Real Answers from Real Pilots

Growth Opportunties for Pilots

Hi all - would love to get some information on growth opportunities for airline pilots. I understand there are several areas for leadership including flight operations, flight training, and chief pilot roles, and was wondering how individuals can get involved. Specifically, it would be great to hear if selection for these areas are based on seniority, interest, or other factors. Looking forward to hearing back!


First of all, don’t forget about the most important growth opportunity which is flight time. Building experience towards upgrade and then building 1000 hours TPIC will open doors for you at the majors.

But if you want to get involved in other ways the simplest way is to volunteer. Reach out to someone in a department that you’re interested in and offer to help. Otherwise, keep your ear to the ground for official announcements about job openings or volunteer opportunities. I would even check the careers page on the company website.

But I do like the idea of being proactive about getting involved. If you show interest in something someone may throw you a bone before the official announcement is made. No guarantees are made but you never know who may be keeping an eye out for you.

Seniority doesn’t really come into play when we’re talking about taking on other non-flying responsibilities. Depending on what you are applying for it’s usually just a matter of whether or bot you would be a good fit and are qualified for the position.



All the jobs you’re talking about are available to pilots on the line. When opportunities become available you simply step up and interview. When it comes to training you’ll usually start as a Ground Instructor and work your way up. Same goes for Chief Pilot. Many airlines have Assistant Chiefs or Duty Officers. Volunteering for union work will also get you noticed.

The key to all is not just being a good pilot but being a good employee. I know many pilots with poor attitudes, poor attendance etc who wonder why they never get selected for these positions. It’s really not a mystery.


If those things interest you, I recommend you try to get into leadership roles and volunteering roles as soon as possible. If you’re at ATP, try to become a lead (flight standards instructor). If you’re instructing elsewhere, be the instructor that offers extra ground sessions on your weekends, get your gold seal, etc. All of those things will add details to your resume that can complement your character and hard work you display and can get you one of those positions if the opportunity arises.