Becoming a pilot

Becoming a pilot
Welcome! We know for many of you, becoming a pilot is a lifelong dream. We hope to support you throughout your entire career, however, we also want you to be aware of the whole picture before you make such an important life decision.

BALPA want to ensure that you make an informed choice about your career. Every flight training organisation has its glossy brochure which perpetuates the public perception and makes enticing promises about how your training will pan out and how your career will kick-start. These promises are not always delivered! 

We have put together the Inside Track to Becoming a Pilot which gives a realistic guide to flight training and how to choose the right path for you. This can be downloaded at the bottom of the page.

BALPA’S Position on Flight Training

In November 2020, in the wake of the pandemic, we issued a statement and video recommending that anyone wishing to enter professional flight training or, anyone already in-flight training, should delay their intended start date, slow down their training or pause their training. We have updated our position and would recommend that you read it before making any decisions about your Flight Training. Please click here to read our updated position on Flight Training (last updated April 2022).

Do your research!

It is important to do as much research as possible before starting your training, especially if you are going down the route of Integrated Training, which will tie you into a contract for an extended length of time. Read reviews, speak to current students and get a feel for the Flight Schools you are looking at. For reviews and ratings, we recommend Pilot Network. Click here to find out more.




Historically, airlines paid for an individual’s training, but now the expectation is that the aspiring pilot must bear the burden of cost, while being rewarded with ever-diminishing salaries in real terms, once inflation has been taken into consideration, yet with the same enormous responsibility. We have seen a string of personal bankruptcies amongst new graduate cadets, some of whom we believe have been treated badly by employers eager to cut costs and even to make training a revenue stream in its own right.

There are many publications outlining the training path and qualifications required to become a pilot; what we felt was missing was the inside story – what does it really take, what are the problems and challenges, and what are the pitfalls to avoid along the way? We have solicited assistance from a large number of graduates who have shared their experiences with us, and we hope this video and booklet will provide every aspiring pilot and their families with additional guidance and a more complete understanding of what they are embarking on before they commit huge amounts of time, energy and money.


Read between the lines of the marketing brochures carefully, network, speak to as many people as you can and take time to make the right decision for you personally, otherwise it could prove very costly – and not just financially. Remember that the training path takes approximately two years, and as aviation is extremely volatile the job market can change drastically between commencing and completing your training.

Good luck, and we welcome any feedback that you may have on these resources.