What Qualifications do I need to Start Commercial Pilot Training?

What Qualifications do I need to Start Commercial Pilot Training?

Pilot training is a significant commitment because of the financial cost and time it takes to complete.

Before starting your training, we recommend thoroughly researching the role of a commercial airline pilot, what you’ll need to learn, what personal attributes make a good pilot and if you think you will be a good fit for the job.

While becoming a pilot is a dream job for many looking to take to the skies, the realities of the job are not for everyone with long working hours and time away from home during layovers.

Before you start your journey to become a commercial pilot, you may be wondering if you have the correct qualifications to start.

We’ve pulled together some of the most asked questions about what qualifications and requirements you’ll need to start your training.

If you can’t find what you’re after, please feel free to contact a member of our training team for help.


Do I need a degree to become a pilot?

While it is not uncommon for some pilot students to pursue a degree before their pilot training in order to have something to fall back on, a degree is not required to become a pilot or to start pilot training.

There are degree courses in the UK and Europe that combine pilot studies with flight training, with students finishing with a degree and a frozen ATPL. It is important to remember that tuition fees in the UK (as of February 2022) can be up to £9,250 per year, with pilot training fees in addition to tuition fees. You’ll also need to factor in the cost of living near your campus, food, utilities, transportation etc.

An example of a degree that combines studies with pilot training is UWE Bristol’s Aerospace Engineering with Pilot Studies degree, which we assist in delivering through Bristol Groundschool and the Wings Alliance.


What qualifications and requirements do I need before starting pilot training?

In order to start your pilot training, you’ll need to have the following:

  • You’ll need to be able to write, read and speak English to a certain level as English is used internationally within aviation.
  • GCSEs in Maths, English and Science would be beneficial. If you choose to apply for a university course, there may be other qualification requirements such as A-Levels.

We also recommend obtaining a Class 1 Medical certificate to ensure you are free from any underlying health conditions that would prevent you from becoming a commercial pilot.

While the following are not strict requirements for becoming a pilot, they are good personal attributes to have.

  • A good understanding of maths and physics. If you haven’t studied these subjects recently, you can take a short maths and physics course through Bristol Groundschool
  • Good communication and team-player skills
  • The ability to remain calm under pressure and be decisive


I’m ready to start my pilot training, what are my next steps?

If you haven’t already, go for a trial flight lesson at a flight school. Flying a small aircraft is very different to being a passenger on a commercial flight. You’ll be at the controls with your instructor and get a chance to see what you’ll be doing as a pilot.

At this point, you can also get your Class 1 Medical certificate. This is to ensure you are medically fit enough to become a pilot and is essential to have as any ATPL or CPL licences you obtain will not be valid without it.


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