Flying is serious business. So serious, in fact, that even after extensive training that might include military experience, flight school, personal lessons and college, pilot candidates still have to undergo aptitude and psychological testing with the airline. These tests are designed to weed out applicants who may have the know-how to be pilots but wouldn't be able to handle the pressure, stress and responsibility of 300 passengers placing their lives in their hands.
Pilots are logical thinkers. They're able to assess instrument panels, weather and turbulence to detect any concerns. If they do find something wrong, they quickly analyze the situation and come up with an appropriate solution without resorting to panic or allowing fear to cloud their judgment. What's more, they possess the confidence to implement their solutions and provide direction to those working with them. Piloting isn't for those who suffer from self-doubt or who would rather do what they're told than take the lead.
Pilots don't allow themselves to be controlled by their emotions. Emotions are a liability in a business where keeping a cool head can mean the difference between success and disaster. This doesn't apply only to dangerous situations in the air. Successful pilots keep their emotions in check during arguments and don't behave aggressively. They're open to critical observations and change, and maintain their composure even during the most stressful situations.
Professional and Diligent
A successful airline pilot is dependable and responsible. It isn't a job for someone who looks out for his own interests or will cut corners when he's impatient. They must be diligent and willing to do what's best for the airline and its passengers. If a takeoff must be delayed for a couple of hours due to inclement weather, for example, the pilot can't just decide to leave early because his schedule has been messed up. He must maintain his focus and professionalism throughout the waiting period and ensuing flight. Pilots must also be capable of remaining alert and maintaining their stamina even during lengthy, exhausting periods of stress.
Works Well With Others
Pilots tend to be social people who enjoy interacting with others. This is good because effective communication is a major key to a pilot's success. They need to be active listeners when receiving information from the ground, and they need to be able to clearly convey their situations in the air. While pilots should be independent enough to take the initiative, they nevertheless work closely with their copilots and crew and value their input.
2016 Salary Information for Airline and Commercial Pilots
Airline and commercial pilots earned a median annual salary of $111,270 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, airline and commercial pilots earned a 25th percentile salary of $77,450, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $166,140, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 124,800 people were employed in the U.S. as airline and commercial pilots.