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Airline Captain Career Overview

Airline Captain Career Overview

In Flight - Pilot - Airline Captain

For many professional pilots, the ultimate job is to be an airline captain. The pay can be very good; top salary at some of the higher paying major airlines is around $200,000 a year, for about 80 to 85 hours of flying per month. And benefits for pilots, as well as many other airline employees, include travel passes. But remember, the top salary level is reached only after many years of service and only at a few of the major airlines.

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Position Description

Most airline pilots start out as first officer (co-pilot) with a regional carrier; initially they earn about $15,000 to $20,000 a year. And when they join a major airline, their first position may not be as a pilot, but as a flight engineer. Considerable training is necessary for any type of pilot job, and most airline pilots have to "pay their dues" by first gaining a good deal of experience either in the military or in other types of civilian piloting. In addition to airline pilot, pilot jobs include flight instructor, corporate pilot, charter pilot, test pilot, and agricultural pilot. Many people enjoy these kinds of flying - each with its own set of challenges and rewards - and wouldn't think of trading their jobs for that of airline pilot.

While the various kinds of piloting jobs involve a variety of special circumstances, there are also a number of conditions that are common to all pilots.

All pilots flying for hire have progressed through a flight training program and have earned a commercial pilot's license or an airline transport rating. Most likely they will also have one or more advanced ratings such as instrument, multi-engine or aircraft type ratings depending upon the requirements of their particular flying jobs.

A pilot's "office" is the cockpit which contains all controls, instruments, and electronic communication and navigation equipment necessary to operate the aircraft. Some noise and vibration are noticeable, particularly in propeller aircraft.

They have a concern for safety including the safe condition or airworthiness of the plane; weather factors affecting the safety of the flight; flight regulations; air traffic control procedures, and air navigational aids designed to provide maximum safety in the air.

Pilots also have a dual responsibility. They must not only satisfy their employer, who might be an air taxi or an airline operator, but they must also demonstrate to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that their flying skills, knowledge and state of health are at all times acceptable for the particular flying jobs they perform.

They must undergo frequent physical examinations and meet certain medical standards which vary according to the license which the pilot holds. A Class I Medical Certificate requires the highest standards for vision, hearing, equilibrium, and general physical condition. The pilot must have an exceptionally good health history with no evidence of organic and nervous diseases or mental disorders. A Class II Medical Certificate is less rigid, but still requires a high degree of physical health and an excellent medical history. A Class III Medical Certificate has the least stringent physical requirements. All three classes of medical certificates allow the pilot to wear glasses provided the correction is within the prescribed limits of vision. Drug addiction and/or chronic alcoholism disqualify any applicant.

The greater the number of flying hours and the more complex the flying skills, the more varied are the opportunities for advancement as a pilot. There are many chances to transfer from one kind of pilot job to another as flying hours are accumulated and additional skills are mastered. Frequently pilots double as flight instructors and air taxi pilots, or they may also operate an aircraft repair station with flight instruction and air taxi operations as sidelines. Many good aviation and airline flight crew jobs qualify pilots for jobs with governmental agencies, such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The Airline Pilot plans each flight with the airline's flight dispatcher and meteorologist, checking weight, fuel supply, alternate destination, weather and route. The pilot also briefs the crew, checks out takeoff procedures, ascertains that the plane is operating normally before takeoff, gets takeoff clearance from the air traffic control tower, flies the plane over the designated route, lands the plane, and at the final destination files a trip report. During the time the airline pilot is aboard the aircraft, he or she supervises the work of the crew, gives instructions, and makes all decisions. The Captain is in command of the plane and is responsible for the safety of the aircraft, its passengers, crew and cargo. The aircraft flown may range from a twin-engine DC-3 on a 100-mile hop to a four-engine Boeing 747 jet crossing the ocean.

Working Conditions

By law, an airline pilot may not fly more than 85 hours a month or 1,000 hours a year. However, the average pilot works more than 100 hours a month counting ground duties such as filing flight plans, working on reports, briefing crews and attending training classes. The airline pilot spends most of the working day in the cockpit with additional time in the airline dispatcher's office and in training classrooms. Work schedules average sixteen days a month and usually provide for consecutive days off. Schedules for pilots employed by transcontinental and international airlines require pilots to spend some nights away from home. In these cases, hotel, transportation and meal expenses are paid by the airline. A flight requires considerable pilot concentration during takeoff and landing maneuvers. Automatic piloting devices free the pilot for other cockpit duties and lessen the strain of the job during cruising flight. The airline pilot is required to wear a uniform while on duty. Night flights are often required, especially for air cargo operations.

