An ATPL is the most important milestone in a professional pilot’s career. As the top rung of the commercial flying ladder, having your ATPL means that the flying world is completely open for you. That’s because the holder of this license not only has all the privileges of a private pilot license and a commercial pilot license, but they can also act as commander on multi-crew aircraft of major airlines and fly larger aircraft such as Boeing, Airbus, or similar commercial airliners.
Earning your ATPL is a stepping stone process. Since it is the highest pilot license the FAA issues, you first need to obtain your Private Pilot License (PPL) as well as your Commercial Pilot License (CPL). You have to be a minimum of 21 years of age, and you will need to have a Class 1 medical certificate to sit the ATPL flight test. You will also need already hold a multi-crew pilot license and have completed instruction in multi-crew co-operation (MCC).
There are two options for getting your ATPL: Integrated or Modular. If you are looking for a course that will take you through the detailed learning process, then the integrated program is a good one for you. The integrated option involves a full-time course of study that lasts around 14 months. Since this is a more intense and structured training approach, students can go from being a complete beginner to being ready for a role as a commercial pilot.
The modular route involves the same modules as the integrated route, but you can set your own pace at which to study. You can either choose to do it on a part-time or full-time basis. You also have room to select the rate at which you want to progress. While it may take you longer to complete training following the modular approach, there are financial advantages because the cost can be spread over a longer period of time.
The holder of a “Frozen ATPL” has a Commercial Pilots License with a Multi-Instrument Rating and has passed the ATPL examinations. When they achieve the flying requirements, they can obtain a full ATPL.
If you have a passion for flying then being paid to do what you love is the best job in the world. Gaining your ATPL sets you up to be paid a good amount of money to fly for a living. Captain airline pilots in the U.S. earn a median salary of $117,290 and can earn up to $187,200 per year. In addition to being paid to do what you love to do, you get to travel a lot and often find yourself "overnighting" in a glamorous destination with time off to explore these exciting places while their airline pays for your lodging and travel accommodations.
Overall employment of airline and commercial pilots is projected to grow 13 percent from 2020 to 2030, which is faster than the average for all occupations. Gaining your ATPL is your ticket to moving up in salary and stature. It demonstrates that not only are you a highly competent pilot, but you also have many flight hours under your belt and are ready for the challenge.
To find out more about integrated vs modular ATPL training listen to the CAE Pilot podcast
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