Becoming a pilot

We at 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. However, these promises are not always delivered. For more information on training schools, download our fact sheet

The video and booklet we have made available to you has been written because of the increasing hardship BALPA has witnessed within the pilot community. We hope you find the information in this section useful.

A message from Wendy Pursey, Head of Membership and Careers Services.




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.