Feb 6, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

Here’s a thought: to combat the impending global pilot shortage, go to flight school.

Didn’t know about the global pilot shortage? You should.

Over the next twenty years, experts predict a global commercial pilot shortage. In 2017, Boeing predicted a need for 2 million new commercial airline pilots, maintenance technicians, and cabin crew.

About 42 percent of pilots currently flying in the US alone will retire in the next decade. Others will leave earlier.

Boeing says that the US alone will need around 117,000 additional pilots by 2036 just to keep up with the rate of retirement.

What does that look like? 16 new pilots per day in the US, or 5,840 pilots per year for 20 continuous years. That’s more than the US average of 5,000 pilots per year, and that’s only been done a few times over the last 40 years.

The demand is even higher in some regions. In CAE’s 2017 report, experts predict that “Asia-Pacific will see the strongest growth in pilot demand as the region’s fleet of in-service aircraft is projected to significantly increase in size. The Americas will experience the most pilot retirements.”

What does all of this mean? It means you should become a pilot. Let’s take a closer look at the perks of becoming a pilot:

1.     Travel opportunities

As a commercial pilot, you’ll get to travel to a variety of places, from short hop local destinations to ultra-long hauls on the other side of the world.

While you won’t have lots of time in each place unless you’re on vacation, you’ll have enough time to soak up a bit of local culture.

Another benefit? You can work and live in a variety of cities that are bases or hubs for your airline carrier.

2.    Career options

You don’t just have to fly planes for an airline if you’re a pilot. You can become a sports pilot, a recreational pilot, a private pilot, a flight instructor, and a transport pilot. You also qualify for careers that support various aspects of the airline industry.

 3.    Sunny workdays

It’s nearly impossible to fly in atrocious weather, and while we can’t guarantee that every day will be a bluebird one, we can guarantee that you’ll typically work in good weather.

That sunlight will illuminate your days.

Joan Didion, the acclaimed author, said, “The most beautiful things I had ever seen had all been seen from airplanes.”

We doubt you’ll find a pilot who disagrees.

4.    Intelligence

You’ll get smarter. It’s true.

Not only will you top up your mathematics and logic skills, you’ll become an expert in physics, in addition to making rapid decisions under pressure.

You’ll be organized, prepared, and always open to learning and improving.

5.    Pioneering Women

If you’re a woman and want to be a pilot, even better.

Only about 3 percent of pilots are women.

Be a role model for young girls and other women who want to go into science and aviation and help pave the way for more female pilots.

Know this: you’re just as good as your male colleagues and have just as much to offer—in addition to inspiration for women around the globe.

Convinced? Good. 

Now, it’s time to take a look at flight schools. CAE Oxford Aviation Academy offers opportunities to learn to become a pilot at locations around the world. Airways Aviation touts similar programs in 15 locations across Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia.

If you’d like to train in the US, Epic Flight Academy is strategically located in Florida and offers programs to students with little to no experience with the science of flight. The Aviator Flight School in California also boasts a 98 percent first-time pass rate.  For international students wanting to complete their aviation certifications in the US, San Diego Flight Training International is authorized to issue I-20s, giving international students access to M1 Visas. Sky Aviation Academy in Georgia, also offers competitive international programs in the US and offers 10 percent discount for students.  

For students who want to stay in North America, try Canada’s St. Thomas Flight Centre.

In Europe? Spain boasts the European Aviation School of Barcelona in addition to the CESDA Universitat Rovira I Virgili.  AIS Flight Academy in the Netherlands and Greece’s Aviatec Training Center also offer other options in Europe that will allow you to spread your wings.

Feeling adventuresome? Check out the Middle East’s biggest flight school, Mideast Aviation Academy, which has an international reputation for academic excellence and high safety standards.

Soar. Now’s your chance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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