How to become a pilot in Australia

How to become a pilot in Australia is a question on the lips of many young, aspiring aviators in Australia and overseas. This article goes into detail about the options available if you want to study to become a pilot in Australia.

Do you come from a land down under? If not, then you might want to consider heading there if you want to become an airline pilot. Australia offers many advantages for aspiring pilots willing to learn their craft. Whether it’s the Qantas Pilot Academy or starting in the trusty old Cessna at a local flight school, fantastic weather year-round ensures plenty of flying hours and, of course, a fantastic lifestyle to boot.

There are many different avenues on offer in Australia which lead to becoming a paid professional pilot and choosing the right one for you can be a challenge. Hopefully, this article clears up some of the confusion you may have around becoming a pilot in Australia.

Here’s the answer: Becoming a pilot in Australia can be tricky due to its unique airspace, administrative and aviation laws. It can also be expensive when compared to the US due to the lack of AvGas fuel subsidies in Australia. However, it could be an incredible experience in a country where it’s great to fly, live and be a pilot. Australia has a fantastic aviation history and culture, largely thanks to the national carrier Qantas. If you want to become a pilot in Australia, ensure you conduct thorough research and determine which pathway would be best suited to you and your situation, whether that’s with private pilot training, commercial pilot training, with a university degree, gaining flight time in local pilot schools or approaching the Australian Defence Force Academy about a career in the Air force.

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Do you need a degree to be a pilot in Australia?

No! You do not NEED a degree to be a pilot in Australia. There are many routes available when it comes to being a pilot in Australia and gaining a college degree in Aviation is only one of them. If you do choose this path, there are many Australian universities with aviation degrees. You can however attend a flight school anywhere in Australia and build your flying hours via the traditional route. Gaining hours after completing your CPL (Commercial Pilot License) in Australia can be a lot different to other countries…flying tourists over the Great Barrier Reef anyone?

It’s recommended you do your research to ascertain which path toward your CPL is most beneficial for you, but gaining a degree is certainly not a pre-requisite for gaining your wings. You don’t even need to finish high school, although the maths and English skills you learn in high school, will greatly benefit your flight training. You can read the article we wrote on whether studying aviation at university is worth it or not, here.

how to become a pilot in australia
You do not need a university degree to become a pilot in Australia – you can look at local flying schools or even enter the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

Is Australia good for flight training?

Taking cost out of the equation, Australia is a fantastic place for pilot training. With amazing weather for the large majority of the year, you can almost guarantee flying time all year round. Whether you’re patrolling the skies in the sunshine state of Queensland or working toward your dream in Western Australia, you can be assured that the training you receive is first-rate in a country with proud aviation history. The only sticking point? Well, it’s like most other places, flight training in Australia can mean a serious amount of dollars over the long term.

If you’re thinking about being a pilot it’s no use keeping your feet on the ground when your dreams are up in the sky

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how to become a pilot in australia
Qantas has a cadetship for student pilots, as does Jetstar and Rex

How long does it take to become a pilot in Australia?

 The answer to this question depends on numerous factors, some of which may be out of your control. If you dedicate all of your time to becoming a pilot then you can gain your CPL (commercial pilot licence) as soon as you have enough flying hours, pass your exams, and so on. If you take the education path then a degree in Aviation with accompanying CPL training can take 3-4 years at one of the country’s accredited universities.

There are also cadetships with commercial airlines such as Qantas, Jetstar and Rex. These cadetships are usually 15-18 months in total.

Where can I study to be a pilot in Australia?

There are some good aviation universities in Australia, however, the University of New South Wales in Sydney, NSW is considered the best in Australia. They perform their pilot training at the famous Bankstown Aerodrome which has produced many of Australia’s pilots. The Bachelor of Aviation is a three-year course and you can find information regarding that course by clicking this link.

You can of course train to be a pilot through the Royal Australian Air Force. Though this isn’t for everyone, it’s certainly one way of ensuring you can train in a very cost-effective way, ensuring a flying career at the end of your training.

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How do I get a CPL in Australia?

There are different CPL avenues you can take when you ask yourself how to become a pilot in Australia. The most common way is by building up flying hours at your local flying school and going through your licenses, up to your Commercial Pilot Licence, when you can. Another way to become a pilot is by joining one of the cadetship programs that the major airlines offer. Jetstar’s cadetship offering can be found here.

Another way to become an airline pilot is by attending an aviation college such as UNSW, as mentioned above, and going the academic route to obtain your CPL.

how to become a pilot in australia
Becoming a pilot in Australia will essentially depend on how much time and money you have to put into flight training.

