L3Harris Airline Academy

Requirements & qualifications to become 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 the relevant pilot qualifications to start your journey. From pilot skills to subject requirements to become a pilot, we’re here to help you understand exactly what you need to begin your career!

What to expect?

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! You will also create life-long friendships with people across the globe.

So, what do you need to become a pilot? Read on to discover essential pilot requirements and to answer the following questions about becoming a pilot: 

  • What qualifications do you need to be a pilot in the UK?
  • Do you need a degree to be a pilot?
  • Are there any subject requirements to become a pilot?
  • What are the top pilot skills needed for success?
  • What courses can you do to train as a pilot?

What type of personality do pilots have?

A study conducted by NASA in 2004 found that pilots are generally more extraverted. In addition, the majority of pilots who took part showed a high degree of: 

  • Conscientiousness
  • Ambition
  • Competence
  • Sense of duty
  • Warmth
  • Assertiveness
  • Trustworthiness
  • Straightforwardness

Does this sound like you? If you combine these qualities with relevant pilot skills, and can meet the subject requirements to become a pilot, you’ll be on your way to starting your training in no time at all.

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Pilot requirements

Cadets need to meet the following requirements to become a pilot (other requirements may apply depending on the specific programme):

  • Be at least 17 to submit an application and 18 to commence training
  • Minimum height: 5ft 2in (157cm) | Maximum height: 6ft 3in (191cm)
  • 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

Once you are certain that you can meet the necessary pilot requirements, you can begin your journey.

How to apply

What pilot qualifications do you need to be a pilot in the UK?

As you start your journey to becoming a pilot, there are a lot of factors to consider and questions to ask to make sure you can meet the pilot requirements. So, what qualifications do you need to be a pilot?

Do you need GCSEs to become a pilot?

You will need a minimum of five GCSEs grade C/4 or above, or the international equivalent.

What subjects are needed to become a pilot? 

Your GCSEs must include Maths, English and Science at grade C/4 or above.

Do you need A-Levels to become a pilot?

You do not need A Level qualifications to be able to train as a pilot on most our programmes. You will require 80+ UCAS points to apply for our BSc (Hons) Aviation – Pilot Programme.

Do you need a degree to be a pilot?

You do not need a degree to become a pilot. However, some cadets may opt to combine university study with pilot training. For example, the BSc (Hons) Aviation – Pilot Programme has been designed to prepare students for a career as a professional pilot. The programme has been developed between L3Harris and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and is approved by aviation regulators UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

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

You will also need:

  • EASA or UKCAA Class 1 Medical Certification (without restrictions)
  • You must have the unrestricted right to live, study and work in either the UK or the European Economic Area (EEA)/Switzerland or meet the United Kingdom Visa & Immigration Service (UKVI) to qualify for an applicable visa enabling you to study
  • Produce a clean criminal record check (CRC) basic disclosure certificate

If you have the above qualifications, you will be eligible to apply for the Integrated ATPL course, BSc (Hons) Aviation – Pilot Programme, Flexible ATPL or a Modular ATPL course.

Pilot training courses

What skills does a pilot need?

In addition to the necessary requirements and qualifications you must have, the following pilot skills are also important:

  • Communication and teamwork 
  • Decision making and stress management
  • Leadership

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

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

Get in touch today and start your journey!

Do you have any questions about starting your pilot training journey at L3Harris Airline Academy? Please send us a message and our Airline Pilot Careers Advice Team will be happy to assist.

Modular ATPL courses

Once you’ve met the subject requirements to become a pilot, and have developed strong pilot skills such as communication, leadership and coordination, you need to think about what type of pilot training course you want to complete

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:

  • Private Pilot Licence
  • Hours Building
  • Theoretical Knowledge (Classroom-Based)
  • Theoretical Knowledge (Distance Learning)
  • Basic Instrument Flying Module
  • Multi-Engine Piston Class Rating
  • Commercial Pilot Licence
  • Instrument Rating
  • Airline Pilot Standards Multi-Crew Cooperation


Our Individual Modules

Integrated ATPL course

Our Integrated ATPL course is designed to prepare you for the role of First Officer. The programme gives you access to state-of-the-art facilities, modern training aircraft and world class tuition, to help your dream become a reality.

  • Location: Both UK and U.S.A.
  • Duration: 70 weeks - this is a full time course
  • Cost: £94,960 

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

Our Integrated ATPL course

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