A resume that flies high is the engine boost for an airline pilot’s career. Set a course toward your dream destination (we mean that perfect job!) with a resume that soars.
Airline pilots are in demand, so the quicker you get your resume out there, the higher you can climb. But don’t rush your application, take you time and create a document that represents you at your highest level.
Resume.io offers a host of resources to ease your job hunt including resume guides and resume examples for 300+ professions. When you’re ready to get started, our resume builder will help you keep your job hunt flying smoothly.
This resume guide along with the corresponding resume example will cover the following topics:
- What does an airline pilot do?
- How to write an airline pilot resume (tips and tricks)
- The best format for an airline pilot resume
- Advice on each section of your resume (summary, work history, education, skills)
- Professional resume layout and design hints.
What does an airline pilot do?
What does an airline pilot do? That’s a silly question, right? Airline pilots fly planes! But the job entails more than sitting in the cockpit.
Pilots are the crew leaders on the plane whether they be flying passenger or cargo aircraft. They ensure that the plane is ready for takeoff, coordinate routes, make sure weather conditions are favorable for flying, communicate with air traffic control and monitor all systems while the plane is in flight. In case of emergency, the pilot takes the helm to keep passengers and the crew safe.
On the ground, they are charged with keep up with company and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations and must attend training and testing sessions regularly.
Getting off the ground
Becoming a pilot requires training and dedication. According to ATP Flight School, here are the certificates to earn.
- Private pilot, which can take anywhere from two months to two years
- Instrument rating, which takes about six weeks
- Commercial pilot, which requires 250 hours in flight and testing; this can be completed in five months
- Multi-engine rating, which has no flight time requirement, but need the endorsement of an authorized instructor
- The Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate, which requires a minimum of 1,500 flight hours
- Finally, you are eligible for a commercial pilot job.
Ready to take your resume to new heights? Have a look at our related transportation resume samples, so you can write your own.
Airline pilot job market and outlook
This is a great time to look skyward! A post-COVID airline pilot shortage is on the way, predicts business analysts Oliver Wyman. Pilots must retire at 65 and the U.S. pilot population is heading that way quickly. Instability of demand for travel and diminished financial backing for pilot training are among the many reasons for the predicted shortage.
The study goes on to predict a global shortage of more than 400,000 pilots by 2029; the shortfall in the United States is predicted to be more than 20,000.
Airline pilots, copilots and engineers earned a median salary of $160,970 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The lowest earners took home less than $47,570, while the top 10% had annual salaries of more than $208,000.
How to write an airline pilot resume
Before you begin writing your airline pilot resume, you need to understand what goes into it. Your CV should contain the following elements:
- The resume header
- The resume summary (aka profile or personal statement)
- The employment history section
- The resume skills section
- The education section
Your resume is a sales mechanism whose goal is to get you an interview with the airline of your choice. To do that, you need to explain why you are the right pilot for the job. Each airline has a personality of its own and you should reflect that personality by using the appropriate tone and style in your messaging.
Research the airline, its culture and philosophy so you understand what hiring managers look for in their pilots and integrate those attributes into your airline pilot resume. Try to find out who will be reviewing your resume, if possible. Address your communication directly to that person.
A resume sample that will help you get upwardly mobile will follow this winning formula:
- Tweak your style and messaging to fit into the culture of each airline to which you apply.
- Make a professional image by choosing a resume template that’s memorable without being too busy
- When submitting online, optimize your resume with appropriate keywords so it won’t be filtered out by ATS screening software.
Getting past the ATS
Applicant Tracking System programs scan and rank resumes to save the time of hiring managers. You need to get past this first step to get your airline pilot resume seen by a recruiter. These steps will greatly improve your chances:
- Analyze the job listing and compare it to your resume.
- Make sure you use the exact wording that you find in the listing
- Add any skills you have that are mentioned
- List both abbreviations and full words
- Use standard section headings.
Choosing the best resume format for an airline pilot
As a pilot, you know that barring special circumstances, the tried-and-true route is the best. The same is the case with your airline pilot resume sample. In most instances, reverse chronological format makes the most sense. Start with your current position and work your way back (no more than 10 years). This format makes it easy for hiring managers to see the progression of your career.
However, if you have taken a more circuitous path to your current position, you may consider the functional resume format or hybrids. These alternatives are also useful if you are just entering the job market or are a mature job seeker.
Unless you are a scientist or work in a highly technical field, the functional resume format should not be your first choice. It offers a means to emphasize niche or highly complex skills by expanding the skills section and reducing the employment history section in exchange.
