Working as a pilot is one job where the sky isn’t the limit for your dreams and aspirations.
While you can fly your own plane, that’s going to cost you money. Getting a job as a pilot is a totally different story.
But even if you’ve been in the industry for a long time, you’ll need a compelling resume to make you stand out from other pilots applying for the same job. We are here to help you write one.
Resume objective for a pilot
Life as a pilot often appeals to those with a sense of adventure. But working as a pilot involves an enormous amount of responsibility and a high level of stress, especially for pilots of airliners that carry hundreds of passengers.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that in 2019 airline and commercial pilots, including flight engineers, held about 85,000 positions.
The situation during 2020 is a little hazy, especially since COVID-19 grounded most flights internationally. But there is still no doubt that the pay is excellent and the opportunities for pilots continue to increase, with the BLS projecting there will be 5% more jobs in the decade to 2029.
We did extensive research to ascertain how pilots structure their resumes and noted that the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) recommends a one-line objective that states, literally, what your objective is.
They advise pilots to show what they want but to keep the objective short and clear.
Other career experts suggest a short summary that is an extension of your professional title. It should summarize your skills, experience, and qualifications that are relevant to the job you are applying for.
In essence, the summary (or objective) highlights your career and shows how you will add value to the job.
Experienced commercial pilot with FAA pilot, helicopter, and medical certifications. US passport for international travel. Adaptable, adventurous, and available to perform ground and flight responsibilities.
Resume skills for a pilot
It isn’t rocket science to realize that pilots need good communication, problem-solving skills, good depth perception, and an exceptionally quick reaction time.
They also need a good, sound knowledge of on-board systems and the ability to monitor them when in flight.
Flying isn’t always plain sailing, and storms and other emergencies demand quick, urgent, and accurate action.
ZipRecruiter has identified the top three keywords that employers use in their job descriptions, particularly when they are using applicant tracking systems (ATSs).
Perhaps predictably, these are airplane experience, aircrafts, and US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification. They say that at least 50% of pilot job posts have at least one of these terms.
Other keywords they highlight are the continual improvement process, aviation, and compliance.
We checked dozens of pilot resumes and noticed that most of them follow the same track. However, as ZipRecruiter states, while employers often include PIC (pilot in command) and quality improvements in their job posts, these are seldom included in resumes.
So, if you have worked as a PIC and have been ultimately responsible for the operation and safety of the aircraft during flight, and/or have been involved in quality improvements, mention these facts to help your resume stand out to hiring managers.
Airplane experience | FAA certification | Communication | Depth perception | PIC | Problem-solving | Quick reactions | Quality improvements | Leadership | Teamwork
Pilot work experience
No pilot is going to get a job with a major airline or large commercial company unless they have substantial experience.
Generally, pilots are expected to have had at least 250 hours in flight, along with the necessary education, licensure, and certifications before they are employable. But when we scanned through job postings, we could see that major airlines generally wanted at least 4,000 hours of experience in the field.
Also, we noticed that employers often want pilots who have specific training flying a particular type of craft.
The best way to get this experience is for licensed pilots to work in the lower position of co-pilot and build up their experience that way. Alternatively, some pilots opt to get jobs in emergency services, agriculture, or other industries where they can get valuable experience.
Some opt to become flight instructors until they have logged sufficient hours to get commercial or airline jobs as pilots.
When you list your work experience, it’s a good idea to highlight any special achievements. There is no point in listing duties and responsibilities if they were exactly the same in all the jobs you have had – and the same as other pilots. Try to stick to information that will help you stand out.
Sample Work Experience
Aitken Air Service
Chief pilot, 2019 – 2020
Worked as the chief pilot flying private and charter flights. Reviewed airworthiness and equipment inspections to ensure these were current and correct.
- Conducted regular preflight inspections of the aircraft for mechanical, structural, and electrical soundness.
- Evaluated and coordinated special requests of passengers.
- Responsible for assuring that the company’s quality, safety, and security goals were met by ensuring constant compliance with the company’s safety management system.
- Earned $10,000 commission on charters I initiated.
PIlot, 2018 – 2019
Worked as a pilot for the Pilatus PC-12 traveling nationally and internationally as required. Transported corporate clients for various companies.
- Completed Pilatus PC-12 training at Simcom before officially joining the Jet Manage team.
- Frequently worked extended hours with a lack of scheduling control.
- Maintained tight schedules to get clients to business events and conferences.
