Pilot training in the United States.

How to become a pilot in the USA

Becoming a pilot with L3Harris Flight Academy is an investment in your future. We have the facilities and training expertise at our central Florida Academy to prepare our cadets for an exciting and rewarding career as a Commercial Airline Pilot. As a world leader in aviation training, L3Harris Flight Academy is dedicated to helping our graduates build flight hours, preparing tomorrow’s pilots for a role with one of the 11 airlines we work with across the US.

How to become a pilot in the USA with L3Harris Flight Academy at a glance:

You will need a Commercial Pilot License & 1,500 flying hours to earn your Airline Transport Pilot Certificate to fly for an airline.

It takes an average of 12-15 months to complete your flight school training, before going on to obtain your 1,500 flying hours.

You will undertake an FAA (Federal Aviation Agency) approved pilot training program.

Our Professional Pilot Program (PPP) is our flagship pilot training program & guarantees graduates an interview with us to become an L3Harris Flight Instructor & build the necessary flying hours to apply for a role as Co-Pilot.

Our Commercial Pilot Track (CPT) helps cadets pursue a career as a commercial pilot but are not interested in becoming a Flight Instructor.

Our Airline Pilot Track (APT) can be the most direct route to becoming a pilot & guarantees you an interview to become a Flight Instructor.

You will need passion, self-discipline, technical aptitude, problem-solving skills, teamwork, spatial awareness, and the ability to make decisions under pressure to become a successful pilot.

The steps below outline a cadet pilot’s typical progression through our flagship Professional Pilot Program which prepares students whose goal is to work for an airline.

Pilot Pathways High School Merit and Veterans Scholarships are now OPEN. Don’t miss your chance to apply for a scholarship to help fund pilot training. Applications for High School Merit Scholarship must be received by 31 October 2021 and Veterans Scholarship by September 14 2021. Find out more here.

Your steps to becoming a pilot

Stage 1: Research pilot schools & training programmes

There are many flight schools in Florida, but none stand out like L3Harris Flight Academy. As part of a world-leading, global aviation business, our cadets have access to the latest training technologies and systems.

Our Florida flight school is well equipped with over 100 aircraft and five Flight Training Devices, but aside from our excellent facilities, we have a reputation in the industry for having friendly, approachable staff who provide outstanding training.

We hold regular ‘Be A Pilot Careers Events’ (BAPCEs) across the country and online which we recommend you attend to meet the team and get a feel for life at L3Harris Flight Academy.

Stage 2: Check you meet the entry criteria & have the common skills required to become a pilot

To start your journey to become a pilot in the USA, here are the qualifications and common skills you need to become a pilot. For course-specific entry requirements, please visit each of our pilot training courses.


All applicants must be at least 17 year and 6 months old at the start of their program.

Education and English language

You must meet at least one of these criteria, or equivalent:

  • Have a high school diploma with a cumulative GPA of 2.5
  • Have completed 24 college credit hours from an accredited institution with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5
  • Hold a Private Pilot’s Certificate with verification of high school diploma or GED

Photocopy of an FAA Medical Certificate.

Criminal record check

You will need to produce a criminal record check (CRC) basic disclosure certificate before training can commence.


The following documents are needed to begin the APT:

  • United States Citizens (including individuals from D.C., Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Northern Mariana Island, American Samoa, and Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Island)
  • Valid U.S. passport or passport card
  • And Certificate of Birth Abroad (if applicable)
  • And Certificate of Naturalization (if applicable)

OR – Any two of the following:

  • State issued Birth Certificate
  • Unexpired government-issued photo ID
  • S. Military ID Card
  • Native American Tribal Card

Permanent residents:

  • Valid international passport
  • And unexpired Permanent Resident Card

A course-by-course transcript evaluation is required for any APT applicant who attended high school outside of the United States. If the applicant's transcript is printed in any language other than English, please submit a copy of the original document as well as a translated copy. Ask your Admissions Officer for a list of translation and/or evaluation companies.


Complete a Wonderlic assessment and meet or exceed the minimum score requirement.

Stage 3: Application & selection

Once you are ready to apply you can either submit the short application form on the website to register your interest in a program, or complete the full application form online. We charge an application fee of $150.

Once your application has been screened by our admissions team you will be invited to complete a Wonderlic assessment. You must meet or exceed the minimum score requirement.

Stage 4: Preparation

Once through selection, it will be time to move into your accommodation and begin your course. Our student services team can assist with orientation, housing, transportation, and student affairs. We also coordinate extra-curricular activities to help you and your fellow student cadets have fun and get to know one another.

Stage 5-8: Commence your pilot training

Stage 5: Earn Your Private Pilot Certificate

You will study for your Private Pilot Certificate (PPL) at ground school within the Academic Building of our Florida Flight Academy as well as learning to fly a single-engine airplane.  Once this phase is completed you will receive your Private Pilot License (PPL).

