Become Part of the Flight Crew

If you love to fly and travel, you can be a part of an airline crew. Crewmembers are constantly on the go, but they also get to enjoy their job – and get paid for it, too. Depending on the size aircraft you work on, there will be several crew members on each flight.

Pilot in Airplane Cockpit Photo

Each one has specific duties that they are responsible for in order to run the aircraft smoothly and take care of the passengers and their needs.

Each position has different requirements and/or training that must be completed before becoming part of the air crew. Airlines may have slightly different requirements and needs, but they will be similar. The need for more planes and crew is expected in the next decade, and this growth could be as much as 10 percent, which will provide many more jobs and opportunities in this field.


Aircraft cannot fly without a pilot, and they need to be trained and licensed. Once they have that, they will help direct the aircraft through the skies to their destination – both at home and abroad. There are many different kinds of pilots, and only some of them fly commercial planes. They also may fly helicopters, train other pilots, test pilots, fly planes that drop chemicals to fight forest fires, crop dusting, or fly private jets. Pilots need to have excellent health and good vision and hearing.

In an article by USA Today, it is reported that Boeing is predicting that it will need to add about 23,000 new pilots each year for the next 18 years. This will certainly provide job security for those able to get their commercial pilot’s license.

Co-pilot / First Officer

The First Officer is a licensed commercial pilot who may not have enough hours to become a pilot yet. The pilot is usually just a pilot who has more flight time than a First Officer and is given the responsibility for the aircraft because of it. Many new pilots get hired as a First Officer or as a Flight Engineer, and it may be four to five years before they get promoted to pilot. A copilot has had the same amount of training as a pilot.

It is the responsibility of the First Officer to preflight the aircraft, get clearances as needed from the tower, and ensure proper weight balances for the cargo. The First Officer will usually fly part of the flight, and must be ready to take over the plane if the pilot should become sick or incapacitated during the flight. Like a pilot, they must also know the FAA regulations, and meet certain health, vision, and hearing requirements. New pilots will usually only be assigned to a “Reserve” status at first, which means they will only fly when someone else is not able to.

Flight Engineers

Another one of the jobs is that of flight engineer. This position has been phased out of all modern planes, but many older planes still use it. The flight engineer sits behind the pilots at an electronics panel and watches for problems. Much of this is now fully automated, which is why the position is no longer needed.

After obtaining the pilot’s license, he or she will often become a flight engineer (or a flight trainer) so that hours can be earned which will enable them to become a first officer and eventually a pilot of a commercial aircraft – which is the ultimate position. Advancement is usually based only on seniority.

Cabin Crew / Flight Attendant

Other airline flight crew jobs consist of flight attendants. Their job is to provide the needs of the passengers, as well as ensure their safety while on the plane. Flight attendants work in different classes of the plane, and will have different responsibilities – often based on the length of the flight. The requirements of a flight attendant are similar for most airlines. You will need to be able to swim a minimum of 25 yards, be fluent in English, and have a valid passport. There is the possibility of promotions, and other types of work. Being able to travel is an obvious benefit, but regular hours should not be expected.

Flight attendant jobs are expected to increase in the next few years. The job, however, is highly competitive and you will need to look sharp to get the job. You will definitely need a H.S. Diploma or GED, and even having a year of college is better. Customer service experience, being physically fit, and being able to speak a second language, will help ensure that you have an even better chance of being hired. You will also need to be able to pass a background check that goes back 10 years or more.


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