How To Become A Pilot In India: A Dream To Fly High Seen By Many, Accomplished By A Few

How To Become A Pilot

If the sky is the limit of your aspirations, then you can be a pilot.

Do you aspire to fly high in the limitless sky? And get paid for it too? Most importantly, if the payments are in lakhs, not in thousands. Yes, we are talking about one of the dream jobs to have in India – to become a pilot. This article will give you a clear perception of how to become a pilot in India?

Most of us know about cabin crew jobs. We know it for the perks it comes. That the cabin crew gets to fly high, they get to travel around the world. They work in the ace environment, stay at luxurious four-star or five-star hotels, and by the end of the month they get a good amount of salary. But, what if I told you that you can enjoy all these perks for four or five times more than the salary. Yes, you can enjoy all these perks if you become a pilot. The job benefits that a cabin crew gets are very similar for a pilot too, but the pilot gets a salary that is four times more than a cabin crew.

In India, we don’t see people aspiring to become a pilot as much as a cabin crew. That is most likely because they have less information about it and the second point is due to the course fee. In the next steps, we elaborated on every pros and con of becoming a pilot so that you can make more informed decisions.

How to become a pilot in India?

Now before we start, first of all, there are two types of pilots. One is a commercial pilot. They work as a pilot in commercial or private airlines like Indigo, Airindia, etc. They fly on civil airlines. These are the domestic or international flights that we take to travel. The other type of pilots is the pilots in India’s armed forces like the Indian air force and the Indian navy. The procedure to join the military forces as a pilot is different from being a commercial pilot. Here we will discuss both the streams. Let’s begin with how to become a commercial pilot in India?

1. Eligibility criteria

i. Educational qualification

To become a pilot, you need to have a PCM combination with English on your higher secondary level. PCM stands for physics, chemistry, and math. That means you need to be from a science stream background. In all four subjects, you need to have more than 50% of marks separately.

But what if you are from a commerce or arts background? Then also, you can aspire to become a pilot. For that, you can join NIOS – the national school of open schooling. From the name itself, it is evident that it is an open school. You can enroll here to study only physics, chemistry and maths. You don’t need to go to classes, prepare at home, and attempt the exams. Here also you need to score a minimum of 50% of marks individually. The subject English is already there in every stream like arts, commerce or any other stream you are studying, so no need to worry about that.

ii. Age

The age of the candidate must be between 18-32 years. It may vary depending upon the airline you are choosing. Also, this is not the training age limit. It is the age limit to join in as a fresh pilot in any of the commercial airlines.

ii. Medical fitness requirements

One of the biggest questions that the aspiring candidates have is if they can become a pilot if they have a weak vision and not a perfect 6/6 vision. Well, of course, they can join if they wear eye contact lenses or do laser treatment. If you can achieve a 6/6 vision after wearing contact lenses, then you can apply to become a pilot as well as cabin crew. But, you cannot become a pilot or cabin crew if you have color blindness.

iii. Other requirements

To apply for becoming a pilot, you must be a citizen of India.

2. Getting admission in a flying school

If you fulfill all the above-mentioned criteria, then you can sit for the entrance exam conducted for pilot training schools. DGCA or the directorate general of civil aviation conducts these exams exclusively on a national level every three months. That means there are a total of four exams conducted in a year. To clear the examination, you need to score at least 70% of the total marks. Next up, there are interview rounds and physical fitness tests of class A and class B type. Depending on your performance in this exam, you get to select a flying school. Choosing the best flying school in the country opens your opportunity to better job options later.

i. Course details

The course duration is about 18-24 months, depending upon the flying school you are choosing to get admission. Here you will learn the theory and practice of flying a plane. There are subjects like aviation meteorology, aviation law, air navigation, radiotelephony, technical general, and technology-specific. Once you clear the ground subjects in the examination, you can start your 200 hours of flying training that you can complete within six months only.

