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Home > Blog > How To Start A Career In Aviation

How to start a career in aviation

Posted 11 Oct 2022

How to start a career in aviation

If you have decided to commit to a career in aviation, then there is good news for you! The process, while a little long, is doable and you will have a smooth experience so long as you are aware of the necessary procedures and required documentation.

There are few careers as exciting and rewarding as one in aviation. Flying an aeroplane is a thrilling experience and one that is bound to leave you with many great stories to tell. Many dream of flying aeroplanes in a professional capacity. After all, who wouldn’t like to fly across the world and travel to so many different places without having to go through the hassle of commercial flight booking?

For those who love to travel the world and enjoy exciting places and views, few careers will be as satisfactory as that of flying. While it is a dream of many to become a pilot, few actually make the commitment to go through the required training. While it may seem overwhelming from the outside, which is something that dissuades many from pursuing their passion for flying, it isn’t as daunting as many believe it to me.

So long as you’re passionate about aviation and are willing to put in the work required to build a successful career in the business, you will be good to go.

Becoming a pilot is a wonderful career option, and while it is exceedingly rewarding, it does require a certain amount of financial and personal investment. Just as you would not be allowed to become a driver without first mastering the art of driving a motor car, you cannot be allowed to climb into the cockpit of an aeroplane and take off without the necessary tools and understanding.

If you have decided to commit to a career in aviation, then there is good news for you! The process, while a little long, is doable and you will have a smooth experience so long as you are aware of the necessary procedures and required documentation.

In order to help budding pilots ease their anxieties about their chosen career or to help give an extra nudge in the direction of a flying career to those still on the fence about it, this article lists down everything you need to know about starting a career in aviation.



Before making any financial commitments or signing up for training sessions, it is important to know whether flying is the right career for you. While wonderful and thrilling, being a pilot really isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, at least professionally.

The job market for pilots is fairly competitive, and you must stay on top of your aviation game in order to ensure that good opportunities find their way to you. For this to happen, you must make sure that you are passionate about flying.

You may enjoy taking a fun flight every now and then to de-stress, but a career as a pilot is demanding and may take a toll on you if you get into it unprepared. You get to travel the world, but not always according to your own schedule.

Airline pilots, as well as those in the Royal Air Force, spend a significant amount of time away from their families, so you must be certain that you are prepared to commit. On the bright side, once you have made certain that you love flying and would like to spend a large part of your life up in the air, you will be pleased to know that few careers come close to the kind of excitement and reward there is in being a pilot.

If you are still unsure about whether an aviation career is right for you, it may be time to test your love of flying. In order to do this, you can simply sign up for a trial flight at a flying club such as Sherburn Aero Club.

Trial flights do not have any licence requirement, allowing you to pay a small fee in exchange for piloting an aircraft with the assistance of a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI). You really can’t be sure about your love of flying until you try it once, and there is no better opportunity to do so than through a trial flight.



The primary difference between commercial and private aviation is that while you can fly for monetary compensation when it comes to the former, that is not the case for the latter. To get any kind of job flying an aircraft, which includes jobs as airline pilots, transport pilots, as well as Certified Flight Instructors, you will have to apply for a commercial licence.

Since commercial licenses have more stringent requirements and require more flight hours, it is a good idea to opt first for a Private Pilot Licence (PPL) and then eventually graduate to the Commercial licence when you have the needed amount of training.

When it comes to private licences, they are best suited to hobbyists who do not wish to pursue aviation in a professional capacity. This type of licence is perfect for those who wish only to travel on their licence without actually getting a job as a pilot, as well as for hobbyists who enjoy building and flying their own experimental aircraft.



There are various types of pilot licences within the two main categories. It is important to know what your needs are as a pilot so that you know which certification to work towards.

For private pilots and hobbyists, there are two main types of licences. These are the Private Pilot Licence and the Light Aircraft Pilot Licence. Knowing what, where and how you will be flying is necessary to understand which type of private licence is best for you.


Private Pilot Licence (PPL)

The Private Pilot Licence is often the licence of choice for most hobbyists and general aviation flyers, and for good reason. The PPL is a diverse and customisable licence that can allow private pilots to fly all over the world in a variety of aircraft.

The basic PPL, acquired after 45 hours of training in total, ten hours out of which must be of solo flight unaccompanied by a Certified Flight Instructor, allows pilots to fly within the borders of the United Kingdom in single-engine aeroplanes.

If you wish to fly outside of the UK, you can simply upgrade your basic PPL to part-FCL, which allows you to fly into the neighbouring European Union regions. You can also add ratings, such as the Multi-engine Piston rating to your PPL if you wish to fly larger, more complex aircraft with more than one engine.

In order to get the PPL, the applicant must also clear a series of nine theoretical exams with a minimum score of 75%, and they should also present a valid Class 2 medical certificate to qualify for the licence.


Light Aircraft Pilot Licence (LAPL)

If you are looking for a licence that can be acquired after fewer hours of training and you are content with flying within the borders of the United Kingdom in a smaller aircraft, the Light Aircraft Pilot Licence is perfect for you.

This licence also has a lower minimum age requirement, with the applicant only having to be 17 years of age, whereas they have to be 18 or over in order to qualify for the PPL. The LAPL applicant must show a total of at least 12 hours of flight time.

