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The path to becoming a cargo pilot is very similar to becoming an airline pilot, and you'll notice a lot of similarities here. The two most common pathways are civilian and military. Each of these options provide a training pathway and method of obtaining the experience needed to become a cargo pilot.


driving plane



General Requirements

Before pursuing the professional pilot career, one must meet certain requirements established by the Federal Aviation Administration. Additionally, it is important to understand the expected training costs to obtain the required pilot certifications.

Select Military Branch

There are five primary military branches that offer a pilot career pathway: Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, and Navy. Each sector operates a unique fleet of aircraft conducting missions throughout the globe.

Flight Training

There are several flight training programs available to obtain the necessary pilot certifications to become a cargo pilot. The selection of a flight training program will be specific to the needs of the individual aspiring aviator.

Building Flight Time

Once completed with training, a pilot pursuing a cargo career must meet the minimum flight time experience requirements to be eligible for the Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) Certificate.

Where to Start

Your military flying career can begin at different times during your education. Your military aviation life can begin during college, or after graduation. Knowing the difference between these times can help you plan for a successful future.

Complete Training

Each military branch has a defined training program outline. Upon successful completion, the pilot is required to serve a set time commitment with the military branch. Click below to see one pilot's training footprint for the C-130H.

Cargo Qualified Pilot

Plane in the Sky

Build Flight Time

Once completed with military training, a pilot pursuing a cargo pilot career must meet the minimum flight time experience requirements to be eligible for the FAA Commercial Pilot

Certificate or Airline Transport Pilot Certificate with military-reduced flight times.

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