Are you an aviation enthusiast and want to become a pilot?

You know you can become a pilot of different categories including private pilot, cargo pilot, commercial pilot, helicopter pilot, ultra-light pilot, and much more.

Based on your interest, you can choose the category and build your piloting career. 

In this article, we will be discussing how to become a United Airlines pilot covering topics like requirements, hiring process, training program, salary, contract and so on.

Without further ado, let’s get started.

About the United Airlines pilot job

United Airlines operates the largest fleet in North America including Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Boeing 777, Boeing 767, Boeing 757, Boeing 737 Series, Airbus A319, and Airbus A320.

The airline is also recognized as the most wide-body aircraft operator (192 wide-body jets) in North America.


Besides, United Airlines operates flights with Express Aircraft including CRJ-200, CRJ-550, CRJ-700, EMB 170, EMB 175, and EMB 145. These aircraft are operated by the United Express partners namely Republic Airways, SkyWest Airlines, Mesa Airlines, GoJet Airlines, CommutAir, and Air Wisconsin Airlines.

The airline operates more than 5000 flights daily flying to 350 airports in 48 countries around the globe. As per the airline projection, they expect to hire over 10,000 pilots in the next decade. With that, more vacancies will be announced soon with exciting opportunities.

How to Become a United Airlines Pilot?

At United Airlines, you can become a pilot via the Aviate Program or Apply as an experienced pilot. The Aviate is a pilot development program that allows students to become professional pilots. 

If you are already a licensed pilot, you can apply for United Airlines as an experienced pilot.

We will explore both ways to become a pilot for the airline.

First of all, let’s go with the Aviate program.

UNITED airlines aviate program

What is the United Airlines Aviate Program?

united airlines aviate program aviatechchannel
Aviate Program (How to become a United Airlines Pilot?)

United Airlines Aviate is a program that allows you to become a pilot quickly. It is a direct route to a pilot job with United.

With this program, you as a beginner can see yourself transitioned to a position as a First Officer for United Airlines in a short period. You can apply to this program as a Private Pilot License (PPL) holder or without PPL.

If you manage to enter the Aviate Program, you will go through 10 months of pilot training and become a professional pilot.

So, how can you enroll in this program? What are the requirements? Let’s find out below.

United Aviate Program Requirements

Here are the basic requirements you need to fulfill for the Aviate Program.

  • The age of the applicant must be at least 18 years.
  • A High School Diploma or GED Education Level is required.
  • You must be a U.S. citizen or possess a legal permanent resident.
  • A valid U.S. passport or certified copy of a birth certificate including a government-issued photo ID is mandatory.
  • Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination is also required.
  • Must be able to pass background checks and a drug screening.
  • Applicants must obtain a valid FAA medical certificate issued as a first-class medical certificate for pilot training.

The process to apply for Aviate Program

If you fulfill the basic requirements mentioned above, you are eligible for the United Airlines Aviate Program.

To apply, you are required to go through the following processes.

  • Firstly, you need to submit an online application including your basic information.
  • After analyzing your online application, the airline recruitment department will require you to appear video interview. 
  • Those candidates without PPL must go through pre-recorded video interview sessions using a tool called Modern Hire. The airline will provide a link for the video interview and candidates must submit it within seven days.
  • Candidates with valid PPL must submit an online application with United Airlines Application. The airline will conduct an in-person interview.
  • After completing the interview process, the airline will conduct various assessments to measure your strengths, capabilities, working style, technical knowledge, and so on. 
  • If you manage to pass the assessments, you are one step closer to joining the United Aviate Academy. But before that, some conditional acceptance requirements must be fulfilled.

The conditional acceptance requirements are:

  • You need to hold a valid FAA medical certificate that resembles the Class I medical requirement for pilot training.
  • You must provide physical proof of U.S. citizenship with a valid U.S. passport or an original or certified copy of your birth certificate along with a government-issued photo ID.
  • You must manage to pass the drug screening test and background checks
  • A valid proof of COVID-19 vaccination is also required.
  • You must be able to obtain a minimum score of 80 percent on the FAA knowledge test. 

