For candidates, airlines have few if any requirements on nationality, place of residence, gender, education, work experience, degree, school performance and etc. If you compare the requirements for a management trainee program in a big company, you will find the things airline ask for is just essential. But the number of people airline recruit is a lot more than the number of management trainee… and I don’t see the need to compare their starting salaries… But this does not mean it is easy to get into airline.
Actually, airline pilot selection is one of the most, if not THE most, rigorous selection procedure you can find. Then what are the criteria airlines use to select their new hires? The answer to this question is, instead of appearance, education or other external factors, airline value more about professional knowledge and people skill. To be specific, the professional knowledge in flying theories, planes and flight environment and stress management under pressure, management and control of multiple tasks and accurate communication.
In other words, the airline selection is structured around its professional knowledge and skill needs and the criteria are to test how passionate and committed the candidates are, how much efforts the candidates contributed and how their psychological development is. Concretely speaking, the basic requirements to be an airline pilot include: Age & gender: between 18 to 35. There is NO discrimination in genders. So male and female have the same opportunities; Vision: The current normative on pilots affirms that “If normal sights can be restored with the help of lenses or glasses, visual defects are not a impediment for becoming a pilot”.
This means that you can become a pilot if you suffer from visual defects that can be corrected by glasses or lenses. Astigmatism, Hyperopic (long sightedness), Presbyopia and Myopia are not cause for pilot rejection. LASIK or laser operation: Pay attention though not to do a LASIK or laser operation, because this in most of the cases will stop your career forever. A Lasik or Eye Laser operation, can have slight sight effects that are a deterrent for pilots. A common side effect is night starburst of halos effects.
These are typical in low lights situation with bright lights sources, usually the cockpit is low light with bright lights coming from the instruments. These effects can reduce the ability to judge or read an instrument and therefore will impede the pilot to do his own job. Medical conditions: The medical conditions that will impede you to enter will be: serious heart problems or coronary problems, clinical hypertension, color blindness or retina damages, brain damages or reduced motor skills, serious psychological problems like clinical depression, or any serious life threatening problem.
For sure you will have known in advance if you have such serious medical conditions. Candidate nationality: For the cadet pilots programs in China, like the one of China Southern, you need to be a Chinese citizen to apply. For most of the other cadet programs, like the one in HK or Singapore, any nationality can be admitted, including Mainland Chinese nationals; Education requirement: A degree or diploma is needed, in any discipline, or a Form 7 equivalent with a pass in Math or Physics will do the fare.
There is no preference for any discipline, so even if your degree is in art it will be accepted and will not handicap you; Major: The airline companies do not have any requirement on the major in university. Well, they don’t even require a university degree, so… The general belief is that actually, a business major will be good for the long term development if you want
You will need to pass 2 medical checks called ICAO Level 1 and Level 2 Medical, but usually these are no hurdle for entering the cadet. Anybody who satisfies these requirements above is capable for the airline pilot career. Then, let’s move to how to change the “capable” into “very capable”. In other words, what are the key criteria the airlines value and how to improve these criteria so you can pass the interviews to be an airline pilot.