To become a member of the professions (Doctor, Lawyer, Teacher, Accountant, Journalist etc) in Ghana there is aclear route to achieving this goal. What is not clear to many parents and students is how to become a pilot.
I have taken my time to write this article because the WASSCE result has just been released and parents need to help their children make informed choices that could shape their future forever.
To become a pilot, you need to attend a flight training school just like becoming a lawyer you need to go to a law school. The path to becoming a pilot as a Ghanaian is not known to many because we do not have flight training schools in the country. The questions that a prospective pilot may wish to know are the following:
- Am I eligible to get into a flight training school?
- What kind of pilot do I want to be? Professional or Private Pilot?
- How do I get into a flight training school and where may I find a school?
- What stage do I need to start my training and will I get a job when I am done with training?
To be eligible for a student pilot certificate in most jurisdiction, you need to be at least 16 years old, be able to read, speak and write in English. That is it, as simple as that, there is no entrance exams or interview to take, and you don’t need WASSCE grades.
The kind of pilot you want to be will be key to the route you will take after completing senior high school. If you want to be a private pilot and fly for recreational purposes like the path I took, then you are better going to the university to pursue your formal career and enroll in flight training school when you are done.
If your goal is to become an airline pilot and you have the resources, then you don’t have to go to the University after senior high school. YES, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO GO TO THE UNIVERSITY. It will be a waste of your time if you do. The main reason is that most airlines will prefer to employ a younger person, train and retain the person than employing an older person as a flight officer (co-pilot).
Also, most of the cognitive skills are best learned and retained for long during the teenage years.I will recommend you enroll in a flight training school after senior high school, start as a student pilot and work your way through getting your airline transport pilot license.
The countries that have good flight training schools in the world are the United States of America, United Kingdom, Australia and South Africa. I am very much familiar with the system in the U.S and UK, and both have their advantages and disadvantages. Aviation fuel is cheaper in the U.S and this makes training there very cheaper compared to the other countries, the U.S also has a lot of small airports and flying clubs hence getting an aircraft to fly is easy compared to the other countries.
On the other hand, if you want to be an airline pilot and you don't have the resources, your best option is to join the Ghana Airforce. The air force will sponsor your training outside the country and you will work for them for several years until at a time that you can retire from the airforce and then join an air carrier.
The advantage with this route is that you don’t pay a dime towards your training and most commercial airlines prefer pilots with military experience. It is important to note that our air force does not have fighter aircraft like the F16, Eurofighter lightening 2, the hawk etc. These are great aircraft to fly but unfortunately, we don't have these in our country. The pilots of these aircraft when they retire from the airforce are usually preferred by commercial aircarriers.
In regards to the duration of training, this depends on the school and how often you get to fly and accumulate flight time. But averagely between six months and one year, you should be done with training.
In regard to jobs, there is a surge in demand for pilots currently especially in emerging markets especially China and finding a job in the industry will not be difficult. It is important to note that these trends change and five years ago getting jobs in the industry was difficult. If you are interested in becoming a pilot this is the time to get in.
Other professions that pay well that you may wish to explore in the civil aviation industry are air traffic controllers, and aircraft system engineers and in the military weapons and system operators and navigators.
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