How can an international student become a pilot in Australia?

There are some international flying schools in Australia. At Jandakot Airport, Western Australia, Singapore Flying College show Singaporean nationals how to become a pilot in Australia. The reason they have their flying school in WA is because of the favorable, but sometimes slightly challenging, year-round flying conditions.

What’s the easiest way to become a pilot in Australia?

 The easiest way to become a pilot in Australia depends on your current circumstances. If money is no issue then there’s no better way to build your hours up fast at a local flight school, get all of your licenses then head off to an exotic location and fly tourists around the sites. If only it was that simple though. It depends on how much free time you have, and how much money you have for flight training.

To become a pilot in Australia you need determination and a willingness to make sacrifices to achieve your dream. Whether that’s saving money to build hours or moving to the other side of the country to study, if money isn’t growing on your backyard tree then something might have to give.

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 What’s the best way to become a pilot in Australia?

Now, this is a great question. The old school Australian pilots will tell you that there’s no better way than to build your flight time at one of the flight schools before heading out bush and delivering mail to far-flung cattle stations until you’ve built enough flight school training hours to apply for a commercial liner. Cleaning the toilets at the local watering hole may also be applicable to keep on top of expenses (seriously). This will of course depend on your personal financial situation. There are many side hustles you can take up to earn a bit of extra money.

In all honesty though, Australia is a beautiful country and if you build your hours up to the level of commercial airliner acceptance, then why not try your luck at a pilot’s job in one of Australia’s tourist centres?

how to become a pilot in australia

FAQ’s about How to become a pilot in Australia:

* Is becoming a pilot hard?

 There are nearly always sacrifices that have to be made to achieve something worthwhile, and becoming a pilot is no exception. You may need to have a second job to pay for your training, or even pay for your food and rent if your first pilot gig is low-paying. Keep your eye on the prize though and it could be worthwhile.

You will of course have to gain a medical certificate by passing a medical, and satisfy age and study requirements, as well as flight hours. Good communication skills are also a very valuable asset, as well as keeping calm and level headed under pressure, such as during a flight test or when things go wrong during flight.

* What age can you become a pilot?

Realistically, once you’ve reached the age of around 14 you can operate aircraft. In Australia, you have to be 15 years old before you can fly solo. To achieve your CPL, and to become a pilot, Australian airlines require you to be at least 18 years old. You cannot be older than 65 as this is the retirement age for pilots in Australia.

You can find more info on Learning to Fly and the requirements on the CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority) website HERE.

* Are pilots in demand in Australia?

Airline pilots are in demand all over the world, and there is no exception to the rule in Australia. Now we are approaching post-COVID times, the demand for pilots and air travel will only increase so now is a fantastic time to try and get into the aviation industry.

 * How much study is required for a pilot?

There is a reasonable amount of study that has to be put in to achieve your licences and ratings, whether that is RPL (recreational pilot licence), PPL (private pilot license), CPL (commercial pilots licence), Instrument Rating, etc. The amount of time depends on the student, some may pick it up quicker than others, but for every lesson you receive there should be at least 1-2 hours of study for that particular lesson.

It may be a good idea to have a chat with your flight instructor or others within the industry to get their feedback too!

To most people, the sky is the limit. To those who love aviation, the sky is home

Jerry Crawford

Conclusion How to become a pilot in Australia

Becoming a pilot in Australia can be tough! It can also be expensive. However, it could be an incredible experience in a country where it’s great to fly, live and be a pilot. Australia has a fantastic aviation history and culture, largely thanks to the national carrier Qantas.

If you want to become a pilot in Australia, ensure you conduct thorough research and determine which pathway would be best suited to you and your situation, whether that’s with private pilot training, commercial pilot training, with a university degree, gaining flight time in local pilot schools or approaching the Australian Defence Force Academy about a career in the Air force.

There are many career options as a student pilot in Australia if you want to take off for a career in aviation. Just remember, you won’t be flying solo! There are many inspirational professionals within aviation, with whom you can network and learn from.

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ken johnson

Ken

Ken is a passionate aviator, a professional pilot and flight instructor. He has over 17 years of flight experience across hundreds of aircraft ranging from recreational, aerobatic, historic, commercial and military aircraft, training hundreds of students along the way. Find out more.

Ken has 124 posts and counting. See all posts by Ken

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One thought on “How to become a pilot in Australia

  1. Great read, I personally think you can become a commercial pilot in alot less time if you don’t go through the university programs. They are also very expensive however great value for those pilots looking for management jobs or the ability to change career paths with events like Covid.

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