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What Is a Co-Pilot and How to Become One

What Is a Co-Pilot?

A co-pilot is a first officer in a flight crew that works to assist the captain in safely navigating the plane. In this career, your job duties begin well before departure and include conducting pre-flight weather briefings, preparing the cabin for radio communications, and setting up other equipment. You also share piloting responsibilities with the captain, so you need the skills necessary for flying a commercial aircraft. If something happens to the ranking captain, whether they become ill, incapacitated, or need a scheduled break, you take command and fly the plane.

How to Become a Co-Pilot

The primary qualifications needed for a career as a co-pilot include significant flight experience and an Airline Transport Pilot certification. While most pilots earn a college degree, this is not required. You can learn to fly and earn your license in the military or through a commercial flight school. The required time logged may vary based on your background. Once you secure an entry-level job, retaining your position and license requires ample continuing education. Your employer should provide additional training and the opportunity to attend more flight school. To continue flying an aircraft, you must also pass frequent examinations, both for skills and physical capability.