- In the running for the position of captain, but just short on the 3,000 hours flying time required.
Southern Illinois University Carbondale
Assistant instructor, 2017 – 2018
Worked as a flight instructor in the SIU Carbondale’s Aviation Flight Program. Provided individual flight instruction to students who were enrolled in aviation flight courses.
- Achieved the prerequisite Certified Flight Instructor Instrument Airplane Certification (CFII) within a month of being hired.
- Undertook regular preflight and post-flight inspections.
- Maintained the training records of the more than 50 students assigned to me.
- Ensured that all the students who attended my aeronautical and aircraft systems classes graduated with FAA pilot certificates and ratings.
Airline pilots are usually required to have an associate’s or preferably a bachelor’s degree in aviation or aeronautics, though a comparable discipline like mechanical engineering or physics is sometimes acceptable to employers.
According to study.com, airlines tend to prefer applicants who have taken various liberal arts courses as well as aeronautical engineering.
Alternatively, many employers are happy to employ pilots who have been trained in the military.
According to the BLS, many commercial pilots get jobs with a high school diploma, provided they have the required flight training.
Of course, pilots also need to know how to fly and are usually taught by instructors who are certified by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA). Some flight school experience is incorporated in aviation degrees.
The FAA certifies hundreds of civilian flight schools all over the country, though not all the pilots who train via these schools intend to work as pilots. Some own their own small aircraft and fly for fun or for business reasons.
Because employers commonly want pilots to have at least 250 hours of flight experience, many of them work as flight instructors before applying for jobs as commercial pilots.
As the BLS points out, all pilots have to undergo periodic training and medical examinations every year or two.
California Aeronautical University
Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics, 2013 – 2016
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Associate of Science in Aeronautics, 2014 – 2015
The aviation industry is one of the most tightly regulated industries in the world. And, for obvious safety reasons, recurrent training is important for pilots. The philosophy is that practice makes perfect and also builds confidence.
Aviation Voice points out that airline pilots must repeat their training constantly and complete rigorous exams to ensure they maintain their existing skills and develop new ones.
According to the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), pilots and other crew members need to demonstrate competence when carrying out all procedures in normal, abnormal, and emergency situations.
So, recurrent training is carried out on the ground and in the air.
Crew or cockpit resource management (CRM) is incorporated into all appropriate phases. Apart from anything else, this reinforces the most important soft skills including communication, leadership, teamwork, and the ability to work under pressure and solve problems.
Training and checks include operator proficiency, which must be repeated every six months, as well as line checks on the aircraft and emergency and safety equipment, both of which must be repeated annually.
According to PrivateFly, a global online booking network for private jet hire, since the requirements for commercial, Part 135 pilots is considerably stricter than those for privately-managed, non-commercial Part 91 pilots, the former is expected to undertake more intense recurrent training.
- Operator proficiency
- Emergency and safety
- Line checks including pre- and post-flight procedures
It is essential for pilots to have a pilot’s license and airline certifications are often required.
Candidates for a pilot’s license (certificate) must have logged the mandatory 250 hours of flight experience and they need to have a physical examination that ensures their eyesight, hearing, and general body health is good.
Once they qualify, they have to pass a written exam that incorporates safety issues, as well as a skills test that is overseen by an FAA-certified instructor.
As the Epic Flight Academy in Florida points out, the exact specifications of the exams depend on the type of pilot license you are applying for. This, in turn, will determine the jobs you will get. They include private, commercial, airline transport, and multi-crew pilots’ licenses as well as a certified flight instructor and a multi-engine rating.
Additionally, the FAA offers certifications of various types including airworthiness and medical certifications.
Most pilot jobs require FAA Airline Transport Certification (ATP), FAA First-Class Medical Certification, and an FCC Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit. Some ask pilots to take specified psychological and intelligence tests.
The ATP Certification Training Program (CTP) applies to pilots that fly airplanes in the multi-engine category class rating.
There are three classes of airman medical certificates that identify the pilot in each class.
- FAA Airline Transport Pilot (ATP)
- FAA First-Class Medical Certification for airline transport pilots
- FAA Second-Class Medical Certification for commercial pilots, flight engineers, and flight navigators
- FAA Third-Class Medical Certification for private and recreational pilots
- FAA Flight Instructor Certification
Complete pilot resume sample
When we sampled pilot job posts we singled this one out to add to this article. We are going to use it to show you how to tailor your resume for the available position. You can adapt the process for the job of your choice.
