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Ultimate guide to studying and working in the Australian aviation industry

If you're considering a career in aviation then you might find yourself with a lot of unanswered questions. Find out what it takes to work as a commercial pilot in Australia.

While the path to some careers is simple, others aren't as clear cut. If you're considering a career in aviation then you might find yourself with a lot of unanswered questions. We've got the answers to how you can start a high-flying career in aviation.

What training do you need to become a pilot?

Despite what you may think, you don't need to spend years completing a university qualification to become a pilot. If you want to become a commercial aeroplane or helicopter pilot you can complete an aviation diploma and start flying in as little as six months.

TAFE Queensland's Diploma of Aviation - (Commercial Pilot Licence - Aeroplane)(AVI50215) is a 10-month course that will set you on the path to becoming a commercial aeroplane pilot. Or if helicopters are more your style, the Diploma of Aviation (Commercial Pilot Licence - Helicopter)(AVI50315) can be completed in as little as six months, giving you the skills required to work as a commercial helicopter pilot.

Do you need a licence or certification to work in aviation?

If you want to work as a pilot in Australia you need to get your Australian pilot's licence which is issued by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). In order to apply you'll need to complete the required training at a registered training organisation, complete extensive flying experience, and pass a series of examinations.

Both of TAFE Queensland's aviation diplomas meet the theoretical and practical skills required by CASA to apply for your commercial pilot licence.

How much does it cost to become a pilot?

The costs associated with becoming a pilot vary greatly depending on whether you want to become an aeroplane or helicopter pilot, and what type of aircraft you want to be able to fly. To see the full costs of completing an aviation diploma with TAFE Queensland, visit the relevant course page:

The good news is there are a range of payment options available that can make the cost of becoming a pilot more affordable than you might think. You may be eligible for a VET Student Loan or TAFE Queensland payment plan to help spread out the cost of your studies.

Plus from 2020 the lifetime VET Student Loan limit for those studying aviation at an approved provider will increase to $150,000, putting a career as a pilot within reach for even more Australians.

Are there any aviation jobs in Australia?

As Australia and the world start to emerge from two years of restricted  domestic and international travel due to the impacts of COVID-19, the travel and tourism industry is experiencing a period of unprecedented demand. 

According to the Australian Government, the number of air transport professionals (which includes pilots) is set to exprience strong growth over the next five years. In fact, there's already strong demand for entry-level pilots to work in charter and tourism companies, regional carriers, and flight training schools across Australia.

That's the great thing about being a qualified pilot - you can find yourself working in a range of different areas. You could pilot scenic flights in the tourism industry, work in rural operations mustering livestock, conduct transport charter operations, or work with State Police or the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) operating search and rescue missions.

How competitive is it to get a job in the aviation industry?

While getting a your first job in the aviation industry can be competitive, it's certainly not out of reach. A global pilot shortage continues to have impacts on the Australian aviation industry with some flights forced to cancel due to these shortages. The job outlook for new graduates is strong as airlines in Australia and around the world look to hire adequate staff to meet the growing demand for air travel.

Getting your flying hours up and getting experience in as many different settings as possible will help you stand out in the job market. Completing your aviation diploma through TAFE Queensland will allow you to start working and getting your hours up sooner. If you decide to continue your studies at university you'll receive credit towards your degree, plus you'll be able to work in the industry and build up your flight hours as you continue your studies.