Air pilots fly fixed wing aircraft and helicopters to provide air transportation and other services such as crop spraying and aerial surveying. Flight engineers assist air pilots with monitoring, troubleshooting and maintenance of aircraft systems and with pre- and post-flight inspections. Flying instructors teach flying techniques and procedures to student and licensed pilots. Air pilots, flight engineers and flight instructors are employed by airline and air freight companies, flying schools and by other public and private sector aircraft operators.
Airline pilots typically begin their careers as commercial pilots. Commercial pilots usually need a high school diploma or equivalent. Airline pilots need a bachelor’s degree. All pilots who are paid to fly must have at least a commercial pilot’s license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In addition, airline pilots must have the FAA-issued Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate.
Employment of commercial pilots is projected to grow 9 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. The number of commercial pilot jobs is projected to increase in various industries, especially in ambulance services, where pilots will be needed to transfer patients to healthcare facilities.
Pilots usually have variable work schedules, with overnight layovers that are more common for airline pilots.