Pilot Job Prospects Post Training

Will I get a job after completing commercial flight training?

Whether you get a job as a pilot after your commercial flight training depends on the state of the industry, your attitude, abilities, and training record. It’s understandable that people want reassurance about their future prospects given the amount of money they’re investing in their flight training, but there’s never a guarantee.

For a few years up to March 2020, the pilot job market was particularly buoyant for both freshly graduated pilots and experienced pilots. During that time, you could have landed a decent first officer job straight away, but as always, that won’t have been the case for everyone. Aircraft manufacturers and airlines around the world predicted a major global shortage of pilots for the next twenty years, although it is common to hear this pushed back by pilots who got their ATPL frozen years ago. , but were still looking for their first flight position.

The effect of Covid-19

Unfortunately, since the start of 2020, Covid-19 has been cataclysmic for most airlines across the globe with huge reductions in airlift capacity requirements. As a result, major airline failures have occurred, such as Norwegian Long Haul, Flybe, Virgin Australia, CityJet and AtlasGlobal, with more likelihood as 2021 progresses. Surviving airlines are undergoing significant restructuring and in some cases retiring entire fleets years ahead of schedule, such as the British Airways and Qantas B747 fleets, the Air France A380 and the Delta B777 fleet.

This led to major layoffs across the industry, draining thousands of experienced pilots from the job market. With no rebound in sight, potentially, until a vaccine is produced and distributed, this undoubtedly has a specific impact on the employment prospects of those seeking their first pilot job.

Holding a frozen ATPL does not guarantee you a flying job

The reality is that holding a frozen ATPL does not mean you qualify for a job with a commercial airline, even if it needs pilots. They want the right person for the job, not just a licensee. Reputable airlines would rightly prefer to recruit only someone with a license, but with the wrong attitude and skills.

Getting to the point of holding a frozen ATPL, passing the theory exams, flying skills tests and the multi-crew co-operation course, isn’t easy, but it’s something many people can achieve if they invest enough time and money in it. While many complete the training at a high level, the end product is not always a well-rounded, business-minded, enthusiastic and potential first officer. To be successful after getting your license, you need to understand exactly what type of person the airline is looking for in their pilots and it’s not just being able to operate an aircraft to instrument rating standards, it’s a lot, much more.

Airline Ratings

Some people have all the desirable criteria, but just don’t do well on assessments or airline interviews. The good news is that it’s something that can be improved and there are plenty of companies that will help you improve (FlightDeckFriend.com is one of them!). You will have invested tens of thousands of pounds in your flight training; Spending a few hundred extra pounds could dramatically improve your job prospects. Major airlines will only interview once for a recruitment campaign, so don’t wait for the rejection email to arrive before deciding to invest a little more in a career that will hopefully will last you a lifetime. The time to do this is before your interview.

Other potential applicants struggle to be invited to the initial airline screening. Again, there may be an element of luck (your application is read by the right person at the right time), but you can take steps to dramatically improve your chances of being invited for an assessment, and that really is. the hardest. part. Every year, we receive hundreds of unsolicited resumes and cover letters from people wanting to join “our airline”, and we also review many documents for people wanting to apply to airlines.

Quality of application documents

I can tell you that while we see great applications, we regularly see very poor resumes and cover letters that most companies wouldn’t even consider – I wouldn’t when I was a recruiter. You can see straight away that no thought has gone into the application, in some cases they don’t even bother to mention the company by name, let alone point out why they want to work for company in specific terms.

It is absolutely vital that each application is tailored to the airline you are applying to. Yes, it’s a bit more work, but you’ve just spent the last year training to get to this point, so the least you can do is spend a few more minutes on each application to ensure that is specific to the airline you are applying to. . Writing “I’d be proud to work for your esteemed company” is a pretty clear indication that you haven’t given much thought to the application and you’ve probably sent the same cover letter to every airline you’ve applied to.

Attitude and ability

The final reason some have trouble finding a job is that some people have the wrong attitude and the wrong skills. Commercial airlines are looking for a specific person and if you don’t fit their “specification”, many would rather slow down their expansion or cancel flights than hire someone they don’t think is suitable.

So what are they looking for? Well, those are a few things you might not have considered.

Someone with a business mind. Basically, someone who will actively consider the needs of the airline and its passengers when making decisions (after putting safety first of course). You aren’t always taught this in flight school!

A team player. How well do you interact with others? You have to work with a lot of people in a typical workday and the airline needs someone who can do it efficiently. How would you interact with the captain and cabin crew? Are you likely to be bossy or overly shy? They want someone in the middle.

What leadership qualities do you have? The airline wants to recruit future captains, not career co-pilots.

How’s your customer service? It may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about what it takes to operate a commercial aircraft, but airlines are increasingly emphasizing the interaction of their pilot with customers as part of customer service.


You should always understand that a Commercial Pilot License is not a right to an airline job, it is a gateway. Try to learn the skills they are looking for, making sure you have the right attitude for the job.

We offer our own CV and cover letter customization services where you can have your CV reviewed by our recruitment specialist for FREE. Our friends from Aviation Job Search also offer a free guide on preparing your resume.