Stage 6: Earn an Instrument Rating Certificate

Achieving your Instrument Rating (IR) extends the privileges of your PPL and allows you to fly according to Instrument Flight Rules (IFR). Obtaining your IR will build your confidence in flying under different conditions as you will learn to reference instruments in the flight deck and navigate via electronic signals.

Stage 7: Earn a Commercial Pilot Single-Engine Certificate

This module will provide you with commercial pilot privileges in single-engine aircraft. Ground school will include pre-flight preparation and procedures and your flight training will cover FAA regulations such as radio communications, air traffic control, and commercial operations.

Stage 8: Earn a Commercial Multi-Engine Add-on Rating

The multi-engine rating is the next necessary step for any professional pilot who wishes to fly for an airline. The module will focus on aircraft control, performance, and multi-engine operations.

Learn about our Professional Pilot Program
Stage 9: Obtain your Certified Flight Instructor Certificate

Pilots must have a minimum of 1500 hours of flight time before they can apply to passenger airlines in the United States. For this reason, we include the Certified Flight Instructor Certificate in our Professional Pilot Program and offer all our graduates an interview to become a Flight Instructor. Teaching others is a great way to embed your own learning as well as building up valuable flight hours.

Stage 10: Gain flight experience & earn your 1500 flying hours

Once you have successfully obtained your Certified Flight Instructor Certificate, you can build up the required 1500 flight hours to obtain your Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate - the highest level of aircraft pilot certificate.

With an ATP certificate, you unlock your potential to go on to fly for regional and major airlines as a Co-Pilot and Captain.

What pilot jobs are available when I graduate?

Most applicants who wish to become a pilot in the U.S.A. aspire to fly for a commercial airline. Our pilot training courses are all designed to prepare you for a role as a Co-Pilot on a passenger aircraft. It is important to note the FAA states that all graduate pilots must build at least 1,500 flying hours before applying to work for an airline.

At L3Harris Flight Academy, we help you achieve your ultimate career goal by offering all our graduates an interview to become a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) – one of the best ways of building flight hours.

We also invite representatives from airlines to visit the campus and interview our cadets and Flight Instructors, providing valuable opportunities to secure your future pilot career.

Your career prospects and CFI opportunities
How much does it cost to become a pilot in the USA?

When deciding to become a commercial airline pilot, one of the most frequently asked questions is ‘how much does it cost to become a pilot?’. And it’s no surprise as to why. Your pilot license cost is a significant investment and financial commitment.

The exact cost to become a pilot will differ depending on the route you take and the Approved Training Organization (ATO) you opt for.

Our pilot training program costs:

  • Professional Pilot Program (PPP) = $83,995
  • Airline Pilot Track (APT) = $83,995
  • Commercial Pilot Track (CPT) = 66,995
  • Airline Transport Pilot Certification Training Program (ATP CTP) = £3,150
  • Private Pilot License = $11,590
Find out how much pilot training costs & how to fund your pilot training
Get in touch today

It is time to start your airline pilot journey. Request info or speak to the team.

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Why L3Harris Flight Academy?
100% funding available for those who qualify
100% funding available for those who qualify

We work with 11 affiliate airlines (with pathways to United, American and Delta)
We work with 11 affiliate airlines (with pathways to United, American and Delta)

96% of graduates who stay with us to build flight hours go on to be placed with airlines
96% of graduates who stay with us to build flight hours go on to be placed with airlines

Guaranteed Flight Instructor interview upon graduation
Guaranteed Flight Instructor interview upon graduation

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    How to become a pilot FAQs

  • How long does it take to become a commercial pilot?

      How long it takes to become a commercial pilot is dependent on the pilot training program you choose to complete.

      • Airline Pilot Track = 12 months
      • Professional Pilot Program = 15 months
      • Commercial Pilot Track = 10 months
      • College Degrees = 2-4 years
      • Private Pilot License = 40hrs
  • How much can I expect to earn as a pilot?

      As a commercial airline pilot, you can expect to receive a salary above the average. However, your actual salary will differ depending on whether you fly for a major or regional airline.

      Newly qualified pilots typically start out at a regional airline. Regional airline pilots are typically paid less than those at major airlines.

      According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2020 Report, the percentile wage estimates for Airline Pilots, Co-Pilots, and Flight Engineers are as follows:

      • Percentile 10% - $80,920
      • Percentile 25% - $106,530
      • Percentile 50% (median) - $106,970

      The Bureau of Labor Statistics Report

  • What would my day look like as a pilot?

      As a commercial airline pilot working from a regional or major airline you can expect to work weekdays, evenings, weekends, and holidays.

      You will be responsible for:

      • Performing pre-and-post-flight aircraft inspections
      • Planning and selecting safe flight routes with Co-Pilots.
      • Identifying and problem-solving risks that may occur
      • Keeping accurate records for compliance reasons
      • Communicating with air traffic control regarding the flight plan, air traffic, weather and other external factors which may impact the flight
      • Monitoring aircraft engines, fuel levels, and aircraft systems
      • Flying the aircraft using visual flight rules and instruments

Pilot training news & updates

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