How to become a pilot
Fly high above the clouds and see the world from a unique perspective as you launch an exciting, rewarding, and challenging career as a pilot. Find out how you can become a pilot.
Key career takeaways
- Salary of A$2,558* (median rate per week)
- Moderate expected job growth. Retention is high among pilots meaning those in the role tend to stay for longer periods of time.
- This is a very highly skilled profession with a small employment force
- By 2035, the International Air Transport Association estimates there will be twice the number of passengers as 2016 (from 3.8 billion to 7.2 billion)
*Data sourced from JobOutlook.gov.au
Few careers spark as much intrigue, excitement, romance and adventure as a pilot. Since the early days of aviation, becoming a pilot and experiencing life within the cockpit of some of the most technologically advanced machines on the planet, has been the dream of many. But what do you need to do to become a private or commercial pilot?
What it takes to become a pilot
If you’re the type of person that can handle high-pressure situations calmly, can process mathematical and physics-based problems, possess great English reading, writing and comprehension skills, make good decisions under pressure and have the ability to understand technical details, a career as a pilot could be your calling.
And, through Swinburne’s industry-linked flight school, becoming a pilot can be more than just a dream — it can be your reality.
"Swinburne is the best option for aviation if you want to get your pilot training and a degree. You get all the qualifications required to work for an airline. It's such a cool thing to be 18 years old and able to fly yourself from Melbourne to New South Wales."
Josh , Bachelor of Aviation
3 steps to becoming a pilot
Yep, the rumours are true. You need to have pretty good eyesight to become a pilot. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be perfect — as long as your eyes can be corrected to 20/20 with glasses or contacts. So how do you find out if you’re eligible?
In Victoria, Swinburne is the only university that offers you the opportunity to study a Bachelor of Aviation to become a commercial pilot. Prior to selection into the course, shortlisted students are required to complete a skills assessment test with CAE Melbourne Flight Training in late November. This is a computer-based assessment that covers pilot aptitude, hand-eye coordination, motor skills and spatial awareness.
Students must also gain their Class 1 medical certificate from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to be able to undertake practical flying lessons.
Before you can jump inside the cockpit, you’ll also need a thorough understanding of what it takes to fly an aircraft. This includes knowledge of the aviation industry, basic flight operations and attaining key analytical skills.
Delivered in accordance with CASA requirements, our Bachelor of Aviation degree, alongside our Graduate Certificate of Aviation (Piloting) (which you’ll study concurrently), will set you on the path to becoming a commercial or professional pilot.
We also offer the option to combine your aviation degree with a Bachelor of Business. This four year double degree will open doors in the aviation industry outside of becoming a pilot.
With our Bachelor of Aviation degree, you will gain flight experience. You’ll undertake commercial flying training with CAE Melbourne Flight Training at Moorabbin Airport, with access to over 45 aircraft as well as state-of-the-art simulators. Moorabbin Airport has over 295,000 aircraft movements each year, making it one of Australia’s busiest airports. What this means for you - train here, be ready to work anywhere.
While in this course, you’ll start clocking up the 35 required hours to gain your private pilot licence (PPL) and the 150 hours you need for your commercial pilot licence (CPL). As you will be under the supervision of a flight instructor at all times (including while flying solo) you won’t need a licence to fly as a student pilot.
At Swinburne, we proudly provide cadet pilot training for Jetstar. The cadetship program trains future First and Second Officers to fly Jetstar Airbus A320 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.
Gain your licences
Once you’ve completed your Bachelor of Aviation you’ll have earned all the relevant licences to get you flying. In fact, the course is designed to take graduates beyond the requirements for the CASA Air Transport Pilot Licence theory examination, and CPL and Multi-engine Aeroplane Instrument Endorsement practical tests.
This does not mean you’ll be flying with big commercial airlines… yet! See step three.
If you wish to become a commercial pilot and fly aircraft such as the Airbus A380s, Boeing 747s and 777s, you will need to complete 1,500 hours of flight time after you complete your Bachelor of Aviation. It’s a standard set by the airlines to ensure the safety of their millions of customers.
Becoming a commercial pilot for a major airline involves a lot of very important flight hours, which is why we are partnered with Qantas so that our students who are selected into the Qantas Future Pilot Program work towards their 1,500 hours through QantasLink — the airline’s regional brand.
To get your flight time up, you may also find opportunities with small charter companies who look for pilots to run scenic routes for tourists and even skydive runs.
With your 1,500 hours secured, you’ll be ready for your first big commercial gig.
Did you know you could save on fees?
Did you know that local students can achieve a more cost-effective outcome by studying the Bachelor of Aviation alongside the Graduate Certificate of Aviation (Piloting) at Swinburne? Its because you don’t need to pay the FEE-HELP loan for the postgraduate course.
Are you eligible for a scholarship?
Swinburne scholarships are about providing opportunity, promoting equity, and recognising excellence and achievement.
We offer the following aviation scholarships:
- Australian Federation of Air Pilots and Australian Air Pilots Mutual Benefit Fund Scholarship
- International Aviation Women's Association Scholarship
- Piers Fowler Aviation Tour Scholarship
- Piers Fowler Flight Instructor Scholarship
- Piers Fowler Professional Development Initiative Scholarship
- Piers Fowler Professional Undergraduate Research Grant
- Sir Reginald Ansett Scholarship - Aviation
"I’ve wanted to be a pilot since I was just five years old. I chose Swinburne because of their partnership with CAE Melbourne Flight Training, the world’s largest flight training network. The most fun part of my course so far has been flying aerobatics in the Decathlon aircraft!"
Nicolas , Bachelor of Aviation
Interested in becoming a pilot?
Search all our aviation courses available for you to study.