A pilot must have a special license to operate an aircraft for pay. This commercial pilot’s license does not automatically qualify an individual for every kind of airplane, however. Several specialties exist in the aviation industry, and some types of commercial pilot jobs have additional training requirements.
Agricultural pilots operate either airplanes or helicopters in rural locations. The job of these professionals is to apply fertilizers, insecticides, and other specialty chemicals from the air. These rural types of commercial pilot jobs often require low-level flying over farms and orchards, which can be dangerous. Some pilots in the agricultural industry work as aerial firefighters. Instead of spreading fertilizers on crops, firefighter pilots drop water or fire-resistant chemicals over the scene of a wildfire
Flight instructors are pilots who provide training to other people. Instructors usually have many years of experience behind the controls of an aircraft, and must be properly licensed to provide instruction. In addition to good flight skills, instructors must have the ability to communicate effectively. An instructor must also have a high level of patience in order to deal with students at different skill levels.
Air freight or cargo pilots do not transport passengers, but instead move shipments from one city to another. Due to the demands of next-day and overnight package delivery, irregular hours are common in these types of commercial pilot jobs. While some pilots enjoy flying at night, others begin their flying careers in freight transport and move on to passenger service after gaining cockpit experience.
Aeromedical pilots are responsible for transporting sick and injured people to hospitals. Many of these commercial pilot jobs require the pilot to also be certified in emergency medical procedures. A large number of aeromedical pilots fly helicopters, which may have to be carefully maneuvered in hazardous locations during emergencies. Some pilots also operate long distance aeromedical transports, which are fixed-wing passenger aircraft modified for patient care.
Airline pilots are some of the most well-known types of commercial pilots. These professionals fly jets and turboprop airplanes to move passengers between airports. Many airline pilots begin their careers with small regional airlines. Major airlines that fly cross-country and international routes typically hire very experienced pilots who have accumulated thousands of hours at the controls.
Corporate pilots are similar to airline pilots, but operate small and medium business aircraft instead of large passenger jets. Individuals in these types of commercial pilot jobs must be willing to work irregular hours, and often must fly to unfamiliar airports on short notice. Some corporate pilots have a long list of duties, including flight planning and ground transportation once at a destination.