On joining a flying at first, you get an SPL, which is a student pilot license. After completion of 60 hours of flying, you get a PPL, which is a private pilot license. Then after you complete your 200 hours of flying course, you get a CPL. This is what for you to get admission to a flying school. CPL is a commercial pilot license. You can now apply to become a pilot in any commercial airline.

ii. Course fee

The total course of 18-24 months can cost from 10-60 lakhs on an average, depending upon the college you are taking admission. The Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Udan Akademi charges around 50-60 lakhs. Whereas the national flight training institute (NFTI) charges only 10 lakhs for the course. The Government Aviation Training Institute (GATI) also charges around 50-60 lakhs depending upon your CPL license. Different flying clubs like Bombay Flying Club and Madhya Pradesh Flying Club have the authorization to grant commercial pilot licenses too. They charge around 90000- 1.2 lakhs for each semester. So the overall price goes up to 12-25 lakhs.

However, the course fee is quite a lot for most of us. But it is like an investment. After the completion of the course, when you become a pilot, the salary you will get will be good enough to extract your course fee within 3-4 years.

iii. Some of the best flying schools in India

  • Flying Training Institute, Behala, Calcutta
  • Madhya Pradesh Flying Club
  • Assam Flying Club, Guwahati Airport, Guwahati
  • India Gandhi Rashtriya Udan Akademi, Uttar Pradesh
  • State Civil Aviation, Uttar Pradesh Govt Flying Training Centre Kanpur And Varanasi
  • Government Flying Club. Aerodrome, Lucknow
  • Government Aviation Training Institute, Civil Aerodrome, Bhubaneswar
  • Bihar Flying Institute, Civil Aerodrome, Patna, Bihar
  • Karnal Aviation Club, Kunjpura Road, Karnal, Haryana
  • Andhra Pradesh Flying Club Hyderabad Airport, Hyderabad
  • School Of Aviation Science and Technology, Delhi Flying Club Ltd. New Delhi
  • Govt Flying Training School Jakkur Aerodrome, Bangalore
  • Rajasthan State Flying School, Sanganer Airport, Jaipur

3. Applying for jobs

After completing your flying course, you can apply for vacancies notified by different airlines. Just like cabin crew or any other job vacancies, the airlines publish a notification on pilot vacancies. Candidates have to go through an interview, and then they have to do a course or training of “type rating training.” This training is for the pilot to get accustomed to their companies aircraft. Just like cars, the functions of an aircraft are the same, but when you change your car, it takes time to get accustomed to the new technicalities. The motto of this training is the same to make the pilots get accustomed to their company’s plane. The airlines charge up to 20 – 30 lakhs rupees depending upon the airline.

4. Cadet pilot program

In recent times the airlines started a new program called the cadet pilot program. The aspiring candidates can join after completing their 12th boards. In this process, you have to appear on the Cadet Pilot Program Entrance Test instead of the DGCA entrance test. Here the entrance test is the same, but as a perk, you also get job security. The cadet pilot program also includes the type rating training so, you don’t have to go through the course separately. After the training, the airline company will offer you a job in their airline. The fee for this procedure is a bit more than the cost of the flying school. For 2 years it costs around 80 lakhs.

5. Salary of a pilot

One of the biggest attraction for students to become a pilot is the salary that they will get. In the beginning, you will join as a junior first officer, and your salary at that time will be around 50000 rupees per month on an average. After your promotion, you become a first officer, and the salary of the first officer will be around 2 lakh rupees per month on average.  Then after a few years of experience, you will get your promotion as the captain. The captain is the most senior authority of a plane, who is in charge of the whole plane in the air. The salary of a captain is approximately over 6 lakh rupees per month. Again the salary is not constant, and they may vary depending upon your airline company.

Everything described in this article is on how to become a commercial pilot. But, there is another type of pilot too that is in the air force. The procedure for that is different. You have to take the NDA entrance exam or AFCAT. It does not cost anything at all. Other than this, we all know that the military has to offer a lot more, and not just a reduction in the course fee.


What is the qualification of a pilot?

The qualification of a pilot has to be at least 12th pass, with a science background. For arts and commerce background students, they have to study maths and physics separately from the national institute of open schooling (NIOS).

How many years does it take to become a pilot?

After 12th, you have to take an 18-24 months course in a flying school, and after that, you will have your commercial pilot license (CPL) in your hand.

How much money is required to become a pilot?

The different flying school has different course fee from 10 lakh to 80 lakh rupees. But on average getting a CPL from a good flying school will cost you around 50 to 60 lakhs at least.

Is it easy to become a pilot?

