Did you want to become a pilot as a kid? Now that you're an adult, it's time to figure out how to land this dream job!

Pilots flying an airplane, view from behind the pilots out in front of the plane Photo by Nicolas Jossi on Unsplash

Where Can You Learn To Fly?

Aspiring pilots in Canada must go through ground school and flight school in order to pass their licensing exams and become certified.

Ground school teaches the theory behind flying (aerodynamics).

Boy writing at a desk with books (cartoon)

Flight school gives you the hands-on practical experience of flying a plane (in a flight simulator and later a real cockpit).

Person operating a heavy vehicle with levers (cartoon)


Alex is researching becoming an airline pilot. She's confused between ground school and flight school. In flight school, Alex would learn...

Physical Requirements

Pilots rely on their vision, hearing and coordination every single day so obtaining a flying license requires a medical examination from a specialized aviation medical examiner.

Doctor holding a stethoscope. Photo by Online Marketing on Unsplash

The type of medical certificate you need will depend on the license level that you're working towards.

In general, the exam will involve tests in:

  • Hearing

  • Eyesight

  • Overall mental health

  • Overall physical health

License Requirements

To work as a professional commercial airline pilot in Canada, you must obtain three licenses:

1. Private Pilot License

  • 45 hours of flight training before the written exam.

  • Allows you to fly recreationally, not professionally.

2. Commercial Pilot License

  • 200-250 hours of flight training before the written exam.

  • Allows you to be compensated for flying!

  • Typical entry-level positions with this license include medical evacuation pilot, charter air taxi pilot, forest fire detection pilot.

3. Airline Transport Pilot License

  • 1500 hours of flight training before the written exam.

  • Allows you to operate as a professional airline captain on major or regional commercial airlines.

  • The highest level of aircraft pilot certificate.

Dan Levy as David from Schitt's Creek looking stressed It takes time, passion, and dedication to work as a pilot!

What Might A Typical Day Look Like?

  • Wake up at 4am to get ready for a day of flying!

  • Get to the airport an hour before boarding to complete pre-flight checks.

  • Brief the operating crew on weather conditions, flight time, and any important info regarding your flight.

  • Perform a takeoff, communicate with air traffic control.

  • Once you've arrived at your destination, you have an hour before your next flight. Grab some lunch.

  • Perform basic cockpit instrument maneuvers.

  • Always be mentally prepared for an emergency situation.

  • At the end of the day, you're off to your hotel for the night.

Every day as a pilot is unique, but twelve-hour shifts are not uncommon!

Three pilots in uniform giving the thumbs up

You'll Love It If...

  • You love to travel and meet new people.

  • You don't mind being away from home for days or weeks at a time.

  • You enjoy taking charge (after all, you're responsible for the safety of 100+ guests in the cabin!)

Female pilot dancing in the cockpit


Four aspiring pilots have applied to flight school. Which of these would make a great fit?

Look For Another Career Path If...

  • You thrive on having a set routine (i.e. working 9-5 on Monday to Friday).

  • You want a large income right away. Higher salaries are associated with experience and tenure.

  • You don't work well under pressure (pilots are responsible for critical decision-making daily).

    Pilot looking out the window of a plane. Photo by Nicole Geri on Unsplash

Take Action

Does a career in the sky sound like the right one for you?

Airbus plane taking off from the runway If you've always loved the feeling of freedom while flying in the sky, then becoming a pilot would be a rewarding and exhilarating career path to embark on. Here are some next steps to consider:


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