However, keep in mind that this is a national licence and is not valid outside of the UK. In order to be able to fly outside of the country, you will have to upgrade to the PPL and then further.



 Commercial pilots will need to apply for a commercial licence. There are a few different types of commercial licences out there, and knowing what your career goals are can help you figure out which one is right for you.


Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL)

The entry-level commercial licence is the Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL). Much like the PPL, the CPL is the licence of choice for those looking for a diverse and customisable licence. Upon acquisition, the pilot can fly within the borders of the United Kingdom in a single-engine light aircraft. To qualify to fly outside of the UK in more complex aircraft, further ratings will have to be added on top of the CPL.

The CPL has a minimum training requirement of 200 hours, which is quite a jump from the 45 needed for the PPL. This is because the CPL allows pilots to fly in a professional capacity, and thus they must demonstrate more skill in precision when it comes to aviation.

To qualify for the CPL, the applicant must also clear a series of theoretical exams, which test subjects including Air law, Aircraft general knowledge - airframe/systems/powerplant, Aircraft general knowledge - instrumentation, Mass and Balance, Performance, Flight planning and monitoring, Human Performance, Meteorology, General navigation, Radio navigation, Operational procedures, Principles of flight, Visual flight rules (VFR) communications.

In addition to this, the applicant must also have a valid Class 1 medical certificate to ensure that they are physically and mentally fit to fly. 


Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL)

If a pilot is sure about wanting to pursue a career with an airline, then the Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) is a great option. The ATPL takes all the basics of a Commercial Pilot Licence along with an added component of multi-crew training towards the end.

Once your training is complete, you will be awarded the fATPL, which is the frozen Airline Transport Pilot Licence. This can be unfrozen after the pilot has acquired a total of 1500 hours of flight time. This licence is relatively harder to obtain given its specialised nature, but once you have it, you can fly an aeroplane with nine or more passengers on board.

 The ATPL is a great option for those who want to pursue a career as an airline pilot and do not want to waste time acquiring other licences first.

Multi-crew Pilot Licence (MPL)

 If you have a dream airline that you want to work with, you may want to sign up for training for an MPL. This is airline specific and bypasses much of the single-engine training that is part of the CPL process.

This licence comes with an employment guarantee towards the end and is a great option if you are focused on a certain employer. However, keep in mind that you will have to attain additional training and ratings if you wish to fly a single-engine aircraft.



 In order to be able to fly an aeroplane, you must be declared physically and mentally fit to do so. Otherwise, you can be a threat to yourself and those on the ground.

To obtain the Class 1 or 2 medical certificates, you will have to get an appointment with a licenced medical examiner such as the in-house doctor at Sherburn Aero Club who will then evaluate your health to ensure that you are fit.



Training is the most crucial part of the licencing process. In fact, training never really ends since professional pilots are expected to always be on top of their game and be aware of new developments in the industry.

The aviation industry is a competitive one, so you must ensure that you are at your best to attract great employment opportunities.


Where can you train?

There are many dedicated flight schools for learning how to fly as well as in-house facilities at flying clubs such as Sherburn aero club. Here, you can train on the club’s fleet of well-maintained light aircraft along with some of the best Certified Flight Instructors in the business.

By joining an aero club, you also get access to a community of pilots, both private and professional, who can share valuable insight and experience with you, helping you become a much better pilot and land better job opportunities.



 Sherburn Aero Club, which has been operational since 1964, is the ideal place for most of your training and flying needs. It is one of the largest flying clubs in the North of England and also one of the largest in the country.

With a large fleet of new aircraft and an airfield refurbishment with new runways, hangars, and an extended clubhouse, we cater to brand-new flyers who have just started their journey to the skies, as well as seasoned flyers who have been operating aircraft for decades.

If you wish to begin your career in aviation or wish to take to the skies as a hobby, Sherburn’s flight training school offers private and commercial licenses, along with pilot medicals to ensure a smooth journey going forward.

Sherburn also offers a dedicated day-long Flight Radiotelephony Operator’s Licence (FRTOL) course for those wishing to get the certification, running the first Sunday of every month.

For those who wish to experience the thrill of a flight for fun or to help fuel their aviation dreams, Sherburn offers experience flights for the newbie, as well as the veteran. The flight experience option is also available for people who wish to take to the skies for special occasions, even if they aren’t into aviation in the long run.

Sherburn also offers pilot medicals to ensure a smooth journey going forward. You are required to take medical exams to prove you are fit enough to take to the skies when applying for a licence, and the facility at Sherburn allows you to start your aviation journey on the right foot.

Our in-house AME, Dr Mark Bellamy, is rated to perform EASA Class 2 and LAPL. He also holds a fixed-wing PPL. Appointments are available every Monday and Tuesday, as well as on occasional Saturdays.

In addition to that, if you are looking for a hangarage for your own aircraft, need servicing or repairs, want to buy a new aircraft or aviation equipment, or are just looking to enjoy and watch the aircraft, Sherburn Aero Club is the place to be.

Call us on 01977 682 674​​​, email us at flightdesk@sherburnaeroclub.com, or message us via our online contact form for more information on commercial pilot training and licensing.

Photo by Elizabeth Camp on Unsplash 



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