For most airline pilots, a reverse chronological resume is the way to go.
Resume summary example: personality matters
Personality plays a role in the career of a pilot. In fact, SAFE (The Society of Aviation and Flight Educators) describes a “pilot personality.” Your resume summary is the spot to show that off. Whether you fit the mold or not, you need to convey who you are as well as your successful career in flight so far.
Your summary, also called a profile, sits at the top of your resume and acts as an overview. It may not be the first section recruiters look at, but if they are interested in you, they will read carefully. Develop two or three well-crafted sentences that describe how you will help take the airline to new heights. Infuse your descriptions of your greatest one or two achievements with words that illustrate your personality and work style. Remember to mesh this with the culture of your prospective employer.
See resume sample text below.
Dedicated and experienced Pilot bringing forth the ability to fly air-crafts and perform all technical duties associated with flying at an expert level. Adept at monitoring the performance of safety systems and communicating with air traffic controllers. Able to effectively manage flight deck crews and multi-task to achieve flight success. Wholly committed to the safety and satisfaction of passengers.
Employment history CV sample: your career flight path
The employment history section of your airline pilot CV details your experience, but a successful airline pilot resume does more than that. It tells recruiters that you have learned, grown and calmly dealt with any situation that came your way.
Use succinct, bulleted items and dynamic language. Details rule here. Whenever possible, use data to describe your successes.
Think in terms of achievements instead of job responsibilities. What have you done to improve safety practices? How did you solve a problem among crew members? Did you catch an error that might have caused problems? Do you have a stellar flight record and the statistics to match? These are all worthy of your resume.
Try these action verbs
Helmed, piloted, navigated, steered, catapulted, commanded, directed.
Don’t be afraid to use a thesaurus, but make sure your language sounds natural. If you wouldn’t say the word, don’t use it.
If you are looking for your first airline pilot job, you may want to consider swapping this section with your education details since you have trained hard to earn your certification.
See the resume example text below.
- Worked tirelessly with flight crew to manage the safe and systematic operation of air-crafts.
- Calmly worked through any in-flight emergencies to support the safety and satisfaction of passengers.
- Assigned crew members with tasks appropriately.
- Communicated with dispatch to determine best flight routes.
- Remained committed and focused on safe and efficient flight operations.
Resume skills sample: on the nose
Airline pilots need a very specific skill set. But since you can’t list everything you need to know to be an expert pilot here, how do you decide which 4-7 skills to choose? This is one place the ATS comes into play. We referenced it early, but the skills section of your airline pilot resume is a perfect spot to get some of those all-important keywords and phrases in.
Airline pilots need technical knowledge and skills, but they also need great communication skills. Use a blend of skills you trained hard to master and the interpersonal skills that make you a great leader.
See the resume example content for a skills section below.
- Aircraft Technology
- Spatial Awareness
- Strong Communication Skills
- Leadership Skills
- Time Management
Airline pilot resume education example
The education section of your airline pilot resume is a compilation of your academic credentials. No need to put in your GPA or any classes you took unless they elevate your candidacy.
Because of your specialty certifications, you should add a separate section to call attention to them. Place it above your education section, or even above your employment history if you are just starting out.
Keep your education section simple, with just your academic listings. If you don’t have space for a separate certification section, you can call this section “Education and Certification” and include all the relevant information here.
See resume example content below for a formatting suggestion.
- 2005-2007 Aviator College, Professional Pilot Program Columbus OH
- 2001-2005 Syracuse University, Bachelor of Aeronautical Engineering Syracuse, NY
Resume layout and design: aerodynamic design
The first visual impression anyone will get of you is the design of your resume. What image do you want to project? Professional, clean, efficient. Think of the sleek, aerodynamics of a jet plane. You want a recruiter’s eye to flow through your resume and land on all the important details you carefully crafted.
While you want your application to be memorable, your first goal is for it to be readable. Here are some tips to that end:
- Proofread carefully to avoid an spelling, grammatical, or punctuation errors or choose an online resume builder such as our that includes a spellcheck function
- Create white space by varying your line lengths
- If you spill over to a second page, try not to break up sections
Key takeaways for an airline pilot resume
- Becoming an airline pilot requires training, dedication and time.
- Your certifications play a key role in your career, so highlight them in a separate section.
- Consider the culture and style of the airlines you apply to and personalize your resume for each -- and for the ATS.
- The demand for airline pilots is expected to soar in the next decade, so get your resume ready with help from the online resume maker!