Congratulations, you have completed your CPL! Now, you need to build flight time towards your Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL). They’re a few different paths you can choose to build flight time towards an ATPL including going straight into an entry level job or adding additional ratings to your license. It is important to consider what type of flying you wish to do and how you are going to meet the requirements of 1500 hours total time including 500 hours pilot in command time. Jumping right into a co-pilot job makes it very hard to meet pilot in command time requirements.
Entry level jobs – 200 hours
To begin your pilot career fresh off a CPL your options are going to be limited. Entry jobs would include flying a single piston aircraft operating in aerial photography, Aerial surveying and banner toeing to build flight time. These jobs can be challenging to find but if successful they get your foot in the door and offer the opportunity to build flight time as pilot in command. These positions are often part-time or seasonal flying but offer just what you need to take the next step in your career.
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Entry level job – Flight Instructor
If you want to become a flight instructor you will need to add a flight instructor rating to your CPL. Flight instructor jobs are great to build flight time as PIC. Flight instructors are normally in high demand making it easy to find a job. As a flight instructor, you will be busy training pilots and quickly build flight time. It also offers the opportunity to upgrade your rating from a class 4 all the way up to a class 1 as you build experience. Unlike other pilot jobs, a flight instructor schedule can be similar to a 9-5 job allowing you to be home each night and avoiding layovers or flying off base all summer.
As you progress as a flight instructor and choose to add an instrument rating and multi-engine rating more opportunities will open up to begin teaching instrument ratings and multi-engine ratings. All of this time will be valuable PIC time for yourself.
Entry level job – Float Pilot
A float pilot requires a seaplane endorsement on your CPL. Entry level jobs as a float pilot include operating a single piston aircraft on floats for an operator such as hunting/fishing guides or operating cargo to remote areas. Again, these jobs can be challenging to find and often include a minimum amount of time on floats in addition to the minimum requirements for the endorsement but allow you to build flight time as pilot in command. The flying is also seasonal excluding winter flying and often require you to operate away for your home during operation.
Low time jobs – 500 hours
Once you have cracked the 500 hour mark the door opens for the next step in your aviation career. New job opportunities include sky diving pilot or first officer in medivac and cargo operations on aircraft like the PC-12, KingAir or metro liner. You will be required to complete the IATRA exam to operate a 2 crew airplane and generally require an instrument and multi-engine rating.
The benefits include flying larger aircraft in a more complex operation gaining valuable experience. You will not be logging PIC time in these positions so if you are pursuing an ATPL it is ideal to meet the PIC requirements before pursing these jobs.
You will be in a job like this until you have obtained your ATPL, the next step will be flying for a regional airline. It is important not to rush into an ATPL as fast as possible, use your entry level job as a learning opportunity and refine the skills you have learned to this point. These jobs can be very rewarding and allow you to create connections in the aviation industry that will last a lifetime.