After receiving your pilot licenses and ratings, you will need to build flight experience. One constructive way is to obtain a Certified Flight Instructor certificate. This will allow you to use your new skills to train other pilots, which should enhance your own skills and knowledge while building your flight experience and earning some money. Other options for building single-engine flight time include flying for local radio traffic stations, small cargo operators, crop dusting operators, pipeline inspecting operators, etc.

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Once you have acquired a few hundred hours of flight time, you can start applying for multi-engine flying jobs. These are more challenging to obtain because the insurance requirements on the operators are more stringent. That’s where having a good number of single-engine flight hours will be helpful.

ALPA highly recommends that you network with other pilots who are one or two steps ahead of you. The single greatest way to achieve employment in aviation is through the recommendation of a pilot currently employed where you want to work. Because airlines entrust their pilot work force with expensive aircraft and the lives of their passengers, character recommendations are almost as important as flight experience.

After deciding which airlines you want to apply with and obtaining these companies’ minimum requirements for employment, ALPA strongly encourages you to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for your “complete airmen files” with the Federal Aviation Administration. These records track your general aviation check ride performances and will help you accurately fill out your applications.

ALPA also highly recommends that you apply at your preferred employer sooner rather than later. Don’t wait until you are “extra-qualified.” Most airlines operate under seniority-based systems, meaning the earlier you get hired, the more protection you have against furlough and the quicker you will reach higher-paying statuses and more reliable schedules. You can always update your application as you achieve more ratings or experience after applying with an airline, but getting your initial application on file early is essential.

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