Qualifications to be a Pilot

by L3Harris Airline Academy on Nov 24 2020
Qualifications to be a pilot

Whether you’ve graduated from University or school, thinking of a career change or travelling from overseas to become a pilot, you’ll need relevant qualifications needed to be a pilot and requirements to start your journey.

A career as a pilot is unlike any other, full of excitement and possibilities. You will enjoy attractive pay and benefits and an office above the clouds with spectacular views and create life-long friendships with people across the globe.

Read on to discover what qualifications are needed as well as the requirements to become a pilot.

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Pilot Qualifications

To begin pilot training you’ll need the following qualifications:

  • A minimum of five GCSEs grade C/4 or above, or international equivalent, for example in Portugal: Secondary School (Year 12) completion certificate; which must include Maths, English and Science

You will also need:

  • EASA Class 1 Medical Certification (without restrictions)
  • UK CAA Class 1 Medical Certification (without restrictions for UK CAA license)
  • Have the right to live and work in EEA and Switzerland or obtain a Tier 4 Study Visa.
  • Produce a clean criminal record check (CRC) basic disclosure certificate

If you have the above commercial airline pilot qualifications, you will be eligible to apply for an Integrated ATPL course or a Modular ATPL course.

Some cadets may opt to combine university study with pilot training. For example, Middlesex University offers a BSc (Hons) in Professional Aviation Pilot Practice, which is combined with pilot training at L3Harris. To enrol on the University programme you will need to meet all the above entry requirements plus a minimum of 2 A-Levels.

On successful course completion, you will achieve a ‘frozen’ Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL), the qualification needed to start your career as a pilot.

Pilot Requirements

In addition to the above qualifications, cadets also need to meet the following requirements to become a pilot:

  • Be at least 17 to submit an application and 18 to commence training
  • A minimum height of 5ft 2in(157cm)
  • A maximum height of 6ft 3in (191cm)
  • Be fluent in English (verbal and written). Non-native English speakers must achieve level 5.5 individual and overall in IELTS or equivalent ICAO level 4 prior to starting training.

It is also preferable if you have the following pilot requirements:

  • A good understanding of maths and physics
  • Excellent communications skills
  • Ability to work well in a team
  • Demonstrate leadership skills
  • Excellent spatial awareness and coordination
  • Ability to remain calm under pressure

Modular ATPL Course

Our Modular ATPL offers a range of flight school courses to complete in bite-size chunks, allowing you to work in between pilot training to fund course fees. We offer training modules for:


  • Cost: £13,000
  • Duration: Approx. 10-weeks
  • Location: Portugal

Hours building:

  • Cost: £20,000
  • Duration: Approx. 15-weeks
  • Location: Portugal

Theoretical Knowledge:

  • Cost: £6,950 (Classroom-Based) or £2,400 (Distance Learning)
  • Duration: Approx. 29-weeks
  • Location: Gatwick (Classroom-Based) or Home (Distance Learning)


  • Cost: £39,500
  • Duration: Approx. 23-weeks
  • Location: UK or Portugal


  • Cost: £5,699
  • Duration: Approx. 3-weeks
  • Location: Gatwick

Learn more about our Modular ATPL Course

Integrated ATPL Course

Our Integrated ATPL courses are designed to prepare you for the role of First Officer, both programmes give you access to state-of-the-art facilities, modern training aircraft and world class tuition, to help your dream become a reality.

On successful completion, you will graduate with a frozen ATPL issued by the UK CAA or EASA.

  • Cost: £79,950 (ATPL Essential) & £86,000 (ATPL)
  • Location: United Kingdom and Portugal
  • Status: Full-time
  • Duration: 18-24-months
  • Entry Requirements: A minimum of five GSCEs (or equivalent) including Maths, English, and Science
  • Required Experience: Little or none

Learn more about our Integrated ATPL courses