Completion of all these steps will take you to the United Aviate Academy for the pilot training program however, you need to complete the steps mentioned below to be fully accepted to the Aviate Program.

United Airlines Aviate Program Journey

As you enter the Aviate Program, you will go through various steps to become a United pilot.

First of all, you are required to manage funds for your training. 

Aviate Program Funding Requirements

Private Pilot License (PPL) TrainingFREE worth $17,750 
Instrument Rating (IR)$18,250
Commercial SE initial $26,000
Commercial ME add-on$7,500
Certified Flight Instructor$7,500
Certified Flight Instructor (Instrument)$5,500
Multi-Engine Flight Instructor$6,500

Those without PPL will benefit from this program as they will get it for free. If you’re worried about the costs, go for scholarships and loans.

As per United Airlines policy, you can apply for a scholarship after being accepted to United Aviate Academy. Also, selected candidates can obtain loans from the airline’s loan partner. 

united airlines pilot training program aviatechchannel
Pilot Training Program (How to Become a United Airlines Pilot?)

Begin your training

After managing the funds, your training journey begins which will allow you to obtain a Private Pilot License (PPL) in just two months.

You will go through Computer-based instruction, ground training, and aircraft flight training at the airline’s facility at Phoenix Goodyear Airport, Arizona.

The successful completion of PPL training will take you to the interview process for Aviate. By doing this, you will be finally accepted to the Aviate Program and acquire more visibility and direction toward becoming a United pilot.

Complete the 10 months pilot training program

The airline training center will conduct 10 monthly flight training program to provide ratings and certificates to the trainees.

The training structure is displayed in the table below.

Instrument Rating (IR)2 months
Commercial SE initial3 months
Commercial ME add-on1-month
Certified Flight Instructor2 months
Certified Flight Instructor (Instrument)1-month
Multi-Engine Flight Instructor1-month
Looking for United Airlines Flight Attendant Job?

Collect Flight Hours by joining an Aviate partner

The successful completion of 10 months of training will take you to secure employment at one of United Airlines’ partners where you can gain flight hours by working as a commercial pilot or Chief Flight Instructor (CFI).

You need to work for 18 months as a CFI at United Aviate Academy or a commercial pilot for United Part 135 operators (Wiggins Airways, Boutique Air, Ameriflight) for 18 months.

Fly for United Express Aviate partners

18 months of a career as a CFI or commercial pilot will allow you to join United Express Aviate Partners (Air Wisconsin Airlines, GoJet Airlines, Mesa Airlines, CommutAir).

You are required to work for a minimum of 2 years and collect 2,000 flight hours for First Officers or 1500 flight hours for Captains. 

Congratulations! You’re now ready for the United Airlines Pilot Job

Spending 2 years at United Express partners and gaining ample experience is your gateway to joining United Airlines as a First Officer.

Whenever vacancies arrive for First Officer, you will be on the top priority list. One thing you need to consider is you are required to hold a bachelor’s degree by the time you’re ready to transition to United Airlines.

Apply as an experienced pilot

How to apply as an experienced pilot?

Apply as an Experienced pilot (How to become a United Airlines Pilot?)

Already an experienced pilot? You can apply for the United Airlines pilot job directly for which the following requirements need to be fulfilled.

United Airlines Pilot Requirements

Here are the basic requirements to apply for the United Airlines pilot job.

  • A valid passport with at least six months of validity is mandatory.
  • High School Diploma or GED Equivalent Education is required.
  • Holding a Bachelor’s degree from an approved university is a plus point.
  • Applicants must obtain legal rights to work in the United States. (Sponsorship is not allowed)
  • Applicants must be able to travel within the United States and the destination countries without restriction.
  • Must provide COVID-19 Vaccination proof and international certificate of vaccination for Yellow Fever.

