Mar 28, 2021

Female PilotThinking about becoming a pilot and building a career in one of the most exciting industries in the world? A career in aviation is a rewarding and attractive choice for people of all ages and backgrounds. And the great thing about flying is that you can start out taking casual flying lessons at your local aero club and end up working your way up to being the Captain of a Boeing 777!

Whether you plan on carving out a career in the airline industry or just love flying it is a good idea to do a little research on what kinds of jobs are available in aviation before making the commitment – take a look below for a quick rundown on the most popular careers for pilots.

List Of Career Options For Pilots

Hand On Sidestick Control Of AeroplaneFrom the humble beginnings of a Private Pilot Licence, a career in flying can take you through to many different flying related jobs, here are some of the more common roles sought after by qualified pilots.

  • Airline Pilot. Employed by international and national airline companies, airline pilots fly a range of turboprop and jet aircraft providing air transportation services for people, pets and freight. The Airline pilot is a coveted role providing a clear career path and job opportunities worldwide. Training for airline pilots is highly specialised and requires attendance at an accredited flight training provider.
  • Charter Pilot. Charter pilots generally fly tourists, business people, and the general public on sightseeing or special purpose flights. Charter Pilots are also often hired to provide wider services such as aerial photography or land surveying. These types of flying jobs are generally more difficult to secure as there are less of them, particularly in NZ.
  • Corporate Pilot. Corporate and business pilots typically fly aircraft such as Learjets and Gulfstreams specifically for business clients travelling to and from meetings or on-the-job requirements.  Pilots that fly corporates are very rare in NZ but more prevalent in larger countries like the United States and the UK.
  • Agricultural Pilot. Working as contractors, agricultural pilots assist farmers and local governments with pest and weed control, fertiliser application and other tasks while flying at low-altitudes usually in small two-seat propeller aircraft. Agricultural pilots in NZ are fairly common in NZ with the industry making use of both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.
  • Flight Instructor. If teaching others to fly is your passion then becoming a flight instructor might be the path for you. Flight Instructors typically teach at flight schools and aviation colleges and are good at relating to all types of people. A big part of the job is explaining theoretical concepts and describing flying manoeuvres in a variety of ways that best suit the student’s individual learning styles.
  • Air Ambulance Pilot. Probably the most highly rewarding flying career, an Air Ambulance Pilot ferries injured and sick people between hospitals, accident scenes and in emergency situations. The job is highly specialised with a wide range of flying skills required in all kinds of weather and terrain. There are both helicopter and fixed-wing air ambulance services in NZ.
  • Air Freight Pilot. Freight pilots transport cargo all around the world without passengers on board. Their duties often require night flying and can include long-range flights. Freight only positions are rare in NZ as these services are usually combined with passenger transport within the airline industry.
  • Military Pilot. If serving your country while flying and you prefer a more structured existence sounds like you then becoming a military pilot might just the one for you! Tasks may include hauling cargo, military equipment and military personnel around NZ and all over the world, refuelling aircraft in mid-air, training new pilots and much more!
  • Government And Law Enforcement Flight Services. These pilots fly a variety of different aircraft for many different government agencies, including firefighting, postal services, security and the local police.  Here in NZ our police force operates an ‘Eagle Air Support Unit’ which provides an observation platform using helicopters, in other countries it is quite common to find different types of aircraft used within the police system and other government agencies.

Beyond these more obvious aviation career paths there are also opportunities in extended areas of aviation including things like aviation research and development, aviation consultancy services (in areas such as management, safety and training), aviation media careers such as writing and photography for magazines and online flying platforms, and other aircraft-related options like aircraft maintenance and air traffic control – there are too many to list!

Choosing Where To Complete Your Flight Training

Mature Pilot In AirportChoosing where to complete your flight training is the most important decision you will make when looking to start your flying career off on the right track.

There are several well established private training institutions providing everything from the NZ Diploma In Aviation, a Private Pilot’s Licence and Commercial Pilots Licence through to various specialised Ratings and industry specialised training.

In New Zealand there is only one university (Massey) offering a Bachelor of Aviation (Air Transport Pilot), however, it pays to note you do not need a university degree to become a pilot.

Getting Your PPL

When thinking about a career in flying the first step is to complete your Private Pilot’s licence. This can be completed pretty much wherever you choose and it is a good idea to get this underway before enrolling in any further aviation study programs – just to make sure your investment in flight training is the right path for you.

From the PPL it is important to note that your flight training pathway will likely differ depending on your choice of career.  This is most prevalent for those heading into the airline industry. The flying school you attend needs to provide a gateway into this specialised industry. See here for a more in-depth look into how to become a pilot in New Zealand.

Airline Pilot Training

As Air NZ is the main passenger airline in NZ it is preferable to complete your Airline Pilot training at one of their Air New Zealand Preferred Flight Training Organisations (PFTO’s). There are currently four Air NZ flight training partners located across New Zealand for airline career training. These include:

  1. Southern Wings. Located in Auckland and Invercargill, Southern Wings provides well-established training programs including the NZ Diploma in Aviation – Airline Preparation, General Aviation and Flight Instruction options as well as the Airline Integration Course (AIC).
  2. The International Aviation Academy of New Zealand. Christchurch based, the IAANZ offers the NZ Diploma In Aviation – Airline Preparation, Flight Instruction and General Aviation.
  3. Massey University. Located in Palmerston North, Massey offers NZ’s only Bachelor of Aviation (Air Transport Pilot), a three year flight training university degree.
  4. Nelson Aviation College. Located at Motueka in Nelson, the Nelson Aviation College offers the Diploma in Aviation – Airline Preparation, Flight Instruction and General Aviation.

When considering a career in flying, prospective pilots should always consider their long term intentions fairly early on in the process. This is particularly important if an airline career is the longer-term goal as choosing the right training organisation can influence future employment prospects. See here to find out more about how to become a pilot in New Zealand.


< Back to Blog