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What is a Professional Pilot?

What exactly is a Professional Pilot and what do they do?
There are many definitions of a Professional Pilot; in broad terms it is a person who makes flying aircraft a career. The career paths are numerous and include airline pilots, regional airline pilots, corporate pilots, career flight instructors, agricultural pilots, and the list goes on and on. A Professional Pilot is one who well groomed, mannered and disciplined. A positive attitude, adherence to regulations, sticking to personal limitations and continually striving for self-improvement are qualities of a successful professional pilot. Whether flying small training aircraft or the largest airliner, a professional pilot needs to know his/her aircraft inside and out as well as have a superb understanding for safety during all phases of operation.
How does someone become a Professional Pilot?
The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) requirements for eligibility are (Private Pilot):
An applicant must complete a flight physical and possess a valid medical/student pilot certificate, be 17 years of age or older, be able to read, speak, write and understand the English language, successfully complete a written examination, receive training in all required areas and successfully complete a practical (flight) test with a Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE).

Upon completion of a Private Pilot Certificate, students continue their training and pursue their Instrument Rating, Commercial Pilot Certificate (Single Engine & Multi-Engine), and then on to additional training to perfect the art of teaching. Candidates will complete the requirements and test associated with becoming a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI), Certified Flight Instructor Instrument (CFI-I) and Multi-Engine Instructor (MEI). Each certificate or rating mentioned above is attained by successfully completing a combination of written and practical tests with either an FAA Inspector or a DPE.
What do Professional Pilots need to know?
A professional pilot needs to know the rules and regulations governing the safe operation of his/her aircraft. Along with these rules and regulation it is especially important to know the environment you are operating in by maintaining constant situational awareness. The subjects are numerous and the learning process is never complete. The most seasoned pilots will tell you they continue to learn, not only regarding new rules, new technologies, and new aircraft, but also new ways to be better stewards of aviation in general to assure future generations will fall in love with aviation as they have.  

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