Typical Requirements and/or Experience

They must undergo frequent physical examinations and meet certain medical standards which vary according to the license which the pilot holds. A Class I Medical Certificate requires the highest standards for vision, hearing, equilibrium, and general physical condition. The pilot must have an exceptionally good health history with no evidence of organic and nervous diseases or mental disorders. A Class II Medical Certificate is less rigid, but still requires a high degree of physical health and an excellent medical history. A Class III Medical Certificate has the least stringent physical requirements. All three classes of medical certificates allow the pilot to wear glasses provided the correction is within the prescribed limits of vision. Drug addiction and/or chronic alcoholism disqualify any applicant.

Education

The greater the number of flying hours and the more complex the flying skills, the more varied are the opportunities for advancement as a pilot. There are many chances to transfer from one kind of pilot job to another as flying hours are accumulated and additional skills are mastered. Frequently pilots double as flight instructors and air taxi pilots, or they may also operate an aircraft repair station with flight instruction and air taxi operations as sidelines. Many good aviation and airline flight crew jobs qualify pilots for jobs with governmental agencies, such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Marital Status

Married and unmarried men and women, with or without children are eligible. Persons who are widowed or divorced, also are eligible.

It is the policy of most aviation companies to provide equal employment opportunity to all individuals regardless of their race, creed, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, military and veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status, or any other characteristic protected by state or federal law. Most aviation companies are strongly committed to this policy, and believe in the concept and spirit of the United States law.

Most aviation companies are committed to assuring that:

All recruiting, hiring, training, promotion, compensation, and other employment related programs are provided fairly to all persons on an equal opportunity basis without regard to race, creed, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, military and veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status or any other characteristic protected by law;

Employment decisions are based on the principles of equal opportunity and affirmative action;

All personnel actions such as compensation, benefits, transfers, training, and participation in social and recreational programs are administered without regard to race, creed, color, sex, age, national origin, disability, military and veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status or any other characteristic protected by law, and;

Employees and applicants will not be subjected to harassment, intimidation, threats, coercion or discrimination because they have exercised any right protected by law.

Most aviation companies believe in and practice equal opportunity and affirmative action. All employees are responsible for supporting the concept of equal opportunity and affirmative action and assisting the company in meeting its objectives.

Most aviation companies maintain Affirmative Action Plans for minorities, women, disabled persons and veterans.

EEOC has jurisdiction of the prohibitions against employment discrimination codified in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Titles I and V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Civil Rights Act of 1991. These laws prohibit discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age and disability.

The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) enforce the prohibitions against federal employment discrimination codified in the CSRA. The OSC will defer those bases of discrimination under EEOC's jurisdiction to the respective federal agency and its EEO process. The CSRA also prohibits employment discrimination in the federal government based on marital status, political affiliation and conduct which does not adversely affect the performance of the employee, none of which are within EEOC's jurisdiction. Moreover, the law defines ten other prohibited personnel practices in the federal government, all of which fall under the jurisdiction of the OSC and the MSPB. See Prohibited Personnel Practices at http://www.osc.gov/ppp.htm.

Additional information may also be found on the the EEOC web site located at http://www.eeoc.gov/

Wages and Benefits

The average major airline pilot earns approximately $70,000 per year while regional airline/commuter pilots average $20,000 per year as do some charter and air taxi pilots. Helicopter pilots who fly to off shore oil rigs average salaries of $30,000 per year.

These salaries vary significantly based upon the individual's age, education, work experience and flying background.

Salaries and benefits can vary. For an updated look at salaries in the aviation industry, view the Avjobs.com Salary Report.

Where the jobs are and who hires

Scheduled airline flight crews are based at major terminals on their respective airline routes. These bases are found mainly in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Detroit, Newark, Atlanta, Miami, Washington, DC, Denver, Dallas and Cleveland. Flight crew job opportunities are also available with all cargo airlines and with non-scheduled and supplemental airlines that provide charter service.

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Opportunities for Advancement

Promotion is regulated by seniority. When hired as a second officer, or co-pilot, the person is assigned the bottom position within the airline. As the second officer, co-pilots and pilots advance to larger aircraft, retire, resign or are removed from the list for other reasons, the newly hired pilot moves upward. All through the career with the airline, the earnings, route assignments and vacation time preferences are governed by seniority. Second officers or flight engineers may advance to co-pilot position within a year, but it usually takes from seven to twelve years to become a pilot or captain, depending on the size of the airline and rank on the seniority list. By law, pilots must retire when reaching age 60, but flight engineers can fly until the age of 65. All through the pilot's career he or she must lay the job on the line every six months at the time of a rigid physical exam. If unable to pass the physical, the pilot must stop flying.