Certificate Requirements

The certificate requirements are:

  • FAA Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) Certificate including airplane multiengine class rating
  • Valid FAA first-class medical certificate
  • FCC Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit (RR)

Flight Hours Requirement

To apply for the United Airlines pilot job, you need to fulfill certain flight time requirements.

  • A minimum of 1,500 hours of the total time is required.
  • A minimum of 1,000 hours of fixed-wing turbine time is required.
  • Applicants with a minimum of 100 hours of flight time within the last 12 months are prioritized.

United Airlines Pilot Hiring Process

  • First of all, you need to visit the airline apps website and find a vacancy for a pilot job. 
  • You can apply online by submitting the form and necessary documents.
  • After screening your application, the Human Resources department will contact you for the interview and various job-related assessments.
  • If you manage to pass assessments, you are selected for the job.

United Airlines Pilot Training Program

United Airlines offers training programs to the applicants via the United Airlines Aviate Program which we discussed in the section above.

United Airlines Pilot Salary

The salary of pilots at United Airlines ranges from $33,700 per year (Fresher First Officer) to $546,000 per year for a senior captain. Talking about the average rate, it is almost $150,000 (147 percent above the United States national average).

United Airlines Pilot Salary per month

The monthly salary for pilots at United Airlines can range from $2,500 to $45,500.

United Airlines Pilot Uniform

united airlines pilot uniform aviatechchannel

United Airlines Pilot Bases

The bases for United Airlines pilots are:

  • Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE)
  • Denver International Airport (DEN)
  • Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
  • Guam International Airport (GUM)
  • Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)
  • George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  • Chicago O’Hare International Airpot (ORD)
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO)

United Airlines Pilot Schedule

As per the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), pilots are limited to work for a maximum of 60 hours per week. This threshold can’t be exceeded so, you as a United Airlines pilot can expect a maximum of 60 hours of flight duty per week however, it depends upon the airline schedule, flight frequency, and other requirements.

United Airlines Pilot Contract

The pilot contract period depends upon the airline type and their policy however, you can expect a minimum of 5 years contract for the United Airlines pilot job.

Is United Airlines going through a pilot shortage?

Pilot Shortage can be a major concern for major airline operators across the globe. United Airlines is also affected by this problem. 

Recently, the airline made significant changes at University Park Airport and various other regional airports due to a shortage of pilots.

Different research projects have concluded there would be a global shortage of pilots with a gap of almost 35,000 pilots by 2025.

We can read United Airlines offering triple pay to pilots to ease flight disruptions following the Omicron outbreak in the recent news published by CNBC, NBC News, and Business Insider


We think we covered almost all topics related to the question ‘How to become a United Airlines Pilot?’

If you have any doubts or queries, please don’t hesitate to contact us or comment below.

How much money do United Airlines Pilots make?

Pilots at United Airlines are expected to earn from $33,700 per year (Fresher First Officer) to $546,000 per year (Senior Captain).

What does it take to be a pilot for United Airlines?

You need to fulfil basic requirements and go through various assessments to be a pilot for United Airlines. You can apply for Aviate Program or apply directly if you are an experienced pilot.

Does United Airlines require a degree for pilots?

United Airlines requires a minimum of High School or GED level education. It will be an advantage if you hold a Bachelor’s degree from a reputed university.

How long does it take to become a United Airlines pilot?

Through the Aviate Program, it almost takes you 5 years to become a United Airlines pilot.

Does United Airlines have a pilot training program?

Yes, United Airlines offer pilot training via the Aviate Program.

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Suman Karki
Suman Karki is the founder of the AviaTech Channel blog and YouTube Channel. He is a passionate aviation enthusiast and holds experience working as a Ground Operations Officer for Swissport International. He is currently serving as a Flight Data Feeder for FlightAware (a US-based company for Flight Tracking). Besides, he has worked as an aviation content editor for various aviation media.


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