too costly you can always apply for scholarships given by the airline companies. They may require that you work for them afterwards, or accrue some flight hours before they can award the scholarship to you. Flight hours is that time you have, officially logged-in flying in a plane.
1. Join An Aviation School
There are over 30 aviation schools across the country, 39 to be exact, each with its level of sophistication. The school you wish to join should be FAA approved (short for Federal Aviation Association). You will need to be at least 16-18 years old and you will be prompted to get a medical certificate. The medical certificate is available in three stages, first class, second class and a third. Obviously the first class certificate has some features that are omitted in the others because it might not be necessary to pass those additions in the first class certificate to be validated for private pilot, agricultural pilot and so on but not a commercial pilot. You need a first class medical certificate to qualify for a commercial pilot. That is those that fly passenger jets we are used to seeing up in our skies.
You will be receiving two kinds of instruction in the school. One is within the confines of a classroom and the other is the practical flight lessons in a plane. These courses usually last for only a year or two.
2. Certificates To Obtain
The certificates of aviation are obtained step by step and each has its specific purpose, below is a list of the certificates required before one becomes a full-fledged aircraft pilot
- Private Pilot Certificate: This certifies you as a recognized pilot, by obtaining this certificate you will be allowed to fly solo in a plane in Nigeria. You must be at least 17 years old to obtain this certificate.
- Instrument Rating: This is to certify that you can use the instruments alone, found in a cockpit to navigate in bad weather and such.
- Certified Flight Instructor: It is not unusual for the aviation school you are attending to hire you as a flight instructor. This might not be necessary when applying for a pilot job but it helps you gain more flight hours and experience while teaching others.
- Commercial Pilot Certificate: This is the license to become a commercial pilot flying for airline companies, known as the Air Transport Pilot (ATP). It is the highest honor in civilian aviation. Candidates must be at least 23 years old to obtain the ATP license/certificate.
- University Degree: This is not a major requirement but the aviation industry prefer hiring pilots that gained a Bachelor’s degree in a field of study that is related to aviation, or it could be any science or engineering course.
3. How Much Flight Hours You Need
To be licensed as a private pilot, you need at least 40 hours of flight training according to the FAA standards and 1500 flight hours to become an airline pilot. Although to be considered for an airline job they require around 4000 hours logged to your flying record.
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This could acquired flight school or by hiring a flight instructor from a FAA approved airport to supervise you as you fly or by becoming one yourself.
4. Apply For Aircraft Pilot Job
The grand finale act is finding a job, write an impressive resume that is appropriate for pilots and submit to any airline you wish to work. In the case of those that got there through a scholarship they may be accepted right away by the respective airline that awarded them the scholarship. And remember the more flight hours you have the more chances you will be hired, good luck pursuing your (childhood) dreams.