Aviation plays a prominent role in our economy and new opportunities will always be available. Today, larger airports are expanding and smaller "reliever" airports are being upgraded to serve general aviation traffic being relocated from congested airports. The introduction of low cost airlines is also playing a role in creating opportunities in the industry.

To view the latest industry opportunities, become an Avjobs.com Member today! Click here to get started!

Outlook for the Future

The outlook for career opportunities for pilots and flight engineers with the airlines is directly related to airline growth. Airline growth is usually measured by an increase in traffic; i.e., an increase in passenger-miles and an increase in ton-miles of freight. This growth, of course, is directly related to the health of the national economy.

Training

Considerable training is necessary for any type of pilot job, and most airline pilots have to "pay their dues" by first gaining a good deal of experience either in the military or in other types of civilian piloting.

To locate educational facilities with programs related to this position, search Avjobs Aviation School Directory. The Avjobs Aviation School Directory makes researching and finding an aviation college, university, flight school or professional training facility simple.

Miscellaneous

Preparing a Professional Pilot Resume

It is true many major carriers do not request a resume, and during the interview process, the interviewer will refer primarily to you company application. However, a concise, error-free resume will add a professional, organized touch to your "paperwork" presentation. A resume also comes in handy if there is special information you want the interviewer to know but can find no appropriate place on the company application to list these important facts. Writing your own resume and completing company applications can be relatively "pain free" if you spend the time to collect all the information you need BEFORE beginning the writing process. This information has been provided to help you in composing both your resume and specific company applications. Sections Include: Points To Remember, Resume & Application Information/Resume Writing Examples, Resume Layout Example.

Points to remember

Resume
It is best if your resume is one page
Have your resume professionally printed
Use white or light ivory colored paper, 25lb., 100% cotton weight. Use the same paper for your resume, cover letter and reference sheet
Do not put the word "resume" on your resume.
Do not include references on your resume. References should be on a separate sheet
Do not leave employment gaps of more than 2 months
Basically list only your "adult work history." If you worked during high school or college, list your descriptions under EDUCATION and place it after the listing of your degrees and/or course work title

Example
B.S. in Aviation Management from Metropolitan State College. To assist with college and flight training expenses worked all four years as a fueler/airplane scheduler/ground instructor for local FBO
You may title your separate sections whatever you please (i.e., Work History could be Experience, Employment History, etc.). No matter what titles you choose every resume should include:
Flight Time/Certifications/Ratings, Employment History, Education
Individualized sections may include:
Specialized Training, Community Involvement, Interests, Honors/Awards
You may list your PERSONAL INFORMATION (birthdate, height/weight, etc.) but it is not necessary

Applications
It is important that your application is presented as professionally as possible. Remember, this information is YOU on paper
Unless it specifically states to "PRINT" or unless you have incredibly fine penmanship it is much easier to read if it is typed
Leave no blank spaces. If a question is not applicable to you write "N/A"
As stated earlier, the company application will be the primary information source for the interviewer. For this reason it is important to use all available space on the application to point out any special traits or experiences you may possess. Many applications ask questions such as "Is there any other information you would like us to take into consideration?" Use this space to sell yourself! For example: if there has been no place on the application to list you community involvement, or no opportunity to discuss your college scholarships or military flying awards this type of question would be the place to briefly list these facts

Resume and application information collecting & resume writing examples

Compile this information before filling out any applications or writing your resume. Check off each item after completion.

Flight time____ List specific flight time/certifications/ratings
____ List types of aircraft flown
Work history____ List ALL your work history beginning with the most recent. Include military service, company names, dates employed, job title, job duties (list in order of importance)
____ List reasons for leaving (return to school, advancement, company furlough, etc.)
____ List any awards of achievements through you employment
____ List names, addresses and phone numbers of possible references

RESUME EXAMPLE

Your job description may need only be as simple as this:


ABC Airlines- January 1984 to December 1990
Los Angeles, California
First Officer: B-737-300

Or you may need, or want, to be a bit more specific:

XYZ Flight Center(FAR Part 141 Flight School) - June 1984 to July 1987
Denver, Colorado
CFI-I: Conducted private, commercial, flight and instrument instruction