You will see that the position is for a captain for their non-commercial, Part 91 family, and law firm operations.
However, the company is looking for a highly accomplished pilot who has considerable commercial experience internationally. This, of course, means that they want someone who has undergone the more rigorous Part 135 training.
In addition to being licensed to fly, applicants must have an FAA medical certificate.
Commercial pilot with 13 years of local and international experience and about 7,000 hours as a pilot-in-command. Eager to work as a private pilot. Flexible and adaptable. Ready to fly.
Flexible | PIC | FAA certifications | First-class medical certificate | Compliance aware | Responsive | Responsible | Communicative | Friendly | Quick reactions | Handle pressure | Leadership
Southern Airways Express, FL
Captain, 2013 – 2020
Flew Cessna Caravan and Grand Caravan aircraft on scheduled service flights in the Gulf and Mid-Atlantic Regions. Pilot-in-command of charter operations under Part 135.
- Achieved ATP certification and a commercial pilot certificate with single-engine land before the start of the job.
- Participated in the company’s Leadership Program and helped mentor 12 pilots.
- Utilized a wide range of weather, flight, and mission-planning software including FlightDeck and FalconView.
- Worked between 800 and 900 flight hours a year.
- Worked proudly in accordance with the company’s motto: “Every Passenger, every Day, on Every Flight.”
Pilot, 2011 – 2012
Undertook safe and efficient flight operations for domestic and international assignments under Part 91 and Part 135 regulations. Maintained a high degree of crew coordination.
- Greeted passengers and assisted with passenger seating and luggage storage.
- Conducted passenger briefings and responded to passenger requests and needs.
- Maintained a current FAA first-class medical certificate.
- Commended for performing duties in a professional, efficient, and cordial way.
Aviator College of Aeronautical Science & Technology, FL
Flight Instructor, 2008 – 2010
Conducted quality flight instruction required for the school’s professional pilot programs under the direction of the chief flight instructor and without any supervisory responsibilities.
- Participated in standardization training for all courses.
- Met with students and ensured that all flight lessons were completed according to the training course outline specifications.
- Checked that all endorsements were made in every student’s flight book and personal logbook.
- Pulled aircraft in and out of hangars and took responsibility for fueling.
- FAA ATP
- FAA First-Class Medical
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics, 2004 – 2007
- Operator proficiency
- Emergency and safety
- Line checks
Any job as a pilot requires responsibility and commitment which can be stressful. But the rewards for those who enjoy traveling and working on the trot are tremendous.
- A resume objective is completely optional. Some experts in the field of aviation find it unnecessary, other advice you include it. If you include it, make sure it highlights your value as a pilot.
- Training, work experience, and certifications are all important and will be deciding factors. Make sure you have what the job demands, and more, if possible, especially in terms of medical certification.
- There is a demand for pilots in both commercial and non-commercial fields. But even though the training demands are greater for commercial pilots, many employers with privately managed businesses want pilots with the same rigorous training.
Tips from Experts
“Your work experience is an important section of your résumé and one an employer will review very carefully. This segment will create the most points and usually drives the interview. It is imperative that this section show that you meet the prospective employer’s minimum requirements. It should also reflect your special talents and qualifications.“ – Kit Darby, Aviation consultant and professional pilot mentor
“Writing a pilot resume is different from writing a resume for a job in any other industry. Most of the career recommendations and resume tips that can be found online are too generic to be applied when seeking an airline industry job. The summary is the highlight of your career, and at the same time it is your value proposition to prospective employers. Flight hours is one of the most important ingredients of a powerful pilot resume.” – Roy Maclaughlin, career advice expert
“Pilot shortages is a much-discussed concern in the aviation industry – across the board. If demand grows as expected over the next 10 to 15 years, there will be a widely-predicted shortage of pilots. The pipeline of pre-trained pilots from global military forces is reducing and self-funded training is a major financial commitment – one that many can’t afford. Some sectors, including business aviation, may struggle to attract enough pilots from this dwindling pool.” – Adam Twidell, ex-RAF and private jet pilot and CEO of PrivateFly
Regardless of the experience and flying time you have logged as a pilot, you need a short but compelling resume that will help you stand out from all the other pilots who apply for the same position.
Use what you have learned in this article, but be sure to tailor it to your job. If you recognize keywords in the advert or on the company website, use these in the resume if you can.