Pilot and navigate the flight of fixed-wing aircraft on nonscheduled air carrier routes, or helicopters. Fly both passenger flights as well as cargo, but may not follow scheduled routes. This includes charter pilots, air tour pilots as well as air ambulances. Navigate in-flight: properly operate and read instruments, then use information to make decisions about the flight while it is underway. By its nature, the job requires significant amounts of traveling, so the number of locally available jobs may not be accurate. Pilots are responsible for the safety of the passengers, crew, and cargo from takeoff to landing.

Make a Difference

A Typical Day

  • Check passenger and cargo distributions and fuel amounts to ensure that weight and balance specifications are met.
  • Monitor engine operation, fuel consumption, and functioning of aircraft systems during flights.
  • Inspect aircraft for defects and malfunctions, according to pre-flight checklists.
  • Choose routes, altitudes, and speeds that will provide the fastest, safest, and smoothest flights.
  • Confer with flight dispatchers and weather forecasters to keep abreast of flight conditions.
  • Work as part of a flight team with other crew members, especially during takeoffs and landings.
  • Use instrumentation to guide flights when visibility is poor.
  • Start engines, operate controls, and pilot airplanes to transport passengers, mail, or freight, adhering to flight plans, regulations, and procedures.

Recommended Credentials

Associates Degree, FAA Certification 

Education & Training

Regional employers often hire graduates of these programs.


Northwest Lower Michigan


Associates and Bachelors - 

  • Northwestern Michigan College Aviation Degrees and Certificates (offers multiple types of pilot ratings) National, global and statewide transfer agreements!

Elsewhere in Michigan


High School Programs -

Post-High School Programs in Aviation -

Explore This Career

Try it before you buy it!

Attend NMC's Girls in Aviation Day, or connect with the TC Experimental Aircraft Association.

The Local Advantage Learning Pathway

Pathway 1

Search & Rescue Aerospace & Aviation Training -

Pathway 2

Training and Further Education -

Associates Degree in Applied Science -

Pathway 3

Bachelors Degree -

  • NMC (multiple flight ratings available)

Sample Employers in Our Region

Click the logos below to learn more.


Contact one of these companies and ask for an informational interview, to see if you can job shadow, or to find out if they hire interns.


Sample Job Titles...

Captain, Charter Pilot, EMS Pilot


10-Year Job Growth Projections

10-County Region

Employed Regionally

In 2021 (Michigan)

Wage Range & Median Michigan


Annual Hires Regionally

In 2021

Other Regional Career Resources

The AOPA is the largest industry association, and a great source of information if you're interested in flying.

Learn more about Commercial Pilots at O*NET Online.

Sample Career Pathways

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Diagram of Paths To and From Other Careers for Commercial Pilot

Related Careers

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