United States Air Force- January 1970 to December 1987
Los Angeles, California (final assignment)
Primary positions included Aircraft Commander, Instructor Pilot and scheduling Officer. Entered the service as a Second Lieutenant, retired as Lt. Colonel
Top Graduate of Squadron Officers School. 1986 USAF Flying Safety Award
Education & specialized training____ List all your formal education beginning with the most recent. Include Degree received and/or area of study. Name of school, city, state
____ List any awards or achievements, outstanding grade point average (GPA), scholarships or information concerning how you funded your education. Include any offices help or sports played
____ List any specialized training you have taken on your own

Resume example
Formal Education
B.A. in Aviation Management. Metropolitan State College, Denver, Colorado
Graduated with GPA of 3.5/4.0 scale. Funded entire college education and flight training through part-time employment and scholastic scholarships. Four years Ellis Scholarship Award. Two years Achievement Scholarship
(If you did not graduate) Studies in Aviation Management at Metropolitan State College - 2 1/2 years

Resume example
Specialized Training
Graduate of Mountain Flying Program and Advanced Aerobatics from ABC Aviation College, Denver, Colorado
Community involvement____ List any current or continuing volunteer experience. Volunteer title, name of volunteer organization, basic duties, awards or achievements received

Resume example
Committee Member for local Red Cross Emergency Housing. During family emergencies or natural disasters secure housing, food and clothing for those needing assistance. Volunteer of the Month - June 1988
Interests, honors or awards____ List any hobbies or interests. Be specific if you have unusually in-depth interests or interests which are applicable to flying. This section is for honors or awards which do not fit under the headings of EDUCATION, WORK HISTORY OR COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

Resume example
Ranked #4 in the state in both singles and doubles tennis 1989 and 1990
Restore antique airplanes. Restore and sell an average of 2 airplanes per year
MiscellaneousAccidents/Incidents/Violations

____ Although this information will NOT be on your resume, you will need specific information in order to complete company applications. Begin immediately to collect all the necessary paperwork

Now is the time to start collecting all your documentation

____ Update your logbooks. (No matter what your experience level major carriers want specific, clear descriptions of your flight time.)
____ Write away for your driving record, FAA records and educational transcripts
____ Your passport should be up-to-date
____ Gather all the originals of your licenses and make clear copies
____ Have your past employers and personal contacts write their letters of reference. Keep a file of all these letters
____ Make sure you are fully aware of any medical situation which could cause problems during your company physical. Have your cholesterol, blood pressure, weight, eyes and hearing checked

John Smith
1122 Anyplace Avenue
Denver, Colorado 80000
Primary Number 303/555-1212, Messages Taken at 303/555-1313 or 719/555-1414
Objective: Flight Officer

Total flight time7,985
Pilot in Command:
Turbojet:
Turboprop:
Multi-Engine:
Instructor:
xxxx
xxxx
xxxx
xxxx
xxxx
CertificationsAirline Transport Pilot: Airplane Multi-Engine Land
Commercial Privileges: Airplane Single Engine Land
Flight Instructor: Airplane Single Engine Land and Instrument
Flight Engineer Written Exam: FEB/FEJ
FAA Class 1 Medical
Experience

ABC Airways, Inc. - August 1987 to present
Boston, Massachusetts. FAR Part 121 scheduled air carrier
First Officer: CV-580

DEF Airlines, Inc. - August 1983 to June 1987 (periodic employment as needed)
Westerly, Rhode Island. FAR Part 135 scheduled commuter and charter
Captain: PA-32-300, PA-28-235

GHI Airlines, Inc.- April 1986 to October 1987
Los Angeles, California. FAR Part 135 scheduled commuter
First Officer: SA 226/227

JKL Flight, Inc. - July 1984 to March 1986
Manchester, New Hampshire. FAR Part 121/135 scheduled commuter
First Officer: SD3-60, DHC-6

MNO Aviation, Inc. - September 1981 to June 1984
Greeley, Colorado. FAR Part 141 flight school
CFI-I: Conducted commercial, flight instructor and instrument instruction

PQR Flight Center- February 1980 to September 1981
Watkins, Colorado
CFI-I: Conducted private, commercial and instrument instruction

Education
Studies in Education at The University of New Hampshire - 2 1/2 years
Graduate of the Fixed Wing Professional Pilot Program. ABC Aviation College, Los Angeles, California

References: Available upon request.
Availability:
Immediate, two weeks notice preferred.

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Airline Captain Career Overview

Airline Captain Career Overview

Airline Captain Career Overview

Airline Captain Career Overview

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