I will start answering this with, “It is completely subjective.” Flying on a plane or getting a two years degree is not the toughest part of becoming a pilot. But if you aspire to become a captain, then you should get your bachelor’s degree first before joining a flying school.

What are the exams for a pilot?

For a commercial pilot license, DGCA conducts an entrance test. And if you want to join the air force, then there are exams like AFCAT, NDA, and SSB entrance exams.

How many years does it take to become a pilot?

After completing your 12th, you have to join a flying school. It is a two-year course. Within these two years, you will obtain your commercial pilot license.

What education is required for a pilot?

For becoming a pilot, you need to complete your 12th with a science background. Mathematics and physics are a must. If you are an aspirant for the captain, then you should complete your bachelor’s too before becoming a pilot.

Is pilot a good career option?

If becoming a pilot is your only dream career, then, of course, it is a better career option. But if you are measuring it by the pay scale and the perks of living a luxurious life, then it is more like a chance taken on risk.
·        You will fly high in the sky.
·        You get to travel around the world.
·        You will have more than enough salary in your hands by the end of the month. On average the salary is around 2 lakhs per month.
·        You get to stay at 4 stars or 5-star hotels
·        Overall, you will lead a luxurious lifestyle.
·        For a two year course, the amount of fees the flying school charges is very high. Most of the families in India cannot afford such high fees. So you can say it is a dream for riches only.
·        There are many CPL holders in India currently who are jobless.
·        The number of vacancies declared every year is so less in ratio to the number of people getting their CPL every year.
·        The training is extensive, and the recruitment process happens in four parts. So after clearing the first stage of the process, it takes up to two years to be able to fly as a co-pilot.

Which course is best for a pilot?

The best course for a pilot is to do a bachelor’s in aviation. It is a three-year course available in some of the institutes in India like NIMS university, VELS institute, ST. Mary’s College, Thakur college, etc. You can also do a master’s of aviation or an MBA in aviation after this. The average course fee for the bachelor’s degree is around 3 lakh, but the fees may vary concerning the college you choose.

Is it hard to get a pilot job?

The current scenarios are something like that only. There are many unemployed pilots in India, even after completing their courses with good grades and spending so much money on them. The airline companies hire a lesser number of pilots each year compared to the number of new pilots getting their CPL.

How hard is the pilot exam?

When you become a pilot, you are in charge of hundreds of lives every day. So you have to be the best among others, also in the best form of yourself. Hence, the pilot entrance exams are tough. After the written exam, there will be a physical ability test, which is also tough. You have to prove yourself at par with your fitness. Overall, you can call it a difficult entrance exam, and they leave no stones unturned. However, everything becomes easy if you work hard for it and stay dedicated to your goal.

What is the salary of a pilot?

A fresher joins the airline as a junior first officer, and their salary will be around 50000 rupees. After promotion, they become the first officer of a plane. Their pay scale will be approximately 2 lakhs rupees. After a few years of experience, you get to become a captain, which the senior-most post as a pilot. Their salary will be around 5-6 lakhs per month.

Can I become a pilot after 12?

Yes, after completion of your 12th exams with a science background. You can attempt the entrance exam conducted by DGCA. On successful clearance of the entrance exam, you can get admission in any of the flying schools in India.

Can a girl become a pilot?

Yes, of course, girls can become a pilot. But based on data, there are only 3% of women pilots worldwide.

What is the height limit for a pilot?

The minimum height of a pilot has to 162.5 cms.

Is it worth to become a pilot?

Yes, it is. The experience you have on your career path as a pilot is a lifetime experience. The rewards and perks you get out of this job are so attractive for the aspirants. You get to work in ace environments, with professionals dedicated to keeping their passengers safe. Getting the highest salary and getting to travel around the world is another perk of becoming a pilot.

Does height matter for a pilot?

Yes, there is a specific provision given for a pilot’s height in India. The height requirement of a pilot is a minimum of 162.5 cms. With leg length from 99-120 cms, thigh-length of 64 cms max, and a sitting height min of 81.5 cms.

How many hours a day can a pilot fly?

The maximum flying time during the day is nine hours, and during the night, it is from nine to fourteen hours, depending upon how any segments are there in a day and the starting time of the pilot’s duty of the day.

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